Behind the quest for the perfect dab

The dab market is far and away the wildest corner of the weed world. From high-tech devices to crystalline extracts, innovation moves at a frantic pace, churning out futuristic products and new forms of concentrates at warp speed. Amidst the race to create the perfect dab, it’s hard to believe that in 2018 we were still dabbing wax with blow torches.

While this rapid development may seem excessive for the most niche corner of an already niche market, something’s working. Concentrates are now the fastest growing sector of the industry. According to Headset, a cannabis data and consumer insights company, concentrate sales skyrocketed more than 40% in 2020 — $567 million in 2019 to $797 million in 2020 — accounting for a larger share of the cannabis market than ever before.

While some of this can be attributed to the fact that we were literally couch-locked for all of 2020 trying to get as high as possible, it’s also due to the advancements in the oil space that have made this divisive method of intake more accessible than ever before. 

As a culture journalist working in cannabis since 2014, and before that a lifelong stoner, it’s been wild to watch the dab-volution occur. I remember being at a High Times party in February of 2018, just weeks after the Puffco Peak — the first electronic rig and catalyst of the seismic shift in dabbing culture — was released. I was shocked to see “Peaks” replacing traditional rigs at every concentrate brand booth.  

The event celebrated women in cannabis — though at that time, the dab world was a total boys club, and the method of concentrate intake was reserved only for the headiest of stoners, and looked upon as “sketchy” by pretty much everyone else. 

Dr. Dina, an industry vet famous for being the inspiration for the hit show Weeds, was at that party too. One of the first supporters of the pivotal Puffco creation, she gushed prophetically.

Looking at all the smart rigs and handheld vaporizers available today and it’s clear the industry has exploded. Every day my inbox is filled with PR emails about a futuristic new device that may or may not do exactly what all the others do. Isolated cannabinoids and new forms of solventless extraction are all the rage. The industry races ever forward, fueled by a mix of innovation, imitation, and hype. 

While this juggernaut of advancement is fun to watch, and even more fun to experience, whether we want, need, or even care to comprehend the majority of what’s flooding the market, is yet to be determined. Which begs the question: is the industry’s quest for the perfect dab a solo mission, or are we as excited as they are about yet another way to get high?

When dab rigs went high tech

One of the ways I write about cannabis is in the form of device reviews. When judging a new dabbing system, e-rig or vaporizer, the first question I ask myself is “What does it do differently, or better, than all the rest?” If the answer is nothing, it’s essentially just creating trash on the earth that no one needs. 

Like most industries, true innovation in the device arena occurs rarely, creating a domino effect of knockoffs in varying degrees of quality. The Peak is the perfect example of a lightning rod invention that changed the world of concentrates, and launched a thousand look-alikes in the process. 

The Puffco Peak innovated the concentrates world when it entered the market. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

“The idea for the Peak came in 2016, and was born out of wanting a dabbing device with no learning curve,” said Roger Volodarsky, founder of Puffco and creator of The Peak. “I wanted it to be shaped like a beer bottle, so people could walk around a party with it without really raising any alarms or sticking out.” 

He continued, “It really started as a way to get people who were disinterested in dabs because of the stigma, because of the intensity, or because of a learning curve. It was our way of pulling them in, mainly because these people were our friends, and we wanted them to share an experience with them.” 

In 2017, when the Peak was conceived, concentrate sales were shrinking. “I had to convince [my designer] that the reason it was dying is because something like the Peak wasn’t on the market,” said Volodarsky. “There was no easy, classy way to engage with concentrates.” He paused, “Now concentrates are the fastest growing segment in the space.” 

Since then, dabbing devices in every capacity have flooded the market, ranging from the super cool to the totally lame. 

On the cool end, we have obviously the Peak Pro, as well as Puffco’s new Hot Knife electric dab tool. The Dab Tech Trio is an awesomely convenient three-in-one electronic dab straw, vape pen, and concentrate vaporizer that fits onto any bong or rig. I also love the G Pen Roam, which is basically a hybrid between a giant vape pen/e-rig with a bubbling water feature that’s perfect for adventures. 

The Reflux by Indux Labs is one of the most wildly innovative systems available, using electromagnetic waves to perfectly vaporize chemical compounds at optimal temperatures. And then, of course, existing at the apex of dab couture, lazer bongs and levitating dab rigs.

Existing on the totally lame end of the spectrum are all the blatant knockoffs of original designs. I don’t feel the need to call each of these brands or devices out. Just know that if you’re considering buying a knockoff device, there’s a reason they’re cheaper. These derivative options are often poorly manufactured, meaning they break constantly. In the world of dab devices, and life in general, you get what you pay for. 

cannabis budder dab
Hash oil, budder, and live resin options now flood the cannabis space. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The evolution of extracts

While devices went from analog to the moon and beyond, extracts have undergone a major glow up as well. Growing up as a teenager in SoCal in the late 2000s, the first extracts to hit the California medical market looked like black goo and were THC distillates that stripped all other cannabinoids and terpenes and got you high in the most one dimensional way possible.

Now, we enjoy a delicious array of meticulously extracted, high quality rosins, resins, diamonds, shatters, butters, badders and more. The evolution of extracts has been marked by three major developments, specifically in the last few years. There’s the transition from solvent extracts to solventless concentrates, the preference of “live” over “cured” products, and the rise of isolated cannabinoids

A dab tool with live rosin
A dab tool with live rosin. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

To delve further into what all this means, we spoke with Khalid Al-Naser, Head of Product at Raw Garden, one of the most popular and highest quality extract brands on the market. 

“I’ve been a part of the California cannabis community for over a decade, and there’s been a ton of evolution,” said Al-Naser. “My earliest memories were of really low quality hash, or cannabis oil, which was all it was referred to at the time. Butane honey oil explosions in apartments and garages were happening, so there was this sense of this isn’t medicine, or it’s not clean.” 

He continued, “A lot of people seemed to just push towards solventless alternatives and things that maybe they thought were safer, and then started to try and push on quality.”

The market has taken a sharp turn from hyping solvent extracts like these distillates or, more recently, live resins, where an accelerant like butane is used to separate trichomes from plant matter.  Solventless concentrates like rosins, are extracted using only a combination of heat, ice, water, and pressure, and have become highly sought after, sparking a debate within the industry and consumers about which is better and why. 

“With rosin, it was like someone just stumbled on this idea that heat and pressure would separate the oils from the hash, then they found out they could do it with flower, too,” said Al-Naser. “You saw this resurgence of solventless products. I think a lot of that shift was in part a reflection of the volatile nature of the pre-recreational market.” 

“Live” products, like live resins and live rosins, have also become wildly popular. These products use flash frozen live plants in the extraction process, creating an extract with a far more robust terpene profile than those made from dried bud, as much of the smell and flavor in cannabis is lost during the drying process. 

