Why isolate cannabinoids?
In recent times we’ve seen a great increase in the amount of isolated cannabinoids coming onto the market, with CBD crystals and pure THC distillate becoming a more frequent sight on the menus of dispensaries. Their popularity is mostly due to the ease of calculating dosage amounts. While the vast majority of resin extracts have an unknown cannabinoid content, when we isolate a cannabinoid, users can be confident that they have a product with a purity approaching 100%, which makes it very simple to adjust dosage to a specific amount of milligrams. This is particularly important when preparing edibles, tinctures or other products for oral consumption, where knowing the cannabinoid content is vital to avoid any ill effects caused by ingesting too much THC.
THCA Crystals isolated using this method
Rosin has become a hugely popular extraction method, not only because it’s really easy to carry out and completely safe, with no risk of explosions or fire, but also because of the purity of the results, giving clean cannabis concentrates produced using only heat and pressure, totally free of solvents, and within the reach of everyone.
Simple, clean and safe, rosin is the perfect extraction method for the home grower
What are Solvent Extracts?
Whereas all solventless concentrates are extracted via mechanical means, be it agitation or heat and pressure, we can also make cannabis concentrates with a wide range of chemical and organic solvents, most commonly butane, propane, ethanol and CO2. This process works by dissolving the trichome heads in the liquid solvent which is separated from the plant material and purged (evaporated off) in a vacuum oven or dessicator and vacuum pump to ensure we are left with a pure resin extract with as little residual solvent as possible. Solvents are divided into two groups, polar and non-polar, with non-polar solvents like butane readily dissolving non-polar compounds from the plant, in this case the oils and lipids making up the trichome heads. Polar solvents like Ethanol however will extract both non-polar and polar compounds, meaning water-soluble compounds like chlorophyll are more likely be extracted alongside cannabinoids and terpenes. Many of the solvents used in extractions are highly flammable, meaning only the proper equipment should be used to extract and purge, and additionally a high level of safety and care must be taken to avoid accidents at all stages of the process.
BHO Textures: Shatter; Budder; Sugar Wax; Wax. (Photos: @sergiohuertasdemaria)
Until recently, it was very difficult to find professional quality extractions without investing several thousand euros in a complex closed circuit system.
Herborizer offers one of the most interesting alternatives with this Passive Mini Closed Loop system. Closed circuit systems permit us to obtain better quality oils thanks to the purification of the gas (which we will discuss next) but also permits the almost infinite reuse of this refined gas.
Finally BHO lovers can try professional quality extractions thanks to this Mini Closed Loop by Herborizer. Compact in size, the tube measures 15cm in length by 4cm wide and the containers of the system measure 10cm x 10cm, being very easy to transport and particularly resistant thanks to its integral fabrication of 304 stainless steel. With a capacity of 45 grams of flower and approximately 400-500ml of butane gas, with this system it will be possible to recover between 4 and 7 grams of BHO in each session.
We have been able to make various extractions with different plants
Nowadays more and more people are being made aware of the benefits of consuming cannabis resin extracts or concentrates, they are more efficient, with higher purity and potency, they have better flavour and give relief more quickly than smoking or vaping flowers. Indeed, in California, cannabis flowers currently make up just over half of the market (55% in the 2nd quarter of 2017.), with extracts making up the remaining 45%, and according to figures from Colorado, another beacon of legalisation in the US, the concentrate market is growing at an astounding rate, with sales increasing by 125% from 2015 to 2016, compared to an 11% rise in flower sales and an 53% rise in edibles.
Fresh frozen ice water hash (Photo: @hashcelona)
Cannabis concentrate consumers are increasingly numerous thanks to the advances in equipment available on the market allowing the production of good quality homemade cannabis resin extractions. Here, fans of Rosin or BHO can find various different methods to consume their extracts.
Spread on rolling paper (Twax Joint)
One of the simplest and probably one of the oldest methods, in the 70’s, consumers of honey oil made with alcohol would smoke it by smearing some onto a cigarette.
