Cannabis enthusiast and student of the art of solventless extraction
Not all high quality cannabis flowers produce exceptional bubble hash. Even with the best equipment, process, and a knowledgeable artist’s touch, cannabis that may deliver a superior smoke can still lead to disappointment in the hash maker’s lab. Sourcing material that has qualities specifically suited to ice water extraction is essential to finishing with loose resin that’s worth the while. Otherwise, good flower goes to waste while money and time slip down the drain.
So how can you tell good flower from bad flower for washing bubble hash?
Hash makers can assess cannabis flowers for washing bubble hash using sight, smell, and touch. And of course knowledge of what they’re looking for, which we’ll review next. While sending samples to the lab for cannabinoid and terpene profiles can be helpful, it’s not necessary. You can generally gauge the potency through first-hand experience.
Let’s take a look at five qualities you should look for in starting material for washing bubble hash.
Amount of Resin Production
Resin production refers to the amount of trichome heads that a cannabis flower produces. Resin, the terpene and cannabinoid-rich oil that’s contained inside the trichomes, is ultimately the prize that all solventless extractors are pursuing. An abundance of trichome heads growing on the cannabis flowers equates to a higher yield, while modest trichome production is generally an indication of an underwhelming yield to come.
Good cannabis for bubble hash production is blanketed with a copious amount of trichomes, which are visible with the naked eye. Experienced hash makers develop a gut feel for how these flowers look, with thousands upon thousands of crystalline globes shimmering in the light.
High resin production leads to greater success in Ice Water Extraction, so make sure the flower you’re washing meets this criteria.
In this case, a “neck” refers to the abscission point on cannabis trichomes, or the point at which the trichome head connects to the trichome stalk. A skinny and weak connection point between the head and neck allows the trichome head to separate more easily from its stalk once it’s fully ripe. And while we’re targeting the trichomes for hash making, we’re not really targeting the entire trichome equally.
The holy grail is the trichome head, minus the stalk. So, if we can lose the stalk and keep the head, we’re in good shape to produce phenomenal bubble hash. And skinny necks allow us to do just that.
Robust and resilient abscission points tend to hold the trichome heads firmly together with the stalks, leading to a high ratio of stalks to heads in our final product. More stalks equals lesser quality bubble hash.
Running a small test wash can help hash makers assess the nature of these abscission points. We’ll take a look at that in more detail in a bit.
Fluffier Bud Structure
Dense buds with lots of volume are great for bringing smokable cannabis to the market. Flowers with a tight bud structure generally carry more weight, which translates into better margins for both suppliers and retailers. Consumers love breaking up chunky, dense flowers that contain lots of material for smoking. But this isn’t as ideal for hash makers.
Cannabis that grows with compact flower structure, where the calyxes are crammed into each other making one solid, dense bud, doesn’t do as well in the agitation tank as fluffier, more airy buds.
Wispier buds tend to separate more easily, exposing the trichome heads in such a way that they more easily separate during ice water extraction. Buds that grow in a tight and solid structure tend to be more reluctant to open up and release the full extent of their trichomes. More exposed surface area on the buds is generally a good thing for washing hash.
Hardy Trichome Membranes
Trichome heads hold the resin which all hash makers seek. As the carriers of this precious oil, it’s critical that trichomes are able to withstand the rigors of Ice Water Extraction. The waxy outer layer of the trichome heads, called the membrane, is key to holding the resin inside. A hardy membrane allows the trichome heads to stay intact while protecting the resin inside.
Some cultivars that produce lots of trichomes with skinny necks and fluffy structure will fail in the hardy membrane department. These cultivars produce a very “greasy” experience for the hash maker, essentially dissolving into a sticky, gooey consistency in the sieving bags. This makes collection extremely difficult, and minimizes total yield.
Avoid flower with weak trichome membranes. These membranes easily break open and release resin during Ice Water Extraction, producing loose resin that’s really just a greasy coating on your collection bags.
If you rub some trichomes between your fingers and they feel like grains of sand, this is a good indicator of hardy membranes. If you rub them between your fingers and they readily melt into a greasy goo, then they probably don’t have the type of membranes that will withstand the extraction process.
Terpene and Cannabinoid Content
Everyone likes to get punched in the nose, right? Well, at least with terpenes! Funky, fruity, gassy, or a little bit offensive are all ways to describe the terpene profile of a winning flower for washing bubble hash. The smell of the starting material is an indicator of the smell of the bubble hash it will produce, and super-terpy resin is always better than an understated, bland, and mild hash.