At the forefront of innovation in the concentrate space, you have products like THCA diamonds, the pursuit of isolated cannabinoids, and forms of supercritical C02 extraction that claim to revolutionize solventless extraction. The possibilities for advancement in the extracts arena are truly boundless, especially when it comes to cannabinoid isolation, as we have just scratched the surface in understanding what these chemical compounds do together, much less alone. 

dab tool with sauce with diamonds
A dab tool with diamond sauce. These concentrates are coveted amongst niche weed subcultures. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The future of dabbing 

So, back to the question that exists at the crux of all of this: Are we consumers as excited about all this wild advancement as the people profiting off of it? Rodger Volodarsky isn’t convinced, and neither am I. 

“I think consumers value one thing,” he said. “And that’s experience. I had to learn that lesson really early on when I came through with the Puffco Plus. Currently, we sell a ton of them. But when it first came out, I thought people would lose their shit when they saw that it was a ceramic concentrate pen with no coils. But not a single person cared.” 

The glaring flaw in the dab race is that brands are so caught up with outdoing one another and making money off the wave, they forget that most consumers not only don’t care, but don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with all this hyper complicated advancement.

Casual consumers just want to get high and feel good. They buy the products that most clearly communicate that that is what they do. Having reviewed dab devices for years now, I own pretty much all of them. When friends who are casual smokers come over and see all these things, they chuckle with furrowed-brow grins, but very few of them are interested in learning more. The vibe I get from most people is why, not wow

Products that simplify something complicated, like the Peak did to traditional dabbing, are always going to beat out products that needlessly complicate things in the pursuit of innovation. Innovative advances like electronic dab rigs, handheld vaporizers, and live rosins are what made concentrates more accessible and, along with weed marketing, hype, and subcultures celebrating 7/10, are what will continue to bring more people into the world of dabs. 

“They didn’t get it until we started presenting how to use it, and made the connection for them that it’s a hash one hitter. Then sales exploded,” Volodarsky said. “I think innovation is about leveling up the experience, not about new features.” 

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Should I care about 7/10?

Lorena Cupcake, voted “best budtender in Chicago,” has answered hundreds of questions from cannabis shoppers and patients during their time as a budtender. And now they’re turning that experience into a monthly advice column, Ask a budtender. Got a question for Cupcake? Submit your questions to askabudtender@weedmaps.com.  

Dear Cupcake,

I know 7/10, aka OIL day, is the concentrate-consumer equivalent of 4/20, but do stoners actually celebrate 710? Maybe they’re not filling public parks with dab vapor like it’s 4/20 2.0, but are they celebrating somewhere? 

Dear 710-curious,

Unlike 4/20, which has layers of lore stretching back decades, 7/10 is a relatively new addition to the pantheon of cannabis culture. I took my first dab over a decade ago, but I only started hearing about 710 within the past few years. While it’s hard to pin down an exact origin story, most folks agree that 710 was modeled on 420, and chosen due to the mirrored resemblance of “710” to the word “OIL.”

Whether you call it butane hash oil, honey oil or dabs, there’s no denying that concentrated cannabis oil is one of the most rapidly growing segments of the cannabis market. Though the specialized — and sometimes scary — equipment used to make oils can turn novice consumers away from concentrates, those who dab regularly tend to be passionate about their relationship to the product.

In addition to celebrating the special bond that die-hard dabbers have with their budders and bubble hash, July 10th, similar to April 20th, is an opportunity to raise awareness around an oft-overlooked and misunderstood product category. Cris Rivera, SVP of retail marketing and store development at Chicago-based Cresco Labs, told Cannabis Business Times that the focus is on using the holiday “to see if we can get people who haven’t yet tried concentrates but seem to be heavy cannabis users to consider adding concentrates.”

How do people celebrate 7/10?

To learn how real people celebrate 7/10 — or if they even do — I messaged some of my favorite cannabis content creators here in Chicago. Shay, who posts under the handle @southsideshankie, had already heard the old story about the date resembling the word OIL. It’s just a lucky coincidence that it takes place the day after their birthday. 

Pure dabs come in all shapes and sizes — including a tiny, infused slice of “pizza.” (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

“In the past years that I’ve celebrated [7/10], I was already visiting Colorado for my birthday, and they promote it pretty heavily there,” she said. “I took advantage of the sales by buying new glass and saving on concentrates from the dispensaries.”

Jack, a budtender who posts his experiments with rosin under the name @cannajack129, also indulges in new glass for the holiday. “Most of my 7/10 celebrations included new piece purchases and sharing with friends,” he said. “A few have been larger planned things like 710 Cups. All celebrations include heavy day-dabbing, multiple cultivars and styles of concentrate, music, friends, and good food.”

When the big day rolls around, he plans to keep it lowkey. “This year, I plan to have a number of different cultivars on hand and have a day-long flower/bubble hash pressing sesh with friends. I have a personal rosin press, and nothing is more satisfying than dabbing rosin fresh off the press.”

While event producers like Dab Day Productions and The Errl Cup (errl being slang for oil) are beginning to announce 710-themed events, it’s likely that 7/10/21 will look similar to our past 4/20: record-breaking sales, but few public gatherings due to ongoing safety concerns. 

I suggest taking a little inspiration from Danksgiving, a November holiday where grateful guests gather for a 420-friendly version of Friendsgiving. They don’t need expo halls, VIP passes or security checks to have a fun cannabis event; just some cannabutter in the mashed potatoes, or a few joints to pass around the dinner table.

This 7/10, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. I’ve come up with some ideas to get you started: 

Will 7/10 ever be as big as 4/20?

Will the story of 7/10 end up as satisfying as dropping errl on a hot banger, or will it fizzle out? “I think that it’s possible it could become a bigger thing,” Jack speculated. “As legalization occurs, I’ve been seeing more and more people moving into using concentrates. The stigma is lessened, and the necessary equipment becomes less scary (i.e. Puffco Peak over Blazer torches) so there’s more room for the average consumer to enjoy concentrates.”

puffco peak dab rig
Enjoying dabs with the Puffco Peak. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps) 

Shay seems more convinced. “I do think that 7/10 will become a bigger deal within the cannabis community as I see a large number of creators and consumers who already dab,” she said. “I feel it will definitely require more marketing/promotion to spread the hype, and messaging in all the legal cannabis markets.”

Despite the optimism, 7/10 faces plenty of challenges. Growth in concentrate sales took a major hit in 2019 when safety concerns rose around counterfeit vape cartridges. People who casually smoke or vape might not have the tolerance required to truly enjoy dabs. High-quality, lab-tested extracts are difficult to source in areas without legalized cannabis, while the quality of extraction technology and talent in newer markets is still catching up to the high standard set by industry leaders in California and Colorado. 

