Is Ice Water Bubble Hash Better Than Dry Sift?

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Todde Philips

🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.

Ice Water Hash and Dry Sift are forms of solventless cannabis concentrates, or extracts made without any chemical solvents such as CO2, Alcohol, or Butane. The goal of extracts is to isolate the most powerfully therapeutic compounds of the cannabis plant. These natural compounds, most notably cannabinoids and terpenes, deliver the highly sought-after benefits that cannabis has to offer like pain reduction, sleep enhancement, and stress relief. While these compounds exist throughout the plant, they’re produced in the highest concentrations within trichome heads, the tiny appendages that grow from cannabis flowers. Trichomes give cannabis flowers that sugar-coated, glistening look, and they are the main ingredients of both bubble hash and dry sift. 

So we know that Ice Water Hash and Dry Sift are types of solventless cannabis concentrates, and that solventless methods are the ideal way to create extractions. 

But which one is better? There are benefits and drawbacks with both types of extracts. 

What Is Ice Water Bubble Hash?

Ice Water Hash, or Bubble Hash, is a form of solventless cannabis concentrate that’s made through ice water extraction, a method of stirring together ice water and cannabis then sieving the mixture through a set of nylon filters. Trichome heads from the cannabis material are captured by these filters, called bubble wash bags, and collected for drying. These trichomes are the sole desired ingredient for bubble hash. Any other parts of the cannabis plant, whether it’s chlorophyll-rich vegetation or trichome stalks, are considered contamination. 

As far as contamination is concerned, anything combined with trichome heads is considered contamination. This goes for both bubble hash and dry sift. Pieces of greenery and trichome stalks are the most common forms of contamination. 

Read about Ice Water Extraction and get a full overview of the process in How To Wash Bubble Hash.

 

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Advantages of Ice Water Hash

Ice Water is excellent at separating trichome heads from their stalks. The process of washing bubble hash is an effective way to isolate trichomes without the use of chemical solvents. Ice water offers a clear advantage over other methods of making solventless extracts, allowing extractors to essentially rinse contaminants away from the trichomes and then collect various grades of hash from a full set of bubble bags. 

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Once trichomes have gathered on top of each filter screen, they can be sprayed with water to remove any remaining contamination. This extra step of cleaning the bubble hash with a high pressure stream of water is very effective in removing contamination that can be more difficult to remove with the dry sifting process. 

Another advantage of Ice Water Bubble Hash is that Fresh Frozen cannabis starting material can be used. Fresh frozen material generally maintains higher terpene content and undergoes less oxidation than air dried and cured cannabis. 

This means that Ice Water Bubble Hash can be processed almost immediately after harvest, rather than waiting for the starting material to dry, which is another big advantage. 

Disadvantages of Ice Water Bubble Hash

Ice Water Bubble Hash needs time to dry after production. This can take as little as 24 hours if you're using a freeze drier, up to a couple weeks if you're letting it air dry. This extra processing time is a drawback. 

Washing hash also requires clean ice and RO water, which can be an additional task and expense if you don't already have this set up in your lab. 

Keeping the water cold without overcrowding with ice is key, which can be a challenge with Ice Water Extraction. 

Overall, Ice Water Extraction involves more equipment, is a slightly more involved process, and takes longer overall to complete. 

Finally, the learning curve with Ice Water Extraction is a bit steeper than Dry Sifting. It's not overly complicated, but it does require some expertise to make the highest grades of Ice Water Hash. 

What Is Dry Sift?

Dry sift is a solventless cannabis concentrate that’s made through a similar process as Ice Water Hash, but without the water or ice. Dry sift is extracted from dried cannabis material that’s sieved through a series of mesh filters. The concept of these sifting screens is much like that of bubble bags, the goal being to catch trichome heads without contamination. But with dry sifting screens, no water or ice is necessary. 

Instead of water to essentially wash plant contaminations away from trichomes, dry sift calls for some specific techniques to clean the trichome heads. Collectively known as Static Tech, these methods involve using static electricity to separate trichome heads from contamination that exists in the dry sift just after extraction. 

Read more about dry sift and how to make it in The Ultimate Guide To Dry Sift.

Advantages of Dry Sift

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Making Dry Sift requires less equipment than Ice Water Extraction, one of the main advantages to this approach. Extractors can create a premium solventless concentrate with just a set of dry sifting screens, a credit card (or equivalent rigid card), and a nitrile rubber glove.  

Another great advantage of Dry Sift is that it doesn't require drying time after extraction. Since no water is used in production, and only very dry cannabis is used as starting material, dry sift is ready to go as soon as it's been made.  

The process also doesn't require a lot of space. It can even be done at your kitchen table. 

While cool room temperatures are required for dry sifting, there's generally less of a challenge to keeping things cold than with Ice Water Extraction. Just keep the ambient temperature cold and you should be fine. 

Finally, there are several different variations of Static Tech that extractors can use to clean up the final product and remove stubborn contamination.

 

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Disadvantages of Dry Sift

Although Static Tech is useful in reducing contamination, it's not as effective in removing contamination as water. Therefore, it's considered slightly more difficult to create a pure product with dry sifting than washing hash. 

Dry Sifting also requires more manual input from the extractor. Unlike Ice Water Extraction in which a washing machine can do some of the work for us, dry sifting requires all manual work from the extractor. 

Another downside to dry sifting is that we cannot use fresh frozen cannabis. The starting material needs time to dry completely, even to the point of being a bit crispy. This drying time will reduce terpene content (the volatile terpenes will naturally dissipate in open air) and increase oxidation. 

Conclusion

In general, extractors can more consistently produce a full melt product at scale with ice water extraction. However, that's not to discount dry sift. It's absolutely reasonable to expect a premium product with dry sift, but it might take more practice and finesse to get it right. 

Both Ice Water Bubble Hash and Dry Sift make excellent sources of starting material for rosin extraction. 

Do you prefer Ice Water Extraction or Dry Sifting? 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

What is ice water bubble hash?
Ice Water Hash, or Bubble Hash, is a form of solventless cannabis concentrate that’s made through ice water extraction, a method of stirring together ice water and cannabis then sieving the mixture through a set of nylon filters.

What is dry sift?
Dry sift is a solventless cannabis concentrate that’s made through a similar process as Ice Water Hash, but without the water or ice. Dry sift is extracted from dried cannabis material that’s sieved through a series of mesh filters.

How do you make ice water bubble hash?
Extractors mix together ice water and cannabis and sieve the mixture through a set of nylon filters. Trichome heads from the cannabis material are captured by these filters, called bubble wash bags, and collected for drying. These trichomes are the sole desired ingredient for bubble hash. Any other parts of the cannabis plant, whether it’s chlorophyll-rich vegetation or trichome stalks, are considered contamination. 

How do you make dry sift?
Extractors rub dried cannabis material over the top of a series of mesh filter screens called dry sifting screens, which capture trichome heads and filter out contaminants. Then the trichomes are cleaned using a variation of Static Tech to remove any remaining plant contamination. 

What is better, ice water bubble hash or dry sift?
In general, extractors can more consistently produce a full melt product at scale with ice water extraction. However, that's not to discount dry sift. It's absolutely reasonable to expect a premium product with dry sift, but it might take more practice and finesse to get it right. 

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