The Ultimate Guide To Dry Sift
🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
Dry Sift Hash is one of the simplest forms of hash to create. It requires minimal equipment and processing input, yet it has the potential to stand beside Bubble Hash as a quality solventless source material for rosin. But just because making Dry Sift Hash is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy. Especially if superior quality is your aim.
Sifting dried and cured cannabis material allows us to separate and isolate trichome heads from their stalks, thereby capturing the highest-potency aspects of the cannabis plant. Dry sifting is a purely mechanical process, using your two hands and a set of specialty screens designed for the purpose. No solvents are used for extraction. It’s simpler than bubble hash, as it doesn’t require the washing and drying process, or supplies like a sprayer, multiple work buckets, ice, etc.
The objective of sifting, or sieving as it’s also called, is to knock the trichome heads free of the stalks upon which they grow and mature. As the trichome heads are liberated from their stalks, they become small enough to pass through the tiny holes in the sifting screens. While the plant material remains above the screen, trichomes rain down through the screen where they can be easily collected. Dry sift hash is the original solventless cannabis concentrate. The high concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes make dry sift hash a premium source material to use for pressing rosin.
By itself, the highest quality dry sift hash is able to melt or vaporize completely, which is an indication of it’s purity and potency. It’s possible to achieve a full-melt hash using dry sifting techniques, without the additional equipment, time, and labor to wash Bubble Hash.
History of Dry Sift
Hand-rubbed hash is the first known form of hashish, and sieving came later. Hand-rubbed hash is the simplest hash and involves collecting sticky trichomes directly from the hands after handling trichome-rich cannabis. In Morocco this type of hash is referred to as Gomma, the most ancient form of hash known. In India it’s referred to as Rubbed Charas.
While hand-rubbing hash was almost certainly practiced as early as the Neolithic Era (end of the Stone Age!), sieving cannabis is a relatively new method of creating hash, coming onto the scene just in the last 70-80 years. This modern innovation of isolating and collecting cannabis resin is less labor intensive, offers higher yield, greater potential potency, better purity, and a longer shelf life than its hand-rubbed comparison. It’s clear that innovations of the late 20th century around dry sifting cannabis were a significant step in the evolution of solventless cannabis concentrates.
The first methods of creating Dry Sift Hash involved collecting trichomes directly from the floor. Harvested and dried cannabis plants were deliberately handled over a clean carpet and then carefully collected. This was known as “carpet collection” and was common even into the 1960’s.
From simple carpet collection came the method of dry sifting with screens that we use today. Solventless cannabis concentrates and their methods of extraction have always evolved with new technology and greater understanding of the cannabis plant. Today, the innovation is as exciting and transformative as it ever has been.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Pressing Dry Sift
While the Ice Water Extraction Method and resulting Bubble Hash represent the newest developments in the world of hash production, dry sift hash still offers compelling advantages for both home and commercial extractors.
- Makes great use of trim material that’s too dry for bubble hash production
- Requires minimal equipment and operating space
- Low energy input required for production, just the smooth and steady motion with your hands across the sifting screen
- No lifting of heavy ice/water/cannabis bags to drain water as is required with washing bubble hash. Minimal strain on the back and neck.
- Less time-consuming than washing bubble hash, especially considering that dry sift hash doesn’t have to undergo the drying process after extraction
- Significantly purer and potent per gram than flowers as a source material for rosin
- More difficult to achieve full melt grades of dry sift hash than bubble hash
- Sift likely contains more plant contaminants than bubble hash, depending on how it was processed
- It’s much harder to create 5&6-star dry sift hash. But pressing sift into rosin can overcome the disadvantage, as even a 3-4-star sift is capable of producing top shelf rosin
Why Is Dry Sift Important for Rosin?
Dry Sift Hash is one of the main forms of cannabis source material for rosin production. While pressing whole cannabis flowers releases noteworthy amounts of lipids and plant particles along with the rosin, pressing Dry Sift involves significantly less plant contaminants. Through the processing of cannabis flowers to produce Dry Sift, we can effectively isolate our trichomes for rosin extraction without the presence of unwanted material.
From a production and resources standpoint, Dry Sift is also important in rosin because of the efficiencies that extractors can gain when working with this form of starter material. Higher quality rosin is obtainable with Dry Sift more so than with whole cannabis flowers, but it also requires less time and equipment than producing Bubble Hash for rosin extraction. Extractors get an increase in quality over pressing flower rosin, with a savings in time and resources over pressing Bubble Hash rosin.
Businesses that are already producing trim leaf post-harvest can process the trim into dry sift. This is a cost-effective way to make sure every last trichome is collected and used.
What Kind of Equipment is Needed to Make Dry Sift?
