How to Make Closed Column BHO and Live Resin

how-to-make-Bho-and-live-resinThere’s no denying the facts anymore: dabbing has become the premiere method cannabis consumption among weed connoisseurs. The golden, terpene rich concentrates available on the market today are a vast improvement from the dark, harsh oils that were once mass produced only years ago thanks largely to improvements in commercially available extractions systems.

These “closed loop” systems have not only improved overall quality of products on the market but they also offer much greater safety profile in comparison to the old popular “open blasting” techniques responsible for creating lower quality concentrate (not to mention ‘explosive’ headlines for the newspapers). A simple google search will show that these “closed loop” systems cost thousands of dollars and require special tanks and vacuum pumps but in fact, one can use the same principles to produce very high quality shatter / live resin for a fraction of the price. In this article, we will outline a simple, closed-system method of extracting cannabis to produce the highest quality extracts for under $400.

Disclaimer: The following information is for educational purposes only! Solvent-based cannabis extractions are illegal under federal and local drug lab laws and can be extremely dangerous. Such extractions should only be performed by trained professionals in licensed facilities in compliance with local laws and regulations.

A “closed loop” extraction system is one in which butane is constantly run over resin-rich plant material where it solvates THC, enters a collection chamber, evaporates, and then is re-condensed to be re-run over cannabis again (thus reducing the amount of solvent needed). As a cheaper alternative, we will be electing to use a “pressurized closed soak” method where butane and cannabis will be combined in a closed, pressurized column and allowed to soak for 45 minutes to ensure extraction efficiency. With this method, butane cannot be recycled (it must be evaporated off into the atmosphere, a costly prospect for mass production) but the quality of product is top tier and one can produce some incredible live resins when the extraction is done correctly and with care. It is an excellent alternative for people who wish to make smaller, less frequent batches of concentrates. For this method, you will need the following:

  • 1x Triclamp sanitary stainless steel spool (1.5” diameter, length depending on how much material you wish to run, we suggest anywhere from 6”-36”)
  • 1x Triclamp VITON screen gasket 20 mesh (1.5” diameter)
  • 1x Triclamp VITON gasket (1.5” diameter)
  • 2x Triclamp top cap w/ lance valve (matching diameter)closed-column-pressure-extractor-90-gram-107_1
  • 2x Single pin triclamp (bestvacs includes one with legs welded on)

(bestvaluevacs.com sells all of the above as a kit starting at $170)

  • 1x FJC vacuum pump, 1.5cfm and ($80 at Harbor Freight)
  • 1x vacuum chamber and appropriate vacuum hosing (you can try to make your own but good ones can be purchased for $100 online)
  • 1x case of butane (Whip-it! Sells the most pure canisters and they contain 400ml whereas most other brands come in 300ml canisters)
  • 1x pyrex dish
  • 1x Parchment paper
  • 1x Dank marijuanas, preferably freshly cut and frozen buds for live resin.
  • (optional) a pot of hot water a.k.a. a hot water bath.
  • (optional) dry ice and a cooler / container that will fit your spool with the end caps on.

The dry ice is particularly important if you wish to make live resin. If using cured buds, the cooling process is less essential but will still help create a lighter, more desirable extract.

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frozen buds are easier to break down into small particles without grinding, dry ice gets the job done in minutes

Step 1: Prepare Buds Collect your plant material use your hands to break down larger nugs into a more manageable size as we will be packing the plant material into the stainless steel spool / column. You want to avoid grinding the buds because cutting the plant cell wall will allow chlorophyll to be more readily extracted by our butane resulting in a darker color and harsher taste (remember, all THC is on the OUTSIDE of the plant leaf in the trichomes!). Frozen buds are particularly brittle and easy to “nug bust” by hand in a plastic bag so even if you aren’t making live resin with fresh frozen buds, we recommend you freeze your plant material anyway (remember to remove as much air as possible from the bag to reduce the formation of ice crystals)

Step 2: Pack the Column Now that your buds are broken down into ~5mm particles, you’ll want to gently pack your stainless steel column with the mesh screen clamped to the bottom to prevent buds from falling all the way through. The key is to not pack the tube too tightly or else butane will form channels in the column and some buds won’t come in contact with the solvent. Use a rod of some kind to tamp down the plant material in the tube every few grams or so to ensure even packing. Once the column is packed completely, secure the final gasket and top cap with your second clamp and close both valves on either end of your extractor. If you are making live resin or have dry ice and a cooler available, you should allow your tube to cool under the dry ice for at least 20 minutes to ensure buds (and residual water) inside are completely frozen. WARNING: the metal will be cold enough to burn your skin, use insulated gloves (or oven mits) to protect your hands!

