Expert Discusses Top Tips on Making Hash

Making Hash - GCI Content Hub - Global Cannabis Intelligence

As an experienced cannabis cultivator and hash maker, The Dank Duchess is dedicated to continuing the legacy of her teacher, the late and renowned Frenchy Cannoli, through the art of educating others in the crafting of top quality hash.

“My whole life completely changed,” Duchess muses, reflecting on the first time she ever made hash. Duchess began learning to craft hash in 2014 under the guidance of Frenchy Cannoli, “one of the triple OGs of hash making,” as she puts it. Although Duchess never intended to become a hash maker, the opportunity to write about hash for Weed World Magazine – a publication she greatly admired – marked the start of this unexpected journey. “He [Frenchy Cannoli] told me that in order to write about hash with any authenticity, I needed to learn how to make hash,” she recalls.

So… what is hash?

Hash is a cannabis concentrate made by compressing and processing the resin glands, or trichomes, found on cannabis plants. Trichomes are fine, hair-like protrusions found most abundantly on cannabis flowers because the plant uses trichomes as a defence mechanism. Their strong aromas and bitter taste protect against insects and animals while also fortifying the plant against strong winds, UV rays and fungal growth. Trichomes are also the production site for the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids which create the plant’s defining biochemical characteristics for which humans know it best. “The idea of hash at its core is separating trichomes from material,” Duchess explains.

“Frenchy hammered in how important it was for us to not sit on information, but to pass it on” – The Dank Duchess

Although made using the same plant, hash differs from cannabis flower in a variety of ways. As a concentrate of cannabis, the levels of THC found in hash can reach concentrations above 90%, versus 40% and under in cannabis flower. This means that hash caters to consumers looking for pain relief, as its elevated THC concentration means it reaches the brain “much faster,” Duchess says. “Canada’s concentrate sales are skyrocketing, because of the efficacy of smoking concentrate, the flavour and the ease,” she continues. Further, hash doesn’t have the same pungent aroma as cannabis flower and so appeals to demographics that do not want to smell like cannabis as they’re going about their day-to-day life.

How is hash made?

“Hash is now a big umbrella term,” Duchess explains, “which covers solvent-based, solvent-free and solventless.” Hash can be made using chemicals, such as butane or propane, to separate the trichomes from their stalks. A drawback of using chemical solvents is that they require the maker to clean all the solvent from the rosin at the end of the process to make it safe for consumption. This is a process susceptible to human error. However, “you can further refine a solvent-based product to become solvent-free,” Duchess says, “so there’s no concern about having something that’s gonna be bad for your lungs.” Following this type of refinement, “all that you’re left with is THC.”

“Solventless is where it’s at for me because I don’t have to worry about any negative effects on my body” – The Dank Duchess

However, Duchess admits that her favourite is solventless hash. “Solventless is where it’s at for me because I don’t have to worry about any negative effects on my body,” she explains. “Solventless has the best flavour and the best output and effect.” It can be made in a variety of ways, including:

Charas: in this process the maker walks around many plants and “softly” brushes their hands up and down the plants until films composed of resin form on the hands, which can be scraped off and collected.

Charas is known as one of the oldest techniques for making cannabis concentrate and is renowned for its “very potent high and flavour,” Duchess explains. It’s distinct from other methods because the maker is using the “live resin”, as the plant is growing.

Dry sift: this is a mechanical sifting process. Traditional sifting, a technique prevalent in Lebanon, Morocco and Afghanistan, uses a screen to manipulate the plant and encourage trichomes to fall through the filter, separating the hash from impurities like stalks and plant material.

Modern sifting, on the other hand, uses a series of silk screens with filters of decreasing size. By crushing the material through the top filter, trichomes and other detritus fall through. Following this, static electricity technologies can be used to further remove impurities and increase the concentration of trichomes in the hash.

Ice water: this method uses water as a carrier and centrifugal force (either from a washing machine vortex or the maker’s own body mechanics) to “whip” the trichomes from the flower heads of the plant. Once the trichomes are separated, a system of screens called ‘bubble bags’ further refine the resin and water is used as a carrier to wash detritus from the product.

Duchess adds that there is a particular trichome structure which works best with the ice water technique and can be identified under a microscope. It’s also important when using this method to dry the hash properly, because “you don’t want to smoke moisture,” which is bad for the lungs.

Rosin: this is made by extracting oil from the trichome heads. Traditional techniques make ‘hash rosin’ by applying further processes to the product of ice water hash. A system of screens called rosin bags are used to extract oil using heat and pressure. There is room for creativity in this process – experimenting with the levels of pressure and heat can produce different types of rosin with various properties and effects.

In 2015, Phil Salazar revolutionised DIY hash making with his ‘flower rosin’ technique. Salazar realised that “you can take a bud and put it in between parchment paper and a hair straightener and squeeze it for the oil to come out,” Duchess explains.

Identifying excellent hash

Now that you’re clued into a plethora of ways to make hash, you’re probably wondering how to identify high quality products. Duchess explains that, unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell in the US legal market as there’s no ability to touch it. Although smell and appearance are indicators of quality, it can look “phenomenally good… yet won’t melt very well,” she says. Ultimately, hash of the highest quality will be rated “based on meltability.”

Accurately testing the quality of resin at home, however, is easier to do. To test the meltability of hash by checking its oil content, place some hash in the palm of your hand. If the resin melts “reasonably well” with the heat of your skin, “that’s fantastic,” beams Duchess. The fire test can also be used. Using a lighter, run a flame back and forth around the hash. “You’re looking for a crazy amount of bubbles, but the more bubbly it is, the better,” she says.

The Dank Duchess shares that “Frenchy hammered in how important it was for us to not sit on information, but to pass it on.” Her passion for hash making – a skill she has honed passionately since her serendipitous discovery of the craft – is evident from the enthusiastic generosity with which she shares her expertise. “I’m super appreciative of everything that I got from Frenchy,” she says, “which was a real love of rosin and understanding of rosin, and a craving to learn more and educate other people about it.”

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