As legalization speeds (or crawls)
forward and we learn more about the plant and how best to enjoy it, a whole
slew of new words and scientific terms have made their way into the mainstream
of cannabis culture and it can be hard to wade through the haze and keep up.
But worry not — your days of working off third-rate definitions from the internet are over. Here’s an overview of some terms, each in their own way associated with terpenes (the compounds that give cannabis its tastes and smells) from the scientific stuff to the slang, excerpted from “Beyond Buds: Next Generation,” a guide to cutting-edge cannabis consumption written by Cannabis Now contributor Ed Rosenthal and Associate Editor-at-Large Greg Zeman.
Study up, and you won’t leave another
concentrate-focused conversation feeling like the only kid in class who didn’t
do the assigned reading.
BHO: An abbreviation
for “butane hash oil”; can refer to any number of concentrates derived from
butane extraction; also can refer to raw, unpurged, liquid solution of butane
and extract bubble hash.
An extraction approach that recycles the extraction solvent and contains the
process inside a closed system, as opposed to open blasting.
Crystalline: Refers to the molecular structure of a solid; the more orderly that structure is the more it will resemble a crystal. This is the natural state of “pure” cannabinoids, which are solids, and which can be purified and refined using recrystallization processes.
Decarboxylation: the removal of a carboxyl, which is a carbonate molecule (COOH). When carboxyl molecules are attached to the THC molecule, it is called THCA, or THC acid. In this form, THC lacks most of its psychoactivity. Decarboxylation removes the COOH acid molecule, leaving behind THC. Mild heat is often used to convert THCA to THC. This happens during drying, vaporization and smoking. Some decarboxylation happens naturally as marijuana cures and ages.
Diamond mining: Also
known as “Jar Tech,” this is a simple process for recrystallizing freshly
extracted BHO; this process works best using live resin.
The refined high-cannabinoid extract produced by distilling concentrates;
increasingly the most popular option for filling vape pen cartridges.
An electrical heating element for a banger or nail attached to a temperature
controller, allowing for consistent, targeted temperature dabs with no need for
a torch; apart from a quick swipe of a Q-tip, there is no downtime between
Live resin: BHO
produced using live or flash frozen live material; the higher terpene content
makes it an ideal choice for producing sauces, sugars and other BHO
consistencies that rely on recrystallization.
A natural separation process that occurs in all mixtures; in cannabis
concentrates, this means the separation of the cannabinoid solid from the
terpenes, which are natural solvents and fundamentally liquid.
Oil: A catch-all term that refers to any cannabis concentrate produced through solvent extraction, not generally used for hash or rosin.
The original BHO extraction process; filling a tube with weed, blasting butane
through the tube and collecting what comes out the other side for purging; not
actually as dangerous as often presented, but more or less a non-starter in the
current regulatory climate.
action of oxygen when it unites with another substance chemically. This happens
quickly in fire, but also takes place at a much slower pace at room
temperature. For marijuana and its products, oxidation is deterioration. The
oxygen in air interacts with marijuana to reduce its THC content.
act of removing a solvent from a solution, as occurs during BHO or CO2
Resin glands: General term for all trichome types on the cannabis plant.
The refined product of applying heat and pressure to raw buds or hash.
A mechanical extraction or refinement process for buds and hash respectively;
heat and pressure are used to coax a potent, flavorful, full-spectrum product
that is dabbable.
A highly regarded type of BHO characterized by its translucence and its
brittleness at room temperature; can range in consistency from “true” brittle
shatter (like golden or amber glass) to a sappy snap n’ pull consistency.
A substance that dissolves another substance, creating a solution — water is
the most basic solvent in the universe; because cannabinoids and terpenes are
oils, solvents used to extract them include alcohol, petroleum-based liquids
and liquid CO2.
CO2 extraction done below the critical temperature and pressure
point of carbon dioxide when it turns to liquid.
In this context, refers to “terp sugar,” which is a sandy, granular variation
of BHO that has a damp appearance and consistency from terpene saturation.
An unusual phase that occurs when a substance is held at or pushed past its
critical point when it changes from gas to liquid or similar. A supercritical
substance has different characteristics (solubility, diffusivity) than the same
substance has as a liquid or a gas; it is considered a “cloud.”
Winterization: In bio-industry, the act of removing waxes from
an oil, usually through the application of cold temperature.
