[Canniseur: If you know all these terms, congratulations! For the rest of us, this is an excellent resource for truly understanding the current language used within the cannabis world.]
How to sound like you know what you’re talking about when it comes to cannabis extracts
As legalization speeds (or crawls forward and we learn more about the plant and how best to enjoy it, a whole slew of new words and scientific terms have made their way into the mainstream
of cannabis culture and it can be hard to wade through the haze and keep up.
But worry not — your days of working off third-rate definitions from the internet are over. Here’s an overview of some terms, each in their own way associated with terpenes (the compounds that give cannabis its tastes and smells) from the scientific stuff to the slang, excerpted from “Beyond Buds: Next Generation,” a guide to cutting-edge cannabis consumption written by Cannabis Now contributor Ed Rosenthal and Associate Editor-at-Large Greg Zeman.
Study up, and you won’t leave another concentrate-focused conversation feeling like the only kid in class who didn’t do the assigned reading.
BHO: An abbreviation for “butane hash oil”; can refer to any number of concentrates derived from butane extraction; also can refer to raw, unpurged, liquid solution of butane and extract bubble hash.
An extraction approach that recycles the extraction solvent and contains the process inside a closed system, as opposed to open blasting.
Crystalline: Refers to the molecular structure of a solid; the more orderly that structure is the more it will resemble a crystal. This is the natural state of “pure” cannabinoids, which are solids, and which can be purified and refined using recrystallization processes.
The removal of a carboxyl, which is a carbonate molecule (COOH). When carboxyl molecules are attached to the THC molecule, it is called THCA, or THC acid. In this form, THC lacks most of its psychoactivity. Decarboxylation removes the COOH acid molecule, leaving behind THC. Mild heat is often used to convert THCA to THC. This happens during drying, vaporization and smoking. Some decarboxylation happens naturally as marijuana cures and ages.
Also known as “Jar Tech,” this is a simple process for recrystallizing freshly extracted BHO; this process works best using live resin.
The refined high-cannabinoid extract produced by distilling concentrates; increasingly the most popular option for filling vape pen cartridges.
An electrical heating element for a banger or nail attached to a temperature controller, allowing for consistent, targeted temperature dabs with no need for a torch; apart from a quick swipe of a Q-tip, there is no downtime between dabs.
BHO produced using live or flash frozen live material; the higher terpene content makes it an ideal choice for producing sauces, sugars and other BHO consistencies that rely on recrystallization.
A natural separation process that occurs in all mixtures; in cannabis concentrates, this means the separation of the cannabinoid solid from the terpenes, which are natural solvents and fundamentally liquid.
Oil: A catch-all term that refers to any cannabis concentrate produced through solvent extraction, not generally used for hash or rosin.
The original BHO extraction process; filling a tube with weed, blasting butane through the tube and collecting what comes out the other side for purging; not actually as dangerous as often presented, but more or less a non-starter in the current regulatory climate.
The action of oxygen when it unites with another substance chemically. This happens quickly in fire, but also takes place at a much slower pace at room temperature. For marijuana and its products, oxidation is deterioration. The oxygen in air interacts with marijuana to reduce its THC content.
The act of removing a solvent from a solution, as occurs during BHO or CO2 extraction.
General term for all trichome types on the cannabis plant.
The refined product of applying heat and pressure to raw buds or hash.
A mechanical extraction or refinement process for buds and hash respectively; heat and pressure are used to coax a potent, flavorful, full-spectrum product that is dabbable.
A highly regarded type of BHO characterized by its translucence and its brittleness at room temperature; can range in consistency from “true” brittle shatter (like golden or amber glass) to a sappy snap n’ pull consistency.
A substance that dissolves another substance, creating a solution — water is the most basic solvent in the universe; because cannabinoids and terpenes are oils, solvents used to extract them include alcohol, petroleum-based liquids and liquid CO2.
CO2 extraction done below the critical temperature and pressure point of carbon dioxide when it turns to liquid.
In this context, refers to “terp sugar,” which is a sandy, granular variation
of BHO that has a damp appearance and consistency from terpene saturation.