The future of 710

If you look at the trajectory of 4/20, it’s easy to believe that a once-obscure inside joke for those “in the know” could become a household name. After all, decades ago, the Cannabis Cup was an underground event held only in Amsterdam. Changing attitudes and expanding legal access have bolstered the size of the community that rallies behind these cannabis cultural touchstones.

Brands care about 7/10 the way that Hallmark cares about Valentine’s Day; it’s another opportunity to market themselves to you. A lot of companies stand to benefit if, like 4/20, the date becomes linked to landmark sales. Just like Green Wednesday and Green Friday, July 10th is an important day on the calendar for those of us who work in cannabis marketing. 

However, it’s also an opportunity for real people to connect with others who share their interests. While it has room to grow before it catches up to 4/20 in cultural significance, 7/10 plays the same role as cup-style competitions, infused dinner parties and farmer’s markets: it gives us another reason to gather together.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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How-To: Make Rosin Dabs At Home

Want to feel lucky? Consider the statistical probability of being alive on planet Earth at precisely the right moment in human history to witness a technological renaissance and cultural revolution in cannabis. You won that cosmic lottery — we all did. 

So what better way to celebrate our good fortune than dabbing some freshly pressed rosin made at home? This simple but powerful extraction method has surfed a tsunami wave of excitement across the continent, obliterating obstacles for would-be dabbers in even the most prohibition-darkened corners of the cannabis landscape. 

And rosin isn’t just for people without access to critical concentrates. Even in states, where BHO shatter and wax can be obtained with a quick trip to the nearest dispensary, the potency and flavor of rosin has captured the imaginations of many diehard dabbers, myself very much included. 

A nug of Do-Si-Do.

My first rosin dab set an exceptionally high bar for everything I’ve tried since. It was a transparent, amber glass shatter pressed from connoisseur-grade bubble hash. The effects were astoundingly powerful, with a flavor profile that offered a sweeter, cleaner variation on the classic earthy spice of full spectrum hash.

But not everybody has access to top-shelf hash, which is why a lot of the buzz around rosin tech has to do with pressing flowers. My initial attempts to press my own proved less than successful, but I later learned that I was pressing at too high a temperature. Once I corrected that error, rosin tech became a quick, convenient way to literally squeeze a few tasty dabs out of my flower stash.

Flower Rosin

Rosin’s simplicity allows anybody with access to cannabis and a few common household items to make dabs at home in a matter of minutes. And if you don’t have one or more of the things you’ll need, nothing required should cost more than $50.

A bud is placed in between parchment paper in preparation to be pressed into rosin.

If you’re reading this, odds are you’ve got some cannabis flowers handy. Grab a few grams from your stash — two to four works for our purposes.

Now fetch a flat iron from the bathroom. I know there’s a roughly 50/50 chance you don’t know what a flat iron is, but if you live with someone who has long hair there’s also a roughly 50/50 chance that you’ll find one in the bathroom.

OK, it’s like a pair of barbecue tongs with electric heating plates that touch each other when you squeeze the handles. It’ll have a power cord and (hopefully) a temperature dial on it… did you find it? Now all we need is parchment paper (NOT wax paper) or a “dab mat,” previously known as a silicone baking mat and still sold as such for half the price of the “heady” ones.

Now take a medium-sized bud and either fold it into an envelope of parchment paper or wrap it inside a silicone mat. Take the resulting bundle and press it hard between the heating plates of the flat iron.

You’ll need to find the ideal temperature for the strain you’re using, but for me it was right around 250° F. A higher temperature can coax out a slightly higher yield, but it can also compromise the consistency and flavor of the final product. As a general rule, the lower the pressing temp, the more stable the final product will be.

In terms of pressure, apply as much as you possibly can without breaking the iron. I had great success pressing the iron into the floor with my knee… then I broke the iron. Experiment and find what works for you.

Once you’ve pressed long enough (some say three seconds, some say until you hear a sizzle) it’s the moment of truth. Peeling the paper or mat back the first time combines the anticipation of unwrapping a gift with the anxiety of waiting on test scores, but if you got it right you’ll know right away because you’ll see a golden halo of rosin around your now flattened bud.

Gather up all the rosin with a tool and fire up your dab rig, because the clock just struck 7:10.

Hash Rosin

If you do have access to some bubble hash, you can use more or less the same method to press that into rosin as well. Only you’ll want to reduce the temperature substantially. Most of the professional hash makers I’ve spoken with agree that between 160° and 180° F is where high-quality hash should turn into rosin. If your starting material isn’t that great, it might require a bit more, but don’t expect magical results. As in all cannabis extraction, what you get out is largely dictated by what you put in.

Or as Evan X. from High Noon Extracts once told me, “You can’t turn chicken shit into chicken salad.”

You also don’t have to press rosin to dab bubble hash, you can just press the hash lightly, so the “loose” hash becomes a cuttable, pickable, dabbable patty of gum. You can achieve the same effect by rubbing loose hash against itself in the palm of your hand. But however you do it, the idea is to heat up the hash just enough to make it malleable and then finesse it into a glob.

Dabbing pressed bubble provides a unique sensory experience that amplifies the flavors and effects of full spectrum hash, giving you the immediacy of a dab and the deep complexity of a classic hash high. If your hash is already full melt, this is all you really need to do with it.

And if you do have some tasty hash that needs a boost in potency and melt – or you just want an experience similar to dabbing shatter without concerning yourself with residual solvents – pressing it into rosin could be just what’s called for.

Rosin pressed from a bud of Julio’s Dog by Hashbury Extracts.

No matter which starting material you chose, remember that it all boils down to heat and pressure. I’ve seen rosin made with a pneumatic press that exerts enough pressure to crush bones, but you don’t need to get even close to that. T-shirt presses, coffee mug presses – anything that combines heat and pressure has the potential for creating rosin.

And a final word of caution: make sure you know what’s in your cannabis. This is important even if you don’t plan to make rosin, but especially if you do. When you squeeze the cannabinoids out of flowers you also squeeze out any residual water, which can contain pesticides, chemical nutrients and other potentially harmful remnants of the cultivation process. Like the desirable THC, these elements will also be concentrated in the final product, so clean starting material is a must. Only press flowers from trusted suppliers. 

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now as Rosin Up Your Rig.

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Dabbing 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Concentrates

A dab is always a cannabis concentrate – a form of marijuana that has been processed so that much of the plant material has been removed, leaving a substance that will be more potent because it’s now concentrated.

Products made with water, ice, shaking or any combination of methods that don’t involve additional chemicals are considered “non-solvent” or “solventless” and if the quality and technique is right, these can be quite dabbable. Most often, dabs refer to Butane Hash Oil (Butane Honey Oil or BHO) which is made by using butane as a solvent to strip the plant material. The butane/hash mixture is then processed to purge away the butane, leaving a dabbable concentrate. Extractors also use things like CO2 and propane to make concentrated cannabis. With so many different methods,  it’s important to inquire about how the dab was made, as one experience can be completely different from the next!