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Butane can be injected directly into the top valve

Step 3: Vacuum and Extraction Time to use that vacuum pump! Attach the vacuum to the bottom of the extractor (the side with the mesh screen) using your vacuum hose, open the bottom valve and pull vacuum on your extractor column. It shouldn’t take more than a second and you will be able to hear the vacuum make a softer gurgle once its reached maximum vacuum. Cycle the valve (open and close it) twice to make sure you’ve pulled as much vacuum as you can, then close the valve and turn off the vacuum pump (the FJC model allows you to release pressure via a screwable cap where the hose attaches, this will make it easier to remove the hose from your extractor once its under vac). Now it’s time to make the magic happen! Selecting the appropriate adapter from the butane canister cap you can directly inject butane into the top of the extractor by opening the valve. The negative pressure will suck butane into the column so be sure your canister is releasing butane just before you open the top valve on your extractor (or else you’ll suck in air which takes up butane space!). Listen closely to the butane canister— once the column is fully pressurized with butane you will hear the butane stop flowing from the canister. You may need to use more than one canister depending on how big your column is. After the column has been fully pressurized with butane, we suggest you place the entire primed extractor back into your dry ice cooler (if you have one/ are making live resin). The cold temperature reduces the solubility of water and other undesirables in butane which always leads to lighter colored, more desirable extracts.

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Mother liquor ready for vac chamber

Step 4:  Separate Mother Liquor After about 45 minutes, your extraction will have reached optimal completeness. Remove your extractor from the cold and with your pyrex dish placed carefully underneath your bottom valve, slowly and gently turn the valve so butane begins to drip into the dish. If you release the valve too quickly, butane will spew out and create a giant, flammable, sticky mess. Controlled flow is key! Cycle the valve (open and close it) when the butane stream starts to sputter to allow gasses from the top of the column to push liquid down through the bottom. When there’s little butane left, place the column outside and release both valves to allow residual butane gas to escape. You now have a pyrex dish filled with our butane mother liquor and it should have a vibrant yellow color to it. You can attempt to try another run with the spent material but its rarely worth the solvent required as the first extraction tends to capture 80-90% of the desired cannabinoids.

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Purged live resin– incredible flavor and potency, no fancy system required

Step 5: Purge the Solvent The final step is the removal of excess butane which can be detected by taste at even a few hundred ppm. Leaving your pyrex dish of mother liquor in a well ventilated area will allow much of the butane to evaporate off but to speed things up we recommend placing your pyrex dish in a another bowl of shallow warm water (remember, butane is highly flammable so be sure the dish is nowhere near any open flames— warm the water up elsewhere!) Once the liquid has reduced substantially (but not completely), its recommended to pour off the thickening resin into a dish lined with parchment paper so your final product is easier to remove. All that’s left is to throw this dish into your vacuum chamber and pull the chamber down to about -28 mmHG (or as far as you can take it). Most people like to leave it under vacuum for as long as 24 hours but you can achieve a faster purge by cycling the pressure of the chamber every hour or so (placing your chamber in a warm water bath will also speed things up). You should be left with a beautiful, golden terpy sap! The final test is the taste test (don’t worry, butane is essentially non-toxic) and you will be able to tell if your extraction needs some extra purging or if you did things just right!

It can seem a bit overwhelming at first but the process is rather straightforward. In short, the best extractions are done as cold as possible with the strongest, freshest material one can find. Cured buds will produce less tasty, colorful extracts but this “closed column” method both reduces the amount of butane necessary and provides an significantly safer method to open blasting (albeit slightly more complicated and expensive). Of course unless you have access to cheap, high quality bud… it’s almost always more economical (and safer) to purchase from the experts! Remember, you can go to jail for making this stuff (but not necessarily possessing it). Consider your risks carefully and stay lifted!

Is Dabbing Really Dangerous?

is dabbing dangerousWe’ve all seen the news stories about how dangerous dabbing can be — dramatic accounts of clandestine “drug labs” being blown up by amateur hash-makers– but really, how dangerous is dabbing for the average user? Though there’s been little formal scientific research specifically on the topic (due mostly to the DEA’s listing of marijuana as as schedule 1 substance), empirical data suggests that under ideal conditions, dabbing should pose even fewer health risks than traditional combustion of marijuana.

Dabbing Is a Form of Vaporization

The key to understanding dabbing is to realize it’s just a contemporary form of “hot knife” vaporization– a stainless steel (or ceramic or quartz) surface is heated directly and that surface is used to vaporize hash oil below the ~450°F required for actual combustion (remember THC vaporizes around 300°F)– flame is never applied directly to the hash oil. As a result, the vapor contains mostly water and cannabinoids rather than the mix of tar and potentially dangerous aromatic hydrocarbons contained within smoke.

