As the legal cannabis industry continues to boom, an ancient cannabis tradition, hash, is gaining popularity in the market for its potency and versatility. Hash, short for hashish, is derived from the dried resin, or the kief, of the flowering buds of mature and unpollinated female cannabis plants. The resin glands are called trichomes and have a crystal-like appearance and sticky texture.\
Cannabis trichomes are the most potent part of the plant and contain high concentrations of THC and other naturally occurring terpenes and cannabinoids. Hash can be harvested in a variety of ways, but the result is always a potent and flavorful concentration of THC. While hash may be new to some, this ultra-strong collection of kief has been around for centuries.
Origins of Hashish
The word hashish originates from the Arabic language which loosely translates to “grass”. It is believed that the hash began its rise to popularity around 900 AD throughout Arabia and was most often used as an edible. Hash did not reach Western civilization until the turn of the 19th century as Europeans began to explore the northern regions of Africa.
Explorers and researchers alike were fascinated by the use of hashish. For years, European doctors imported hash to their labs to conduct research, which eventually led to the introduction of various extraction methods that paved the way for cannabis in medicine. By the 20th century, cannabis extractions could actually be found in the vast majority of western medicine. However, with U.S. prohibition in the early 20th century, hashish products were outlawed and forced back into the black market, only to reappear in recent years.
Different Types of Hash
As the demand for hash increases, many manufacturers have begun to experiment with different methods of extraction for the best result. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular processes.
Dry Sift Hash
Dry sift hash refers to a process in which the trichomes are separated from dried cannabis buds by gently sieving them through fine mesh screens. The delicate friction forms a fine powder known as kief, which is then pressed into blocks using different techniques depending on the region of production. For example, Moroccan hash is made by repeatedly pressing kief using only pressure and heat until tight blocks are formed. Meanwhile, Afghani hash is often made by mixing kief with small amounts of tea to form a sticky kind of dough that is kneaded over low heat until it has a rich dark color and a thick, smooth texture similar to soft caramel candies.
Bubble Hash, sometimes called Ice Water, uses a very unique distillation process. It is made by mixing frozen cannabis buds with ice water and then gently agitating that mixture in order to separate the trichomes from the buds. Finally, the mixture gets repeatedly ran through different size mesh sieves which results in a crumbly hash with a texture that resembles crystallized honey.
Making rosin is one of the easiest ways to separate trichomes from dried cannabis buds. It simply requires pressing dried cannabis buds with a great deal of pressure and heat. The final result is a gorgeous amber-colored extract completely free of additives and contaminants for a crystal clear high.
The Butane, Propane, and CO2 Movement
Perhaps one of the most common methods of modern extraction uses butane, propane, or CO2 to extract large amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flower. Today, these kinds of extracts, often referred to as BHO (butane hash oil), shatter, and wax, take up a massive chunk of the legal cannabis market, especially in the US. However, hash that is made using butane, propane, or CO2 needs to be purged extremely cautiously, as the chemicals used in the extraction process can be extremely toxic. That being said, these new extraction methods are capable of producing some of the strongest hash available, making them incredibly popular amongst seasoned smokers. Some of the BHO sold at US dispensaries contain well over 50% THC, so beginners beware. For popular shatter and concentrate brands, check out Viola Labs or House of Cultivar.
Ways to Use Hash
While many users choose to smoke hashish, it can also be used in the kitchen.
In fact, hash was used in some of the earliest recorded edibles, like the Indian drink “bhang” and the sticky Moroccan treat “majoun”. It’s this very history that has led to some modern-day chefs to keep hash in their cannabis kitchen arsenal. However, it is important to note that not all hash is food grade and is suitable for ingestion. Be sure to talk to your budtender and do your research to find the best product for you.
Smoking hash is often referred to as “dabbing”. Some varieties of hash are able to melt, like shatter and wax, and can be vaporized on a hot surface in order to get a powerful hit. Dabbing has grown in popularity over the years and does require some special tools. If you’re new to dabbing hashish, consult with your budtender about what equipment you already have at home so that they can guide in the right direction. To get started, you will need some kind of smoking accessory like a pipe or dab rig, and potentially a dabbing tool, heating mechanism, and a screen depending on what kind of hash you decide to go with.
While hash has been around for centuries, it can be a new territory for many cannabis users. No matter what hash variety or method of consumption you choose, remember to exercise caution. Hash is not for beginners with potency levels ranging anywhere from 40%-80% THC — sheesh. That being said, if you feel that you are ready to add hash to your cannabis regimen, talk to your budtender about what may be right for you. With its potency and versatility, hashish is not going anywhere anytime soon.