The tradition of Hashish making dates back several thousand years to areas of the world where humans inhabited and have shared a special relationship with cannabis for many generations for its spiritual and healing properties. Hashish, as it is traditionally called, is a collection of ripe, glandular resin heads called “Trichomes.” These resin glands are […]
The tradition of Hashish making dates back several thousand years to areas of the world where humans inhabited and have shared a special relationship with cannabis for many generations for its spiritual and healing properties. Hashish, as it is traditionally called, is a collection of ripe, glandular resin heads called “Trichomes.” These resin glands are the physical sites where the biosynthesis of all cannabinoids and terpenes takes place. As the flowering plant matures, this resin and its beneficial components accumulate in the gland head and are then transported out of the trichome to the surrounding plant tissues. The cannabis plant has evolved this adaptation, amongst other widely debated reasons, in order to physically protect the plant from dehydration, predation, and it is also thought to make it stickier to improve the chances of catching pollen and successfully fertilizing. Current research suggests that the Cannabinoids and Terpenes present in the cannabis plant resin are what give it all of its potency and signature effects, which depend on the particular strain of cannabis or genetic origin. What is interesting is that even though at harvest, the trichomes only account for approximately 50-65% of the total potency on the bud, the trichome is the only part of the bud which contains only the active compounds and nothing else, making it by far the most potent part of the plant when isolated and making Hashish an elusive and highly sought after cannabis extract.
There has long been debate over whether the modern era’s contribution to cannabis, “Hash Oil,” should be regarded as equal in potency, quality, and safety to its naturally chemical-free counterpart, traditional hashish. The main difference, of course, is that hash oil is typically extracted using a chemical solvent, such as butane, whereas traditional hashish is not extracted at all, per se, but rather physically isolated from the cannabis plant material. It is widely known by hashish makers that the trichome is like a fruit- which, as it ripens is more and more likely to fall off the plant naturally given time and the correct conditions. It would consequently seem redundant and even a mistake to extract the resin with chemical solvents, since the plant resin naturally separates itself from the fibrous plant flesh and chemical solvents can only invite production hazard risks and potentially contaminated end products.
Solvent-based extraction is a practice that has become the industry standard in states that have legalized cannabis. In addition to the obvious production issues, chemical residues and contaminants including the solvents themselves, pesticides, or any other poisons can dissolve into the hash oil along with the cannabinoids and terpenes. Attempts to “purge” the material afterwards are specifically geared to removing the solvent and do not isolate and eliminate harmful pesticides.
The knowledgeable and experienced cannabis user may tell you that making hash oil (butane oil, CO2 oil, or ethanol extracted oil) is actually a practice used to pass off sub-par quality cannabis products to the uninformed and inexperienced consumer and in some cases this may even be true. In fairness, though, not all hash oil is of subpar quality simply for having been produced with a solvent-based process. The reason for solvent-based extraction becoming the industry standard is more likely due to the purported lack of efficient methods for solventless extraction. While not widely known, these methods exist and are commercially viable. Unfortunately, most uninformed producers believe that solventless hashish making is an extremely slow and inefficient process, leaving much of the desired oils untouched. However, with the right methods and techniques, not only is that potency extracted and excellent yields achieved, but the effects of the products derived from solventless extraction have also been widely touted as a more robust, full-bodied or a more “full-headed” experience, exhibiting more of the popular “entourage effects” sought after by aficionados ‘round the globe. This fact along with the shifting legal climate surrounding volatile extraction may yet reshape the face of the cannabis concentrate market in the near future.
Knowing that safe and efficient manufacture, end-product purity and quality, and stronger effects are available utilizing solventless extraction, why isn’t there more hashish in markets like Phoenix, Arizona, for example? The answer has nothing to do with how easily or cheaply it is produced, but rather that it requires licensed producers with vision to either find and hire personnel knowledgeable and skilled in solventless hash production or to partner with a company that already has that special knowledge and expertise and fully understands cannabis anatomy, growth cycle, and the dynamics of solventless hashish production. A problem worth solving? We think so.