There are all sorts of devices that people utilize to dab but in essence it’s just fancy hot-knifing – an old technique used to smoke hash by pressing it between two hot knives and inhaling. These days, equipment is much more sophisticated than knives heated over a stove. Glass pipes known as “rigs” are made specifically for consuming hash oil. Rigs have a “nail” – a titanium, glass, quartz or ceramic surface that’s heated with a blowtorch or electric heating device to a temperature that vaporizes the hash upon contact.

It’s important to use discretion with dabbing. Depending on methods and materials, each dab is a unique combination of factors. Just like with different strains of flowers, quality varies. For example, there’s high quality artisan oil made from the flowers of the plant as well as more mass-produced oil made from trim or the entire plant. There are small batches being made at home with PVC pipe and cans of butane and there are batches being processed through industrial closed-loop systems made specifically for this process.

As with many aspects of cannabis usage, there have not been many studies done on the effect of dabs, but since there is an extra solvent in the equation it would make sense to be extra careful about what you’re using. Ideal BHO won’t be green or soupy-goopy and it definitely shouldn’t spark or crackle when it hits the nail. That would be a sign of moisture and there shouldn’t be any in a product that requires such attention to detail. Always start off with a small sample and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Dabbing 101 Basics

Find a comfortable spot and sit down. In rare cases, dabs can cause fainting – especially in inexperienced users. While cannabis isn’t dangerous, falling down can be. Until you know how concentrates affect you, it’s better to be safe and comfy.

Start small! Cannabis concentrates are strong and a good starter size is about the head of a pin. Even if you smoke flowers daily, dabs will take you to a whole new level very fast! Start small – you can always take a second dab if you want.

Because dabs are highly concentrated, it’s unnecessary to hold your breath to maximize the hit like you might with traditional pot smoke.

Dab cough is real and nothing to be ashamed of – especially with higher temperatures and bigger dabs. The cough is a normal part of dabbing. When the dab expands in your lungs it can be irritating but it can be eased by taking a small inhale of fresh air before inhaling the dab. Dabs will also be smoother if the nail is allowed to cool slightly before puffing. Dabs taken off of a red-hot nail are less flavorful and harsher to inhale.

Dabs can be quite intense and, like all cannabis, they affect each user differently. Variables can include anything from how much sleep you got last night to what you ate prior to toking. If you find yourself uncomfortably stoned have a sugary drink, which will lessen the high.

Dab Vocab

710: Slang for OIL (710 upside down).

Errl: Slang for any type of hash oil.

Wax: Named for its earwax like consistency, wax is a form of BHO that is golden, crumbly and not sticky.

Shatter: A form of BHO that is transparent and hard, that literally shatters when broken or snapped.

Budder: Opaque, crumbly oil.

Non-Solvent: Hash that has been made without the use of solvents. Sometimes this hash is dabbable, especially if using rosin tech.

Rosin Tech: The process of making dabbable hash oil by adding only heat and pressure to solventless hash or marijuana flowers.

Slab: A large quantity of hash oil in one large piece.

Flowers: A term used for distinguishing traditional plant material from concentrates.

Pre-run: A term for marijuana flowers, implying that they have not yet been turned into hash oil and are therefore less desirable.

Live Resin: Hash oil that has been made from fresh-frozen plant material, rather than cured and dried plant material.

Nug Run: Hash oil that has been made with only the flowers of the marijuana plant, rather than the trim or the full plant.

Blasting: The process of running solvent through plant material to create hash oil.

E-Nail: A device that heats and controls the temperature of the nail so that no blowtorch is needed and the nail does not have to be reheated between each dab.

Reclaim: The resin left behind in a rig. Unlike resin from bowls and bongs, reclaim doesn’t smell awful and is actually quite potent.

DTFO: Stands for Dabbed The F*** Out, used to describe someone who is falling asleep or similarly unable to handle the dabs they took.

Baby Dab: A small dab, a good idea for those who have never tried it or rarely do.

Ninja Dab: When someone sneaks in a dab on top of the one being taken, forcing the dabber to do the double dab.

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Cannabis Holidays to Celebrate Throughout the Year

We all know 420 as the quintessential stoner holiday. Even many people who don’t smoke very much have heard of the day; it’s globally recognized. But did you know there are quite a few other cannabis holidays, more quaint and less commercialized ones, that are very much worth celebrating?

So, mark your calendars, call your friends, and make sure you’re stocked up on all your favorite products when these cannabis holidays roll around.

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420 – April 20th

First on the list, not because it’s the most well-known but because it’s chronologically first, is none other than 420. The origin of the term 420 can be traced back to a group of five teens from San Rafael, California, the birthplace of many industry trends and the current largest cannabis market in the world. The teens were appropriately nicknamed “the Waldos” due to their preferred hang out spot – a wall outside of their high school. In the fall of 1971, the Waldos got wind of a rumor that a Coast Guard planted some cannabis seeds there and was no longer able to tend to his field.

Every day after school, they would pile into one of their cars, have a little smoke sesh, and scour the Point Reyes National Forest for this legendary crop. Their daily meeting time? 4:20 p.m. They never did find the elusive crop (that likely didn’t even exist), but they did manage start a trend that would first take over their high school and soon reach global status.

The phrase “420” quickly spread around, especially with teens and young adults, because it allowed teens to talk about cannabis openly while their parents, teachers, and supervisors were none the wiser. Eventually, thanks to some attention from Grateful Dead and a simple flyer that read, “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” Once High Times printed the story, accompanied by a photo of the flyer, it was game over… 420 was officially a thing.

420 Deals – Best Delta 8 Products To Shop For Now!

Jack Herer’s Birthday – June 18th

If you live in a legal or medical market, it’s not uncommon to find numerous strains with “Jack” in the name. Jack Diesel, Critical Jack, and Super Jack are all variants of the infamous sativa strain, Jack Herer. A lot of people, both consumers and those within the industry, know about the potent effects and robust flavor of this strain, however, many are unfamiliar with the man behind the strain.

After serving in the U.S. Army and moving to Los Angeles, California, Jack tried marijuana for his first time at the ripe of 30 years old. After falling in love with the plant and its effects, he quit his job and opened a head shop in Venice Beach, a mecca for art and hippie culture at the time.

By the 1970s, Jack Herer became a powerful presence in the movement to legalize cannabis. Herer spent a lot of time at the Library of Congress, reviewing decades of government-backed research on marijuana benefits and hemp fiber uses. He used this information for his 1985 book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which marked a watershed in his career as a cannabis industry activist.

