Cannabis enthusiast and student of the art of solventless extraction
Lipids are a diverse group of compounds found in both plant and animal cells, providing long-term energy storage and protective insulation. Lipids are hydrocarbons composed of only two elements: hydrogen and carbon. They’re also hydrophobic, which means they are insoluble in water. Fats, oils, waxes, phospholipids, and steroids are all various types of lipids.
The cannabis plant produces a variety of lipids, which make their way into rosin. Their presence comes through in the flavor of rosin, and is one of the main differentiators in taste between flower rosin and hash rosin. Flower rosin tends to have more lipid content, while hash rosin tends to contain less.
What Are The Impacts of Lipids on Rosin and Health?
The impacts of lipids being vaporized and inhaled are questionable, and more research is needed. However, the general consensus is that fats and waxes don’t contribute to the therapeutic effects of rosin and are even considered contaminants to some degree. Residue-caked bangers and harsh hits can hint at higher levels of lipids in rosin, which are definite downsides to consider. A safe approach is to limit the additional heaviness of vaporized lipids in our dabs.
The downside to inhaling high concentrations of lipids may still be unknown, but overall there aren’t indicators that it’s good for you. Although lipids can increase the bioavailability of plant compounds, looking specifically at lung health, it seems the more we can reduce lipids the better.
That said, cannabinoids and terpenes are also forms of lipids, so we can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! These lipids produced within the trichome heads of the cannabis plant form the foundation of the rosin experience, and are exactly what we work to isolate for consumption. The other fats, oils, and waxes found in the plant material are excessive and unneeded. These are the lipids we aim to minimize.
This is the reason why there are more lipids in flower rosin: the cannabis flower contains a lot more plant material (and thus lipids) than bubble hash, which is made up of only isolated trichome heads.
Reducing Lipids in Rosin
The good news is that with proper solventless extraction techniques, unwanted lipids will remain trapped inside the cannabis material and away from the rosin. If you are getting high amounts of lipids in your final product, that’s a good signal to reassess your process.
Since bubble hash already contains a very small amount of plant material in the first place, pressing bubble hash instead of cannabis flower is the first way to reduce lipid content in your rosin. Learn more in our Ultimate Guide to Pressing Hash Rosin here.
If you’re getting a lot of lipids in your hash rosin, consider looking at your ice water extraction process and improving the quality of your bubble yield.
Regardless of source material, you can reduce lipids by thinking about your time, temperature, and pressure during extraction. Overdoing either one of these variables can lead to more lipids being present in rosin. Use temperatures at the lower end of the scale for the type of material you’re pressing, and slowly ramp up pressure during extraction rather than smashing with full force right from the beginning. To learn more about rosin extraction guidelines, check out our ultimate Flower Rosin Starter Guide here.
In addition to perfecting your control over actual extraction techniques, there are a couple other things you can do to reduce lipids.
Rosin Filter Bags
Using rosin bags for pressing flower rosin isn’t 100% necessary, but it is critical if you want to reduce lipid content in rosin. Filter bags are extremely effective in isolating fatty compounds from the escaping rosin as it’s being extracted.
For the ideal filtration while still maintaining solid yields, aim for 75 to 90 micron bags for pressing flower rosin. A smaller micron size equates to greater filtration from the rosin bag, so experiment to find out what works best for you.
If you’re pressing bubble hash and want to reduce lipid content, going all the way down to 15 microns will be beneficial. You can pickup rosin bags for pressing bubble hash from The Press Club here.
Another way to reduce lipids in rosin is to winterize the rosin, but this goes against the spirit of solventless extraction. Winterization involves the use of alcohol as a solvent to isolate the lipids so they can be easily separated from the remaining rosin. Although the alcohol is evaporated away, changing the nature of rosin with a solvent is best left for very specific use cases, such as preparing rosin for use in a vape cartridge. Learn more about winterizing rosin here.
Much about the cannabis plant remains yet to be scientifically understood, such as the unique characteristics and effects of all the different cannabinoids made by the plant. To go even deeper, discovering exactly how lipids play a role in the medicinal effects of cannabis, and also how they affect the lungs over the long term, will be important learnings for extractors and consumers alike.
For now, consider using these techniques to reduce lipids in your rosin for a smooth clean dab every time.