TELL US, is there any cannabis lingo that’s left you puzzled?
In the modern age of weed, few things are as exciting as making your own dabs, and the Rosinbomb Rocket gives the ever-growing concentrate community the opportunity to do just that.
In 2014, Rosinbomb entered the cannabis space after Ryan Mayer, president and founder of Maverick Technologies, switched from pressing fruits and vegetables to pressing dabs. At the time that rosin started making waves, Mayer threw some heat plates on his juice press and Rosinbomb was born.
What is the Rosinbomb Rocket?
Rosinbomb released the Rocket in November 2017. This tabletop press is still considered one of the best personal use rosin presses on the market. One standout selling point is that it can reach up to 1,500 pounds of pressure without a bulky and loud air compressor, which makes it fine to put on a coffee table or kitchen counter. Mayer wants people, whether medical or recreational, to have complete control over what they are putting into their bodies. “That’s where the Rocket was born,” Mayer said, “We just keep trying to nip at our own heels and create, and innovate.” An electric actuator, which controls the presses movement mechanism, allows the Rocket to operate smoothly without an air compressor
The Rocket is meant to feel like a home appliance.
For a surprising amount of innovation and structure, the Rosinbomb is extremely simple to set up. “There’s not a lot to do. When you take it out of the box, you plug it into the wall, wait five minutes for it to heat up and you’re pushing the “up” button to smash.”
At full pressure, the Rocket will be pulling three amps of electricity. You’ll also have to take into account the ten inches of clearance it will need from the surface you’re putting it on to the top of the device, but the setup is minimal.
How to use the Rosinbomb Rocket
Mayer explains that there are lots of little things you can do to increase the yield, as well as temperature adjustments to get the product exactly how you like. But the most important thing for the best end product is the quality of the material used. That can range from shake or trim material to best-case-scenario fresh frozen flowers.
If you’re handling flower and you want rosin that is a bit more buttery and tasty, Mayer recommends setting the temperature between 175°— 220°F. For flowers, you’ll want to be on the higher range of the heat setting. When pressing dry sift, the temperature should be below 190°F.
Set the Rocket to your preferred temperature.
Whether you’re using a micron screen bag or just a giant pretty bud, load it between two pieces of parchment paper and place it in the press.
Press for 30 seconds and release the press. Note: If you continue to press after 30 seconds, the material will start moving around, and the rosin will be displaced as it’s coming out.
Activate the press again and wait for 60 — 90 seconds for everything to squish out.
Remove the parchment paper from the press and remove the micron bag or any spent material from the center of the sheet.
If you’re pressing flowers, the results should have a more butter-like consistency. When pressing high-end dry sift, the resulting rosin can have the appearance of yellow-stained sea glass.
All you need for cleaning this device is 91% isotropic alcohol and cotton swabs. Mayer suggests doing the first cleaning when the plates are still lukewarm — it makes the process a lot easier since the rosin hasn’t hardened. You can also set the temperature to 120°F as it’s cooling and clean from there.
“After that, just grab the paper towel, cotton swab, whatever you’d like, add the alcohol and just clean it like a normal appliance,” Mayer advised.
What’s the appeal?
Using a personal press to create rosin and concentrates has many plus sides — especially for those who grow their own flower. Hate pesticides and unknown chemicals in your cannabis concentrate? The Rosinbomb offers a clean approach — simply use your own homegrown flower or dry sift and skip the butane or propane solvents commonly used in other extraction methods. You’ll know exactly what’s going into the end product and won’t have to worry about inorganic substances leaching into your fresh dabs.
If you’re looking to save a little cash, the Rosinbomb also appeals to the frugal spender. Concentrates can be an expensive hobby, especially for dab enthusiasts. A gram of concentrate can cost anywhere between $30 to $50, give or take a few extra depending on your state and favorite brand. When you have your own press, the machine eventually pays for itself (and then some).
And since a press only requires pressure and heat to deliver a delicious product, it’s one of the safest options — there’s zero risks of explosion or chemical leakage from the contraption itself. You also don’t have to worry about breathing in unwanted solvent chemicals when the extraction process is in full swing.
If you’re curious about making your own dabs and cutting out the middleman, consider getting your own Rosinbomb and indulge in homemade, fresh concentrates.
