In my opinion as a tokin' Mama, there is no smokable cannabis derivative that gets you more baked than oil. Whether you call it honey or hash oil, it's the concentrated liquid essence of marijuana and it doesn't take much of it to completely stone you, though its mind-numbing power makes it an acquired taste.
Whether spread on a paper and rolled into a joint, inhaled through a straw from a hot knife, steamed in a Vaporizer or dropped onto ashes in your favorite bong, if you can manage to wrangle this gooey gold first from the plant and then from the teeny bottle it's usually stored in, you will be rewarded with lung-searing, brain-blasting fun!
The solvent situation
The process of making oil always involves using a solvent of some sort to dissolve the cannabis resins off the plant material, then somehow separating the solvent from the resin. The quality of the oil depends on the quality of your plant material, the amount of solvent you remove from the finished product, and the amount of time your solvent is exposed to the plant material.
Like hash, you can make premium oil with shake or trim rather than bud. It's a fantastic way of using every last bit of foliage from your girls and easily turning it into something as valued as bud, or more. So of course, if you use trim from healthy, well-flushed, fully matured plants, you'll end up with more good resin to extract. If you use schwag, you'll end up with very little, less potent resin.
The amount of solvent removed from the oil is dependent upon what type of solvent you use and how you go about removing it.
Traditionally, isopropyl alcohol is used as a solvent as it's cheap, easy to come by and doesn't generally arouse suspicion from your local drugstore clerk. However, the problem with isopropyl is that it boils away at a relatively high temperature, making it fairly difficult to remove all of it from the finished product. Have you ever smoked thin, watery oil that tasted acrid? That's because not all of the isopropyl was removed. It's very unhealthy to be burning and inhaling alcohol. It's also a fire-hazard.
Making oil with alcohol poses the same threat of fire, as you need to slowly boil off the isopropyl in a water bath, something that requires an open heat source such as an electric element or gas burner.
Alternatives to alcohol are ether and chloroform, both of which boil away at almost room temperature and therefore have a better chance of being completely removed from the oil. However, they are very hard to come by and there is the risk of not just fire, but succumbing to the anaesthetic fumes of either.
The butane solution
In recent years, those in the know in Amsterdam have been using butane. The beauty of butane is that it's widely available, not outrageously expensive, and can reasonably be bought from your local hardware store as lighter refills.
Dutch seed guru Soma uses butane-derived oil in a 1:3 oil/bubble hash concoction called Jelly Hash, which can be stretched and played with like Silly Putty.
Another strength of butane as a solvent is that, because it's under pressure, it shoots out of the can quickly enough not to be dallying around the plant material. In order to get the resin into the solvent, the solvent is usually poured over the plant material or the plant material is soaked in the solvent for a short period of time and then removed. One concern is that if you expose the solvent to the cannabis for too long, you'll start to dissolve off not just the THC-laden resins, but also chlorophyll, waxes and other naturally occurring substances that will degrade the oil's potency, color and taste. So you want to get in and out of there as quickly as possible.
Enter the Honey Bee Extractor! Like Bubble Bags, the Honey Bee Extractor is a Canadian-made product that should revolutionize what we do with what we used to throw away. The instructions on how to make a home-grown version of this little contraption out of PVC pipe and such abound on the Web, but when I'm dealing with flammable materials under pressure, I don't trust my own MacGuyver skills. Besides, Honey Bee is made out of "Atomic-Age Plastics." Doesn't that sound like fun?
The basic concept is a thick plastic tube with a tiny hole at one end and a perforated cap with a filter at the other. There's a nifty little video on their website on how to use their device, safety precautions you should take while making oil ( wear goggles, no baggy clothes, don't smoke, use ventilation) and trippy techno beats. The Honey Bee comes with several filters, but I suspected that you could make your own out of unbleached coffee filters. I did that and it was fine.
The procedure is simple:
1. Grind anywhere from 3g to 28g of shake/trim/bud (or some combination thereof) in a coffee grinder.
2. Put it in the Honey Bee Extractor and close the cap.
3. Hold the Extractor filter-side down over a Pyrex bowl.
4. Fit the tip of the butane can into the little hole.
5. Press down hard, waiting about 30 seconds or so for the Butane to flow out the bottom of the Extractor.
6. Feel like Bill Nye the Science Guy with your safety goggles on and the superkewl clouds of vapor rising about you!
7. Put the bowl in another bowl of hot water, or on a hot water bottle.
8. Wait about 15 to 20 minutes for the Butane to evaporate completely.
9. Scrape the oil off the bowl.
10. Put it into one of those wee elfin bottles people put oil into.
11. Get very stoned.
I was truly amazed at how easy it was to make kick-ass oil. I used mostly Northern Lights #5 shake and trim, a little bit of Cherry Bomb trim and a couple of nuggs of Island Sweet Skunk for good measure.
Altogether I used 21g of ganja to make approximately 1.5 g of oil of two grades ? the first "wash" which is the purest and the second and third which were still pretty damn good. Both were deep amber in color and before I heated them, looked exactly like creamy taffy. Or perhaps, honey.
Most importantly, is Honey Bee oil any good? Well, I took my honey oil to the foremost expert in the field ? the host of Pot-TV's Grow Show, The 4:25 News and general weed aficionado, Marijuana Man. His response?
"That was the best oil I have ever tried."
? Honey Bee Extractors: tel 1-204-415-5724; www.buzznn.ca