It’s been well established: vaporizing is much healthier than actual smoking. Of course, certain dabbing rigs can present different safety challenges… propane and butane torches require compressed gas which always requires proper storage and safety to avoid explosion. E-nails can also be hazardous if left on and forgotten and knocked over– though they require about as much precaution as a waffle iron.

The Quality of Your Concentrate Is Important

Now that we’ve established that vaporization is less harmful than combustion, its important to consider what exactly you’re vaporizing. Under ideal conditions, your concentrate will be butane-extracted and the solvent purged below the 3ppm taste threshold (though CO2 and pressure-extracted concentrates offer similarly healthy but less potent alternatives). Butane is relatively non-toxic and is often used as a preservative in the food industry. Under such circumstances, concentrates are composed mainly of plant resin and offer the purest form of cannabinoids available on the market. Very high quality concentrates are also able to capture volatile terpenes stored within the cannabis plant which provide “entourage medicinal effects” and contribute to a concentrate’s flavor.

Of course, dabbing poorly-made concentrate can be just as detrimental to your health as smoking. Amateurs chemists like professional janitor Rick Simpson have become famous for perpetuating “light naptha-based” concentrates, solvents which are not available commercially without severe adulteration of highly toxic chemicals. These solvents are absolutely not safe for use with any product intended for human consumption and concentrates made this way present a serious threat to both the health of patients and the legitimacy of marijuana as medicine.

Negative Health Effects from THC?

Despite the greatly elevated levels of THC in concentrates, there has still yet to be a single case of marijuana overdose in the history of time (and believe me, some folks are out there trying). Still, there are certain hazards to consider with such elevated concentrations of THC. Such high levels of THC can quickly lead to increased tolerance, dependence, and more pronounced withdrawal effects upon cessation of marijuana. Some people can also be overwhelmed by the strength of a dab, causing a marijuana-induced panic attack.

While there appears to be no significant long-term effects from smoking marijuana or its concentrates, more research is needed to fully understand the long-term physical and mental impacts it has on human beings. Until the federal government is willing to clear the way for researchers to do what they do best, we may never have a clear understanding of how marijuana affects our health in the long-run. Still, it would appear that dabbing presents no significant health risks and may provide a healthier alternative to traditional combustion of marijuana.

As states being to legislate their own rules regarding marijuana, we’ll likely see this topic appear more and more– hopefully that will drive the government to reconsider its position so a serious long-term study can be performed.

How To Make Your Own Hash Oil Capsules

canna capsulesConsuming cannabis orally is one of the most effective ways to benefit from its medicinal properties. In contrast to smoking or vaping where a majority of cannabinoids remain unabsorbed by the lungs, edibles allow the body to absorb ~95% of all active cannabinoids which allows for less material to be used to achieve the desired effects.

While there are many different edibles available in all kind of forms and flavors, there’s no denying the simple medicinal qualities of a tasteless, odorless hash oil capsule. Hash oil capsules are essentially that– cellulose/gelatin capsules filled with a measured quantity activated hash oil. These pills offer the most simple, medicinal approach to edibles as they don’t require refrigeration, have more consistent potency and are easier to dose than traditional baked edibles (they also tend to be hypo-allergenic).

Preparing Your Own Capsules Making your own hash oil capsules is a very simple, straightforward process. The main ingredients you’ll need are:

  1. Medicinal Cannabis / Keif / Hash
  2. Empty Gel Capsules (available at your local health food store, #00 is the biggest and easiest to work with)
  3. Coconut Oil
  4. Crock Pot / double boiler / a pot and a metal bowl that fits inside

It’s also advised that you have the following to avoid a giant sticky mess:

  1. A syringe for dispensing your oil into capsules (available at your local drugstore)
  2. A capsule “filling machine” or holder to hold your capsules in place while you fill them, should be available where you find the gel caps.

Similar to our cannabutter tutorial, you need to activate the THC (via decarboxylation) before it will be effective orally. All you have to do is combine the coconut oil and cannabis in your crock pot and heat it around 220°F for between one and two hours. If you don’t have a crock pot, you can just add the ingredients to a metal bowl and carefully immerse the bottom of that into a pot of boiling water for the same amount of time; water boils at ~212°F which is an optimal temperature to decarboxylate over about an hour and a half. Some people opt to use cheesecloth when using ground bud in order to strain the final product but I’ve found this to be an unnecessarily messy step that has little to no benefit on the final product and may actually adversely affect potency.