Made with no more than water, heat, pressure, and a few tools, hash rosin has become one of the most prized forms of cannabis resin today. Most hash rosin is made by squishing ice water hash instead of flower at the right temperature and pressure levels for yields that fail to rival solvent extractions. It also requires high-quality and properly maintained starting material to match the flavor and melt-quality of something made with hydrocarbon solvents.
There are also varying qualities of hash rosin. But thanks to the taste of concentrate connoisseurs, products like live rosin have become the most expensive and limited cannabis products being sold today. To better understand the many forms of modern hash rosin, I sat down with four premiere solventless extractors from Michigan with varying perspectives during the last High Times event in Detroit.
Today’s hashmakers press their hash into rosin and don the titles of solventless extractors. The extractors I spoke to have several years of experience working with rosin.
After originally outsourcing their plant material to other hashmakers for years, the founder of Superior Flowers, Kerry, started Superior Solventless to create some of the highest-grade single source hash rosin in the state. Seeing jars with his labels in the stashes of most other competing local hashmakers I’ve met speaks volumes to how much his work is respected in the community.
Tyler of Wojo Wax recently took home a second-place medal for Best Non-Solvent Concentrate with their single source Cream D’Mint at the Michigan Cannabis Cup in 2019. Tyler said he has been making hash for about 2 and a half years but feels he really found his groove after taking a hashmaking consult in Las Vegas about a year ago.
Anthony AKA the Organic Mechanic, has been growing and making traditional hash for over 15 years with a focus on pressing rosin over the last two to three years. He’s a hash veteran that I’ve seen doing live demos and pressing hash and flowers that guests bring to his booth at the Cannabis Cup over the last few years.
Mark from Covert Extracts is one of the first to introduce mechanically separated hash rosin to Michigan cannabis consumers. Using the technique, he took first place for Non-Solvent Concentrate with the mechanically separated Mother’s Milk THCA and terpenes grown by Ghostbudsters Farm at the Michigan Cannabis Cup in 2019.
Not All Hash is Made Equal
When it comes to hash rosin, terms like 90u and 120u are different parts of the trichome separated by size. The “u” or μ to be accurate is a measurement that refers to the different micron sizes of the holes in the multiple bags used to filter and separate trichomes from the rest of the plant during the “washing” process.
“Washing” is slang for making ice water hash. More specifically, it is when plant material is put into a bucket of ice water and stirred before it is strained, leaving only hash behind. However, it’s worth noting that dry sift hash can be made without water and ice but most of the live rosin on shelves today is made by turning ice water hash made with freshly frozen materials into rosin.
In fact, all four of the hashmakers I interviewed use ice
water hash over dry sift material when making their rosin.
Beyond that, different hashmakers include or exclude certain trichome sizes from their final product. As a result, certain jars of hash and rosin being sold on the market are labeled as 90u, 120u, full spectrum or some range in between.
Differences in Micron Sizes
Kerry of Superior Solventless broke down the differences
between the separate micron sizes and what they mean to consumers.
He compared washing flowers to straining pasta. Big holes
let the water out and keep all the stuff you want isolated from falling through.
However, in the case of making hash, multiple strainers with smaller and
smaller holes are needed to separate the different parts of the trichome from
the rest of the plant.
“So, when you’re looking at something like 120u [up close], you’re going to see things that are intact. Basically, a stalk and glandular head right up on top. Then, when you see a 90u or a 73u, you’re mainly going to see heads. Heads that have been knocked off the stalks. You can even see them both individually in the 73 and 90u. That generally is what melts really well. Followed down by 45u and 25u.”
The trichome head has proven to be the most prized component of the plant. The fact that they mostly end up in the 90 and 73u bags as Kerry describes is why jars of pure 90 or 73u hash rosin have become more expensive and desired than full spectrum hash by some.
To get a better idea of what goes into the rosin I’ve been
smoking, I asked the four hashmakers what sizes they include in their final
product and why.
What is Full Spectrum Hash Rosin?
When asked if they leave the 25u or anything else out of their full spectrum rosin Kerry replied, “We do not. Our motto or our philosophy and principle is to be full spectrum from the beginning to the end of the process.”
According to Kerry, the 90u and 73u are the “meat and
potatoes of your dinner plate” and make up the majority of the weight of the
yield. In fact, he claimed 90u alone “makes up 70 percent of your wash.”
