How to make homemade dry sift?
Dry sift or kief is the result of mechanically removing the resin glands from the plant by sieving them with screens of different sizes, without any kind of solvent.
The first thing we should know before trying to make the best possible dry sieved trichome separation is what types of trichomes we can find. As the plant ripens, trichomes segregate higher amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. The three types of trichomes found have several features in common; they have a gland where cannabinoids and terpenes are segregated, a group of cells that attach the gland to the stalk, and the stalk itself, which joins the gland to the plant tissue. Let’s make a brief description of each of them.
Types of trichomes in cannabis plants
These are the smallest ones, measuring from 25 to 30 microns in height. The gland is about 20 microns in diameter. Both the stalk and the head are formed by 1-4 cells. As the plant ripens, these trichomes may form a sort of nipple due to the accumulation of resin inside it.
This type of trichomes is much more abundant than bulbous ones. Their diameter is around 25-100 microns. When the plant is not ripe it may seem that these trichomes have no stalk (it only has the height of a cell). The secretory gland is often formed by 8-16 cells.
Also called Glandular Trichomes. This type is the most common in buds and leafs of cannabis plants (they are only formed during the flowering stage of plants). The average size of their heads is slightly larger than sessile’s, and are the main producers of cannabinoids and terpenes. They are called like this precisely for the height of their stalk (150-500 microns). It is the only type of trichomes that has a layer of cells between the gland and the stalk; these cells can be broken, detaching the head from the stalk. This is why these trichomes are the most suitable ones to make top grade hashish.
Terpene range in marijuana
We have seen the different types of trichomes, their dimensions and main features. Before trying to make the best possible hash (whithin our means) we should have a couple of things clear. If we are growers, we already know that every genotype is a universe, in the same way than every phenotype is a small world. If we work with clones our results will always be more homogeneous and uniform; besides it, we will know the exact micron size that we have to use in case that plants are grown indoors or outdoors, etc.
Another important subject is the Terpene Range. Ripe cannabis plants segregate around 103 mono and sesquiterpenes along with other substances. Most of these terpenes are aromatic, so they have direct influence on the taste and smell of our buds and, therefore, of our hash.
If we use screens of different sizes each screen will yield a certain type of glands, in other words, we’ll get a different quality in each screen.
We are talking about quality as purity. We understand purity as the higher possible concentration of heads of capitate-stalked trichomes (glandular trichomes) with the minimum possible presence of smaller heads, stalks, plant debris, etc. In most cases, the purest sample will also be the best product, both organoleptically and regarding the chemotype. It may also be worth, in order to widen the terpene range, to mix several screens; in this way, perhaps the final product doesn’t look so nice, but the organoleptic properties may be greatly improved in some cases. Recent studies have also shown that terpenes do have an influence on the effects of cannabinoids.
We also want a hash free from external contaminants such as dust, soil, small insects, plant debris, etc. The cleaner our growroom and plants are, the cleaner our resin will be.
How to make top grade hashish
Once we have all the theory clear, let’s see how to make the purest possible dry sift separation. We will use an ancient technique in which we sieve and re-sieve the resin glands with screens of different sizes. We can use either sieving screens or bags (if we use bags we need to have the screen very tense).
Most systems on the market developed to separate resin glands, as the popular Pollinator, have a 150-160 micron mesh to separate the resin glands – which pass through the mesh – from the plant material. But, according to the theory that we have just seen, there are lots of particles that also pass through the screen and that we don’t want to be part of our hash. Therefore, we must use different screens with different sizes to continue separating the different qualities – particles – of our raw resin. Normally, the best quality – where we find the higher proportion of trichome heads – is larger than 70 microns and smaller than 120.
So, if we want the best possible quality, filtering “downwards” with a 160 micron mesh is not enough. We should also perform a second sieve to get rid of those particles smaller than certain size. In most cases, we can get excellent results by using a set of three screens: 160, 70 and 45 microns. The first thing to do is getting our raw resin with our 160 micron mesh. Put the raw resin on a 160 micron mesh and gently card it to separate the heads from the stalks. Once done, put the filtered resin on a 70 micron mesh to separate the smaller particles. We have now 2 qualities: the former is composed of particles from 70 to 160 microns (first quality), the latter from particles smaller than 70 microns (second quality). We can clean this second quality by putting it on a 45 micron mesh and carding it, thus separating the smaller particles – which will pass through the mesh – from the larger ones. All particles that passed through the 45 micron mesh are our third quality.
We must remember now what we learned about the terpene range. While our 70 micron hash will always have a much better appearance than the 45, it could be possible that, organoleptically, we’d prefer mixing both qualities to obtain a more tasteful product.
From here, it is easy to see that, the more sizes used and sieves performed, the better the result will be. Once we have our top grade hash, we can still refine it with static lifts, using a videotape case wrapped with parchment paper.
Drying and storing cannabis resin
The best dry sift hash is usually collected from buds cured for about 4-6 months (always, depending on phenotypes, drying and storage methods, etc.). We can either cure our buds before making hash or just dry our buds, make the hash and cure the resin. Obviously, it is much more convenient curing and storing resin than plants.
Cured resin is pressed more easily than non-cured glands, and is also more potent and flavourful. The ideal curing temperature is 37ºC, and we should open our jars every 2-3 days to renew the air inside them.
We can also store our resin pressed. If we do so, our resin will keep its organoleptic features much better, since only the surface will oxidize while the inside will degradate much more slowly. It is also advisable if we are planning to smoke our resin on a metal screen; otherwise, the resin will pass through it if we don’t use several screens together. The ideal shape for minimum oxidation is a ball or sphere. Never press a piece of hash if you think there’s moisture on the resin; cure it properly and then press it. Otherwise your hash can get spoiled in few days.
The best way to store our cured resin is inside an airtight container in the fridge, at low temperature and low humidity levels. If we want to store our hash for long periods with minimum degradation, humidity, high temperatures and oxygen are our worst enemies.