Once your oil has been properly decarboxylated, all one needs to do is set up some open capsules in the capsule filler/holder and use the syringe to fill the capsules with anywhere between .05g and .1g of hash oil. These capsules can be very potent so be careful when trying them for the first time, if you find you’ve made them too potent simply dilute with more coconut oil and re-cap. With edibles, less is more (one can always have a second or third) so you may want to start with approximately 1g of hash or kief (2g of bud) for every 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and adjust to preference from there. Get Medicated While some people get fancy with additives like soy lecithin, this recipe offers the most basic, simple, effective method for creating your own odorless, flavorless hash oil capsules.

Remember that it’s always best to eat something before taking hash oil capsules to stimulate the digestive tract and be sure to wait an hour or so after trying one to determine if you’re medicated enough… these capsules can creep up on you pretty hard!

How To Use A Nectar Collector In 7 Simple Steps + Bonus Review

NECTAR-COLLECTORNectar collectors for the most part, have only been around for the past year or so, but are starting to gain popularity as more and more  people discover this new dynamic method of vaporizing dabs. This new style of dabbing, takes user experience to the next level, by offering a unique vertical vaporizing process that allows  you to gauge your dab intake perfectly every time, without having to worry about excess concentrates being wasted during your hits.

Most nectar collectors on the market today are relatively expensive, ranging in price from $100, of upwards to $1,000, depending on what brand name you buy and which dab accessories come with them. If you’re lucky, you might come across a low priced, yet highly effective nectar collector from an online wholesale smoke shop, but for the most part, they tend to be on the costly side.

nectar collector kit

At first glance, the nectar collector looks like a probing device from an alien spaceship. The glass body is shaped like a syringe and usually features an embedded percolator, that can be used as a filtration device when water is applied. Accompanying the base are a glass mouthpiece that slides into the top, and a nectar collector titanium tip, that is used unconventionally, as a dab nail. Some nectar collector kits also come equipped with a wax dish, such as this one, that is used as a launch pad, for inserting the titanium tip into finely extracted medical concentrates upon inhalation. The more high end nectar collectors typically come with a rotating metal pivoting stand, that assists in the vertical vaporizing process, once inserted into dabs.

How to Use A Nectar Collector In 7 Simple Steps

             

Step 1: Add Water to the Base

Tip #1: Fill the base slowly with water, making sure that it filled about halfway, allowing for the best percolation.

Tip #2: Make sure that the glass mouthpiece and titanium tip are removed before filling with water so that water won’t get trapped in the tip.

pour water nectar collector

Step 2: Check Water Level

Tip: Make sure water level is a little less than half-way full to allow for optimal percolation.

nectar collector water level

 Step 3: Add Glass Mouthpiece to Base

Tip: A small amount of joint wax can be applied to the base in order to prevent the mouthpiece from sliding in place during use.

nectar collector mouth piece

Step 4: Add Nectar Collector Titanium Tip to Base

Tip: Joint wax can be applied as a faint adhesive to the inside of the tip after being heated with a torch, to keep it in place during use.

nectar collector tip

 Assembled Nectar Collector

nectar collector assembled

(Ready for take-off)*

Step 5: Heat Titanium Tip Gently With Butane Torch Until It Has A Light Red Glow

Tip #1: Be careful not to overheat the tip as excessive heating can cause cracking.

Tip #2: Hold the nectar collector horizontally while heating to avoid leaks.nectar collector titanium

(Don’t Be A Dumbass and Burn Yourself or Your Friends!)

Step 6: Inhale While Tip Is Heated, and Submerge Tip in Dabs

heated tip

 (The kit that we purchased came with a glass wax dish)

Tip: The nectar collector titanium tip allows you to use just the amount of dabs needed for your hit, so don’t waste your supply!

Step 7: Don’t Forget to Exhale!

exhale nectar collector

6″ Mini Nectar Collector 10mm Review

Besides the titanium tip and glass mouthpiece, this nectar collector kit features a wax dish for storing dabs in between hits.The nectar collector itself, is 6 inches in length and has a 10mm sized titanium nail. The design is sleek and clean in appearance, and is made with durable borosilicate glass, which is known for it’s high resistance to extreme heat. The only downside to using this piece is the fact that it doesn’t come with a rotating metal swivel stand, as some of the more high end nectar collectors have, but that aside, this piece does it all. While using this device we experienced no issues during the assembly process and the hits were very clean and filtered thanks to the mini percolator. We filled the water too high the first time, but it was an easy fix. All in all, this nectar collector gets the job done at a fraction of the price that you’d normally pay for your average nectar collector, and it makes for an ideal buy, especially if you’re into dabbing or simply want a cheap alternative to your every day dab rig.

