The seeds you planted are now yielding. It’s almost harvest time; the next step is to think about how you want to extract the THC and turn it into the final product. Popular cannabis extracts include CBD, THC, Wax, Crumble, Hash, Rosin, Live Resin, and pretty much anything in the “concentrate” category at dispensaries! It’s a confusing world out there, and this article primarily goes over cannabis extraction methods.
Ultimately, different processes determine your yield, so it is important to choose your method carefully.
Dry Hash Extract
This is one of the oldest extraction techniques. Hash forms when ripe, resinous gland heads from female cannabis plants are collected and separated. Arabian traders developed hash, and the product eventually found its way into the American markets after the discovery of its high THC content. Processes to separate the resin are as ancient as cannabis itself. However, the rapid rise of cannabis legalization brings us new methods of hash preparation. Truth be told, hash is probably one of the easiest, but most efficient methods of extraction. The following techniques are meant for dry, cured flower:
In this method, rub the resin vigorously with your hands. Before you begin rubbing, remove any brown or dried leaves. The trichomes will fall from the bud, and you can collect it in a container or on wax paper–this is called kief. Some of the crystals may stick to your hands. Keep rubbing this until it creates small, black balls of hash. The rubbing motion exposes the THC to oxygen, and it turns black.
Ice Water Extraction Method
Water extraction hash is sometimes called bubble hash or full melt. The process separates the plant material from the THC-rich trichomes by washing the bud in cold water. It works because the THC is denser than the cold water. In this process, you need to start by freezing the bud. Then, place it into a jar of water and add ice cubes. Shake the jar vigorously, and the resin should sink to the bottom. Filter the water, and use the separated material to create the hash once it is completely dry.
Many grinders collect the kief. It may take a long time for it to build up, but save it!
Once you’ve collected the crystal, use pressure and warmth to create a hash. Use your hands to roll and press the kief. Oxidation turns the outer surface of the cubes while the inner core remains transparent. While using water rubbing technique, make sure to flush all the water out of cubes or it will degrade the quality of hash.
Some home smokers use an iron or hair straighter to speed up the process and make it a little cleaner. For this method, place the kief in cellophane (like the kind around a cigarette package). Then, wrap the package in a damp towel. Apply the iron or straightener to the towel-wrapped package for several minutes. Be sure to check the package for melting or burning consistently. Once the hash forms, throw the package on the floor and step on it to flatten it.
One of most important part of a cannabis plant is the terpenes. These compounds are responsible for factors such as taste, aroma and other pharmacological effects of a marijuana plant. In normal extraction process, these lightweight terpenes oxidize and evaporate. This is the reason why in some cases, extraction degrades the quality. A “fresh” extraction uses the nondried flower.
The best way to maintain the terpenes in the plant is to freeze it before extraction. When frozen for 24 to 36 hours, the terpene content won’t oxidize. Once it’s frozen, the live resin can be extracted from the plant and voila! You have a terpene rich cannabis.
Put the buds into a freezer-safe container with a good seal. Make sure the container is completely dry because even a little moisture will deteriorate the quality of the product.
Fill the container with a stream of dry cold CO2 gas. Make sure that you fill the container completely so that the air leaves the container. Since colder CO2 is heavier, it will sink, and the lighter air will float and leave the flask.
Add dry butane to the container at -4°F. NEVER do this inside. Butane is both toxic to inhale and a fire hazard.
Then, submerge the plant material in the container and seal it. Use vacuum purge to transfer the extract from the flask to the vacuum chamber.
This process will create high-quality cannabis which is rich in THC content and terpenes. Again, make sure that there is no moisture in the container–sometimes even as a result of a humid environment.
Over the years, the cannabis extraction process has developed, and there’s a huge change in the technology which is used to extract cannabis from the plant. One such modern-day technique of removing cannabis from the plant is CO2 extraction technique.
CO2 extraction is the cleanest, safest method for extracting plants such as hops, cannabis and a wide range of nutraceuticals and organic crops. And, CO2 is a sanitizing agent with prolonging shelf life. With the proper system and environment, the CO2 method yields amazing food and medical grade oils.
The primary purpose of CO2 extraction is to make sure that the THC rich parts of the plant are extracted efficiently. The fundamental property of CO2 is that it is a gas at room temperature. However, when cooled and pressurized, it turns to liquid. In this method, supercritical CO2 has passed under heavy pressure so it moves like a liquid. The supercritical CO2 passes through the plant material and carries all the trichomes, terpenes, and oil out of the plant.
Thus, the extract obtained is a highly concentrated solution of euphoria-inducing substances. If you want, now it the time to add some taste to your cannabis, then you should try adding extracts such as coffee, vanilla, tea, fruit and nut extracts, and more!
These are only a few of the techniques used in extracting cannabis from the marijuana plant. Once you start using it, you would get the hang of it. Ultimately, you could decide the one that is best suited to your needs.
For further reading check out “Cannabis Extraction Methods: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, from Cannabis chemist and consultants at ESCET LLC.