Rosin tech has recently risen to become a hugely popular extraction choice for those who prefer to dab solventless cannabis concentrates.
The reasons why it is enjoying such popularity are clear: it’s safe, having none of the risk of explosion associated with processes using butane or alcohol to extract; it’s very fast, no other extraction method can produce a dab from a bud in just minutes; and it’s cheap too, there’s no expensive equipment required. Anyone with some herb can make their own cannabis extractions at home with minimal investment – all that’s needed is an electric hair straightener available on every high street, and some baking paper, on sale in every supermarket across the country.
If there’s a drawback to making rosin from buds/flowers, it’s that you need to press a relatively large amount of herb to produce a worthwhile amount of extract. Yields with flowers vary from below 10% to higher than 30% in extreme cases and depend greatly on several factors, mainly: the genetics – the strain being pressed; the grow – the overall quality and resin content of the buds; the extraction equipment – the amount of heat and pressure employed; and the condition of the herb – age and relative humidity of the material.
Many first-timers are put off making rosin by the poor yields resulting from pressing lower-quality flowers, it can be disappointing to see perfectly smokeable buds ‘ruined’ with almost nothing to show for it. For this reason, some have turned to a more satisfying method of producing dab-able full-melt concentrates and are pressing rosin from hash instead of from herb.
As hash is already a concentrated form of cannabis, yields are naturally higher, starting at around 40% from low quality imported hash right up to 90% for very clean bubble hash and pure dry sift (although some purists would argue against the ‘sacrilege’ of squishing such connoisseur quality resin).
With hash, as with flowers, the return obtained will depend largely on the equipment used – a professional-standard hydraulic press with precision heated plates and 30 tons of pressing power is going to be able to squeeze out significantly more than hair straighteners with only body weight for pressure.
Not everyone has the budget for a hydraulic press, but a highly recommended compromise is available in the form of quick-grip clamps, which for very little cost (between £15-30 in DIY stores) offer us the possibility of adding up to 250kg of pressure in a very convenient and manageable form and really squeezing the most out of our chosen material. Even more pressure can be applied by squeezing hair straighteners with a bench vice, these cost more than a quick-grip clamp but still significantly less than a hydraulic press.
What we need to make Rosin hash
- Hair straightener – ideally with digital control capable of temperatures as low as 100ºC
- Oven parchment/baking paper (IMPORTANT – not wax paper!) – This can be bleached or unbleached depending on personal preference. Some brands are better than others in regards to durability and non-stick properties, so try a few to find the best in your area
- Filter of some kind to keep impurities out of the rosin – the easiest and cheapest option is to use coffee filters but purpose-made polyester mesh bags are available for greater convenience
- Infra-red thermometer – essential for checking temperatures of hair irons that don’t have digital control and useful for verifying temperatures on those that do
- Quick-grip clamp – not essential but very useful indeed for increasing yields
- Dabber – A or similar to collect rosin
- Hash – depending on the size of the plates on your hair iron, you can press around 2-3g at a time
How to make Rosin from cannabis resin
Start by cutting a rectangle of coffee filter. This needs to be big enough so that once folded into a parcel, it occupies most of the heated area of the straighteners, allow 1-2cm extra paper on each side for folding over flaps.
Now take the hash you’re going to press and form it into a flat rectangular patty a little bit smaller than the coffee filter pouch, place it inside and close it by folding. It’s important that the hash doesn’t completely fill the pouch to avoid the phenomenon known as ‘blow-outs’ – when the filter bursts due to exerting high pressure too quickly and leaks contaminant from the hash into your rosin.
If you’re using pre-made mesh bags, the same principal applies – always leave an area of mesh around the edge for the hash to expand into to avoid blow-outs.
Once the pouch or bag is packed, place it inside a folded sheet of parchment and set the hair straightener to 100ºC. If your straightener doesn’t go that low then switch it off and wait for it to cool to the correct temperature, using the infra-red thermometer to check.
Temperature and Rosin
Depending on the quality of the hash being pressed, it’s possible to achieve different textures of rosin by adjusting the temperature. Good quality material, when pressed at relatively low temperatures (100ºC or less) can result in textures varying from budder or wax to greasy sugar, conserving maximum terpene content. Pressing the same material at higher temperatures (around 120ºC) will result in a more stable, more potent but less tasty shatter texture due to the evaporation of more terpenes at the higher pressing temperature. Even this shatter will tend to turn to a sugary texture over time, apparently depending on the remaining terpene content.
With the hair straightener at the desired temperature, place the parchment with hash in between the plates, ensuring that the coffee filter pouch is central within the heated area. Close the plates on the pouch and press down, exerting pressure with the hands to get the oil starting to flow within the hash and then once it feels like the hash is softening start to apply pressure slowly with the quick-grip clamp, ramping up bit-by-bit to full pressure. If you don’t have a clamp, try putting your full weight on the hair straightener by standing on it (on a clean floor and with clean shoes, naturally).
It’s at this point that care must be taken not to apply pressure too quickly and cause a blow-out. Top quality, melty hash can be pressed fairly quickly as it liquifies without much heat and flows readily through the filter. Lower quality hash contains more non-melting contaminants and will need to be pressed more slowly, or at slightly higher temperatures to be able to extract the maximum oil without bursting the filter.
Continue to press for about a minute – this is only a rough guide, some qualities of hash need less time, while with others, more time is needed to extract everything. You can check if you’ve extracted everything by pressing the pouch a second time on fresh parchment. If much more comes out on the second press, then you didn’t press for long enough first time around. Always aim to extract everything on the first press as every time the hash is subjected to heat, terpenes and cannabinoids are degraded.
Once finished pressing, remove the parchment and pouch and allow to cool before opening the paper. Remove the pressed pouch and keep to one side, later on this can either be soaked in alcohol or oil to extract any remaining cannabinoids and made into tincture or edibles.
Collect together the rosin from the parchment either with a dabber or more simply by folding the paper on itself and touching the bits of rosin together to form a ball. For storage it’s not recommended to use parchment paper as over time this can leave paper fibres stuck to the rosin. For best results use durable PTFE sheet or silicone storage pots to keep your rosin in pristine condition.
To get the best flavour every time when consuming your rosin or any other full-melt extract, we recommend the use of an electric nail like Vaporite V-Nail. These new devices combine a digital controller with a heating element to guarantee the nail surface is always at the perfect temperature for dabs, ensuring full appreciation of the organoleptic properties of your cannabis extracts without burning the terpenes and creating a harsh taste by dabbing on red-hot titanium or wasting oil on a nail that’s not hot enough. After all the effort and time invested in growing, harvesting and extracting, it’s worth considering to get the best possible enjoyment out of your hard work.