His book quickly became known as the “holy grail” or “bible” of cannabis knowledge. To this day it is still viewed as a classic and a must-read for anyone with any sort of involvement with cannabis. To commemorate his many strides in the cannabis industry, many choose to celebrate his birthday, June 18th, by lighting up a joint, bowl, or blunt in one of his legendary strains.

710 – July 10th

For most people, July 10th is just another day; but in the cannabis industry, it’s a new-ish holiday to celebrate dabs. While most people view this as a very recreational form of using cannabis or hemp buds, many medical patients utilize it for the strong and fast-acting effects. Concentrates have anywhere from 50 to 90 percent cannabinoid content.

The exact origins of how this holiday came to be remain a bit hazy, but the date was picked for one simple reason: when you take the number 710, and flip it upside it looks just like the word “OIL”. The first documented 710 celebrations were back in 2012, when Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis and thus, created The 7/10 Cup to showcase newly permitted concentrate products.

Current 7/10 celebrations consist of concentrate consumption, usually via a popular method referred to as “dabbing”. Concentrates come in many forms such as wax, shatter, and bubble hash, and you can get both THC and CBD varieties. A small amount of concentrate is loaded into a dab rig then heated with a blowtorch.

CBD Day – August 8th

August 8th is celebration of cannabidiol specifically. Although it technically started as a marketing campaign, it’s grown to be nationally recognized as a day to spread awareness about the numerous health benefits of using CBD, arguably one of the most important cannabis holidays. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive so it’s primarily used in the wellness sector and there is even and FDA-approved medication, Epidiolex, that utilizes CBD as the main ingredient.

Although Epidiolex is only prescribed to patients with a few rare forms of epilepsy, CBD is used to treat a laundry list of different ailments including anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, nausea, and other neurological disorders.

CBD is legal in all 50 states and, according to a recent Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans have tried it at least once or have some level of familiarity with it, and 14 percent of people use it regularly. For adults under the age of 35, it is the preferred treatment method for mental health disorders.

Cannabis Holidays – Final Thoughts

Aside from 420, what cannabis holidays will you be celebrating this year? And how do you plan to celebrate? Let us know in the comment section below and make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter for exclusive deals on flowers and other products.

Best Delta 8 THC Deals, Coupons and Discounts

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Lone Cannabinoids: THCA

The psychoactive effects produced from ingesting cannabis are a result of not just THC, but of THC in synergy with hundreds of other cannabinoids present in the plant known as the “entourage effect.” The pure THCA experience can therefore leave much to be desired for the casual cannabist.

“It’s interesting, but it’s only one compound and medical marijuana is medical because of all the cannabinoids, not just one,” says Matt Archibald, President of Botanical Process Solutions, a company that supplies supercritical CO2 extraction systems complete with recipes designed to produce consistent, reproducible results.

For anyone curious about extracting THCA, answers are just an online search away. German researchers published a scholarly article in the “Journal of Chromatography” in 2011 that discusses, in detail, two procedures for isolating THCA.

“Both use flash chromatography and require nasty solvents like pentane or butane,” Archibald explains. “But anyone with a chemistry background could do it just following the directions in the paper.”

Elaborating on the process, Archibald says that the German scientists started with kief that they then dissolved in a solvent – in this case, pentane, which is related to butane but with a higher boiling point. They treated the kief with activated carbon to remove the terpenes and other compounds and placed heat-treated silica gel in a column (essentially a tube with a hole in bottom), added the purified kief in at the top, put a flask underneath, then poured pentane mixed with another chemical over it. THCA sticks to silica gel to a certain degree, he says, so compounds that don’t stick come out first. Lastly, more and more modifiers are added to extract the rest of the THCA.

“It’s not a complicated process, although flash chromatography is a very slow one. It’s just dangerous because you have to use pentane,” which is highly combustible like its butane/BHO cousin.

For those concerned about solvents in their concentrates, Archibald says the evaporation process theoretically should get rid of residual solvents, as done with pharmaceutical extractions. However in the cannabis world, few hash makers have the same refined expertise as pharmaceutical companies.

BHO is likely what extract artists are using to isolate THCA, using previously extracted butane hash oil as base material, according to Dan Polking, a lab tech at Analytical 360 in Seattle, who says he’s tested THCA concentrates at 98 percent and higher.

“I think some people start with BHO, then add another solvent to purify it further,” he says.

But Archibald believes there is a safer way to isolate THCA.

“You can do something similar with CO2 by adding modifiers and putting the material through a silica gel column. CO2 is safe. Pentane isn’t.”

Archibald, who says the supercritical extraction systems he supplies are so dialed in that “users can literally download a recipe for a certain type of extract from our website and get the same results time after time.” He explains that the CO2 process can isolate other specific cannabinoids, which could have even greater implications for the medical cannabis industry.

“After the CO2 extraction, there are separators. The separators can be adjusted to favor one cannabinoid over another,” he explains.

Because cannabinoids are so similar, the process of getting only one cannabinoid per separator is difficult, he says, but not impossible. However, such single-cannabinoid extracts probably won’t impress the chronnoisseur.

“Pure THCA doesn’t have much appeal because it doesn’t have the terpenes,” Archibald says. “There’s research that shows how important terpenes and CBD are to the whole experience,” and no one even knows how the lesser studied or unidentified cannabinoids weigh in. “Chances are, if you’re smoking your favorite strain, [your enjoyment of] it has to do with cannabinoids and terpenes.”

So, what sort of high does dabbing pure THCA produce? Archibald speculates the effects would be “similar to synthetic cannabinoids, like Spice, because you don’t have the CBD to mitigate the anxiety that THC can produce. I’m one of those guys that can’t do sativas because I get too jittery and paranoid, so I would never try pure THCA. People that are into indicas wouldn’t enjoy pure THCA at all.”

He uses a comparison others can relate to as more insight into the experience.

“Lots of people really love good beer and good wine, but very few people want to drink Everclear.”

Originally published in Cannabis Now print edition. LEARN MORE.

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Puffco Peak Pro: Updated Dab Rig Promises More Bang For Your Buck

For fans of dabbing, Puffco has been a pillar of the community since launching their very first product, a fillable wax pen called the Puffco classic, in 2013. The vape pen allowed for a discreet yet satisfying concentrate experience. But the introduction of the Peak in early 2018 revolutionized the game – the “smart rig” offered a full dab without the need for a blowtorch or banger. 

Puffco’s Peak took the cannabis world by storm, developing a cult-like following that has become increasingly widespread with the fandom currently reaching a fever pitch (winners of the Emerald Cup in 2019 were awarded custom Peaks, demonstrating how coveted the gadgets truly are).