The nectar collector featured in this review: http://www.marijuanapackaging.com/6-nectar-collector-10mm.html

Shatter Vs. Wax Vs. Sugar

bho  shatter wax sugarThere’s no question that we’re living in a golden age for concentrates— a greater federal tolerance for the marijuana industry and the widespread availability of extraction “tech” has dramatically increased the amount of concentrate available to patients and recreational users alike. However, the explosion in popularity of concentrates has also generated excess of misinformation circulating the internet, especially among amateur hash-makers.

Perhaps the most common questions among enthusiasts is “What is the difference between shatter and honeycomb wax?” and “Why does my concentrate look like ______? How do I make it look like _____?” A quick google search will yield an endless supply of contradicting “answers” from forum “experts” who demonstrate a tentative grasp of basic scientific principles. Even among bud-tenders, there seems to be little consensus or understanding with regards to how different forms of concentrate actually differ from one another. In this article, we will examine the difference between shatter, wax and sugar and speculate why light colored, translucent shatter is likely to be the most desirable product to consume.

Shatter Vs Wax

Just about every dispensary these days will have more than one form of hash outside the traditional pressed-trichome product that’s been around for centuries. While CO2 extracted “crumbles” and more liquid, pressure-extracted concentrates like “the clear” have become more common, this article will focus on butane-extracted hash (see our previous article on the benefits of closed-loop extraction).

BHO generally comes in two forms, shatter and wax (or crumble). Shatter tends to have a consistency ranging from sticky sap to a very stable, hard resin at room temperature and can have an appearance anywhere from a dark brown to a nearly translucent. Wax on the other hand, tends to be completely dry and crumbly and is sometimes referred to as “honeycomb” because of its resemblance. While both are made using the same solvent (butane) and a vacuum purging process, there are several factors that account for the difference between the two forms of concentrate.

As one might expect, wax/crumble is purged for longer at higher temperatures resulting in a drier more “completely purged” product that has less residual butane complexed within. However, butane isn’t the only compound that can be purged at 100°F and -29 mmHg. Under such a vacuum, the boiling point of all liquids are depressed.

More Than Just THC

When butane is used to extract THC from raw plant material, it also picks up a medley of other compounds including terpenes, plant fats, and chlorophyll (via micelle formation). The concentrations of these compounds vary as you move from the top of the cola to the roots of a marijuana plant which is why “trim run” and “nug run” extracts of the same plant can appear completely different. It should also be noted that n-butane is actually slightly water soluble at room temperature and can pick up some polar species which tend to make for darker, harsher concentrates (this is why dryness is important for both solvent and raw plant material).

While plant fats and chlorophyll are undesirable (and tend to burn, leaving ash behind), terpenes are the compounds that contribute to the smell and flavor of marijuana and some have been known for centuries to possess medicinal and practical value. Many of these compounds are volatile (meaning they start to evaporate) around room temperature so their concentrations begin to decrease as soon as a plant is cut and killed. The key to making the most pleasant, flavorful extracts is maintaining a full terpene profile while decreasing the butane content below the 3ppm taste threshold.

Over-Purging

Basic thermodynamics determine that liquids boil more readily when held under vacuum. During a vacuum purge, the pressure can be reduced as low as -29 mmHg which lowers the boiling point of butane from 31°F to -96°F (and THC from 315°F to 195°F). In order to achieve a “complete purge” many will even apply additional heat without considering the consequences this will have on the volatile terpenes (which already evaporate at room temperature and normal pressure). This is the main reason why shatter tends to have a more potent taste/ smell when compared to crumbles.

At this point one must ask the question, “what’s more important? A full terpene profile or less residual butane present in the final product?” Ultimately while the THC concentrations in shatter will be greater than that of crumble (because of density), both have similar perceived “strength.” As many people use cannabis for many different reasons, the answer is entirely personal but it should be noted that residual concentrations of butane in either products has been deemed non-toxic to humans. With that in mind, I consider crumble to be over-purged product that is missing an ideal component, the natural terpenes (some folks try to add food-grade terpenes like ‘D-limonene’ but the end result is almost always unnatural and off-putting).

Judge A Book By Its Cover

While its impossible to know just how a concentrate will taste until you’ve tried it, there are certain traits to look out for that high-quality shatters seem to all have in common:

1.It will be transparent: “dewaxed” shatter will be free of any solids that would give it a cloudy appearance and will leave little residue behind when vaporized.