The main tool used in sieving Dry Sift Hash is a series of screens, stretched tightly across wooden frames and stacked one on top of the next. Sets of 3-4 filter screens are common for Dry Sift extraction. Screens are made with food grade nylon and measured in lines per inch (LPI), rather than microns. Both LPI and microns are indicators of the size of the pores in filters. Dry Sift screens utilize the same principle as Bubble Hash Wash Bags. The filters (screens or bags) containing pores most closely matching the size of whole trichome heads will contain the first-choice hash.
Refer to the LPI<>Micron conversions below:
60 LPI = 250 Microns *work screen
88 LPI = 165 Microns
100 LPI = 149 Microns
199 LPI = 75 Microns *often the best quality is collected from this screen
You may be using a different set of dry sift screens, with a different mix of LPI's. That's no problem. Keep in mind for the example below, that you keep the lowest LPI screen on top (highest micron) and the lowest LPI screen (lowest micron) at the bottom of the stack. The pore size should get increasingly smaller as you move down the stack of dry sift screens.
In our example we’ll use a 4-screen stack ranging from 51 LPI to 355 LPI.
Refer to this table for the full list of Mesh (LPI of the sieving screens) to Micron conversions.
The list of additional supplies for processing Dry Sift Hash includes:
- Clean Metal Dabber Tool
- 2-3 Plastic Cards (can be credit cards, gift cards, hotel room key cards, etc.)
- Small Sealable Glass Jars
- Parchment Paper
- Paint Roller
- Rubber Gloves
A quick note about dry ice for Dry Sift Hash production: some extractors use dry ice in combination with the screens, in order to maximize the amount of trichomes that are harvested from the material. Close proximity to dry ice chills the cannabis to the extent it becomes super brittle and more susceptible to releasing all of its trichomes during the sieving process.
However, this comes at the expense of increased contaminants. For this reason, we do not recommend the use of dry ice in Dry Sift Hash production.
What Type of Cannabis Is Used as Starter Material for Dry Sift?
Trim, whole flowers, etc. Plant material around and including mature female flowers that’s visibly covered in trichomes. Trim leaf material has an advantage over whole flowers in that the surfaces of the trim leaves are mostly flat, and therefore evenly expose the trichomes. Whole cannabis flowers are composed of bulbous calyxes and tiny leaves, which create a surface that’s varied and full of nooks and crannies, perfect for sheltering the trichomes that grow profusely throughout. Sieving these trichomes can be more difficult, as they’re harder to knock free from the flower through the purely mechanical agitation of hand-sifting.
Cannabis material should be thoroughly dried before sieving, even a bit overly dried will do. If the material is crunchy, it will be good for sifting. Growers can use the traditional hanging and air-drying methods to prepare flowers for dry sifting, in the same way the flowers would be prepared for smoking.
The cannabis should be dry enough to render the trichomes workable over the screens, as opposed to overly greasy, sticky, and wet due to excessive moisture. While flowers used as starter material for flower rosin should have a moisture content around 63% relative humidity, this will prove to be a bit too moist for sifting. Dry, slightly crunchy material is good for sifting.
That said, extremely dry and brittle cannabis will pulverize into tiny pieces that will contaminate the hash. Experience will teach you how to gauge the happy medium.
Once the cannabis has been dried, separate the flowers from the main stems and branches of the plant, and be sure all fan leaves have been removed. Avoid aggressively breaking apart the cannabis until you’re working over the screens, as handling the cannabis inevitably causes some of the most mature trichome heads to fall away from the plant. If you’re not working over the screens the fallen trichomes will be lost.
A Couple Thoughts on Process Before Getting Started
Anything that touches the cannabis resin needs to be cold, which lets us work with the trichomes easily. If the trichomes become too warm, even a comfortable room temperature, we risk creating a sticky situation. Literally. And the worst thing that can happen when working with dry sift is that it starts to stick. So cold is good!
Like washing bubble hash, there are many variations in the process that can lead to a premium product. A single, specific formula for creating full melt hash doesn’t exist. Most extractors have their own techniques that work well for their specific setup and desired results. Stick to the basic principles and remember that solventless extraction is as much art as it is science.
When making Dry Sift Hash, remember to move slowly and deliberately, and maintain a flow and rhythm in your process. It’s not a race. Just stay dedicated and don’t rush, and your intention will shine through in the hash.
How To Make Dry Sift Hash
Here's the basic summary of Dry Sift Hash production:
Cannabis is harvested, hung and thoroughly air-dried, threshed (lightly broken apart), sieved, carded, and then cleared of contaminants using a variation of Static Tech called Paint Roller Tech before collection.
Step-by-step, let's walk through the process.