The release of version 2.0, the Peak Pro, sent followers into a frenzy this past fall, constituting the biggest drop ever for Puffco — and for good reason. The new device is full of fantastic updates and new features resulting in a masterpiece completely worthy of its $399.99 price tag. From an improved atomizer to customizable heat settings, to an immersive carb cap, the Peak Pro is truly the new gold standard in dabbing. 

Sleek Aesthetics Make Impactful First Impression

Out of the box, the Puffco Peak Pro certainly pleases the eye. The overall look is similar in nature to the original Peak but with a sexier brushed metal finish and a slimmer glass head (don’t worry, custom glass from the Peak still fits on the Pro base). 

The power/control button is also changed for the better, as it is more pronounced and easier to manipulate than the previous iteration. The new mouthpiece and tool backpack (part of the Travel Pack, sold separately) are also improved upon, as they’re more ergonomically designed and functional than version 1.0.

The included Peak Pro Carrying Case, which houses the unit, was also vastly improved. It takes up less space, has a slick handle, and features a magnetized closure to keep your device and its accessories safe and sound. 

Peak Pro Hits Hard, But in a Good Way

The initial reaction to actually using the new Peak Pro was that hits are even smoother and more intense than the Peak itself. This probably has something to do with the new atomizer, which provides a more even heat distribution throughout the bowl than the previous version. A heating element electronically warms the bowl to the user’s preferred temperature in mere moments. The chamber then remains in constant communication with the device in order to maintain the proper temperature throughout the session, resulting in a consistent yet powerful dab. 

One great improvement on the Peak Pro atomizer is the way in which it connects to the device itself. The previous version screwed in while the updated one locks in with a simple half twist, preventing issues especially before and after cleaning. 

Oculus Carb Cab Offers Peak Users A Unique Peek 

One popular feature of the Peak Pro is the contemporary Oculus carb cap, which has an integrated window in order for consumers to get up close and personal with their concentrations mid-hit. The flat cap has a tiny slit to control airflow and is connected to the atomizer via a tether, ensuring it stays put regardless if it’s on or off. Custom carb caps are compatible with the new chamber as well, but the Oculus is truly all you need.

Puffco Peak Pro Carb Cap

While this detail may seem minor in comparison with the oodles of other neat things about the Peak Pro, the new Oculus carb cap is one of the Puffco team’s favorite updates and is considered an important part of the overall device experience.

Digital Dabbing Takes Peak Pro to Next Level

Arguably the most impressive component of the Peak Pro is its user customization abilities via the corresponding smartphone app. Using Bluetooth connectivity, the app allows consumers to name their device and create unique sessions with personalized temperature, length, and LED color settings (this writer favors her “Steady Vibin’” sesh, maxing out at 505 degrees Fahrenheit for 37 seconds).

Users can track their daily dabs, as well as all-time hit count. Create a curated light show in the “Lantern” mode or turn on “Stealth” mode to kill the lights for a more discreet dab. “Ready” mode allows you to choose your favorite heat setting to begin when the Peak Pro is removed from the charging dock.

The Peak Pro charging dock (sold separately) is another game-changer for Puffco, as it eliminates the terrible waiting game one must play while patiently wondering when their device will have enough juice for just one more dab. Using Qi-integrated technology, the Peak Pro fits snugly onto the circular base and can be used as it charges. The dock doubles as a portable energy bank, meaning you can plug in your phone or 510 battery via its USB input.

The Peak Pro can also be used in an analog manner — it comes with four pre-set temperature settings, just like the original Peak, and can be plugged in via an included USB-C charger. No smartphone or base is required, but they certainly enhance the device’s capabilities!

An Update Worthy of the Hype

For those who are wondering if the Peak Pro lives up to the incredible amount of hype it has received, the answer is a resounding yes. In addition to a litany of party tricks sure to astound any stoner, the device is also good at what it’s meant to do: offer a consistent and fully customizable concentrate experience to consumers of all types. 

The Peak Pro is the holy grail of dabbing thanks to its unmatched quality and ingenuity, and while it may seem like the team at Puffco has outdone themselves, they promise there’s only more to come.

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Rosin Up Your Rig

Want to feel lucky? Consider the statistical probability of being alive on planet Earth at precisely the right moment in human history to witness a technological renaissance and cultural revolution in cannabis. You won that cosmic lottery — we all did. 

So what better way to celebrate our good fortune than dabbing some freshly pressed rosin? This simple but powerful extraction method has surfed a tsunami wave of excitement across the continent, obliterating obstacles for would-be dabbers in even the most prohibition-darkened corners of the cannabis landscape. 

And rosin isn’t just for people without access to critical concentrates. Even in states, where BHO shatter and wax can be obtained with a quick trip to the nearest dispensary, the potency and flavor of rosin has captured the imaginations of many diehard dabbers, myself very much included. 

My first rosin dab set an exceptionally high bar for everything I’ve tried since. It was a transparent, amber glass shatter pressed from connoisseur-grade bubble hash. The effects were astoundingly powerful, with a flavor profile that offered a sweeter, cleaner variation on the classic earthy spice of full spectrum hash.

But not everybody has access to top-shelf hash, which is why a lot of the buzz around rosin tech has to do with pressing flowers. My initial attempts to press my own proved less than successful, but I later learned that I was pressing at too high a temperature. Once I corrected that error, rosin tech became a quick, convenient way to literally squeeze a few tasty dabs out of my flower stash.

Flower Rosin

Rosin’s simplicity allows anybody with access to cannabis and a few common household items to make delicious dabs in a matter of minutes. And if you don’t have one or more of the things you’ll need, nothing required should cost more than $50.

If you’re reading this, odds are you’ve got some cannabis flowers handy. Grab a few grams from your stash — two to four works for our purposes.

Now fetch a flat iron from the bathroom. I know there’s a roughly 50/50 chance you don’t know what a flat iron is, but if you live with someone who has long hair there’s also a roughly 50/50 chance that you’ll find one in the bathroom.

OK, it’s like a pair of barbecue tongs with electric heating plates that touch each other when you squeeze the handles. It’ll have a power cord and (hopefully) a temperature dial on it… did you find it? Now all we need is parchment paper (NOT wax paper) or a “dab mat,” previously known as a silicone baking mat and still sold as such for half the price of the “heady” ones.

Now take a medium-sized bud and either fold it into an envelope of parchment paper or wrap it inside a silicone mat. Take the resulting bundle and press it hard between the heating plates of the flat iron.

You’ll need to find the ideal temperature for the strain you’re using, but for me it was right around 250° F. A higher temperature can coax out a slightly higher yield, but it can also compromise the consistency and flavor of the final product. As a general rule, the lower the pressing temp, the more stable the final product will be.

In terms of pressure, apply as much as you possibly can without breaking the iron. I had great success pressing the iron into the floor with my knee… then I broke the iron. Experiment and find what works for you.

