Hashish – also referred to as Hash is considered to be the original cannabis concentrate. Humans have been producing, using and consuming it for centuries all over the world, with a few countries standing out as producing countries because of their unique cultivators, climates and cannabis expressions that make some seriously good Hash.
According to “Cannabis: A History” (written by Martin Booth and first published in 2003), the earliest published mention of the term “hashish” is found in an Egyptian pamphlet from around 1123 – almost a 1000 years ago!
The history of Hash or Hashish is diverse and unique to a number of “producing countries around the world”. From places like Morocco, Egypt, the Persian Empire and the whole of Europe. But the so-called “historic hash” is most famously produced in the mountains of India and Nepal, where it is called charas.
Charas is Hash made by rubbing the live Cannabis buds right at the end of their flowering cycle. The sticky plant resin sticks to the hands of the Hash maker as they rub from flower to flower collecting layers of resin on their hands as they go. Once this layer is thick enough it will be removed from the hand by collecting the resin on a finger and slowly peeling it off to form one mass.
This mass of resin is often then heated to activate the resin before it is prepared for storage and curing. In India and the mountains of Nepal, a famous means of preparation for storing and curing resin is a temple ball which a spherical mass of resin that is left to cure often for years.
The curing process is said to give the resin a mystical effect that is not seen or felt in young uncured and unpressed resin but the effect has not been isolated and defined in it entirety.
The Charas is primarily consumed by smoking it. Either by mixing it with Tobacco and rolling it into a “Spliff” or even more effectively – in a Chillum. Charas can also be consumed by eating or drinking preparations like Bhang (a yoghat cannabis infused drink) or by chewing the resin and swallowing pieces.
So how did Hash get from its places of origin and into the culture as we see it today? According to a study done by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in the early 2000’s, hashish first began to move to countries like Europe when colonizers returned to their home nations from countries like India, Egypt and Morocco. The first mention of hash can be found in European texts by German botanist, Johann Gmelin in 1777.
As you can imagine, Hash gained traction in many European countries fairly quickly. Realization and interest in the medical benefits of Hash grew in the U.S. toward the end of the 19th century. Interestingly, Hash was most commonly prescribed to treat conditions such as depression, nausea, diarrhea and appetite loss which are still some of the conditions treated with Hash today – along with an incredible array of newly discovered treatments and remedies for common and uncommon conditions in humans and other animals.
Today, “Hashish” exists in a galaxy of colours, textures, smells and effects. The most popular of which is referred to as Bubble Hash. Bubble Hash is made by agitating cannabis in Ice water. The mixture of ice water and agitated material is then filtered through a series of micron sieves that remove the plant materials from the very small resin filled trichome heads found on the leaf surfaces of buds, leaves and trim.
Hash is also made using dry sifting techniques which employ a similar technique as is found in many producing countries. Dry plant material is agitated over a poros mesh screen that is course enough to allow trichome heads to pass through it while at the same time holding back the majority of unwanted plant material contaminates.
The sift material is then collected and processed further using a variety of methods from Rosin to hand pressing or left as is and consumed as desired, when desired.
All gland-bearing regions of the cannabis plant such as the leaf, trim and buds or any combination of the three can be used to make ice water hash. It is more popular to use the trim from flowers freshly harvested as the material would usually be wasted. However, with the gaining popularity of ice water hash around the world many extraction artists distinguish themselves by producing Ice water hash that is on par with solvent based extracts and this can only be achieved by using the same material. Full, fresh frozen plant material. This said, ice water hash and in fact all hashish can be made from either fresh or dried material.
When making ice water hash it is important to keep the plant material and the environment you are extracting in very cold. Heat is the enemy when extracting the resin glands from the cannabis plant. Low-temperature water is essential to make the trichomes brittle enough to snap off during the agitation process. The low temperatures also limits the volatile terpenes from vaping off the material, allowing for a truer representation of the original material used to extract. 4°C is optimum and should be a temperature that is actively maintained throughout the extraction process.
At 4°C, RO water is at its thickest consistency allowing for the most active agitation of the resin glands. Below 4°C, the water starts to become buoyant as it prepares to freeze. This lowers the viscosity of the water and lowers the overall agitation capability of the water. Temperatures higher than 4°C can lead to a decreased ability to separate resin from its herbal source. This is because the resin starts to become pliable rather than brittle which leads to a morphing of the heads rather than a clean break. Once the heads have morphed, they can no longer be separated effectively based on their size.