So how can you tell which flowers have the best terpene content? It’s simple, let your nose be your guide. With cannabinoid content, it’s not so simple. But give it a smoke and you’ll be able to feel the effects, and tell for yourself how high the THC percentage will climb.
In the minds of many hash makers, if a single choice had to be made, it’s better to optimize for a unique terpene profile than the high octane experience of monumental cannabinoid ratios. But both terpene and cannabinoid content are worth taking into consideration.
These characteristics including amount of resin production, abscission points, bud structure, membrane quality, and terpene and cannabinoid content can generally be assessed with the senses. Sight, smell, and touch help hash makers determine good flower for washing bubble hash.
That said, it’s a good idea to do a small test wash of potential starting material for a larger run of bubble hash. You can do a few ounces with your regular equipment and set of sieving bags, or test the material on a micro scale to minimize potential waste. All you need is some ice cold water and a mason jar, plus your cannabis flower.
Read how to do a mason jar test wash in our article How To Test Starting Material for Washing Bubble Hash.
Sourcing the Best Flower for Washing Bubble Hash
Now you know what to look for in good flower for washing bubble hash, but how can you source the ideal material for Ice Water Extraction?
Not all farmers are growing cannabis for solventless extraction. In fact, most farmers are not concerned with growing flowers for the resin only. The name of the game for the majority of farmers is producing material weight at scale. They are aiming for thick and chunky buds that mature quickly and maintain superior bag appeal.
That said, it’s a massive advantage to find a farmer who grows for resin production, not flower volume. These farmers look at the trichome heads as the true fruit of their crops, not the whole cannabis flower. And they treat the resin like a precious gift from the plant, and handle it with a care and finesse that borders on reverence.
Read more in our articles Cultivating Cannabis for Resin Production and Nutrient Selection and Its Relation to Resin Quality.
Exceptional bubble hash relies heavily on the quality of the starting material. Even with the best equipment and expertise, subpar cannabis flowers can lead to disappointing results in the hash maker's lab. To distinguish good flower from bad for washing bubble hash, hash makers should consider five essential qualities.
First, high resin production, characterized by an abundance of visible trichome heads, is crucial for a successful ice water extraction. Second, the presence of skinny necks between the trichome heads and stalks ensures an easier separation, leading to less unwanted trichome stalks in the final product. Additionally, fluffier bud structures expose trichome heads more effectively during extraction, increasing overall resin yield. Hardy trichome membranes prevent the material from dissolving into a gooey mess during the process, while robust terpene and cannabinoid content contribute to a flavorful and potent end product.
Conducting a small test wash of potential starting material is a wise approach to ensure the chosen flower meets these criteria.
Sourcing from farmers who value trichome heads as the true prize, and handle resin with utmost care is a massive advantage to your operation. These growers are devoted to cultivating cannabis for resin production rather than mere flower weight. Remember, washing hash is simply the process of showcasing the resin that the farmer has grown.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the key qualities to look for in cannabis flowers when making bubble hash?
When selecting cannabis flowers for bubble hash production, focus on five critical qualities: high resin production, thin trichome necks, fluffier bud structures, robust trichome membranes, and a rich terpene and cannabinoid content. These attributes are essential for achieving a successful and high-quality ice water extraction.
Why is high resin production important for bubble hash production?
High resin production in cannabis flowers indicates the presence of an abundance of trichome heads, which are the key source of resin. These trichome heads contain valuable terpenes and cannabinoids, making them the prized material for bubble hash production. More trichome heads lead to a better yield and a superior end product.
What is the significance of trichome necks in the bubble hash-making process?
Trichome necks are the thin connection points between trichome heads and stalks. Thin necks facilitate the separation of trichome heads from the stalks during extraction, resulting in a higher yield of high-quality bubble hash. Robust and skinny trichome necks are desirable for optimal results.
Why is a fluffier bud structure preferred for bubble hash production compared to a denser structure?
Fluffier bud structures allow for easier separation of trichome heads during ice water extraction. The separation is crucial for accessing the valuable resin within trichome heads. Dense bud structures tend to be less cooperative in releasing trichome heads, making fluffier buds a more favorable choice for hash makers.
How can I determine the ideal starting material for washing bubble hash if I'm not a seasoned hash maker?
If you're new to bubble hash production, it's a good idea to conduct a small test wash of the potential starting material. This can be done using a mason jar, some ice-cold water, and a small quantity of cannabis flower. This test will help you assess the quality of the material on a smaller scale, minimizing potential waste and ensuring you select the right flower for your larger bubble hash production run.