Now in 2018 consumer habits have evolved somewhat. The Twax Joint has become famous across instagram and it’s frequent to see increasingly complex and highly decorative spliffs covered with various different types of cannabis oil, it seems there are no limits to the creativity and imagination of cannabis users.
When consuming this type of joint, we should take some care not let the oil drip off and fall to the ground, we will have to hold the joint in an upright position to ensure the oil flows onto the paper.
What is reclaim?
Any lover of dabbing cannabis extracts and concentrates has seen, every now and then, some yellowish/brownish residue stuck to the internal parts of his water pipe or bubbler. This residue is basically composed of resin, which gets stuck to the glass due to the recondensation of the vapour.
This residue is often called reclaim, and while its appearance may not seem as eye-catching as the “raw” concentrate, it still contains large amounts of cannabinoids that can be used.
Be careful though, for reclaim must not be confused with the resin stuck to the pipes from the combustion of dried flowers, which does not contain much cannabinoids due to the high temperatures reached during combustion. We’re exclusively talking about the resin accumulated in rigs and dropdowns when dabbing extracts.
Bubbler with large amounts of reclaim
Comparing two techniques of hashmaking
In this article, we will be examining and comparing the two most popular approaches to making ice water hash, bubble hash or Ice-O-Lator from cannabis buds: In the first two extractions, we will be using fresh-frozen material to make the hash, while the second two extractions will be carried out using dried, cured flowers.
Dried and cured cannabis flowers
Fresh-frozen cannabis buds
The goal of this experiment is to examine the differences in both yield and quality between these two approaches and determine the pros and cons, as each one has it’s advocates and detractors. Many hash-makers claim that processing fresh-frozen plant material offers greater yields and higher terpene content, while others maintain that using dried material results in a more stable and longer-lasting product, less prone to degradation over time. The fresh-frozen approach can also be useful if you don’t have sufficient time or space to hang and dry your plants, but dried flowers will occupy less volume in the freezer than fresh-frozen material, being less bulky and heavy. Continue reading
Origins of Moroccan hashish
Despite Moroccan hash is often considered an ancient, traditional product by many Europeans, the truth is that hashish culture in Morocco is relatively young, especially when compared to traditional producing countries of this cannabis concentrate. Indeed, while hashish production in areas like Middle East and Central Asia dates back centuries, this technique had not been used in Northern Africa until the second half of the 20th century, when Western travellers from the “Hippy Hashish Trail” brought the dry sieving technique to Morocco from Lebanon and Afghanistan.
These travellers – most of them coming from the USA – visited countries where cannabis, hashish, opium and other drugs were traditionally produced, enjoying the freedom that one could find back then in some places of the world. Lebanon, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India – and Kashmir – or Nepal were compulsory stops in this amazing and exotic route. That’s where some of this travellers were taught about ancient techniques to produce dry sift, which were then improved to achieve industrial production levels. Soon after, some of these travellers visited Morocco and taught the locals about how to make hashish from cannabis plants and how to prepare it for export.
Different types of Moroccan hashish
The world of cannabis extractions and concentrates – either made with or without solvents – is riding high at this moment among users around the world. One of these concentrates, the well known BHO (Butane Honey Oil), has become especially popular among dabbing lovers because of two main reasons: in one hand, the extract quality ? when is done properly ? is excellent, with high cannabinoids content and no plant debris. On the other hand, this extraction technique provides outstanding yeilds as well, obtaining product with very high percentage of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc? contained in cannabis trichomes.
BHO extractions and vacuum purging
However, this resin extraction method using butane presents two major disadvantages: the first one has to do, logically, with safety. Using butane gas can be very dangerous because of its highly flammable saturated hydrocarbon which causes a lot of incidents due to incorrect handling. The second major disadvantage is the solvent purge, that is, to remove the substance we have used to obtain the extract (in this case, butane) from the extract itself, which is common in all solvent extractions.
Extraction masters soon realized that the best way to get excellent results is by using closed loop extraction systems to extract the resin and vacuum pumps and ovens to remove the solvent from it. But what exactly are these devices and how do they help us to purge the BHO?
55L Vacuum oven