He warned consumers that if they see a product that’s
labeled 90u and you see that same strain from the same company in full spectrum
form as well, there’s a chance the 90 or 73u were left out of that full
spectrum. That means you’re only getting about 30 percent of the actual hash
spectrum despite the full spectrum label.
When asked if he prefers to smoke 90u over full spectrum
Kerry said he personally feels 90u lacks certain flavors and the “entourage
effect” from missing cannabinoids that would have been in the full spectrum.
“We have one product. That product is all full spectrum. From there we manipulate the consistency,” he said.
The other three hashmakers I spoke to leave what they perceive as the less desirable ends of the hash spectrum like 25 and the much higher microns out of the final product.
Which Microns Make the Cut?
In response to what goes into their full spectrum, Anthony from
the Organic Mechanic responded, “45-159u is what I use for my full spectrum.”
He added that he leaves out the 25 and the 159 because “in my personal opinion, it’s all the broken stalks and little pieces of heads that fall through.”
Anthony also added that you would have to wash an extremely large
quantity for the 25u to amount to anything worthwhile.
Tyler of Wojo Wax agreed by saying, “like Anthony said, I
catch 40 to 159. I’ve done 25 before and never went above 159u. My reasoning
for it is it just makes the color a little bit darker and a lot of people base
it [the quality] on color. I didn’t notice much of a difference as far as
effect. Yields are obviously a little bit better if you are throwing in those
bags, but I’ll sacrifice that yield for the lighter color.”
Covert also found that, in his experience, the 45 to 159u
range for his full spectrum rosin was the best for maintaining the flavor of
the original plant. The remaining hash that get left out of smokable product is
still used in capsules or edibles.
I asked Kerry why he felt less inclined to leave out the 25u
and he admitted, “the 70u is going to be white, the 25u or the 159 and above is
definitely going to be on the greener, darker, less smelly side.”
But he added that he believes the ends have beneficial properties and those parts make up a much smaller portion of the weight of the wash.
Furthermore, when you make rosin, “you’re taking all the hash and you’re putting it through an entire filtration process again and you can look at that bag and you can see what’s leftover.”
Never Judge a Book by Its Cover
Hashmakers are tasked with selecting strains of flower that
will provide a sustainable yield and desirable characteristics after being
washed and pressed into rosin.
When asked what his favorite strain to wash was, Kerry of Superior
Flowers responded, “I would say Purple Pebbles as well as TKP currently. The
TKP was very deceptive when I was running through the pheno hunt. The plant to
the naked eyes doesn’t look covered in frost like the Cookies strain.”
Despite the lack of visible frost on the plant, he assured
us the yields from washing the TKP were surprisingly high.
And vice versa, he added, “if you’re familiar with the MAC, looking at it you would think ‘wow, that thing is covered [in frost], if it gets washed it’s going to do phenomenal,’ but sometimes that’s not the case and you never want to judge a book by its cover.”
Tyler’s current favorite plant to wash is Sundae Driver
because it “checks every single box from nose to taste to yield.”
He described it as a delicious dessert dab with fruity flavors
that speak to the Grape Pie half of its lineage.
The Organic Mechanic had similar woes with MAC and Tyler
from Wojo Wax agreed that he’s washed material that was frosty in appearance
but only yielded .3% — and when you’re getting that little in return, it
becomes impossible for hashmakers to keep their lights on. To put that .3% into
perspective, yields for hash-friendly strains like GMO can be as high as 8%.
Anthony from the Organic Mechanic said his favorite strain
to wash is GG#4 because it has been consistent in every category including
yield, potency and smell.
“The color on it is beautiful, the taste, the yield, the
terp on it is just loud. Everybody that has got a hold of it likes it. Also, Cherry
Punch from Greener Thumb’s outdoor grow is another one of my favorites because
of the terps.”
Mark, the lead extractor for Covert Extracts says his
current favorite is the mountain cut of Tropicanna Cookies bred by Harry Palms
and grown by Ghostbudsters Farm because of the prominent terpene profile. He
gave GMO an honorable mention as well because “it dumps, it’s stinky and it
checks every box for me. It’s my go-to.”
Mason Jar Test Wash
Tyler admits he made the mistake of judging how well a
strain would wash based of the quality of its appearance. After putting in tons
of work processing an extremely large bulk of flower for a friend that ended up
looking far better than it yielded, he learned his lesson the hard way.