An unusual phase that occurs when a substance is held at or pushed past its critical point when it changes from gas to liquid or similar. A supercritical substance has different characteristics (solubility, diffusivity) than the same substance has as a liquid or a gas; it is considered a “cloud.”
Winterization: In bio-industry, the act of removing waxes from an oil, usually through the application of cold temperature.
[Canniseur: Many types of hash, concentrates, butter, sugar, shatter, dabs, wax are available in today’s market. There’s all sorts of names for cannabis concentrates. Most all are made with a solvent of some sort; alcohol, butane, whatever. Water hash is a different story. The only ‘solvent’ used to extract the hash is ice water. For those wanting to reduce the amount of toxins ingested, water hash is superior. The trichomes are harvested whole and you get all of the whole plant goodness in concentrated form. Water hash fell out of ‘style’ in the early 2000s. Why? It’s a little more difficult to make and the yields aren’t as high, but it’s worth the trouble for full-spectrum effects.]
Water hash is a favorite method of making concentrates employed all over the world. Its name comes from the water process used to collect glands from the trim, leaf and buds. On a fundamental level, the process works because cannabinoids are not water-soluble, meaning that the desired resins are not damaged by contact with water and ice.
Water hash can be smoked as loose, granular resin or pressed into traditional hashish: High-quality loose hash can easily be pressed into hashish using nothing more than the palm of one hand and some light, brisk friction, applied using the thumb of the other hand. Loose or pressed, many people are still enthralled by the unique, full-spectrum experience of this potent natural product.
Water hash can be made in small or large quantities, and turnkey extracting systems can be purchased to simplify the process. It is also possible to make water hash using home-gathered equipment, but with inexpensive kits available, the savings are often negligible. Pre-made systems offer increased precision and efficiency for the water hash process, and their availability contributed to a surge in water hash’s popularity during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Water hash’s two-decade run of dominance ended with the rise of solvent-extracted hash; shatter, wax, and other butane hash-oils have muscled aside bubble hash on many dispensary shelves in the United States over the last few years. But this competition from solvent hash has also inspired water hash makers to step their game up, inspiring an increased emphasis on appearance and flavor. Ultra-fine water hash is now being sold as “solventless wax,” reflecting the broad demand for solvent-free products that mirror the desirable consistency and refined flavor profile of solvent-extracted hash.
High-grade water hash is also great for edibles, and any experienced dabber will tell you that “five star” hash is very dabbable. It’s also next to impossible to seriously injure yourself or anyone else making water hash, because the process doesn’t involve any flammable chemicals or potentially explosive machinery.
How Water Hash Works
All water hash methods use water, ice and agitation to separate resin glands from plant material. Water and plant material are placed in a bucket that has been lined with filtration bags, similar in composition to the screens used for making dry sift kief. Like those screens, the bags filter the glands by micron size, separating the hash from the trash. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, or .001 millimeters. The material is stirred to knock the trichomes free, and while the plant material floats in the top bag, the glands (which are heavier) sink and are collected in the lower bags.
Ready-made systems use multiple bags that sort the glands by size: Unlike kief-making, the material is separated in one step rather than through repeated sieving. Usually, the material is processed once, but some commercial hash makers process it a second time to further isolate the THC.
As with all extraction methods, cold temperature is a key element of water hash production. The ice keeps the water and material very cold so the glands remain brittle and snap off with agitation. After the material is agitated in ice water, it’s allowed to settle. Then, the bags are separated and the glands are removed from each one. After the water hash is dried, it’s ready to smoke.
Water hash varies in color and can be many shades of white, brown, red and even purple. When extracted from the finest-grade material, the potency of water hash can test as high as many solvent hash products, with up to 80 percent cannabinoid content.
A Note on Yields
Processing 227 grams of high-quality material usually yields between 18 grams (8 percent yield) to 35 grams (15 percent yield). Yields increase with the quality of the starting material. However, in some instances, such as with Tangie, obtaining a yield over 7 percent using water is nearly impossible. This is one reason solvent-based methods and other, newer extraction techniques have overtaken water processing in popularity.
But there are considerations other than yield; the full-spectrum effects and natural flavor profile of water hash are unique because the process preserves the terpenes in the glands. For this reason, some people prefer high-quality water hash to solvent-extracted products.