When most people think of hash these days, the first thing that comes to mind is the BHO shatter and wax that has become so popular within the last few years. The development of closed-loop extraction systems and vacuum ovens built specifically for concentrates have caused many high-end producers to shift away from traditional hash-making methods in favor of more modern, solvent-based techniques. Recently, however, a few concentrate artists have shared some extraordinary “solvent-less waxes” rivaling the flavor and potency of many solvent-extracted waxes and the technique to making this hash is both simple and incredibly safe—no explosive or potentially toxic chemicals required.
Solvent-less concentrate is made by collecting stalked trichomes from raw plant material. These trichomes are dense with THC and other psychoactive compounds, some of which may not be present in BHO due to their varying structures and solubility properties. While there are several specific methods, trichomes are most easily collected by sifting—passing the plant matter through a series of screens that separate particles by size. As the heads of the trichomes fall through the smallest screen, they are collected to form the finest grade of “blonde hash” (because the milky heads of the trichomes typically produce an off-white color) or what we’re calling “solvent-less hash” now.
In order to optimize this process, the Pollinator Company in the Netherlands developed the Iceolator Bags (later spun off in the states as Bubble Bags) which allow for an efficient ice-water separation to be carried out. The bags each contain various-sized mesh-screen bottoms (ranging from 200µ to 25µ) which are then stacked within one another so ice, water and plant material can be added and mixed. The ice water helps lower the temperature of the plant material making the trichomes brittle and more readily separated from the plant (and thus, collected).
Unfortunately, the addition of water also requires about 48 hours of drying time and can potentially pick up some unwanted, water-soluble compounds during the separation. That’s why I’ve become very interested in dry-ice extraction. Instead of using water and ice, solid CO2 aka dry ice is used to cool down the plant matter for sifting. Dry ice is both cheap and much colder than regular ice and the way in which it sublimates (goes from solid to gas) rapidly cools down more of the area around it which eliminates the need to use water or some other insulator (water would freeze in contact with dry ice!). The dry ice also serves as an agitator so all you have to do is shake the sifting container/ bag, no need to sit there stirring. Dispensaries seem to carry product listed as “Solvent-less wax” from no larger a screen than 70µ but you will undoubtedly obtain better product (albeit smaller yields) from an even finer screen size.
So the next time you’re thinking about blasting that extra bag of trim/bud you have lying around, consider busting out the bubble bags instead of the butane and turkey baster— your lungs and neighbors will thank you!
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