Since it is impossible to rely on looks alone to tell how
well a strain will wash after the harvest, Tyler recommends paying attention to
genetics and performing a small mason jar test before washing an entire grow
and being surprised it didn’t yield enough to break even.
Tyler said that when sourcing starting material, solventless
extractors “have to truly look for what strains are going to wash well. You
gotta look at the parents and then as you’re growing them too, you can tell by
the size of the head if you’re scoping it. A new thing that we started doing is
doing a test wash. You can put a small amount of flower in a mason jar with
water and ice then start swishing it around to see if those heads fall off because
it can be the frostiest plant ever like the MAC and not dump at all. It’s got
to want to let that head go because we’re not after the stalk.”
With the mason jar test wash method, Tyler says only about a
half ounce of flower is needed rather than using a whole plant or more when it
might not yield much.
Live Rosin vs. Cured
Most modern hashmakers exclusively work with “live” or freshly
frozen starting material. This is best illustrated by the fact that only one of
the four hashmakers I interviewed for this article currently processes dry or
I asked Anthony from Organic Mechanic if he preferred using fresh frozen starting material over cured and he replied, “I would do either one if the product was taken care of.”
However, he finds flavor can be lost during the curing process.
On the other hand, the other three hashmakers exclusively
work with live products for a number of reasons.
Kerry said in his experience at Superior Solventless, he observed differences in the yield, color, potency and consumer demand.
Tyler used both live and cured products before the Wojo Wax team deciding to only use freshly frozen flowers. Tyler says that in his experience, the yield was higher with cured material. Despite this, he exclusively runs live material because of the enhanced flavor and the fact that it melts better in his experience.
Mark prefers live because it “tastes better, the color is
obviously better” and that’s been enough to keep him exclusively working with
freshly frozen flowers.
Single Source vs. Outsourcing Flower for Hash Rosin
I asked a few of the hashmakers if they noticed any
differences when extracting flower they grew themselves versus outsourcing plant
“This is probably my favorite question so far because this
to me is where you really get your difference [in hash quality]. We do
everything single source,” said Tyler of Wojo Wax.
He says the reason for this is, “growing for hash is different than growing for flower.”
Growing for Hash
“For starters, I’m not defoliating as much as I am for hash
because I’m trying to get as much surface area as much as I can. On top of
that, I crank my room down as cold I can possibly get it for the last three
weeks because that preserves the terpenes which is what we’re ultimately after.
Another reason is because I’ve taken [other] people’s materials and it doesn’t
always yield well. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news to somebody that
they’re getting .3% back on a wash.”
When asked if he also noticed a difference when washing the
same strain from his own grow compared to somebody else’s, Kerry of Superior
Solventless admits the experiences were not the same.
“For example, we washed Wedding Cake that we grew and got
5%. We washed someone else’s and got 3%.”
Mechanical Separation vs. Jar Tech
There are two additional ways for hashmakers to further process hash after it has been turned into rosin. Using these techniques, they can turn the consistency of their rosin into something closer to a live resin sauce.
One is called “jar tech” which just about anyone should be able to do at home with a jar of fresh-pressed rosin, a source of heat, time and practice. The consistency it creates has been called jam or “caviar” by Superior Solventless and it contains small crystals with a more liquidy high-terpene layer. The layers combine to create an applesauce-like consistency that is less likely to change at room temperature than fresh-pressed rosin.
Unlike the washing and pressing phases, the hashmakers I
spoke to claim little to no weight is lost after a jar of hash rosin undergoes
the “jar tech.”
On the other hand, the other technique which involves
mechanically separating THCA out of the oil comes with a more significant yield
If you come across a jar of solventless rosin with large THCA crystals and oil in it, they were most likely mechanically separated with a press and filters. Then, the crystals are melted down and manipulated into a shape of choice. Usually, they are made to mimic the appearance of popular live resin extracts made with hydrocarbon solvents.
According to Mark of Covert Extracts to make mechanically separated THCA, “you need wax rosin in order to make mechanically separated THCA.”
From there, he says, “to separate the THCA from terpenes I usually press the rosin wax in a 25u press bag at about 135 degrees to start. With a very low pressure at first before building to almost max pressure. Then, I repeat at different temps until I feel enough terpenes are separated. From there you can take the THCA and melt it down into a glass-like consistency at around 240 to 250 degrees.”
