🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
Hash heads often take it for granted that solventless cannabis extracts are superior to other forms of concentrates. We know that solventless extracts command a higher price point on dispensary shelves, and that eyes light up with the mention of live hash rosin. But why exactly do we consider solventless cannabis products to be superior?
Solventless extracts are cannabis concentrates made without the use of chemical solvents, such as butane and ethanol alcohol. Solventless extracts include both flower and hash rosin, dry sift, and bubble hash.
Although pure water is technically a solvent, we still consider ice water hash to be a solventless extract, as pure water is completely non-toxic and will fully evaporate away from the final product.
Butane hash oil, CO2 distillate, and ethanol extracts are common solvent-based cannabis extracts. Though they can pack a punch and be tasty to consume, extracts created without the use of chemical solvents to isolate the cannabinoids and terpenes are better for the following reasons.
Solventless extracts deliver the unimpeded preservation of the living plant’s most desirable qualities. In solventless extracts, mechanical separation is used to isolate the most desirable parts of the cannabis plant: the resin glands. These glands are not chemically modified in order to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes, as is the case with solvent-based extracts.
Therefore, the full spectrum experience of the plant trichomes shines through, and includes all components of the entire resin gland. This is superior to the extracts that often don't contain the whole array of therapeutic molecules found within the resin glands.
Another major quality advantage for solventless is that there is no risk of chemical residual solvents being left in the final product. Solventless extracts are pure and potent, and free of any potentially unhealthy chemical contaminants. With solventless, there's no need to worry about ingesting chemicals, while at the same time allowing the fullest expression of the cannabis plant's therapeutic qualities to be captured.
Another reason that solventless is superior lies in the fact that solventless is extremely versatile. Bubble hash can be consumed as it is, or pressed into hash rosin. The same goes for dry sift, which can be incorporated into other cannabis products. Sometimes (if it's high quality), dry sift can be dabbed on its own. High quality solventless can even be made directly from pressing flowers into rosin.
Once the rosin is produced, it can be cured into various textures and consistencies. This includes budder, diamonds and sauce, and even THC-A powder (THC-A requires more processing but it's still solventless).
There are many different ways to go with rosin. Even the type of source material used (fresh frozen vs air cured flowers) is flexible. It's only up to the extractor's preference and access to material.
A third major reason solventless is superior is the ease, efficiency, and low cost of production. The highest quality rosin can even be made right from home, with minimal equipment. It's easy to build your own rosin press, and set up a hash washing room. And with a grow tent and a few plants, you can establish a vertically integrated solventless operation as a home hobbyist.
Not only is the equipment needed very minimal, but there's no health hazard in using the equipment or working with the materials. Unlike BHO which requires an aggressive air exhaust system, technical equipment, and carries a high risk of explosions, there's minimal risk of something going dangerously wrong when creating solventless extracts. Dropping a pre-press mold on your foot, burning your hand on a rosin press plate, or straining your back while draining bubble bags are some of the things to go wrong. And this type of mishap is hardly unique to cannabis processing, and these injuries could happen anywhere. But this pales in comparison to the occupational hazards of working with solvent-based extracts.
Compared to the massive equipment and operational complexities of running a CO2 distillate lab, for example, producing solventless at home is accessible in a small space and modest budget. There's no comparison in the expense of setting up a solvent lab vs solventless lab. Solventless wins every time.
You can even make rosin with some quality cannabis flowers and a hair straightener.
It's easy to assume that solventless is better, and you'd be right. But beyond the assumptions, consider these advantages next time you consider dabbing or producing solvent-based extracts. There's really only one way to go if you want the best of the best, with an array of options in producing, curing, processing, and consuming cannabis extracts. It's solventless above all the rest.