Step 1: Place your plastic cards and dabber tool in the refrigerator. They need to be fully chilled before coming into contact with the hash. Turn down the AC in the room as low as possible. The colder the better. If you can sift outside on a cold day, even better.
Step 2: Prepare your setup for the Paint Roller Tech by wrapping a sheet of The Press Club Parchment Paper, silicone-side out, around a paint roller, using a couple small pieces of tape to hold the paper taut around the perimeter of the paint roller.
Step 3: Stack your sifting screens on a tabletop or countertop at a comfortable height to operate. The order of screens should go from largest filter pores on the top, to smaller filter pores on the very bottom. In the screen set we’re using in this example, that would mean 51 on the top and 355 at the bottom.
Step 4: Once your screens are set, put on the rubber gloves and plan to keep them on for the duration. Dump an ounce or so of dried cannabis material onto the top screen. Pick up a handful of material and gently rub it between your open palms, letting it fall back to the screen as you massage the material in a circular motion. As the material falls from your hands onto the screen, it should be very well broken down, almost powdery.
Tease the pile of material back and forth with both hands over the screen. The movement and rhythm is similar to waxing a car, but with a much lighter and more delicate touch. Palms open, invigorating the pile of material back and forth over the surface of the screen. After 100 or so touches around the screen, the trichomes should be mostly removed from the material. Overly processing the material with your hands on the top screen causes more contaminants to fall through (unwanted plant material) and ultimately end up in your hash.
Step 5: Remove the top screen from the stack. Notice the nice layer of kief that’s collected on the screen below. This is our 86 sift screen, which gathers a lower grade of dry sift that can benefit from additional clean up. To continue refining, we use the Carding Technique to sieving the hash through to the next screen.
Very light pressure helps ease the trichomes through the pores of the 86 sift screen. The cold temperature of the card keeps the material in a condition that’s easy to work with. As resin and contaminants collect along the edges of the card, take a moment to wipe the card clean. Swap alternate cards from the refrigerator as needed so you’re constantly working with a cold card.
Step 6: Continue sweeping the sift back and forth over the screen, ending the routine with a few light taps against the surface of the screen. These taps help to coax all remaining material through the pores of the screen. Then lift the 86 screen, exposing the 230 beneath.
You’ll notice this layer of trichomes is lighter than what was carded on the 86 screen, signifying a loss of plant material and contaminants. The material here on the 230 screen is prime for collection, after having been sieved through two screens.
While the hash that’s here on the 230 screen looks fit for rosin production, and even smokable as it is, it’s still dirty. That greenish tint is a sign of significant plant contaminants still present. The problem is that we’ve already sieved the trichome heads to a considerable extent, because using smaller filter pores will let a lesser and lesser amount of the mature heads to pass through.
Step 7: At this point, many extractors continue with another set of sifting. Depending on the specific sifting screen set you’re using, you may have additional screens that harvest trichomes within your desired range.
The contaminants present on this screen are very close to the same size as full trichome heads, so we need to find another way besides the act of sifting in order to separate these contaminants.
One popular approach to giving Dry Sift Hash its final cleaning is a method known as Paint Roller Tech. It’s the last bit of quality control we’ll employ before collecting the Dry Sift for use.
Paint Roller Tech
Step #8: Paint Roller Tech is an iteration of the original Static Tech, in which parchment paper and the force of static electricity help separate the last bit of plant particles from the mature trichome heads.
The trick of Paint Roller Tech is to maintain the same leading edge along the paint roller with each pass across the screen. The leading edge will collect the contaminants, while the trailing edge contains the trichomes. We don’t want to switch and use the contaminated edge to collect the clean resin.
Both the pressure used and the speed at which you’re dragging the paint roller across the screen are significant variables to consider. Gentle, steady movements are best. Experience is the best teacher and after a couple runs you’ll easily start to develop a feel for it.
Here’s How To Clean Your Sift with Paint Roller Tech:
Card the hash across the screen gently several times to create static buildup. Then, gather the sift into a pile closer to one end of the screen. Separate a small section of the pile to begin cleaning.
Then, similar to the movement you used for carding the sift, use the parchment-wrapped paint roller to spread the small pile thinly over the screen. While maintaining the original leading edge, pivot directions and continue spreading the sift across the screen. Each time you move the pile of sift in a new direction across the screen, reorient the paint roller so that the leading edge still faces forward. Make several passes across the screen, making sure to keep the same leading edge throughout.
At the leading edge plant particulates are stuck to the parchment, while resin gland heads slip underneath only to become stuck to the parchment paper on the other side. Along the trailing edge you’ll see a nice line of trichomes ready to be collected.
