How Is Hash Made? Everything You Need To Know
Hash is one of the oldest cannabis concentrates humans developed, appearing in the ancient world and exploding in popularity throughout Persia, Egypt, and Central Asia. Millennia later, hash remains popular even as a wide variety of other cannabis concentrates and extracts have emerged in the recently-legal industry. If you’re interested in hash, how it’s made, and the equipment you need to get started, this guide will help you better understand everything you need to know.
What is hash?
Hashish, also known as hash, is a cannabis concentrate that takes the form of solid bricks. These bricks vary in color and may appear pale yellow, light green, brown, or even darker, closer to black.
Hash is typically consumed by combustion, either by smoking or vaporizing it. The concentrate is celebrated for its high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes relative to cannabis flower and is often sought out by consumers who prefer a more potent experience, as it doesn’t require trichome-destroying heat to create.
How is hash made?
Hash is made from the trichomes of the cannabis plant. Trichomes are the resin glands that develop on a mature plant and produce the cannabinoid- and terpene-rich material that creates the therapeutic and psychoactive effects associated with cannabis.
Typically, handmade hash is made using a method known as dry sifting. This is commonly performed as a DIY method of producing small quantities of hash from the fine, powdery remnants of ground cannabis known as kief. As the cannabis industry matures, these processes have been modified and adapted to produce hash on a commercial scale.
The steps to create handmade hash by dry sifting are as follows:
- Freeze cannabis flower: Freezing cannabis before sifting (or other types of cannabis extraction) makes it easier to separate the trichomes from the plant. Put your cannabis into airtight containers and chill it for at least a few hours. On a commercial scale, this is done with freeze dryers.
- Grind cannabis flower: Many grinders feature a bottom compartment known as a kief collector. These compartments collect loose trichomes that fall from flower as it’s broken into smaller bits in a grinder. For this reason, many consumers choose to make hash out of their leftover kief.
- Sift through a fine screen: Place the ground cannabis flower on top of a 90 or 115 micron sized screen and gently rub the material against the screen in a circular motion to separate the trichomes from the plant material. Typically the finer the screen, the less plant material will pass through, improving the overall purity of the final product.
Continue this process until a significant amount of trichomes have gathered on the surface below the screen. These trichomes will serve as the building blocks of your hash and contain the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes that contribute to the potency of the concentrate.
- Use heat and pressure: Heat and pressure are needed to melt the trichomes together and compact them into a brick of hash. There are a few methods that could be used for this step. On a commercial scale, hash washing machines can conduct this last step.
What does the final product look like?
The shape and size of hash products depends on the pressing methods used following extraction. Typically, hand-made hash is pressed into a hardened slab using a heat and pressure source, such as a hair straightener. It can also be formed by hand, into a ball-shape. However, this takes a much more considerable amount of time and effort. Bigger facilities, on the other hand, use a mechanical machine press to form hash into create a neat brick or bar of soap.
Ice water hash
Ice water hash, sometimes called bubble hash, is another type of hash created by a process that can be performed on either a small or commercial scale. The process involves ice, water, and filter bags to remove trichomes from cannabis flower and trim, which can then be easily dried and pressed into hash. In commercial facilities, this involves the use of automated washing machines and freeze-dryers to maintain efficiency and consistency on a larger scale.
- Gather your supplies: To make ice water hash, you will need ice, water, 2 food-grade buckets, micron filter bags, and fresh cannabis flower. You may also wish to obtain a commercial-scale washing machine or freeze-dryer for the process.
- Fill your first bucket: Line your bucket with your 220 micron filter bag. Place a layer of ice at the bottom, followed by your cannabis flower, and then another layer of ice. Pour water over the top until the ice at the top is covered. You can choose to use fresh flower, or dried, and manicured buds. For water, Holland Green Science recommends using Reverse Osmosis (RO) water as it contains more minerals, leading to faster formation of ice crystals.
- Conduct the agitation process: Stir your mix for 15 to 20 minutes. Generally, you want to paddle the mixture like you’re rowing a boat – trying not to forcefully break it up, but letting it fall apart on its own. In a bigger or industrial facility, this step may be completed using a high-volume, automated washing machine.
- Prepare your second bucket: Line a second bucket with a few layers of filter bags, the finest micron bag should be on the bottom.
- Transfer the water: Lift the bag with the water and cannabis in it and let the excess water filter out into the bucket. Pour that water into your newly prepared bucket and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes.
- Dry your hash: Pull out the first bag and use a spoon to scrape off the wet hash. The wet hash can be placed onto a drying screen, or, in commercial facilities it is placed into a freeze-dryer to speed up the process. Repeat this process for each bag until you’ve reached the bottom of the bucket.
As a general rule, hash should stay potent and fresh for at least four to eight months after pressing. Like most cannabis products, it should be stored in a cool dark place. Along with the different processes used to make hash, each manufacturer has their own preferences regarding the equipment used as well. While smaller production teams may choose to take more DIY routes, industrial facilities will typically use automated machines like washers.
What equipment is used to make hash?
There are many pieces of equipment used when making hash; which are needed will vary depending on the sophistication of the process. From freeze dryers to mesh screens, below are some of the most essential pieces of the puzzle:
- Freezer or freeze dryer: Freezers can be used in the preparation process for hash making, and freeze-dryers are helpful for the drying process when making ice water hash. Our Xiros 2 or Xiros Mikro can be a huge help if you are attempting to make your own hash! While hash drying typically takes many days, freeze-dryers speed up the process and protect the hash from oxidation that may negatively impact the final product’s quality and taste.
- Grinders or mills: Grinders with a third compartment for kief collection can be a helpful tool when making hash, helping separate large quantities of plant material from the trichomes before dry sifting. Handmade hash is a great way to make use of your leftover kief from home.
- Fine mesh screens: The primary tool used in the process of making dry-sift hash are fine mesh screens stretched tightly across wooden frames. Typically, 3 to 4 filter screens are used in the process of hash making. These screens are made with food-grade nylon and measured in lines per inch (LPI) --- the number of nylon threads per inch of material.
- Micron bags: Micron bags are used during the production of ice water hash. The bags come in different sizes depending on the fineness of their fibers and are used to separate hash from the water.
- Heat and pressure source: Typically hash is pressed into a slab or brick following the extraction process. DIY hash makers use heat and pressure from sources like hair straighteners. Industrial producers and ice water hash is pressed in a mechanical press with heated plates.
- Washing machine: Automated machines are sometimes used when making ice water hash. Hash washing machines are specifically designed to separate trichomes and are available in a wide range of sizes depending on the needs of the manufacturer.
Getting started with hash
When it comes to any type of cannabis concentrate, making sure you are using the right equipment is essential to curating a quality product. Although hash has been around since ancient human civilizations, the modern cannabis consumer expects a top-quality product developed with quality and safety in mind. Visit our website for more information on the equipment offered by Holland Green Science, or contact our team of experts to schedule a consultation today.