An overview of hash: What it is, how it’s made, and how to use it.
Collected and consumed for centuries, hash is a type of extremely potent cannabis concentrate that can be inhaled or eaten. Hash, also known as hashish, is made from the resinous glands of the female cannabis plant, called trichomes.
While the golden-colored concentrate is available at most dispensaries in states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal, medical cannabis consumers who legally grow their own cannabis at home can make their own hash relatively easily.
What is Hash?
Hash is a cannabis concentrate made from collected trichomes, found primarily on the flower tops of female cannabis plants.
These resinous glands contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids – such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) — of the entire marijuana plant. As a result, hash typically contains a THC concentration between 20 and 60 percent, much higher than whole cannabis flowers. Some hash comes from strains that are more abundant in other cannabinoids, like CBD and cannabinol.
Hash also contains a higher concentration of terpenes, the essential oils that work synergistically with cannabinoids to enhance cannabis’s balancing properties. Terpenes are also responsible for giving marijuana its pungent, aromatic distinctions.
Hash is composed of compressed or purified preparations of trichomes, and as such it can take on various forms, from oily to pasty to dry to sticky. It typically has a light to dark brown color, although in some cases it can appear black, red, and even transparent.
Where Did Hash Come From?
Like the cannabis plant itself, hash is thought to have been used for thousands of years. While historians are still unsure as to where hash originates from, it is believed that the cannabis concentrate was popularized around 900 A.D. after it spread through Arabia. The word “hashish” originates from the Arabic language, roughly translating to mean “grass.”
Hash made its first appearance in the western world in the late 1700s after French Emperor Napoleon and his troops were exposed to the extract after invading Egypt. For years, European doctors imported hash for research purposes, and this led to the development of new extraction methods and further refinement into hash-infused products.
By the end of the 19th century, cannabis extracts like hash were used widely in the western world. The 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs prohibited hash and other cannabis, even for medical purposes, worldwide. It’s only been recently that selected countries and states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana and its extracts to some degree.
What are the Different Types of Hash?
Traditional hash appears as dark brown balls with a greasy film. It is made by separating the flower’s trichomes from the rest of the plant matter using the hands or by dry-sifting the flowers over a screen.
Bubble hash, also called ice water hash, is made by washing the trichomes off the flower with ice cold water, and then filtering them through a fine micron bag. Bubble hash can vary in consistency, from pressed and sticky to a dry powder, and can vary in color from light brown to black.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and Solvent Hash
Butane hash oil (BHO) and solvent hash oil is made using solvents – such as alcohol, butane, hexane, or CO2 — which extract the flower’s compounds. BHO and solvent hash can appear like liquid oil, crumbly wax, or glass-like shards. To make BHO or solvent hash, the marijuana flower is crammed into a long metal or glass cylinder that’s open on both ends. A solvent is sprayed down the tube, dissolving the cannabinoids into the solvent. That solvent is then heated so that it evaporates, leaving a highly concentrated hash. Butane and other solvents are highly flammable, making this method of creating hash or hash oil much more dangerous than the other options listed.
How Do You Make Your Own Hash?
Making traditional hash on your own is relatively easy provided that you have some patience, and for one technique, a few inexpensive tools.
You can make hash in one of two ways: The hand-rolling method or the dry-sift method.
The oldest and most traditional method for making hash is to rub the flowers in your hands. While relatively simple, the hand-rolling method can be messy and doesn’t produce a high yield of hash.
To make hash using the hand-rolling method, you’ll only need non-dried marijuana flower. Follow these steps:
- Wash your hands or wear gloves.
- Roll the marijuana flower slowly and gently between your two palms, avoiding putting any pressure on the bud. This will cause a dark film to form on your skin. Continue rolling for as long as you’re willing.
- Scrape the dark resin from your hands. Press it together to create a semi-solid block or ball.
The dry-sift method typically produces a higher yield of hash, although often times it is not as high of quality as the hash produced using the hand-rolling method.
- Cured cannabis flower, frozen
- Clean, flat surface to catch resin
- Tea strainer
- Cellophane bag
- Cellophane tape
- Rolling pin
Here’s how you make hash using the dry-sift method:
- Place the silkscreen over your clean, flat surface. Place the frozen cannabis trimmings onto the silkscreen.
- Wearing gloves, use your hands to gently move the flower around the screen, gradually separating the trichomes from the plant matter. The trichomes will fall through the screen onto your clean surface. For optimal purity, continue only until the resin created equates to about 10-20 percent of the flower on the screen.
- Collect the trichomes that fell through the screen. Sift them through a tea strainer. Collect the strained trichomes into the cellophane bag and seal.
- Wrap the bag with paper and seal it with cellophane tape. Saturate the bag under hot running water.
- Place the wet bag into the oven set to a temperature of 350 degrees F. Bake for 10-15 minutes to allow resin to melt.
- Remove the bag. Place it on a hard surface. Without removing the hash from the bag, use a rolling pin to roll it out evenly.
- Place the bag of rolled hash into the refrigerator to cool.
How Do You Consume Hash?
In general, hash can be consumed four different ways:
- Orally, through ingestion (edibles)
Hash can be decarboxylated (heated) and then blended into butters and oils to be included into marijuana edibles that are consumed orally.
Vaping hash involves the use of a heating device called a vaporizer, which heats the hash to its boiling point, producing a pure vapor designed for inhalation. Vaping offers near-immediate effects because once inhaled the botanical compounds are absorbed quickly through the lungs.
Dabbing hash involves using a “dab ring” or uniquely adapted water pipe to place the cannabis concentrate onto a hot surface to produce a smoke-free, cannabinoid-rich vapor that is inhaled. Similar to vaping, with dabbing, the hash’s cannabinoids enter the bloodstream nearly instantaneously for near immediate effects.
When smoked, hash can be used alone but because it doesn’t burn well is most commonly mixed with marijuana flower. Smoking any type of substance, including hash, does involve combustion, which produces toxins that can be harmful to the lungs.