Comparing it to the jam tech or fresh press, Mark said it is a “long process and you have about a 25% loss in yield but potency and appearance of the final product sets it apart.”
The process appears to further isolate THCA in hash rosin with Mark claiming to have “had some testing out at 92% THCA.”
There was a point in time when most hash looked the same. It was a dark brown or green in color and stretchy. Traditional hash commonly came in a brick, ball, or bullet that may have traveled inside someone’s ass before getting to you.
Fortunately, today’s hash has is far more refined and versatile. It looks more like a lighter colored oil that can take on the form of dry sift, ice wax, rosin, live rosin, jam, or mechanically separated hash rosin. Not to mention the various consistencies that rosin can be shape-shifted into, like cake batter, sugar, or applesauce.
Rosin is created using only heat and pressure with methods that have been utilized for thousands of years on various food and beverage products. Without a need for expensive equipment or special rooms that are designed for extraction, rosin can be made in almost any setting. And for those who enjoy taking a hands-on approach to what they consume, rosin offers an opportunity for a true craft cannabis experience.
David Carbone, the founder of Rosin Technologies, loved rosin so much he made it his business. Rosin Technologies makes pneumatic heat presses, molds, and accessories for commercial-grade rosin production.
“(Cannabis has) been a really integral part of my life, my entire life,” Carbone said. “Back then it was like, you gotta take it into your own hands if you’re doing it yourself and you can’t go to a store and buy what you need.”
Rosin, as a method for concentrating active compounds from plant material, has been around for decades, but it was Phil “Soilgrown” Salazar who applied this technique toward cannabis in 2015. Salazar began sharing photos of his rosin experiments on social media and discussing his techniques with the cannabis community, which quickly popularized the technique and inspired others to try it out.
Within the year, rosin makers were able to produce concentrates that rivaled the best extracts on the market. Most of this success was due to rosin enthusiasts who developed solutions to improve their craft and shared those solutions via word of mouth and online forums, then onto social media and in commerce. As a result, hobbyists of any experience level can enjoy the craft of pressing rosin.
“The product has just gotten much better,” Carbone said.
Rise of Craft Concentrates
Rosin products have since become a major staple in dispensary menus, and for good reason: Rosin is one of only a few completely solvent-free ways to make cannabis concentrates. It’s also relatively safe to manufacture at home by taking a few precautions similar to those you would take when curling your hair or working with pliers. Rosin is made with the simple combination of heat and pressure, so keep your hands out of the way to avoid injury.
“Rosin compared to some of the other products as far as concentrates on the shelf I would say has an advantage,” Carbone said. “One, because it’s a completely solventless technique. Two, because it gives a good snapshot of the terpene profile of the original genetics that it came from.”
While other extraction methods can result in solventless concentrates, technicians must take additional steps and safety precautions to remove residual solvents before products hit dispensary shelves. Rosin pressing offers people at home the ability to take a mostly safe, hands-on approach to extraction that’s not possible with the use of volatile solvents that can ignite or explode if handled improperly.
“(Rosin) is a lot cleaner and a lot stronger.” — David Carbone Click To Tweet
For the home-crafter looking to make a minimal investment, rosin can be pressed using a flat iron or hair straightener. Those who wish to have more control may opt for a small home press, while dedicated enthusiasts and commercial producers will invest upwards of $1,500 — sometimes tens of thousands of dollars — for professional-grade hydraulic presses.
How to Tell if Your Rosin Yield is ‘Good’
You can generally tell if your rosin has plant material in it if you see small green specks or by the color and consistency. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have some plant material in your rosin, those seeking the purest, most potent, and most flavorful dabs are looking for less or none at all. This is why starting with dry sift or water hash is preferred by many rosin makers producing for the commercial market.
All solventless concentrates are judged by a six-star rating system. This includes rosin. When you expose your rosin to heat, it should bubble. The amount of bubbling and residue left behind after heating a dab of rosin indicates the star rating. Leftover plant material is likely to reduce the amount of bubbling, but remember, a little plant material isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.
The lowest solventless concentrate ratings are 1 and 2, which will have very little bubbling with dark residues. Concentrates with this rating can be used in food and can be dabbed, but with likely a less pleasant experience. They may be harsh and less flavorful than their higher-rated counterparts.
