Cannabis enthusiast and student of the art of solventless extraction
The method of using cold water to extract trichome heads is still a relatively recent innovation, especially if you consider that hash in one form or another is an ancient cannabis concentrate. Neolithic humans were likely the first to discover cannabis concentrates in the form of hand-rubbed hash, or Charas, as it’s been called in the modern era. While picking through mature cannabis flowers for edible seeds, the sticky resin would have gathered onto the fingertips of these early foragers.
After accumulating on the hands the resin would have been consumed, possibly inadvertently, during the course of eating the cannabis seeds. But the psychoactive properties of the resin would have been apparent, and the therapeutic potential of the cannabis plant brought to light.
The history of bubble hash has been passed down through stories, retold by people close to the giants upon whose shoulders today’s solventless extractors currently stand. This is modern day oral tradition at its finest, and it keeps us connected to our roots.
What Is Bubble Hash?
Bubble Hash gets its name from the bubbling reaction that takes place when premium hash is exposed to high temps from a flame or heated banger. As the famous expression goes “if it doesn’t bubble, it’s not worth the trouble”. This saying is credited to the grandfather of the Ice Water Extraction method for making bubble hash, Skunkman Sam.
Both dry sift and ice water hash can qualify as bubble hash, though it’s more likely to obtain this highest level of quality with ice water extraction than dry sifting methods of extraction. This is due to the difficulty in removing all contaminants from the resin when dry sifting. Isolating trichome heads without any additional plant material is simpler with ice water extraction and the series of hash washing bags that make the foundation of the process.
A brief history of dry sifting with the evolution of the process and an outline of current best practices can be found in our Ultimate Guide to Dry Sift.
But what about creating bubble hash with Ice Water Extraction and Wash Bags? We know that the earliest form of hash was collected right from human fingers, without any additional processing or refinement. As time went on, people discovered that the cannabis plant could be dried, threshed, and then passed over a screen to separate the resin glands from the less potent plant material. Eventually, the interplay of cannabis resin glands and cold water was discovered, and the modern method of washing hash was born.
As the story goes, an unknown American, presumably from California, told the famous Neville about the heavier, oily composition of resin heads and their tendency to sink in water. While all other components of the cannabis plant float in water, the denser trichome heads will sink. Neville enlightened Sadu Sam of Santa Cruz AKA Skunkman Sam to this unique quality of cannabis resin. Skunkman published a manual and made it available for sale in a High Times magazine advertisement.
Here’s a bit more about Skunkman Sam’s method from Hashish! by Robert Connell Clarke, an excellent book for every cannabis enthusiast: “In the early 1980s, Sadu Sam, a committed California Cannabis enthusiast, developed a water extraction technique. "Sadu Sam's Secret" involves stirring a few grams of pulverized flowers or freshly sieved resin powder into a tall container of cool water containing ten to twenty times the volume of water to dry powder. Cool or cold water is essential because warm water softens the resin, which tends to stick together forming an unmanageable lump. Because neither resin nor dry plant material is soluble in water, thoroughly wetting the resin powder is a challenge. The particles repel water, but when the slurry is shaken or stirred long enough, all the powder eventually becomes wetted and suspended in the water. The mixture must be stirred vigorously for several minutes until all the lumps of powder disperse. Once stirring ceases, the differing particles in the suspension begin to separate. Plant particles and other light debris (such as plant "hairs") float to the surface. Small, immature resin glands also tend to float. Mature resin glands and any dense debris such as sand and mineral dust sink, settling to the bottom.”
Sam’s understanding of resin glands and how they can be mechanically separated from the plant using cold water laid the groundwork for current production methods. Ice water extraction, which involves washing cannabis material through a series of filter screens, is still the best way to produce the highest grades of solventless cannabis concentrates.
From this funnel system, we can see the beginnings of the water and filter screen separation method. But the rig was too big and bulky, very expensive at the time, and impractical for most cannabis enthusiasts. There had to be a better way. Then, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the better way was realized.
From this early cell of cannabis pioneers including the famed Mila of Amsterdam, a two-bag filter separation system was developed. Instead of floating cannabis in a large funnel and letting the resin settle into one layer of metal screen for separation, nylon bags containing mesh filters were designed. These were the first of our modern hash washing bags, but they only contained the largest screen to catch all the plant material, and one other screen that didn’t properly match the size of full, mature trichome heads that are most valuable.
So the bags worked, but they didn’t produce hash in the best way possible. It still contained too much contaminant, and wasted some of the best resin as it flowed through the unsuitably-sized filter screen to waste.
Mila began selling this 2-bag system, the first iteration of the technology we are most familiar with today. But these bags clearly had their limitations, and were in need of improvement. That's when Marcus "Bubbleman" Richardson began to make his mark. Although Marcus had been active in the cannabis scene for years, as a hash man and hemp activist, his innovation of the Hash Washing bag system is what he's most known for today.
Sometime in the late 90's Marcus approached Mila about distributing her 2-bag hash washing system, but was not granted the opportunity. As a result, Marcus and his wife decided to make their own version of the bags, and greatly improved the system by adding additional filter screen sizes into the set. This included the 73 micron size, which is one of the more resin-collection-worthy sizes that we know today.
The Current Hash Washing Landscape
The best way to isolate and collect whole trichome heads is still the Wash Bag system. The bags used by extractors continue to improve, and now bags are available with features that make things even easier and more efficient.
For example, The Press Club's Hash Washing Bags are made with grommets in the side walls, so that extractors can hang the bags while water is draining through the filter at the bottom. By hanging the bags, a lot of pressure and stress is eliminated from the process, as extractors can avoid staying hunched over the bags to hold them in suspension while the water drains. Hanging the bags in suspension using the grommets makes the process safer and more efficient.
These grommets represent a big step forward in the functionality of the Hash Washing Bag system.
Another improvement that's been made involves expansion of the filter material into the side walls of each Hash Washing Bag, allowing water to drain more quickly. Traditionally, the filter screens were incorporated only into the very bottom of each bag. But now, The Press Club Hash Wash Bags have improved the situation by positioning the filters screen into the bottom of the bag and also into the first couple inches of the side walls. This significantly increases the surface area through which water can drain, which is another big win for efficiency in the hash washing process.
The methods of separating of trichome heads from cannabis plant material has evolved over time and will undoubtedly continue to evolve in the future. It's hard to see a better way of separating resin without the use of chemical solvents, other than the Hash Washing Bag filter system.
For a premium Hash Washing experience, check out The Press Club's Hash Washing Bags. They're constructed with top quality materials for the durability and performance that the most discerning solventless extractors require.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When did people start making hash?
Neolithic humans were using hash collected from their fingertips which collected there while picking out the seeds to eat from cannabis flowers.
What was the first kind of hash ever made?
Hand-rubbed hash was the first kind of hash, collected directly from hands that handled mature cannabis flowers.
What is charas?
Charas is the name for hand-rubbed hash. Trichomes naturally stick to the hands and form a sticky mass which can be scraped off.
Who invented bubble hash?
There's not one specific person who invented hash, however Skunkman Sam is considered by many to be the godfather of hash.
What is the most modern kind of hash?
Bubble hash made using the ice water extraction method and a set of bubble hash wash bags is the most modern form of hash.