🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
Rosin, bubble hash, and dry sift comprise the trifecta of solventless cannabis concentrates. Like its counterparts, dry sift delivers the unadulterated expression of what cannabis is all about: that sweet sweet resin. Packed inside the bulbous heads of sugar-like trichomes, this oily resin contains high concentrations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, compounds which are responsible for the therapeutic value that people seek from cannabis. Dry sift is essentially just a concentration of the trichome heads, isolated and collected without the use of any solvents.
Solventless extractors use a series of sieves, known as dry sift screens, to isolate trichome heads from the cannabis material on which they grow. Using their gloved hands, extractors rub cannabis flowers and trim leaves, which are coated with a layer of glistening trichomes, over the stack of screen. This pushes the trichomes through to the next screen, while the unwanted material stays on top.
Each screen in the series catches a smaller and smaller size of material. The best quality of dry sift gets caught on the screen with a pore size, which is measured in Lines Per Inch (LPI), that most closely matches the size of the trichome heads. The goal is to catch the trichome heads only, while the trichome stalks and other plant particles get filtered out by the screens.
Why Do We Need To Clean Dry Sift?
Dry sifting screens separate trichomes from all the extra stuff, referred to as contaminants, in the cannabis material. While the resin left on the “keeper” screens looks super clean to the naked eye, there’s plenty of contamination mixed in with the trichome heads, like trichome stalks and tiny pieces of plant particulate. To make premium-grade dry sift, extractors need to clean this up significantly.
But how can we do this after the cannabis has already passed through the sifting screens? The answer lies in static electricity.
What Is Static Electricity?
Static electricity is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material, which is typically produced by friction. Static creates an electric charge, which draws in particles of the opposite charge (positive and negative charges).
There are various techniques that extractors use to leverage the power of static electricity to clean up dry sift, but they all operate on the basic principle that opposite charges create attraction. For example, trichome heads will stick to a gloved hand in the presence of static electricity, while cannabis plant particles will not.
Rubber Glove Tech is a specific type of approach to cleaning dry sift using static electricity. Read more about this method in our article Cleaning Dry Sift with Rubber Glove Static Tech.
Although Rubber Glove Tech alone is effective, there’s an even better way to use static electricity to clean dry sift. Let’s welcome tribo electro charges to the party!
What Is Tribo Electric Charging?
Tribo electric charging is a fancy term for generating a static electricity charge. When two objects with different electrical characteristics make contact and separate, such as a comb running through hair, the molecules in the two materials interact. This interaction forms an electrical bond, and separating the materials creates friction. This friction creates a force that draws electrons away from one material, and deposits those excess electrons onto the other.
This leaves either a positive or negative electrical charge on both of the materials, which we refer to as a tribo electric charge. In making dry sift, extractors can separate particles by first tribo charging the particles, and then separating them based on their polarity. These particles include the trichome heads, trichome stalks, and any other unwanted plant materials.
We only want to collect the trichome heads, while leaving everything else behind.
We can think of tribo electric separation of trichome heads as automated static tech.
Extractors use shaker units to help create the tribo electric charge prior to finishing the dry sift over the dry sift screens. These shaker units contain multiple screen inserts, with each of the screen inserts containing a different pore size. These screen sizes typically range from 200 LPI (74 microns) to 60 LPI (250 microns).
The Process for Using Tribo Electrostatic Charges to Clean Dry Sift
1. Thoroughly wipe down all dry sift screens and other tools using a clean cloth and ISO alcohol. It’s important to remove all heads that may have been inadvertently leftover from the last batch.
2. Grind dried cannabis trim or flowers by hand, then load it into the shaker unit. Typically, the 250 micron screen works best to extract the first batch of trichomes from the starting material. After loading the material into the unit, clamp the lid on top and run it for about 30-40 minutes. This removes the majority of green plant material.
3. Place a stainless steel vessel underneath the shute, to collect the crude dry sift that comes out.
4. Collect the crude sift from the stainless steel vessel and then run it through the shaker again, but this time put it over the 74-micron screen insert. Run for another 20-40 minutes. This removes most of the trichome stalks, which will fall into the stainless steel vessel.
5. Collect these trichomes that remain on top of the 74-micron screen. This is the dry sift that we’re going to run over the dry sift screen.
6. Scoop the sift off of the 74-micron screen insert and place it on the dry sifting screens.
7. Using a gloved hand, rub the dry sift over the screen. From here on out, it’s essentially the rubber glove method of static tech.
8. Brush the trichome heads off of the outside perimeter of your gloves onto a fresh screen. Then make the second pass, rubbing the dry sift across the screen and collecting the trichome heads from around the outside edge of your glove.
9. When little balls of dry sift start to clump together and congeal onto the glove, it’s time to change your glove. On later passes, it’s good to change your glove after every pass.
10. After the third pass, it’s time to check the head-to-stalk ratio of the hash. Use a microscope to reveal the truth. Make the dry sift on the thinnest layer possible on a glass slide underneath the microscope. We’re aiming for 98-99% pure trichome heads.
The process of cleaning dry sift to achieve a premium-grade solventless concentrate is a meticulous yet worthwhile endeavor. By leveraging the power of static electricity through techniques like Rubber Glove Tech and Tribo Electric Charging, extractors can effectively separate trichome heads from unwanted plant materials. This method not only enhances the purity and quality of the final product but also ensures that consumers receive the best possible experience. With careful attention to detail, extractors can achieve exceptional levels of purity, reaching for the coveted 98-99% pure trichome heads desired in top-tier dry sift concentrates.
As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, the emphasis on solventless extraction methods like dry sift cleaning with static electricity showcases the ingenuity and dedication of extractors in meeting the demands of discerning consumers seeking the purest expression of cannabis.
Have you tried Tribo Elecrtric Tech for cleaning your dry sift? Let us know in the comments!
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