Once you’ve pressed long enough (some say three seconds, some say until you hear a sizzle) it’s the moment of truth. Peeling the paper or mat back the first time combines the anticipation of unwrapping a gift with the anxiety of waiting on test scores, but if you got it right you’ll know right away because you’ll see a golden halo of rosin around your now flattened bud.

Gather up all the rosin with a tool and fire up your dab rig, because the clock just struck 7:10.

Hash rosin

If you do have access to some bubble hash, you can use more or less the same method to press that into rosin as well. Only you’ll want to reduce the temperature substantially. Most of the professional hash makers I’ve spoken with agree that between 160° and 180° F is where high-quality hash should turn into rosin. If your starting material isn’t that great, it might require a bit more, but don’t expect magical results. As in all cannabis extraction, what you get out is largely dictated by what you put in.

Or as Evan X. from High Noon Extracts once told me, “You can’t turn chicken shit into chicken salad.”

You also don’t have to press rosin to dab bubble hash, you can just press the hash lightly, so the “loose” hash becomes a cuttable, pickable, dabbable patty of gum. You can achieve the same effect by rubbing loose hash against itself in the palm of your hand. But however you do it, the idea is to heat up the hash just enough to make it malleable and then finesse it into a glob.

Dabbing pressed bubble provides a unique sensory experience that amplifies the flavors and effects of full spectrum hash, giving you the immediacy of a dab and the deep complexity of a classic hash high. If your hash is already full melt, this is all you really need to do with it.

And if you do have some tasty hash that needs a boost in potency and melt – or you just want an experience similar to dabbing shatter without concerning yourself with residual solvents – pressing it into rosin could be just what’s called for.

No matter which starting material you chose, remember that it all boils down to heat and pressure. I’ve seen rosin made with a pneumatic press that exerts enough pressure to crush bones, but you don’t need to get even close to that. T-shirt presses, coffee mug presses – anything that combines heat and pressure has the potential for creating rosin.

And a final word of caution: make sure you know what’s in your cannabis. This is important even if you don’t plan to make rosin, but especially if you do. When you squeeze the cannabinoids out of flowers you also squeeze out any residual water, which can contain pesticides, chemical nutrients and other potentially harmful remnants of the cultivation process. Like the desirable THC, these elements will also be concentrated in the final product, so clean starting material is a must. Only press flowers from trusted suppliers. 

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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The Weedmaps guide to getting into concentrates

It wasn’t long ago that dabbing conjured visions of intense consumption and high THC levels. Fast forward to e-rigs, portable vaporizers and strides in testing and quality of concentrates, all helping propel this once “sketchy” corner of the black market into a booming, legal industry. Though, despite this, consuming concentrates and extracts tends to make newcomers a little wary.

Like all forms of weed villainization, the negative connotations that surround dabbing are unfounded. Understanding extraction is inherently complicated due to its scientific nature, but the way extracted products are displayed is complicated too. New users are immediately bombarded by the market, forced into making choices between products and terms they know little about — think solvent versus solventless extraction, badders versus diamonds, rosins versus resins, and so on. Brands consistently tout staggeringly high THC percentages, while providing little to no useful information for beginners to cannabis attempting to navigate this vast and confusing sea. 

With our guide to getting into concentrates, you’ll find everything you need to know to get started. From methods of extraction and different types of extracts, to a rundown of the best dabbing devices and extracts on the market. We’ll help you learn how to choose the best concentrate or extract to suit you and the effects you’re wanting. 

What are concentrates and extracts?

The terms “concentrate” and “extract” refer to concentrated cannabis products like rosins, resins, sauces, shatters, and so on. These potent substances are produced by isolating the active ingredients in cannabis, like terpenes and cannabinoids, from plant matter by a method called “extraction.” The type of concentrate produced, and whether it would be considered a concentrate or an extract, is determined by which method of extraction was used in production. 

To explore the inner workings of cannabis concentrates and extracts, we spoke to concentrate/extract experts, Russ Daniels, master extractor and CEO of Cali Stripe Concentrates (formerly known as Candy Stripe Concentrates), and Michael Tanzer, co-founder of RedTape Ventures, a venture firm that invests and develops business in the cannabis industry, including Candy Stripe. 

“A good way to communicate what concentrates and extracts are is to think about them as the active ingredients in the plant,” Tanzer said. “Through extraction, we’re able to isolate and remove just the active ingredients, so you don’t have to consume all of the plant’s fiber and materials.” By isolating the active ingredients (cannabinoid and terpenes), these products offer the cleanest, and most time-efficient way to get lifted. 

Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

“I would define concentrates as solventless products like rosin and bubble hash, and extracts as anything produced with hydrocarbons like BHO or CO2 closed loop systems,” Daniels explained. 

It should be noted that extract and concentrate are considered interchangeable terms by certain regions and cultural circles. For the sake of this article, we will be adhering to the distinction supported by our experts. 

Types of extraction 

Extraction methods are first broken into two groups: solvent and solventless. It should be noted that there are two types of material that can be extracted with solvent or solventless extraction: dry material (flower that has been dried) and fresh/frozen material (whole plant that has been frozen immediately after being cut down). 

  • Solventless extractions (concentrates) only use water, agitation, or pressure to separate the active ingredients from plant matter, and are called “concentrates.” These produce unrefined concentrates like kief, rosin, dry sift, and bubble hash, which still contain a good deal of plant matter.
  • Solvent extractions (extracts) employ a solvent, like C02 or a hydrocarbon like butane, to separate the active ingredients from plant matter with advanced scientific equipment, and are called “extracts.” This process produces substances that are far more pure, like the waxes, shatters, badders, etc. we associate with the market with today. 

“The difference is that solventless extraction is considered more of a vegan or holistic approach,” said Daniels. “When we use hydrocarbon gases to extract, people who are less educated about cannabis and consider themselves on the healthier side of life don’t like that. They tend to choose rosin over a butane hash oil (BHO) because they feel the rosin doesn’t contain toxins.” 

Different Types of Extracts and Concentrates

Once either form of extraction has been employed to remove active oils from plant matter, the base product is processed again into different variations, like a shatter or a live resin, using various techniques. 

To understand this process further, we spoke to Will Jacod Pennstrom, a master extractor from Raw Garden’s extraction program, who now heads up the extraction lab for a new brand called Exir by Euphoric Life Inc. For the sake of making this mass of information more digestible, Pennstrom helped create an outline that illustrates the most popular forms of extracts and concentrates that are produced by different subsects of extraction.

Solventless Concentrates

Solvent Extracts 

Different types of extracts and concentrates can be produced using a number of post-extraction processes. When trying to determine the high of any given one, it comes down to the chemical makeup of the plant. 