Most homemade and some commercial-grade solventless concentrates fall between 3 and 5 and, in general, can be expected to result in flavorful, potent dabs.
A star rating of 6 is the highest, as well as the hardest to produce. Generally, only concentrates made with the highest-quality starting material and the most exacting methods will receive this rating. Rosin with this rating will bubble vigorously when exposed to heat and should leave little to no residue. This is why 6-star rosin is the top choice for any avid dabber.
A Matter of Product Purity
In the end, people’s love for rosin comes down to purity. Aaron Rubin with Long Beach, California-based BelCosta Labs took samples at each phase of the rosin-making process during a visit to Rosin Technologies in Irwindale, California, to see how rosin making is done.
For those in search of the most pure dab — pressing rosin is a labor of love that requires patience and attention to detail.
To highlight how different starting materials can affect the purity of the resulting concentrates, the Rosin Technologies team pressed rosin using three starting materials: kief, cured flower, and fresh frozen full-spectrum water hash.
Why would different starting materials result in different potencies? And what does that have to do with purity? Well, the answer lies in the quality of the starting material and the likelihood of plant material making its way into the rosin while it’s being pressed.
Since rosin is a product of squeezing the components within a trichome gland into an oil, the more large, fresh and robust trichome heads you can collect and the more plant material you can sift out before pressing, the better.
Using screens or rosin bags provides an additional layer of protection against plant materials seeping into your rosin. In short, trichomes range from 20-125 microns. Screens and bags come in micron ranges, which indicate the size of the material that will move through its fibers.
Pressing Rosin From Fresh Frozen Water Hash
The most potent and purest press of the Rosin Technologies visit came from the fresh frozen water hash, which started at 78.53% total THC and ended with 85.39% THC in the final product. The trim used to make the water hash was frozen and washed into hash directly out of the freezer.
The water hash was placed into a parchment-lined rosin mold and placed in a pre-press to form a rectangular puck. The puck was placed into a bag and folded into parchment paper before being pressed.
This lack of plant contaminants in the final product is due mostly to the purity of the starting material. Fresh frozen hash is the result of sifting trim, buds, or a whole plant that’s been frozen directly after harvest.
Making Rosin From Kief
The kief pressing process started with a bag of dry Afghani trim that was processed through a commercial-grade pollen collector with crushed dry ice to produce a thick collection of trichome heads that tested at 54.35% total THC and had a minimal amount of plant impurities.
“The first tumble, I try really hard not to beat up the material because it’s leaf to kief, kief to rosin,” Carbone said as the tumbler spun. “If the (trichome) heads are big and they’re shiny … even if it has these big green specks, if it’s still shiny, then it will press better … it’s the oil in the big heads that we’re going after.”
Knowing you have quality kief is as simple as holding a lighter near a small corner of the pile. If it bubbles when the lighter gets close, you’ve got high-quality kief that’s optimal for pressing. If you don’t have a lighter handy, try squeezing a small amount of kief between your fingers. The trichomes will pop under the pressure and stick together.
The Afghani kief was then placed into a parchment-lined mold, formed into a puck in a pre-press before being placed into a mesh envelope and pressed into rosin. The resulting rosin contained 80.48% THC and did not contain any green specks.
Pressing Rosin From Cured Flower
The cured Afghani flower was processed by breaking up and placing the plant material into a parchment-lined mold, which was placed in a pre-press that shaped it into a puck. The puck was wrapped into a mesh envelope, placed in parchment paper, and pressed into rosin.
The cured flower tested with a total THC content of 24.6% and produced rosin that contained 78.11% THC.
Practice Makes Perfect
Whichever starting material you choose, practice makes perfect. If you want the best, you must invest the time and effort into mastering your craft. It takes just the right amount of heat, pressure and time to get the most out of pressing rosin. Every factor has an impact on not only the success or failure of the press, but also the quality and quantity of the resulting yield. Once you’ve dialed in the formula that works for you, it’s a matter of repetition and refinement.
Thanks to the work of craft concentrate makers, prospective pressers now have the opportunity to follow some solid blueprints. In the end, making rosin at home is a matter of getting as fresh, trichome-rich starting material as you can get your hands on, finding your formula and enjoying the fruits of your labor while refining your process.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to make your own rosin using a hair straightener, check out this video on How to Make Rosin. For those who want to dive deep into the mechanics of rosin pressing, visit Weedmaps Learn for more information.