2. It will be light colored: the dark color to shatter is caused by solids and polar compounds that get picked up during extraction, usually attributable to the presence of water. Some of the best extract artists have suggested freezing fresh cut plant material to lock up water while maintaining a full terpene profile resulting in some spectacularly light, almost clear shatters.

3. It will smell strongly: high terpene concentrations will almost certainly give off a magnificent bouquet.

The consistency of shatter (from vicious ‘taffy’ to ‘stable’ shatter) will depend on the overall butane and terpene concentration, both which contribute to a more viscous product.

Shatter vs. Sugar

“Sugar” is the word used to describe shatter that has begun to resemble the consistency of wet sand while not completely drying out into crumble. Many have speculated that this could be strain-dependent while others have suggested that this results from shatter “sitting around for too long” or from residual butane escaping the shatter. While legitimate experimental data doesn’t yet exist on the subject, I believe the real answer to be a combination the previous suggestions.

I think sugar results from a natural separation of volatile components (butane and terpenes mostly) from non-volatile components. Different strains contain different concentrations of various terpenes and non-volatile molecules which explains why some strains naturally “want” to sugar up more than others. This process is accelerated by the vacuum purge which effectively increases the volatility of all components within the extract. Regardless, “sugaring up” suggests some degradation of the final product (which is why it generally tends to be priced cheaper than regular shatter of the same variety)

Conclusion

Though its often farmers and amateur chemists who end up constituting a large portion of the concentrate production industry (at least as long as it’s somewhat illegal), organic extraction/isolation of volatile compounds and most especially concentration of such under vacuum is a very delicate process even by a trained chemist’s standards. A scientific attention to detail and high grade starting material are often the difference between a Cannabis Cup winner and the discount crumble available at your local dispensary. Be aware of the differences between sugar, shatter and wax/crumble and use the guidelines we’ve mentioned while choosing your next concentrate (if you have such a luxury) and see if you don’t notice the difference.

The Advantages of Closed-Loop BHO Extraction

vacuum purged shatterMarijuana extraction technology has changed rapidly over the last few years thanks to a greater demand for concentrates and wide-spread decriminalization and legalization. The black, tarry “oils” that were once acceptable forms of “hash” have all but disappeared (apparently some poor fools are still smoking that toxic ‘Rick Simpson Oil’) and in particular, the development of closed-loop extraction technologies has represented a paradigm shift in the way both producers and consumers approach concentrates. At this point, closed-loop butane extraction is the best, most efficient method we have for extracting THC and when set up properly, it provides a scientific level of safety and control that can yield the highest quality products possible.

Closed-Loop Extraction is Safer

The most obvious advantage to a closed-loop extraction setup is that it provides a much greater degree of safety than “open blasting.” BHO extraction has gotten a bad rap over the last few years because plenty of stupid, inexperienced stoners try their hand at open BHO extraction and end up on the news because they blew themselves up. A closed-loop extraction is just that– it’s completely sealed off so that no butane can escape the system into the surrounding environment (thus avoiding filling the room with butane, though proper ventilation is always necessary, closed-loop or not). 

Closed-Loop Extraction is More Efficient

Closed-loop systems will naturally be under greater pressure than open systems which, while not directly affecting solubility in any meaningful way, does increase the interface time between the raw marijuana and butane thus allowing for a more complete extraction.

Closed loop systems also allow for a more precise control of temperature which does have a direct effect on the solubility of THC into butane– though there are two ways of thinking about it. While an increase in temperature of the butane does allow for greater solubility of THC (and thus a more efficient extraction), it also increases the amount of water in the product (as water is just slightly soluble in butane), though thorough drying of the raw material and solvent could combat this.

Rather, many extraction artists choose to cool the extraction column to sub-zero temperatures which, while decreasing the solubility of butane, prevents many of the undesirable plant fats and waxes (and water) from making it into the solvent. This is a choice method since it avoids the need to “polish” or de-wax later using a cold ethanol wash. Closed-loop extraction systems also prevent butane from being needlessly evaporated and some systems even offer the ability to recover butane, allowing solvent to be used many more times without needing to be recharged.

Closed-Loop Extraction Yields The Highest Quality Product

The great Budweiser-endowed beer-scholar Charles Bamforth says with regards to taste in what is good, “to each her own,” but it’s hard to deny that the strongest, most flavorful, most cosmetically pleasant concentrates have been produced through closed-loop extraction. The only products that seem to come even close are the most carefully crafted, ultra-fine ice hashes which can hardly be seen as representative of an efficient extraction method.The use of these technologies is always accompanied by temperature-controlled vacuum purging which is the other half of the art & science of MMJ extraction. The vacuum purge is used to remove butane below the taste threshold of 3ppm, far below any level that could be considered dangerous to anyone.

