🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
So what is the purpose of insulation? Creating a layer of insulation around your wash vessel keeps the water colder for longer. Insulating the washing vessel, whether it's an automatic washing machine or plastic bucket/barrel for hand mixing, helps minimize the amount of ice needed. Less ice means less abuse of delicate trichome heads. This not only improves your results, but it keeps costs lower too, with less ice to produce or buy.
Too much ice also leads to overcrowding in the mixing vessel. Overcrowding with ice hampers the vortex effect created while stirring the water and cannabis material together, and it’s the liquid vortex that does most of the work of separating trichomes without releasing a lot of plant contaminants along the way.
There are several ways to insulate your wash vessel to keep your water and cannabis colder for longer. We’ll look at a few of the most common ways below.
Bubble Foil Insulation
Bubble foil insulation is a shiny, foil-looking type of insulation that’s made with a double layer of polyethylene material. Resembling a metallic bubble wrap, bubble foil insulation is normally sold in large rolls that can be cut into sections to fit whatever size wash bucket you’re using. The foil surface on each side gives it a high rating for keeping out the heat of the ambient air so the water inside your work bucket stays colder for longer. The idea of foil insulation is to reflect the heat from the outer environment to keep it from warming up the water and ice inside the wash bucket.
Bubble foil insulation provides an effective radiant barrier by way of its metalized sheets. Cut sections of the insulation to fit your wash bucket, tape them together for a custom fit onto whichever type of washing vessel you’re using. Aluminum tape does a great job of maintaining the heat-reflective properties of the foil insulation.
Neoprene is a type of polymer with great insulative properties. Neoprene is a flexible material that’s easy to work with and well-suited for insulating bubble hash wash buckets. Unlike the metallic nature of foil insulation, neoprene is a synthetic rubber with a cellular structure that traps in nitrogen bubbles. This cell structure lends itself to the insulative properties that minimizes heat from passing through the sidewalls of your washing vessel and into the ice water.
Neoprene insulators are generally cut and stitched with specific dimensions to fit most sizes of mixing vessels. Although you can buy rolls of neoprene and cut sections to customize your own insulator, the neoprene doesn’t hold together with tape as well as foil insulation. It’s best to find a quality manufacturer of neoprene insulators made specifically for washing hash.
Neoprene insulators are a top choice among serious extractors for keeping in the cold and keeping out the heat.
Check out these premium neoprene wraps from The Press Club, the most versatile insulators on the market. With an adjustable velcro feature, they are designed to fit 5, 10, 20, or 32 gallon vessels.
Bucket Inside a Bucket Setup
A two-bucket system for washing hash is a creative and effective way of insulating a wash bucket for ice water extraction. For this method, your wash bucket is placed inside of a larger bucket or container, and the gap between the two vessels is filled in with a layer of ice. For example, you use a 5-gallon bucket and a 10-gallon trash can. Place a layer of ice on the bottom of the trash can, then set the 5-gallon bucket inside. Once it’s positioned, fill in the space between the buckets with ice, all the way up to the opening of the 5-gallon bucket.
The layer of ice action as insulation around your wash bucket keeps the cold temperatures inside. Replace the ice inside as it begins to melt, and drain out water at the bottom of the container if the inner bucket starts to float. You can even install a drainage valve at the bottom to make the process easier.
While the bucket inside a bucket setup is not as easy to execute as neoprene insulators, it is an effective solution.
Another take on this approach is to put your wash bucket inside of a chest-style freezer, with a lid that opens from the top. You can even stack bags of ice around the wash bucket to increase the insulation and chill factor. Although this is the least energy-efficient method to use since the freezer is pulling electricity to stay cold while the lid is open, it is a powerful way to keep your water ice cold throughout the extraction.
If you’re using a washing machine instead of hand mixing, you can set the machine inside a chest freezer and close the lid while it’s running.
Wash Outside in a Winter Snowdrift
If you live in an environment that gets snow, and you’re lucky enough to wash hash while there’s snow on the ground outside, you can place the wash bucket outside in a snow drift. This is possibly the best way to insulate your wash bucket, as nature provides everything that is required. There’s no need to purchase insulative materials or run a freezer to keep things cold.
If it’s cold enough for a snowdrift, your ice water will undoubtedly remain nice and cold throughout the extraction process. The frigid air also keeps all your equipment, including the bubble wash bags, nice and cold. And you get the added bonus of spending more time outside!
It's difficult to achieve the highest levels of cleanliness when washing outside, but it's still a decent option.
Keeping ice water as cold as possible is one of the challenges in washing bubble hash. And the answer isn’t just adding more ice. Too much ice crowds out the material and reduces the vortex effect. The vortex in the water allows trichome heads to separate from their stalks without while at the same time sparing the material from being beaten to a pulp and contaminating the hash.
Insulating your wash bucket helps regulate temperature without sacrificing the vortex effect. Fortunately, there are several different ways to insulate your wash vessel during ice water extraction.
How do you insulate your wash bucket? Let us know in the comments!
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is neoprene?
Neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber produced by polymerization of chloroprene that has excellent insulation properties.
What is bubble foil?
Bubble foil is a type of insulation made with a polyethylene bubble core and foil layers on either side. It looks like metallic bubble wrap.
How cold does water have to be for washing bubble hash?
The colder the water, the better. Ideally, water should be at freezing temperatures but still maintain its liquid state.
What is the best way to keep your wash bucket cold while washing hash?
Washing hash in a cold environment, adding the right amount of ice, and using some sort of insulation around the wash bucket is the best way to keep the water cold.
What is the best type of insulation to use?
Neoprene is a great choice of material for wash bucket insulation.