🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
Dry sift is a type of solventless cannabis extract that’s made through a process of sifting dried cannabis material back and forth over a series of mesh screens. Sifting the cannabis causes trichomes to break free from the material and pass through the pores in the screens. Trichome heads contain the highest concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes, which is why separating them from the rest of the plant is so desirable. The best dry sift hash is almost exclusively composed of trichome heads (approaching 99%).
Extractors stack one sifting screen on top of the next, and each screen has a different pore size. The largest screen is on top, and every screen beneath has a smaller and smaller pore size. As the trichomes fall through, more and more plant material is stripped away as it catches in the screen.
Despite efforts to collect only trichome heads, most dry sift that’s collected from the screens also has tiny pieces of plant material with it. Since they are the same size or smaller, these minuscule pieces of cannabis material slip through the pores of the screens along with the trichome heads. Extractors use plastic cards to sweep the trichomes over the tops of the “keeper” screens to push contaminate through the pores.
Read more about the entire process of making dry sift in our article The Ultimate Guide To Dry Sift.
Removing plant contamination that remains after sifting and carding is referred to as “cleaning” dry sift. Manually separating the contamination is impossible, and much of the plant material is microscopic. However, thanks to the power of static electricity, extractors have found a way to remove the contamination.
What Is Static Tech?
Static Tech refers to a variety of approaches that use static electricity to separate trichome heads from plant material contaminants in dry sift hash. Static Tech is a straightforward solution for cleaning dry sift. The basic principle of Static Tech is to agitate the dry sift in such a way that static electricity is created. Due to the nature of the dry sift, the trichome heads take on one charge while the plant material takes another.
Extractors can use a variety of edges to separate the heads from the contamination. Parchment paper can be stretched around a rigid edge of some sort, and swept over the dry sift as it sits on the screen.
Another approach to Static Tech involves swishing the dry sift around in a bowl, causing the heads to attach to the sides of the bowl.
Regardless of which type of Static Tech you use, it should be done in a cold room around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Let’s look at the different types of Static Tech.
The DVD method was one of the first methods of Static Tech that was developed. So how was this discovered and developed?
Marcus Richardson, also known as “Bubbleman”, was one of the first extractors involved in developing early techniques that produced the cleanest dry sift possible. He used the “carding” technique to sweep and clean dry sift over the top of a sifting screen, and taught people since the turn of the millenium about how to make and clean excellent dry sift.
Bubbleman gives credit to an extractor called Meeze for taking cleaning to the next level with an addition of parchment paper to separate contamination from the heads. This turned into the most basic forms of Static Tech that we know today.
The friction created between a piece of parchment paper and a nylon mesh screen creates a static charge which we can use to separate heads from plant contaminants. But how can we actually separate the two?
Extractors wrap a sheet of parchment paper tightly around the edge of a DVD case, with the silicone side facing out. Then, leading with the 90 degree edge of the case, they sweep the parchment firmly over the top of a layer of dry sift. The sift should be on top of one of the “keeper” screens of the dry sift screen set. Back and forth the paper is whisked over the dry sift, pressing it tightly against the mesh screen as it passes over.
The important thing is to always be moving forward with the same leading edge! Determine a front and back of the edge, and make sure to move forward with only the front edge, while the back edge stays trailing behind. Don’t switch the directions of the leading edge!
This creates a situation where the heads will end up on one side of the edge and the contaminant on the other. After enough matter has accumulated, use a card to clean the edge, keeping the heads in one pile and the contaminants in another. Continue working through the total amount of dry sift until you’ve separated all the contaminants.
Paint Roller Tech
Paint Roller Tech is a variation of DVD Tech and relies on the same principles and process. The difference is that instead of wrapping the parchment paper around a DVD case, it’s wrapped around a paint roller. This creates a broader edge that’s not 90 degrees. It’s still important to maintain the same direction of movement, with the front and back of the edge being the same with every sweep until the heads are collected.
Use a piece of tape or staples to secure the parchment paper tightly wrapped around the paint roller.