Collecting The Final Product
Step #9: Now we’re ready to collect the Dry Sift that’s collected along the length of the paint roller, behind the front line of the plant contaminate. First, we’ll remove the contaminate from the paint roller. Begin by using one of your cards to remove the contaminate, scraping along the length of the paint roller in one smooth motion. Extractors often discard this material, although it does contain lesser amounts of resin glands and their cannabinoids.
Step #10: It’s time to collect the cleaned Dry Sift along the other edge of the paint roller. Using the same technique with a clean, cold dabber tool, scrape off the hash from the paint roller onto a 5x5in square of parchment paper. If your process was correct, this pile of hash will contain a very high amount of full mature trichome heads, and a low percentage of trichome stalks and plant contaminate. This is what we’re keeping!
After having been sieved through the first screen, carded over the second screen, and finally cleaned up using Paint Roller Tech, this Dry Sift Hash collected from the paint roller should be composed almost exclusively of mature resin glands.
Finally, let’s not forget about the fourth screen in our set, the 355 LPI screen at the very bottom. This screen catches particles even smaller than whole, in-tact trichome heads. So what we see here that’s fallen all the way through the series of screens contains lots of tiny contaminants even smaller than trichome heads, but without the trichome heads. Those heads were caught by the larger screen above. While there’s still some medicinal value on this screen, don’t lose sleep over throwing it out.
Step #11: From the 5x5 parchment where you’ve been collecting the cleaned sift, move the hash into small glass jars using a plastic funnel. Use your dabber tool to tap the funnel several times after dumping the sift through, in order to knock any trichomes free that might have stuck to the inside surface of the funnel.
Store the Dry Sift Hash in sealed glass jars in a cool, dark, and dry space. Dry Sift that’s destined for rosin production is ready to go immediately after it’s been collected.
Now you’ve completed the Dry Sift Hash extraction process! Take a moment to admire your work. Whether you’ve ended up with full melt or food grade, you’ve got a starting material for rosin that’s purer and more potent than whole cannabis flowers.
How Dry Sift Hash Is Pressed into Rosin
Extraction guidelines for Dry Sift are very similar as those recommended for Bubble Hash. Pressing temperatures between 140-200 degree Fahrenheit and Platen PSI between 500-1500 are good ranges in which to experiment.
Check out our Ultimate Guide To Pressing Hash Rosin to learn the ins and outs of pressing your Dry Sift Hash.
While Dry Sift Hash is still a relatively recent innovation in the world of hash production, it’s often overshadowed by the darling in the room, Bubble Hash. While most hash hounds look to bubble hash for the full melt experience, it’s not wise to overlook the distinct advantages and exceptional quality possible with Dry Sift Hash.
Dry Sift Hash is great for rosin production, and it’s great for the bottom line. Dry Sift is a great choice for extractors looking to make use of their trim material and flowers that don’t meet the highest of quality specifications. Plus, it doesn’t require as many resources as the Ice Water Extraction process requires to extract Bubble Hash.
Sieving cannabis material over a series of filter screens to create Dry Sift Hash offers a fantastic way for solventless extractors to easily isolate and collect the ultimate: whole, mature, unadulterated trichome heads.
What’s your favorite thing about Dry Sift Hash? Let us know in the comments!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you do Paint Roller Tech with parchment paper?
Parchment paper is used in the dry sift cleaning process known as Paint Roller Tech. A sheet of parchment paper (silicone-side facing outward) is wrapped around a paint roller and secured tightly. The paint roller is grazed gently over a pile of Dry Sift, which works with static to separate plant contaminants from trichome heads along the lenghth of the parchment paper.
How do you do Static Tech with parchment paper?
Parchment paper is used in the dry sift cleaning process known as Static Tech. A sheet of parchment paper (silicone-side facing outward) is wrapped tightly around a long, relatively sharp edge, similar to the spine of a book or plastic DVD case. The silicone-wrapped edge is grazed gently over a pile of Dry Sift, which works with static to separate plant contaminants from trichome heads.
How is dry sift different from bubble hash?
While dry sift is a form of hash, bubble hash is generally made using the ice water extraction method. Bubble hash gets its name from the small bubbles that form on the surface when pure hash is exposed to high heat. The hash must be very pure to bubble and generally this purity can be reached more easily through ice water extraction.
What is dry sieving?
Dry sieving is the action of working dry cannabis across filter screens to separate trichomes. Dry sieving is the process that makes dry sift.
What is Lines Per Inch (LPI)?
Lines Per Inch is the standard way to measure mesh screens used in making dry sift. While rosin filter bags and bubble hash wash bags are measured in microns, sifting screens are measured in LPI, which is the number of nylon threads that composed an inch of material.
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