🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
Time is one of the main variables to consider when making the most of your rosin extractions. A couple of minutes is all that’s needed to fully extract rosin from cannabis source material, but even a 30 second swing can make a difference. Dialing in your extraction time depending on your specific preference is the only way to get optimal results. Understanding how time impacts rosin quality and yield can help you use these time variances to your advantage.
The time of rosin extraction is measured from the start of pressure application between heated rosin press plates, after preheating, to the release of pressure and removal of rosin from the press for collection.
Time, temperature, and pressure are interrelated in rosin extraction. There’s no way to isolate time in order to identify the exact extraction settings. The other variables always have to be taken into consideration, as adjusting one of the variables impacts the entire extraction. Recommended extraction time is a range to be taken into consideration within the context of the other extraction variables, and not an exact prescription. All inputs are interconnected and influence each other during extraction.
That said, there is one rule of thumb that we can apply to most any standard rosin extraction, regardless of source material. That is, to aim for the bare minimum amount of time required to complete a thorough extraction from the source material. Unneeded time spent under heat and pressure can cost valuable terpenes, speed up cannabinoid degradation, and lead to excess contaminants (e.g. plant lipids) in our final product.
An increase in heat and/or pressure is usually accompanied by a decrease in pressing time. Likewise, an increase in pressing time usually reflects a decrease in heat and/or pressure.
What Factors Impact Time Requirements for Rosin Extraction?
In addition to temperature and pressure, there are other variables to consider when determining the right amount of time for extraction. The first is which type of cannabis source material you’re pressing.
180-220 degrees Fahrenheit
1000-2000 Platen PSI
140-200 degrees Fahrenheit
500-1500 Platen PSI
140-200 degrees Fahrenheit
500-1500 Platen PSI
The specific cultivar you’re pressing also has an impact on how much time is optimal for extraction. The characteristics of cannabis trichomes have some variations from one strain to the next, and these variations help determine how much time is needed for these resin heads to fully rupture and flow out from the source material as rosin.
When working with a new strain it’s advantageous to do a few trial runs at various time, temperature, and pressure settings within the recommended ranges, to see how the cultivar responds. Taking detailed notes will help you quickly dial in the ideal settings, as you can refer back to the exact results with each specific set of variables and adjustments.
The moisture content of the source material you’re pressing also has an impact on the amount of time needed to complete a full extraction. For flower, the ideal amount of moisture is indicated by 60-65% humidity. You can get a good reading of the moisture content of your material by placing the flowers in a sealed glass jar with a digital hygrometer. If the flower is too dry, there are several ways that you can effectively rehydrate the material in preparation for extraction.
Bubble hash and dry sift don’t require the same moisture controls for optimal rosin production. This is due to the extremely high percentage of resin heads to plant material. Resin heads are hydrophobic, and minimize the interplay of moisture and material during extraction.
Taking into account cannabis starting material type, strain, moisture content, and the temperature plus pressure settings, you can experiment to find the winning combination for your desired outcome.
How about the impacts of too little or too much time between the pressing plates?
Impacts of Too Little Time for Extraction
There are a few things that can happen if not enough time is given to the extraction process, or if the time is at the very low end of the range. The main consequence is a diminished yield. If too little time is given to the cannabis under heat and pressure, not all trichomes will have the chance to liquefy and flow out of the source material.
While reduced yield is a negative, terpene preservation can be a positive. Less time exposed to heat and pressure means the resin glands maintain a higher percentage of terpenes, which are very volatile and can otherwise evaporate during a prolonged extraction.
Another positive of using too little pressure could be that the purity of the rosin is enhanced. Less time in extraction can translate into less contaminants (e.g. unwanted plant oils and lipids) ending up in the rosin. Use caution not to offset this advantage with an excessive amount of heat or pressure. Too much heat and/or pressure can cause more contaminants in rosin.
Impacts of Too Much Time for Extraction
The negative impacts of too much time for extraction are often more pronounced and severe than not using enough time. You can lose a lot of terpenes with an extraction that’s gone too long, plus speed up the degradation of cannabinoids.
Too much time can also burn your source material and lead to extra contaminants in the rosin. While you may be able to squeeze some extra yield from a longer press, what you’re actually collecting may be of compromised quality.
Keep in mind that the less time we expose cannabis to heat of any kind, the better. There are exceptions, such as when we’re using a warm curing process for our rosin or we’re decarboxylating cannabis. But overall, we want to keep temps as low as possible for terpene and cannabinoid preservation.
In addition to watching the clock and counting seconds, there are other queues to look for when determining just the right amount of time for extraction.
Visual queues include the flow of rosin from the source material and away from the heated plates. As long as rosin is flowing out from between the plates, you can press for longer. Once the flow stops, release pressure and remove the material.
Another queue is smell. If the smell of your material explodes into the room during the end of extraction, it’s likely you’re starting to vaporize a lot of the therapeutic molecules right into the air. Stop extraction and reduce time for the next round of pressing, while also considering a reduction in temperature.
Time is one of three main factors to control during extraction. Experimentation with the source material you’re using is key. There’s not one right amount of time, it’s up to your preferences and how you want to optimize the process for the specific results you’re aiming for.