If you’ve got access to just about any marijuana, you’ve potentially got killer hash – or at least something with a lot more “oomph” than bud provides! The marvelous thing about hashish is that it’s all about concentrating your cannabinoids. While springing for the proper gear is definitely the way to go, one can still create some quality hash without funds. I’ll provide an overview of the better-known equipment you can purchase for doing the job, and then explain easy ways of cheaply emulating those methods.
Tumblers were some of the first pieces of gear made for producing quality dry hash that were readily available for purchase by the average person. The Pollinator by Mila is a well-known brand. They are made with the same material as flat hash screens, but with greatly improved production. A cylinder of screen maximizes surface area, and the constant spinning motion, powered by a motor, does most of the work for you. How to use it? Place the (preferably frozen) weed into the cylinder, turn on the motor, and let the rotation agitation cause glandular resin heads – trichomes, where THC is – to break away from the green vegetable matter and fall through the screen. The fine powder left in the bottom of the container is then collected, and “presto change-o”, you’ve got
dry-sieve hash. Keeping the dry plant matter cold allows the gland heads to break away more easily and helps increase yields. Make sure the shake is bone-dry, as wet plant matter will gum up the screen. This must be avoided, as it’s like using a smaller micron size screen. If you’ve got a deep freezer, use it to hold your hash-maker. Most deep freezers are spacious enough to hold even large Pollinator units and similar devices – once you remove those pesky groceries! Put the whole tumbler right in the freezer – don’t worry, the door will still close with the electric cord hanging out – and turn it on. Avoid letting too many sticks and twigs in the mix because they are never friendly to the screen, and can cause small fibers from the screen material to fall into the powder being collected, so remove as many as possible.
Dry-sieved hash is usually less potent than cold-water extraction hash, which is made with the XTR by www.icecold.com (Note: an XTR-1000 is the CC “Pot Puzzlers” special prize for this issue, so send in your entries!), the Ice-o-later by Green Harvest, or Bubble Bags by Bubble Man, to name a few. The reason is that dry hash contains more contaminants (trichome stalks that held resin heads; pistils, or red hairs; plant matter like stems and leaves; insects and dirt, etc.) than wet hash. Dry screen hash is made with a single 110-micron screen and collects contaminants along with the psychoactive resin heads, whereas cold-water bag systems cause the resin heads to sink and the contaminants to float, and further unwanted parts are removed after using the 45-micron screen bag. That being said, dry-sieving your dried trim or shake through a quality S&M dry hash screen (www.Happydayz.ca) or a Pollinator definitely has its own merits – the first being instant gratification. There’s no waiting for the hash to dry before you smoke it, as is necessary with water-extraction methods. The spicy flavors, penetrating floral smell, and well-rounded high (without any risk of mold) are its pluses. Pressed, dry-sieved resin typically looks like the Moroccan hash pictured in this article.
When it comes to making water-extracted hash, it’s tough to knock a good ol’ set of nylon mesh bags in a bucket. Using cold water and various meshes to collect the pure resin heads in unadulterated form (via the cold water miraculously separating the oily glands from the green plant matter) was a pretty ingenious hash industry development. Mixing cold (preferably ice) water with shake or trim causes the heavier resin heads to drop off and sink while the plant matter rises to the surface of the water when stirring has stopped. Water does not damage the integrity of the resin heads, and not all resin heads are psychoactive. The larger egg-shaped resin heads that hug the surface of the leaf or bud contain only smell and taste terpenes, and are not psychoactive. They get caught in the 220-micron bag, and are considered contaminant. The resin heads that sit perched atop long stalks or trichomes are psychoactive. These easily dislodged resin heads contain Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the dominant and chief psychoactive in cannabis. Resin heads caught between 25-220 micron bags contain some THC. Having a kit is nice because the assortment of screen sizes assures the right ones for any strain. Between 45 and 70 is a gland head a bit on the smaller side, but is where I have found the best sativa hash comes from. The 70-150 ranges collect a larger gland head, which is usually an indica yield. The stuff from screens in the 160-210 micron range contain small amounts of useable THC but are better left for tinctures, salves and cooking.
