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
Early records of hashish use
Khorasan Incense Burner, 12th century
First of all, and before deepening into the subject, we should keep in mind that the first evidences of the use of hashish are not related to combustion, that is to say, it was not smoked. Also, it’s possible that hashish was firstly used as one of the diverse resins used to produce incense. However, we should take into account that during the expansion of hashish it was basically ingested and never smoked. As we will see hereinafter, the practice of smoking hash is believed to start much later.
Despite the fact that we can’t find any mention of hashish in the Koran (7th century), it would be legitimate to think that the discovery of hashish took place between the writing of the Koran (caliphate of Utman ibn Affan, year 632) and the 10th century, when we find the first reports on the use and properties of cannabis resin, hashish. We have texts from the 11th century in which Muslim clerics and legislators openly debated about its use. It was at this time when its ingestion was generalized drastically in Arabia, Persia and the Middle East (Arabians often blamed Persians – especially sufis – and Mongols for introducing hashish in their land). Among many other written records, hashish is also mentioned in “Thousand and One Nights” or “Arabian nights” (11th&12th centuries), where King Omar used it to cause sleepiness to Princess Abrizah.
This gives us the proof that hashish was already known, at least in Persia and Arabia, at the end of the 10th and 11th century (Rosenthal, 1971). Actually, Ibn Wahshiyya (an iraqi alchemist) already mentioned hashish on his “Book of Poisons” around the 10th century. As we mentioned, during the 11th century onwards Arabians often blamed the Mongols (or Persians fleeing from Mongol invasions) and Sufis for having introduced this substance in Arabia. Still, it isn’t clear whether they were those who introduced it or simply those who popularized its use among the Arabian population. What is clear is that Mongol invasions coincide in time with the spread of hashish use, also with the reopening of trade routes between East and Europe in the 11th century.
During the last years, both extracts made with solvents and solventless concentrates have increased their popularity in an exponential way. This is due, in great measure, to the legalization process that is recently taking place in the USA, also to the creation of Cannabis Social Clubs in Spain.
In this post we present you two extraction methods for those who want to use alcohol as solvent (which will be later purged). We’ll see how to use ethanol (which we be the solvent used to illustrate this article) and isopropyl alcohol. Although both techniques have a very similar procedure, there are some differences worth taking into account which will be mentioned at the appropriate moment.
It should also be said that isopropyl alcohol contains more toxic substances than pure ethanol (which actually shouldn’t contain any). Thus, we recommend to use isopropyl exclusively to clean your utensils and glass pipes and not for performing extractions.
QWET extraction with ethanol