While concentrates still have some legal-grey area, even in states where marijuana is legal, these advantages to closed-loop extraction are the reasons why the most forward-thinking states– states like Colorado– are creating regulations that will impose industry standards requiring closed-loop extraction for the safety of everyone.

If marijuana helps you and you live somewhere where it isn’t legal, you should move to Colorado (seriously!). Let’s stop open blasting once and for all, it’s just not very good.

Your First Dab Rig: What You Should Know Before You Buy

your first dab rigSo you’ve taken a few dabs and decided you want a setup of your own– welcome to the wonderful world of dabbing! Just as concentrates have evolved over the last few years, so too have the pieces with which to enjoy them and the sheer number of options available can be intimidating if you’ve never owned a rig before. In this article, we’ll explain the basic mechanics behind dabbing and arm you with all the knowledge you need to enjoy picking a dab rig that will serve you well for years to come. Let’s get started!

The Basicsdomeless-titanium-nail-oil-rigjpg

Your standard dab rig these days will consist of three parts: a glass piece, a heating element (called a nail), and a torch lighter with which to heat your nail. When done properly, dabbing is more akin to vaping than smoking because very little of your concentrate actually combusts. As a result, many of the characteristics that make a piece good for smoking make it a poor choice for dabbing. As opposed to cooling smoke, cooling vapor causes it to condense back into liquid form which leaves you with an abundance of “reclaim oil” along the sides of your piece– while still potent to a significant degree, reclaim is unpleasant to dab and many people dispose of it. To avoid this, the ideal rig is small and has minimal diffusion to allow most of the vapor to enter your lungs.

Bonus: small simple dab rigs also tend to be cheaper… economic and efficient. But before you go choosing your piece, you need to think about the most important part of your rig– the heating element aka the nail.

The Nail

At the heart of your dab rig is the nail; it sits on your piece and after heating it with your torch, it heats your concentrate above the point of vaporization. Depending on your preferences, you have four choices of material: quartz (fused silica), glass (borosilicate), ceramic, and titanium. While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence floating around the internet, the science behind these materials is well understood. The truth is, your choice of material will have minimal, if any, effect on flavor. Rather, the material will affect how hot your nail gets and how long it stays hot.

As a chemist and experienced glass-blower, it’s hard for me to recommend a glass (borosilicate) nail since it doesn’t retain heat well and is guaranteed to break at some point– sometimes by shooting a hot chunk directly in your direction. The coefficient of thermal expansion on ceramic nails also means they too will break eventually, though they’re more likely to do so in a less dramatic fashion. The leaves two real options: quartz and titanium.

Titanium vs. Quartz

quartz and titanium nailYou can’t go wrong with either and it all comes down to preference. When picking your first rig, I recommend getting a Ti nail because they’re impossible to break and they stay hot for longer. The problem with Ti nails is that they can be overheated to the point that they start to burn some of your concentrate. Even when this does happen, the combustion is still minimal compared to smoking but this is why its a good idea to pick a rig with just a little water diffusion. Some people have suggested that you can overheat your nail to the point of generating toxic levels of Titanium oxide but rest assured– the nail would need to be a white hot 2,100°F… 500 degrees above the point at which your borosilicate glass piece will begin to melt into a flaming pool on your coffee table– don’t worry about it.

While it’s nearly impossible to overheat a quartz nail, they do cool down quickly which can lead to taking cool hits where you essentially melt the concentrate without vaporizing much of it. It’s as frustrating and disappointing a way to waste your expensive concentrate and as a result, I tend to recommend sticking to a Ti nail until you’ve become more comfortable with setting up and operating your rig.

Dome vs. Domeless

It might seem counterintuitive but I recommend you get a domed Ti nail for your first dab rig. The Ti nail gets up to around 800°F and when you’re really, really stoned, it’s nice to have something protecting your hand (or other things) from accidentally touching your hot nail. Domed nails are also smaller which allow for less heating time.

Torch

You’re going to need torch to heat your nail and that torch should use no fuel other than butane. Propane gets too hot too fast and is just generally a bad thing to keep around the house. You can go to home depot and grab something in the pluming section but I recommend getting a smaller torch with a more manageable flame so you don’t end up heating up the glass on your piece too… which leads to another good point: choose a piece that gives you room to heat your nail (you want the nail to extend out an inch or two). If you find yourself too intimidated by the torch, you’re not out of options! You might consider getting a pen vape or an e-nail.