Hash smoking is a connoisseur’s act not to be done with borderline material. To get a more pure product and avoid unnecessary wear and tear, don’t squeeze the water out of the bags, just drain it. Remove fan leaves as they negatively affect flavor and tend to make the mix foam more, which can get messy. Two of the most important tricks to getting quality water hash are rinsing and drying the gland heads properly. After the stirred water has drained through the mesh, gently spray clean, cold water over the glands, flushing out any lingering green matter. Once the gland heads have been rinsed, squeeze as much water as possible out of the hash using another piece of screen. What remains is then pressed through a kitchen colander/strainer to break it up into a powder. Placing it on cardboard acts as a desiccant and absorbs the moisture from beneath while drying. Make sure it is absolutely dry before pressing and storing, or it will get a musky flavor and may mold, deteriorating in potency.
Bubbleator & Bubblenow
These cold water extraction appliances, formerly available only in a 5-gallon model, are now available in an actual 20-gallon washing machine size and it IS like going to the Laundromat! You’re not doing the actual work but you’ve still got to stick around to switch loads. I love these appliances because they are clean, quiet and make a top-notch product. (See the in-depth article and Bubblehash “How-To” guide in CC #66!) These are basically a twist on the bag method with comparable quality. The machine can hold up to a pound of shake per batch, but lowering that amount to about 300 grams may increase yield by a few percent. While getting five or seven-percent payback may not seem like a lot, it adds up pretty quickly. My preference in smoke would have to go with the 185-micron bag instead of the 220. With most strains, particularly the sativa hybrids like Satori, S.A.G.E., and Nebula that make the stuff I dig, anything above 185 microns is just adding weight not potency.
Finger hash can be an extremely high quality smoke with ample characteristics, but doesn’t come around too often. When it does, it’s probably what was collected on hands and scissors while manicuring. Your hands have natural oils (and who knows what else) on them that can affect the flavor, so give them a wash before starting, preferably without soap, as it tends to leave a residual taste, too. Resin sticks to resin. Regularly brushing away the small pieces of leaf from resin-coated hands helps the finger hash build up faster and decreases the amount of contaminant in your final product.
Removing the resin can be more of a chore than collecting it. The stuff is like glue and vigorously rubbing hands together can cause blistering. Start by lightly rubbing off what is easily removed over a dish or table. A drop of water will help peel away what remains. Now just collect the pile and roll it into a ball in the palm of your hand. Want a completely different method? Just rub the hell out of a pile of shake with your hands and see what you can get!
Flat screens are just that: a flat piece of screen stretched taut and fastened to a frame. This is a really basic way of making hash, but that doesn’t mean the quality has to suffer. At your local art store ask for nylon silkscreen and what micron they have available. A 110-micron screen is optimum, but anything in the 60–140 micron range works fine. Small prefabricated screens and frames are usually available at art supply stores for screen-printing, although most places keep 110-120 off the order sheet. If you want to keep your mission stealth, ask for the proper mesh size instead of microns, as that’s the method of calculating size art stores tend to use. Mesh size counts opposite to that of microns, so the larger the number the tighter the screen with mesh. About 120 is the crossover point where they are both about the same (and for dry sieve the best size to go with), but 80-140 threads per square inch (100-175 micron) is useable. A 325-threads-per-square-inch (tpsi) mesh size is equivalent to the 45-micron lower bag that catches the small gland heads. The main 70-micron catch bag in most sets is about 200 tpsi in mesh size, and the top strainer bags of 185 and 220 microns is 80 and 70 tpsi respectively. Given the option, take monofilament over the multifilament mesh. If no proper screen is available for this method, or that of the tumbler (below), a pair of pantyhose is a fine alternative. Not the best by any means but it will work. Stretch the panty hose to get larger holes, yielding more, but lower grade. I’ve seen people use sheets, t-shirts, coffee filters, and all sorts of other material, but the qualities were never that great. Take your screen material, stretch it over a container (bowl, plate, plastic food container), and keep it in place with elastic bands, tape, or clips. Place shake on top of the taut nylon mesh and drag the shake over the screen with a credit card, pressing it against the material so the resin heads come off. A glass table or mirror underneath makes the collection process much easier. Simply scrape up whatever you collect, and you’ve got flat screen hash.
