Cannabis enthusiast and student of the art of solventless extraction
Collecting loose resin via ice water extraction is a relatively low-cost and extremely effective way to make bubble hash. Everything starts with high quality cannabis material which are the mature flowers and trichome-covered leaves that surround them. Mixing cannabis with ice-cold water creates an environment where trichomes (most notably the globe-shaped heads of the trichomes) can fall away from the plant they once grew from. The heads get mixed in with everything else until the hash maker sieves them through a series of filters called bubble wash bags. The bags collect the trichomes while letting everything else slip through. After a good rinse, these heads are ready to dry and press into rosin or temple balls.
A good batch of starting material won’t drop its trichomes all in one go. The same cannabis can keep dumping trichomes, also called resin, even after several rounds of washing. Hash makers agitate the cannabis and ice water, either by hand or with a washing machine. They drain the mixing vessel and sieve the resin slurry through a stack of bubble wash bags. Trichomes are left in the sieving bags while the water that was used to carry them runs through. This water contains all the material (tiny pieces of plant matter, trichome stalks, etc.) that didn’t get caught for collection in the bags.
Hash makers repeat the mixing, draining, sieving, and collecting until the material stops releasing large amounts of resin. There’s not a perfect number of times to wash the same batch of cannabis, but there are signals that can inform extracts when to stop. Read more in our article about how many times to wash cannabis for bubble hash.
But the main question here is not how many times to wash cannabis, but whether or not it’s a good idea to reuse the same water for each round of washing. Some hash makers will say it’s okay to recycle the water that drains through the sieving bags, putting it back into the mixing vessel for the next wash. Others will discard all the water draining through the wash bags, introducing only fresh water for every single wash.
Let’s look at both approaches and see what we can find.
Reusing water may be the best option if you only have a limited source of clean water. For example, if you purchased only a few gallons of RO water and you don’t have a reliably clean source of water in your cold room, it makes sense to stretch those gallons as far as possible.
That said, the water will pick up more and more contaminants each time you run it through.
Reusing water may also require extra equipment and/or extra labor, since the water needs to be moved from a drainage well and back into the mixing vessel. This could be done manually, or with a pump.
Thoroughly rinsing trichomes on the sieves before collection is always important, but it’s even more so when reusing water. Reused water carries contaminants from all previous washes, and as the amount of contaminants increases, so do the chances that they will stick to the resin as it sits inside the wash bags. Don’t skimp on the rinsing prior to collection, especially if you’re reusing water.
Reusing water for two or three washes, then reintroducing fresh water, is another option. This combines both approaches, allowing hash makers to get the benefits of reusing water while also guarding against the downsides of reusing super-contaminated water again and again.
Adding more ice for every wash is a good idea to keep temperatures right around freezing. Use as little ice as possible to achieve icy temperatures, and be sure not to overcrowd the mixing vessel with ice.
Pros: More eco-friendly, a good option if you only have a limited supply of clean water to begin with, can be alternated with fresh water every couple of washes, and more cost-efficient in terms of water used.
Cons: Contaminants accumulate in reused water with every wash, greater amount of contaminants to rinse away from the resin with each wash, and requires either a pump or manual labor to move reused water from the drainage well and back into the mixing vessel.
Not Reusing Water
The alternative to reusing water for washing hash is to add only fresh, clean, cold water to the mixing vessel for every round of agitation. This means that all water is discarded which passes through the sieving bags and collects in the drainage well.
Adding only fresh water to the mixing vessel prevents an accumulation of contaminants from multiple washes. Assuming access to cold, clean water on-demand, most hash makers in pursuit of the finest quality prefer to operate with only fresh water every time.
That’s not to say using only fresh water every time doesn’t have its downsides. Much more water is discarded from labs where a water recycling approach isn’t in play. However, one way to mitigate excessive waste is to use the hash drainage water for other purposes.
It’s common for hash makers to add fresh water to the mixing vessel for every wash, then collect all drainage water in a holding well. Rather than dumping this water into a drain, extractors can use it for watering a variety of plants indoors or out. In this sense, the water is still being reused, just not for hash-making purposes.
Pros: Optimizes for producing the cleanest resin, keeps accumulation of contaminants in the water to a minimum, there’s no need to pump water from the drainage well back into the mixing vessel, and the drainage water can still be reused for other purposes (just not washing hash).
Cons: Requires much greater amounts of water, more water increases overall production costs
What Type of Water Is Best for Ice Water Extraction?
Whether you decide to reuse water or not, starting with clean, cold water is a must. Although it may be tempting to run water straight from the tap at home, regular treated water that may be okay to drink can still impart some chemical flavors onto the loose resin.
Regular filtration systems that use carbon filters can mitigate some of the negative effects of treated tap water, but RO water, or reverse osmosis water, is the cleanest for making hash.
Read more in Why Is RO Water Best for Washing Bubble Hash?
All things considered, our recommendation is to use fresh water for every wash, and not to reuse water that’s already passed through the sieves. In terms of optimizing for overall quality and cleanliness, it’s hard to beat using fresh, clean water every time.
In case you want to avoid the installation of a reverse osmosis system at home, RO water can be purchased in jugs as needed. But this probably only makes economic sense if you don’t wash hash on a regular basis.
What do you think about reusing water for washing hash? Let us know in the comments!
Thoughts? Let us know by joining our secret Facebook group. Hang out with a community of like-minded solventless heads like yourself. Ask our head extractor questions, share your latest press and learn from hobbyists and experts in the industry.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it okay to reuse water when washing bubble hash?
While it is possible to reuse water when washing bubble hash, it’s definitely not an ideal approach for creating premium quality hash.
Do I have to use fresh water with every round of washing cannabis?
It’s not absolutely necessary to use fresh water with every round of washing cannabis, but it is recommended in order to create the highest quality hash.
What’s wrong with reusing water when washing bubble hash?
Water collects contaminants every time it’s mixed with cannabis. Contaminants accumulate in the water as it’s reused in the mixing vessel multiple times. The purity and cleanliness of the water can noticeably diminish with every wash.
What can you do with water that you’ve already used to wash bubble hash?
Instead of reusing water for washing bubble hash, you can collect all the drainage water in a holding well, then use it to water a variety of indoor and outdoor plants, your garden, lawn, etc.
What kind of water should I use to wash bubble hash?
RO, or Reverse Osmosis water, is the best kind of filtered water to use for washing bubble hash. You can install an RO filtration system at home or buy RO water by the jug every time you wash hash.