Regardless of extract texture, extraction method, or form the flower has taken. It’s the terpene profile and cannabinoid ratios of the original flower that ultimately dictates how an extracted product will make you feel. Simply put, if the flower sucks, so will the extract.

Device Guide

cool dab rigGina Coleman/Weedmaps

Now that you’re read up on all things concentrates, what are the go-to quality products that beginners, concentrate fanatics, and those in-between, reach for the most? Check below for our picks. 

Best E-rig: Puffco Peak

The Puffco Peak was the original game changer, simplifying the old school process of a nail and a torch into an electronic device sleek enough to be sold at an Apple Store. 


Best portable vaporizer: G Pen Roam 

Part e-rig, part vape pen, the G Pen Roam is the first portable electronic dab rig, complete with a bubbling water chamber.


Best Extract Pen: …

Personally, I don’t think any concentrate pens work that well if you’re looking to replicate the experience of a dab. The secret to hand-held concentrate vaporizers is the size of the battery. The bigger the battery, the better the hit. The battery of a vape pen is simply not strong enough to effectively vaporize thicker materials from my experience.


Best Dab Straw: Dip Devices, Nectar Collector

Electronic dab straws are cool, but tend to break easily. The best two I’ve tried are The Dipper by Dip Devices, and the Huni Badger by Nectar Collector. 


Best Hybrid Device: Dr Dabber, Flowerpot

If you’re not ready to invest in an extract-only device, meet yourself halfway with one that also vaporizes flower. Dr Dabber’s Switch and New Vape’s FlowerPot Vaporizer are both excellent.

Price: Switch $399.95, FlowerPot $370

Products to try for every vibe

First time dabber

First time dabbers should abide by two rules: start small and stay low.

The dab should be as small as you can make it, and the temperature should be low, around 450—500° as opposed to 650° or higher. The higher the temperature, the higher you’ll get. 

Check out Guild Extracts’ Delta 8-THC, a cannabinoid that promotes a sense of calm and is geared towards people who experience anxiety with cannabis use. Or, reach for something super chill, like Punch Extracts’ Fatso Live Rosin

Summer fun 

Both Kaizen Medicinals’ Chemdawg Caviar and Apex Extractions’ Tropicana Cookies are perfect companions to a fun summer day. Exciting and uplifting, they’ll leave you feeling clear, bright, and just a little bit silly. For a more relaxing summer experience, try Moxie’s Sour Sandia Live Resin Badder

Working from home 

To muster the unmatched focus it takes to work from home on a beautiful summer day, try the ultimate fire that is Maven’s new Guava Kush Sugar Diamonds. Lowell Farm’s fragrant and exquisite Pink Lemonade Live Rosin will help you get the job done, too. 

Relax and unwind 

After a long day, treat yourself to a fruity dab of Eel River Organics’ Dairy Queen Live Resin. For other anxiety melting experiences, try Cosmic Concentrates’ Purple Medusa, or AbsoluteXtracts’ ‘s Forbidden Fruit

Featured image by Dre Hudson/Weedmaps

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Water Hash 101 from ‘Beyond Buds, Next Generation’

Water hash is a favorite method of making concentrates employed all
over the world. Its name comes from the water process used to collect glands
from the trim, leaf and buds. On a fundamental level, the process works because
cannabinoids are not water-soluble, meaning that the desired resins are not
damaged by contact with water and ice.

Whether smoked as loose, granular resin or pressed into traditional hashish, there are multiple ways to consume this concentrate. High-quality loose hash can easily be pressed into hashish using nothing more than the palm of one hand and some light, brisk friction, applied using the thumb of the other hand. Loose or pressed, many people are still enthralled by the unique, full-spectrum experience of this potent natural product.

Plant materials are weighed and measured inside of the Resinator XL.

Water hash can be made in small or large quantities, and turnkey extracting systems can be purchased to simplify the process. It is also possible to make water hash using home-gathered equipment, but with inexpensive kits available, the savings are often negligible. Pre-made systems offer increased precision and efficiency for the water hash process, and their availability contributed to a surge in water hash’s popularity during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Water hash’s two-decade run of dominance ended with the rise of solvent-extracted hash; shatter, wax, and other butane hash-oils have muscled aside bubble hash on many dispensary shelves in the United States over the last few years. But this competition from solvent hash has also inspired water hash makers to step their game up, inspiring an increased emphasis on appearance and flavor. Ultra-fine water hash is now being sold as “solventless wax,” reflecting the broad demand for solvent-free products that mirror the desirable consistency and refined flavor profile of solvent-extracted hash.

Water is sprayed inside the Resinator XL, an extraction machine designed to make water hash.

High-grade water hash is also great for edibles, and any experienced
dabber will tell you that “five star” hash is very dabbable. It’s also next to impossible to seriously injure
yourself or anyone else making water hash, because the process doesn’t involve
any flammable chemicals or potentially explosive machinery.

How Water Hash Works

All water hash methods use water, ice and agitation to separate resin glands from plant material. Water and plant material are placed in a bucket that has been lined with filtration bags, similar in composition to the screens used for making dry sift kief. Like those screens, the bags filter the glands by micron size, separating the hash from the trash. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, or .001 millimeters. The material is stirred to knock the trichomes free, and while the plant material floats in the top bag, the glands (which are heavier) sink and are collected in the lower bags.

Ready-made systems use multiple bags that sort the glands by size: Unlike kief-making, the material is separated in one step rather than through repeated sieving. Usually, the material is processed once, but some commercial hash makers process it a second time to further isolate the THC.

how to make water hash
Hand-pressed hash.

As with all extraction methods, cold temperature is a key element of water hash production. The ice keeps the water and material very cold so the glands remain brittle and snap off with agitation. After the material is agitated in ice water, it’s allowed to settle. Then, the bags are separated and the glands are removed from each one. After the water hash is dried, it’s ready to smoke.

The hash varies in color and can be many shades of white, brown, red and even purple. When extracted from the finest-grade material, the potency of water hash can test as high as many solvent hash products, with up to 80 percent cannabinoid content.

water hash ball
A traditional Nepalese pressed hash ball.

A Note on Yields

Processing 227 grams of high-quality material usually yields between 18 grams (8 percent yield) to 35 grams (15 percent yield). Yields increase with the quality of the starting material. However, in some instances, such as with Tangie, obtaining a yield over 7 percent using water is nearly impossible. This is one reason solvent-based methods and other, newer extraction techniques have overtaken water processing in popularity.

But there are considerations other than yield; the full-spectrum effects and natural flavor profile of water hash are unique because the process preserves the terpenes in the glands. For this reason, some people prefer high-quality water hash to solvent-extracted products.

TELL
US
, have you ever tried water hash?

To learn more about extraction techniques for water hash and other cannabis concentrates, check out “Beyond Buds, Next Generation: Marijuana Concentrates and Cannabis Infusions.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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