Yogurt Container Tumbler
This one works far better if you have a piece of 100-120 micron screen, but you can easily make a mini tumbler using a yogurt container and a chopstick or pencil. Cut a large hole in the side of the container, making sure to leave a lip to glue your screen to and enough container to have some structural integrity; a bit less than halfway around will do. Next, glue the piece of screen over the hole, keeping it as tight as possible. Then poke a hole through the bottom of the container, and another through the lid. Fill the container with shake and close the lid. Slide the chopstick through the lid and bottom, grab each end, and spin away. Going fast is actually less effective than taking your time, so maintain a moderate pace. Another method: cut the bottom off and glue the screen in its place, then put the container inside another one and shake vertically to collect glands in the bottom.
Using a blender is a nasty thing to do to those poor little gland heads, but it can be used to make small amounts of hash. Just throw in a few handfuls of shake and ice, fill with water, and blend for 30 seconds to a minute to separate the gland heads. This mixture can then be poured through screens to collect the hash, or ‘floated’ as in the technique below. Broken gland heads release a great deal of their terpenes and may lose many of their oily qualities, but the stone can still be significant.
Water separation is an excellent way of cleaning up lower quality and leaf-adulterated kief or refining water hash. Once the wet gland heads have been collected from the screens of a water technique or the powder from a tumble method, “floating” will allow many of its impurities to be skimmed off. A glass jar is best so you can see what’s going on, and something without a lip makes it easier to skim off anything unwanted. Fill small container with water, put in the gland heads, and mix around. After settling, the good stuff sinks and the plant material that floats to the top is removed. This can be repeated several times to further purify it. Slowly pour the water off the top, trying not to disturb the hash that has settled on the bottom. If no screen is available to filter out the crystals, put the remaining solution on a cookie tray to evaporate. Once dry, the resin can be scraped and pressed.
Now the gland heads have been separated and collected, it’s time to transform them into a chunk. The pressing technique used determines far more than just the overall aesthetic of the final product. The way the hash will burn, store, taste and smell are all altered and ideally improved by pressing. Before anything gets pressed, the powder/kief/gland heads – whatever you call it – has to be put into cellophane wrapping. Now, cellophane is not the same as a Ziploc baggie or saran-wrap (cling-wrap). Cellophane is the thin “crispy” cheap plastic that covers most store-bought items, the non-sticky clear wrap packaging you find on unopened cigarette cartons, for example. Ziploc baggies, however, are made with plastic polymers that actually bond with resin heads and cannot be separated. So don’t use a plastic baggie for pot if you can avoid it – especially when you have some really sticky-icky ganja!
To properly press resin, you must heat it, but not melt it. You should be able to hold the heat source; otherwise, it’s too hot. A hair dryer can provide just enough warm air to make the sticky resin more workable. One of the easiest ways to do a warm press is to fill a sealable glass bottle with hot tap water, and use it like a rolling pin to press small packets of resin. If the hash quality is high, a quick roll will stick everything together. Breaking or folding and repressing hash several times helps create consistent product, which also tends to be nice and gummy. Another old trick is the shoe press: a small piece of kief is wrapped in cellophane, placed inside a shoe, and walked on. After a while, the pressure and warmth create a solid piece of hash. It makes your posture a little gimpy, but it works!
A remarkably good press can be achieved with a lot of stuff lying around. Some options that come to mind are putting it in a vice, placing it between two boards and driving over it with a car, or just whacking the crap out of it (inside cellophane) with a rubber mallet. For small amounts like half an ounce or less, the Piecemaker from GreenHarvest.ca is a damn fine tool to press up to 20 grams of resin heads. It’s compact but generates all the torque necessary to properly press a very nice hunk of funk, and comes with a few pressing pieces to make perfect five-gram hash coins. About 30 seconds from a hair dryer warms it quite evenly, and the heat really helps the resin to bond into a solid piece. There are numerous other contraptions on the market, so do some research and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for!