🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
A hash pump is a specialized pump that moves water from one vessel to another during the process of ice water extraction, which is the solventless method for making bubble hash. Although it's possible to configure equipment in such a way that gravity moves the water, hash pumps automate the movement of water from the mixing vessel into the collection vessel when gravity isn't an option. In labs with certain constraints that make using gravity suboptimal, hash pumps are a great alternative to moving water efficiently. And most importantly, in a way that doesn’t damage trichomes in the process.
Hash pumps can also be integrated into your system to pump only waste water or pure water. In this case, it's not essential to take precautions to protect trichomes, since the pumps won't come into contact with trichome heads. But for pumping water from the mixing vessel into the collection vessel, a special type of pump is required.
In many cases, extractors can simply place the mixing vessel, such as a washing machine, at a higher elevation than the bubble wash bags, on a counter top for example. Opening a valve on the mixing vessel allows the ice water and trichomes to drain from the mixing vessel into the sieving bags. This approach is only possible with the force of gravity.
However, if you’re not able to keep the mixing vessel on a surface that’s elevated above the collection vessel and bubble wash bags, then water needs to be pumped through a drainage hose. Gravity won’t help us unless the mixing vessel is higher than the collection vessel and sieving bags. In labs with low ceilings, this can present a challenge.
Hash pumps provide the energy needed to move trichome water from the mixing vessel or washing machine into the bubble wash bags for sieving and collection. But not just any pump will do. More on that later.
Benefits of Using a Hash Pump
The most apparent benefit of a hash pump is it’s ability to remove operational restrictions like low ceilings. But this isn’t the only benefit to using hash pumps. Even in labs with high ceilings and the ability to work in vessels at various elevations, hash pumps can improve throughput.
Hash pumps give extractors the flexibility to keep the mixing vessel on the floor so it can be placed on wheels and moved to a separate sieving station. Labs designed with these dedicated stations increases efficiency, and operators can simply move the product between those stations.
This means extractors can agitate the material in the mixing vessel, and then roll that over to the sieving station, where a hash pump can move the trichomes from mixing vessel to collection vessel.
Mixing vessels optimized for gravity drainage and therefore used on elevated platforms are much harder to move around the lab.
Another benefit to hash pumps is that they decrease the drainage time from the mixing vessel. Hash pumps drain water faster than gravity, which translates to a faster sieving process. This time savings has potential to drastically increase daily throughput.
The advantages of hash pumps are compelling. But only a certain type of pump will suffice for the job…
Things To Look for When Buying a Hash Pump
Pneumatic hash pumps are a type of positive displacement pump that has qualities that make them ideal for hash production. Positive displacement pumps are best suited for pumping trichomes without breaking open their protective membrane. Broken trichomes equals lost resin equals lower yields. Preserving and protecting trichomes is always top of mind.
Positive displacement pneumatic pumps are industrial pumps that operate by repeatedly enclosing fixed volumes of fluid and moving them through the system. This is done in rapid sequence to keep the current of water flowing. The pump’s ability to enclose a fixed volume of water and trichomes within the machine prevents trichomes from getting sliced by the mechanical movements of the pump.
Pneumatic pumps use pressurized air to control the amount of force exerted by the pump. This precision control, coupled with the positive displacement pump's propensity for protecting trichomes, creates the perfect package for solventless production.
Centrifugal pumps, another type of pump that could theoretically be used for hash production, readily destroy trichomes if they’re not very carefully adjusted to the requirements of solventless extraction. One way to optimize a centrifugal pump is reducing flow rate to protect trichomes. However, this leads to an incredibly inefficient pump. Therefore, although they are capable of managing trichomes, centrifugal pumps are not the best option.
Centrifugal pumps work great for moving water into their ice water hash washing vessel and to drain waste water after filtration and collection. But these pumps are not fit for contact with trichomes! They will shear the heads to shreds.
When sourcing hash pumps, look for positive displacement pneumatic hash pumps. These pumps have the following positive qualities for washing hash:
Low Shear Forces
This is the most important consideration for a hash pump. Shear force refer to a pump’s tendency to shear, or slice through, material as it passes through the machine. Low shear forces means there is not a lot of shearing of the material taking place inside the pump. High shear forces means that the pump is cutting up and shearing material as it passes through.
For trichome preservation we definitely want low shear forces!
Easy to Control
Positive displacement pneumatic pumps are easy to adjust to settings most conducive for hash production. They do not require super technical fine turning, but can quickly be set for optimal efficiency.
Easy to Clean
Trichomes naturally get trapped and collect in machines, whether that’s washing machines or hash pumps. It’s part of the game. This can be minimized but never totally prevented. Therefore, pumps need to be cleaned regularly. Fortunately, positive displacement pneumatic pumps are easy to clean.
Even in situations where gravity could be used to drain trichome water from the mixing vessel into the collection vessel, hash pumps can increase the efficiency of your operation. Using a hash pump cuts down on drainage time which increases the amount of potential throughput in a day.
These incremental gains add up.
But using the wrong hash pump can cancel out those gains by damaging trichomes and reducing yields. Be sure to source a pump that’s suited for the job of moving trichomes efficiently and delicately, so they do not rupture in the process.
Read more about setting up your processing lab in our article How To Build the Ultimate Bubble Hash Washing Room.
Have you ever used a hash pump? Let us know in the comments!
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a hash pump for washing bubble hash?
A hash pump is a specialized pump that moves trichome-infused water from one vessel to another during the ice water extraction.
How does a hash pump work for washing bubble hash?
Hash pumps automate the movement of water from the mixing vessel into the collection vessel, which otherwise needs to happen with the force of gravity. Hash pumps increase efficiency during the drainage process after agitation from the mixing vessel.
What is the best kind of hash pump to get for washing bubble hash?
Pneumatic hash pumps are a type of positive displacement pump that has qualities that make them ideal for hash production. Positive displacement pumps are best suited for pumping trichomes without breaking open their protective membrane.
Do I need to use a hash pump to wash bubble hash?
Hash pumps aren't mandatory for washing bubble hash, but they can drastically improve efficiency and reduce the amount manual output needed from the extraction team.
When should I use a hash pump for washing bubble hash?
Hash pumps are ideal in labs with low ceilings, where it's difficult to position the mixing vessel at an elevated level above the collection vessel. In these situations, gravity can't be used to drain the trichome water from the mixing vessel, so a pump can move the water instead.