The advantage of the broader edge is that a higher volume of heads and contaminants can be collected with every pass across the dry sift. Many extractors find the paint roller more efficient, but at the end of the day it’s a matter of personal preference, and whatever approach is giving you better results.
“Panning” dry sift is a much different process than the DVD or Paint Roller Tech. Panning involves swishing a pile of contaminated dry sift back and forth across the bottom of a steel pan in a rapid motion, similar to the movement used for panning gold. The dry sift is lightly tumbled across the bottom of the pan, and also slightly flicked up along the inside edges of the pan.
This movement of dry sift across the pan creates static electricity, and the trichome heads take on a negative charge. This allows the heads to stick to the edges of the pan while the contamination remains at the bottom.
The key to panning is to get the dry sift to bounce up along the edges of the pan, without letting the dry sift leap out of the pan. The sift needs to come in contact with the edges so that the trichomes can stick while the contaminate falls back to the bottom of the pan.
Once enough heads have collected along the inside edge of the pan, use a scoop such as a folded card to remove the heads. Keep shuffling the pile around inside the pan until all the heads have been collected.
This is the traditional approach that has been used by ancient sift-making cultures.
Rubber Glove Tech
Rubber Glove Tech involves sweeping over dry sift with a nitrile glove in order to attract trichome heads to stick to the rubber. This sweeping motion is done on top of a sifting screen, allowing contaminants to push through the screen while the trichomes are drawn to the glove thanks to static electricity.
Read about the full tech in our article Cleaning Dry Sift with Rubber Glove Static Tech.
Dusting Dry Sift
While not technically Static Tech (since static electricity isn't used in a meaningful way), dusting dry sift is a way to refine and clean dry sift using a bubble wash bag.
Using a 45 micron size or lower bubble wash bag, load the dry sift into the bottom of the bag and then roll the top of the bag to seal it completely closed. Grab the rolled top in your hand and bounce the dry sift by jerking the bag up and down in rapid sequence. You're essentially shaking the bag aggressively up and down, so that contaminants in the dry sift are forced out of the bottom of the bag. Trichome heads will remain securely inside the bag, while contaminants under 45 microns in diameter will get shaken out of the bottom of the bag.
You can dump the heads out of the bag and onto the sifting screens for another round of carding (sweeping the dry sift across the screen with a credit card or similar tool), to remove even more contamination.
Dry sift is an ideal starting material for pressing hash rosin. However, even with meticulous techniques used to make the dry sift, the heads still need to be cleaned after they pass through the sifting screens. While water is used to clean the trichomes during the ice water extraction method of extracting hash, this won't work with dry sift.
Therefore, Static Tech offers an ingenious solution to separating plant contamination from the trichome heads.
What's your favorite approach to Static Tech? Let us know in the comments!
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Static Tech?
Static Tech refers to a variety of approaches that use static electricity to separate trichome heads from plant material contaminants in dry sift hash.
What is the DVD Method?
The DVD Method involves wrapping a sheet of parchment paper tightly around the edge of a DVD case, with the silicone side facing out. Then, leading with the 90 degree edge of the case, the parchment paper is swept firmly over the top of a layer of dry sift. This leaves the trichomes on one side of the edge, and plant contaminant on the other.
What is Paint Roller Tech?
Paint Roller Tech is a variation of DVD Tech and relies on the same principles and process. The difference is that instead of wrapping the parchment paper around a DVD case, it’s wrapped around a paint roller.
What is the Panning Method for cleaning dry sift?
Panning involves swishing a pile of contaminated dry sift back and forth across the bottom of a steel pan in a rapid motion, similar to the movement used for panning gold. The dry sift is lightly tumbled across the bottom of the pan, and also slightly flicked up along the inside edges of the pan.
Do you have to clean dry sift?
Despite the best efforts to collect only trichome heads, most dry sift that’s collected from the sifting screens also has tiny pieces of plant material with it. Therefore, it's recommended to clean dry sift after it's extracted.