Up until very recently the term “Rosin” has almost exclusively referred to the bi-product obtained from pine tree sap— after the sap is distilled to cook off and collect more volatile components (mainly terpenes, this is how the solvent Turpentine is created!), you’re left with a tacky resinous cake used in everything from violin bows to pharmaceuticals. These days, however, the term “rosin” has been popping up more and more with regards to Cannabis.
Though the idea cannabis rosin has been around since the early 2000s, it really exploded in popularity at the end of 2014 when it started gaining traction in the forums as a solventless alternative to BHO.
In March of 2015, YouTuber and cannabis enthusiast John Berfelo posted videos entitled The Death of BHO which really set the internet ablaze— he showed how anyone could make beautiful golden dabs with a little bud, some parchment paper, and a hair straightener.
Since then, rosin has become the hottest topic in the cannabis world complete with a new set of products dubbed “rosin tech”… but is rosin really the death of BHO?
Of course not.
It’s true, the process of making rosin is much safer and more legal than running a butane extraction, but it also has its own drawbacks. To create rosin, trichomes (either on the bud or separated via dry sift) are heated and pressed in parchment paper with a hair straightener so that volatile oils inside the trichome heads can break free of the cuticle and re-condense along the edges of the paper. The process of heating the volatile oils causes the lighter terpenes to be lost almost completely, so while THC content remains relatively the same (in fact, the heat helps decarboxylate THC-A into THC), rosin dabs have significantly less flavor than BHO, particularly compared to live resin where terpenes are specifically preserved.
Rosin also becomes difficult for anyone trying to scale up beyond what a single hobbyist can do with a hair straightener. Since industrial rosin processing involves large-scale distillation which creates many grades (fractions) of product and is technically beyond the ability of most people making cannabis rosin, many in the cannabis industry have turned to things like small-mesh filtered “tea bags” and t-shirt presses to create rosin at scale but it seems like a work in progress. With purging technology as good as it is and the popularity of sub-zero, closed loop butane extraction, I think it’s safe to say that BHO is going to remain king of concentrates for quite some time.
Make Your Own
That being said, rosin is a simple safe way for just about anyone to quickly convert their bud into a dab— the worst you can do is burn yourself on a hair straightener. If you’re feeling bold and have some bud to spare, familiarize yourself with the process by watching a few of the countless youtube videos on the subject and give it a shot! If it’s your first time, here’s a few tips we have for you to avoid disappointment:
- Use PARCHMENT paper, not wax paper— parchment paper uses a thin film of silicone that won’t melt.
- Start with the lowest temperature and slowly work your way up until you find the right setting on your hair straightener. Even those with digital temperature readings aren’t made to be exact and each one will behave slightly differently. Set the temp too high and you’ll vaporize the rosin away! There’s a fine line between perfect heat and too much.
- Don’t let the bud move around while you press! It can wipe up the resin collected along the edges. Press, move the bud to a new spot, repeat.
Good luck and happy dabbing! We’ll be here when you guys get curious about absolute shatter.