Once removed and collected the resin needs to be dried to avoid moulding and nucleation of the resin. Now there is a lot on each of these topics and we would like to keep the blog posts separate to emphasis their importance. To view the full blog post on Moulds and Hash, please click here – “Moulds and Hashish: The good, the bad and the suprb” where we look into the spectrum of cured cannabis resin. Nucleation of cannabis resin at its most basic refers to a consistency. This consistency is also referred to as sugaring and is caused by the presence of water retained in the final product. The water limits the combining capabilities of the resin and leads to a consistency that is graining and a hash that can be harsh to consume. For this reason, humidity is also a factor to consider when making ice water hashish. To avoid the nucleation of resin make sure the resin is completely dry before storing and avoid humid storage conditions.
This can be achieved by freezing the mass of resin collected, microplanning or grating the resin onto a wicking surface and allowing the remaining water left behind to be wicked from the resin as quickly as possible. To accelerate the wicking process, spread the finely grated material over a large surface area that is capable of wicking the moisture out of the resin. This could be a piece of cardboard or a large wicking screen placed on top of a desiccant. Leave the resin to dry for 18-36 hours depending on the humidity present in the drying environment. The material at this point is very fine and sand like and can easily be blown away for bumped and lost. To ensure all the resin collected is retained after the drying process it is ideal to dedicate a space to the drying process that is out of direct light, wind and daily activity.
It’s crucial to treat the cannabis delicately to preserve all of the glands and keep them on the vegetation. Take the utmost care when preparing your flowers and material. Remove the stems and large fan leaves and avoid damaging the material through excessive trimming or grinding as this will remove the resin glands before the extraction process has begun and will contribute to lower yields and potentially high contamination levels in your final product. Coarsely chopped cannabis is most convenient. It is important to remove and twigs and stems before beginning the extraction process because they can tear the mesh screens of the filtration bags.
Whether using a pre-made bag system or materials from your kitchen, the basic principles of making ice water hash are the same. There are slight contributions by technique, patience and proficiency, but what primarily determines the quality of the hash you produce is the calibre of the plant material used and the quality and size of the micron filter mesh employed in your set of filtration bags.
Ice water hashish, also known as bubble hash or full melt hash are terms used to describe resin that has been collected from the cannabis plant using ice-water and gentle agitation. The agitation in this medium releases the resin glands from their bond form on the plant and allows resin collectors to separate and collect this resin into a concentrated form, expressing the full spectrum of the material processed.
Ice-water hash production is a highly valued methodology for making cannabis concentrates and is employed all over the world. Its name comes from the ice-cold water used to extract cannabis resin from the leaf surfaces of the trim, leaf, and the buds of the cannabis plant. On a fundamental level the process works because the cannabinoids contained within these resin glands are not water soluble, allowing them to retain their shape and not degrade in the presence of water and ice.
Ice-water hash is either retained as loose heads after the extraction process, which resembles a sandy or granular texture, or the grains are pressed into traditional hashish. High-quality (4* – 5*) granular hash can easily be pressed into traditional hashish using nothing more than the heat from the palm of one’s hand and some light, brisk friction, applied using the thumb of the other hand. Whereas lower quality hashish (1*-3*) may not readily melt into a mass through the application of heat and pressure. Loose or pressed, ice-water hashish still captivates even the most experienced consumers due to the unique and full-spectrum experience of this potent natural product.
Ice-water hash can be made in small or large quantities, allowing for a wide range of quality, texture and experience. Pre-made extraction systems can be purchased to simplify the process as the leg work of sourcing and manufacturing sifting equipment can be challenging. It is also possible to make ice water hash using tools around the house but with inexpensive kits available the savings are often negligible.
Pre-made extraction systems offer increased precision and efficiency during the ice water hash production process which is becoming more and more attractive as the market move towards precision isolation of resin based on gland size and ultimately ripeness. The availability of pre-made systems has contributed significantly to a surge in the popularity of ice water hash around the world.
It’s also near to impossible to seriously injure yourself or anyone else making ice water hash, because the process doesn’t involve any flammable chemicals or potentially explosive machinery which makes this technique a safe and viable means of extracting resin in one’s home. This allows more and more people to engage with the production of hashish and to increase their understanding of the plant and its sticky resin that we all know and love so much.