In this new iteration of Suzy's Cannabis World Blog, we delve fully into hash! We talk about the history of hash (what is hash, where it came from and how it all started) and the future of hash making from solventless (drysift, ice-o-lator, full melt) to solvent concentrates (BHO and CO2).
History of hash: what it is hash, where it came from and how it all started
What is hash?
Hash is a collection of resin (translated: resin) that has been filtered so that the leaf material is largely or completely separated from the psychoactive components containing, among other things, THC. What you get is an almost pure product. Pretty much, because that depends a lot on which method is used.
Where it came from and how it started
Hashish was first mentioned on a pamphlet published in Cairo in 1123 C, in which they accuse Nizari Muslims of being hashish-eaters.
This coincides with the stories of Marco Polo, in which he talks about how the Hashashin were recruited to become assassins on behalf on behalf of their master in Alamut. The recruits were promised countless women and hash if they would obey.
The name ‘Hashashin’ would later inspire the Club des Hashishins in Paris, consisting of famous members like Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Baudelaire, Eugene Delacroix, Arthur Rimbaud, Gérard de Nerval, and Honoré de Balzac. They would come together between 1844 and 1849 at Hôtel de Lauzun to eat hash-infused edibles for recreation and inspiration.
The hash would be coming from Algeria, which was a colony of France between 1830 and 1962.
Extracting hash: hand-rubbed charras from India and dry sieved hash from Marrocco and Middle East
Hand rubbed charras from India and Nepal
But it could very well be that the charras from India and Nepal actually came before the Hashashin. There’s no proof of this however.
To make charras, workers are sent into the wild cannabis fields to rub the buds of the live cannabis plants between their hands to make the resin-filled with trichomes be stuck like a residue on their hands. Afterwards, the residue is collected and stored for later use.
Dry sieved hash in Marocco
Before machines like the Pollinator came along, it was all done by hand. And they still do in hash-producing countries like Morocco, Lebanon, and Afghanistan to name a few.
But to summarize briefly: the plants are dried, after which they are put in a drum with a filter and are literally drummed with sticks until the resin has released. What you have next is a powder-like substance that can be processed by pressing it into the well-known blocks of hash.
There are some problems with this though. For example, male and female plants are not separated from each other, so that the final product is usually not exactly the strain they claim it to be. In addition, there is simply also a lot of drifting sand in Morocco that can penetrate every part of the process, so that you also get sand in your hash.
Furthermore, everything is illegal and there is, therefore, no regulation that provides, for example, hygiene. Contamination is therefore common with hash from countries such as Morocco. For example, a recent study found that 88% of the hashish tested in Spain contained traces of E.coli bacteria. This is also due to the ilegal transportations or smuggling it inside humans instestines.
The country now wants to legalize medicinal cannabis, but unfortunately, it does not want to go so far as to legalize hash production.
Worldwide trafficking of hash
Unlike flowers, hash is pretty convenient to traffick. Packaging goes easier and you can bring more of the psychoactive part, the THC, to another place compared to trafficking flowers.
One of his most brilliant ways to traffic hash was with befriended managers of the big English bands of the ’60s throughout the ’80s. They would first bring the hash to the United Kingdom, after which the hash would be packaged in the instruments and soundsystems of the musicians and flown to the United States to be sold there for top dollar prices.
The Dutch would also get involved, as the coffeeshops were a safe place to consume and sell hashish after the Dutch government ruled hash to clearly be something different than heroin. And so hash became soft drugs, while heroin and other drugs were scheduled as hard drugs. But it would still have to be smuggled there.
It’s all fun and games until the trafficking funds terrorism though, as it did for example with Hamas in Palestine and Lebanon. Same with the Taliban in Afghanistan, although the heroin trade was and is bigger than the hash trade.
The future of making hash has arrived
Real progress has been made in the last 30 years, especially the last five. 30 years, because in 1994 the Pollinator was played for the first time at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. But in the last five years, things suddenly went fast with the legalization of cannabis in several states.
The labor-intensive part of the drum process explained in the part about Marocco above here was solved with the invention of the Pollinator by Mila Jansen. It also caused a revival to produce hash outside hash-producing countries.
What you get as a result is what they now call drysift.
But that turned out to be just the beginning. One of the next revolutions to take place was the addition of ice water (with ice cubes) to the spinning machine.
The buds and/or leaves with trichomes were placed in different bags, with each bag having a different filter so you can make different types of quality ice-o-lator. The process works because THC does not dissolve in water.
It creates beautiful round, soft, sticky balls where almost all the leaf material has been left behind.
Ice-o-lator + dry freezer
Are we there yet? No, because a new revolution followed.
Ice-o-lator is usually after it is removed from the bags, dried outside the refrigerator for several days until the water had completely evaporated. Someone figured that you can also put the ice-o-lator in a so-called dry freezer so that it retains its light color and the taste is also different. I'm using the word different here, not better because that's subjective.
The product you eventually get is a collection of light-colored crystals of THC which is extremely pure.
Ice-o-lator + dry freezer + early harvest = full melt
Only since a couple of years ago, we saw the next revolution. It looks a lot like a concentrate, but it is hash. The plants are harvested extra early when the trichomes (the balls with THC) are still pristine white. The rest of the process is almost the same as the dry freezer method, which is also used here. The end result is a flawless product that is so unstable in itself that it can become liquid. And with that, it can be dabbed, or in other words, evaporated as a concentrate.
All of the solventless hash extracting methods mentioned above can be extracted even further by applying heat and pressure to create what everyone nowadays calls rosin.
You can make Rosin with flowers too, but the results are not as good and pure as rosin pressed from hash. Hashrosin will not have any flower material left, while flower rosin might.
Concentrates extracted with a solvent
And finally, we reach the concentrates extracted with a solvent, like BHO (Butane Hash Oil), concentrates extracted with CO2, and oil extracted with alcohol.
Except for the latter method one to make Rick Simpson Oil, for example, the others are not recommended to be done at home, but to be reserved for professionals in the legal cannabis industry.
Largely, these methods are used to do a quick and easy extraction of the trichomes of the smaller leaves and buds that would otherwise be thrown away.
Top cannabis strains for making hash
Some cannabis strains are simply better than others for making hash. This is based on a couple of different things. Some cannabis strains have better resin production which makes them ideal for extracting them for hash. Others have flavors that work sometimes better like hash than they do like flowers. There are quite some cannabis strains we have available that are great for making hash, like Afghan Skunk, Premium Shiva Skunk, OG Kush, and our latest addition COVID-18 (OG18 x AK47).