To Each Her Own

While I recommend a small water pipe with a domed Ti nail as the ideal first dab rig, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and by all means if you enjoyed your experience using a different rig, you should do what makes you happy! There’s no wrong answer when it comes to what you like.

Vape Pens and Hash Oil: Revolutionizing Cannabis Culture

vapes and hash oilVape pens represent the leading edge of America’s marijuana revolution.

While bongs, tight joints and big blunts still accomplish their medicinal work with reliable rituals involving rolling and unsavory bong water, the contemporary vaporizer is as easy and portable as its e-cigarette brother.

No one has to know you’re getting your medicine. But if they find out, they’ll be impressed that you’ve got a state-of-the-art vaporizing device that administers mind-blowing doses of clean butane hash oil (BHO) while allowing exhalation of cool, discrete vapor.

The vape pen is to medicinal users of dabs and other THC concentrates what a flask full of single-malt scotch is to the sophisticated nightlife denizen.

The rechargeable dab rig has become de rigueur for live music fans, club-goers, barflies and even foodies who need a quick hit without the production of cigarette-making or pipe-stuffing. In this day and age, who wants to be stuck in a corner holding a lighter to a glass pipe?

BHO and other concentrates commonly used in vape pens as well as dab rigs(wax, shatter, honey oil, dabs) is produced by extracting more pure forms of THC with butane. The process creates bubble hash, “budder,” BHO and more solid concentrates like wax and shatter.

Unfortunately, from 2011 to 2013, the butane used in the process has wreaked some havoc and created alarm for authorities. Butane is essentially lighter fluid, and it’s highly flammable. Some inexperienced amateurs have sparked explosions and fires. In California, a failed, 2014 bill that would have applied new regulations to medical marijuana dispensaries initially included language that would have outlawed concentrates altogether.

But a funny thing happened in the last year or so. The fires subsided and the professionals took over. It’s now possible to obtain BHO, dabs and other concentrates from professional labs that specialize in safe, transparent processes. Just ask your local budtender.

The realization that even low grade marijuana can be turned into high-potency concentrates through this butane process has revolutionized American cannabis culture. Stores in most medical and recreational marijuana states display and sell concentrates front-and-center. The potency and value, even compared to a strong strain of traditional bud, is manifold. It’s the hottest segment in the red-hot pot market.

And so, the stoner’s hour of 4:20 has been transformed into 7:10 which, flipped over, says OIL, as in BHO.

In places like California, Colorado, Washington and more, dab rig users are getting their OIL on at City Council meetings, kids’ soccer games, golf courses, and anywhere else they can puff relatively privately on a pen-sized miracle.

How Legalizing Cannabis Extractions Will Decrease BHO Explosions

house-explosion

The production of marijuana-derived products, like marijuana wax and hash oil, are a common cause of lab explosions throughout the country. The risk of an explosion rises when a laboratory uses any kind of alcohol solvent. But it also rises when the people working in the laboratory are untrained.

Cannabis extractions will always be popular, as they continue to prove beneficial to frequent users with high tolerance and those with serious medical problems. Marijuana wax and hash oil can be used in a variety of ways, and this versatility increases the demand. But because marijuana is illegal in most states, many who produce it are amateurs and are not properly trained .

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As with anything illegal, the production of cannabis extractions does not follow a set of guidelines to ensure its workers and the community stay safe. Laboratories for marijuana wax and hash oil products lack proper ventilation, fire-suppression systems and controlled environments. Most workers in the industry are unable to rent safe facilities, resulting in the inclination to produce cannabis extractions in their own home.

Because there are no regulations for making marijuana wax, hash oil and other cannabis extractions, people continue to make the products in residential areas. This results in deadly explosions that could have been avoided had cannabis production been legalized and regulated.

If marijuana use and production were legal throughout the country, with it would come rules regarding how the laboratories are run. Workers would be skilled and trained in safety measures. Business owners could rent out proper laboratories. Businesses selling cannabis extractions would offer it for less than the black market, so people would not be inclined to start a laboratory in their homes.bho-explosion

The production and consumption of cannabis extractions will not cease in this country. If anything, the demand for it will grow over time. When marijuana is legalized, workers in the industry will be skilled professionals working in regulated laboratories, and BHO explosions will be few and far between.

How to Make Solventless Wax: Dry Ice Extraction Method

solventless waxWhen 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 Trichomes-are-milky-white-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!

For a complete selection of concentrate pipes meant for dabbing be sure to checkout: http://www.marijuanapackaging.com/smoke-shop-supply/glass-and-metal-pipes/concentrate-pipes.html