🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
Continuous recirculation for ice water extraction refers to the process of continually moving the ice-cold water through the cannabis material while agitating it. Instead of agitating the mixture for a fixed duration and then disposing of the water, continuous recirculation involves maintaining a steady flow of water through the extraction vessel, then through the sieving bags and into a collection vessel, throughout the agitation process.
Recirculating water during ice water extraction is not the way hash makers usually washed hash in the past. The most common way of making ice water hash involves batch-style agitation, in which extractors mix ice water and cannabis together in a closed agitation vessel. After agitating the ice water and material, hash makers pour the mixture through a series of sieving bags where the trichomes are collected. The water runs through the sieves, also called bubble wash bags, and into a collection vessel. From there, the water is generally drained as waste.
The batch-style method keeps the ice water, cannabis material, and loose trichome heads in the agitation vessel throughout the duration of the mixing process, while the recirculation method allows the trichome heads to exit the agitation vessel as soon as they fall loose from the starting material.
There are several benefits to cold water recirculation, but the main purpose is to minimize the amount of potential damage to the trichome heads during agitation.
Other benefits include leaving more room for starting material in the agitation tank, allowing for more dialed-in pulls, reducing downtime during extraction, and minimizing the risk of overcrowding with ice.
To achieve continuous recirculation you need a setup with a pump. A pump moves the water from the collection vessel which holds the filter bags back into the agitation vessel.
The filtration bags capture the trichomes, allowing the clean water to be pumped back into the vessel, creating a closed-loop system. This process can be repeated for a desired duration to maximize trichome extraction.
Continuous recirculation is considered an advanced technique in ice water extraction, and it requires specialized equipment and careful control of the water temperature and flow rate. When done correctly, it can result in higher yields of high-quality ice water hash.
Remember that the success of ice water extraction, whether using continuous recirculation or not, relies on various factors, including the quality of the starting material, the agitation method, water temperature, and filtration system used.
5 Key Benefits of Cold Water Recirculation
Let’s take a look at the main benefits of using a cold water recirculation approach when washing hash.
1. Reduces Likelihood of Damage to Trichome Heads during Agitation
This is the main reason that hash makers choose to set up a cold water recirculating system for washing hash. With batch-style agitation, trichome heads are knocked free from the cannabis material but remain trapped in the agitation vessel for the duration of the mixing cycle. The delicate trichome heads get jostled around with the cannabis and ice water slurry for several minutes until the full cycle of agitation is complete.
The longer the trichome heads, or resin, is present in this somewhat abrasive environment, the more likely that these precious heads will be bruised, broken, or otherwise damaged.
With a recirculating set up, trichomes are able to exit the agitation vessel as soon as they fall free from the cannabis material. The resin moves directly from the agitation vessel into an ice-filled collection vessel, where they fall into a series of sieving bags.
The trichomes stay both safe from damage and nice and cold while waiting for collection in the sieving bags.
2. Leaves More Room for Starting Material in the Agitation Tank
Extractors can keep plenty of ice inside the collection vessel and less ice in the agitation vessel when using the cold water recirculation method. As water continuously flows from the agitation vessel and into the collection vessel, it’s constantly running over a pile of ice before it gets pumped back up into the agitation vessel.
Therefore, the water stays chilled from running over the ice in the collection vessel before getting pumped back into the agitation vessel. Since this water gets to flow over ice in the collection vessel, there’s less ice needed to keep it cold in the agitation vessel.
Less ice in the agitation vessel leaves more space for starting material. So hash makers can wash larger batches of material in their agitation vessels.
3. Allows for More Dialed-in Pulls
Cold water recirculation takes much of the guesswork out of timing the pulls when washing hash. A “Pull” refers to collecting resin, when extractors stop agitating the cannabis and ice water, then dump the water through sieving bags to capture and collect the trichomes.
In batch-style washing, pulls happen based on the timing, which requires some guesswork. Basically, hash makers mix cannabis and ice water for a certain amount of time that seems ideal, and then dump the mixture through sieving bags to see what’s there.
With continuous recirculation, hash makers can wait until the sieving bags start to fill up, and essentially get clogged with resin, before they make a pull. No need to guess about the ideal time to stop agitation and make a pull.
Recirculation provides more feedback as to what’s going on inside the agitation vessel, and when the starting material is finally depleted of its resin.
4. Reduces Downtime During Extraction
With cold water recirculation, the mixing never stops throughout the entire extraction process. The agitator can stay on the entire time, without breaks for dumping the water in batches for collection. This increased efficiency leads to more output every hour. Although the water recirculation stops for collection, the agitator can keep working.
Recirculation can resume after each bubble wash bag gets pulled for collection and then returned to the collection vessel.
5. Minimizes Risk of Overcrowding with Ice
Closely hinged to the benefit of leaving more room for starting material in the agitation tank, cold water recirculation also minimizes the risk of overcrowding the cannabis material with a bunch of ice in the agitation vessel.
Overcrowding with ice is a common downfall, especially with new extractors. Putting too much ice in the agitation vessel reduces the vortex effect in the water, which is the most effective dynamic for separating resin from the starting material. Too much ice prevents thorough mixing, and the vortex effect from truly taking shape, within the mixing vessel.
The blog post discusses the concept of continuous recirculation for ice water extraction, a technique used to make high-quality hashish. Unlike the traditional batch-style agitation method, continuous recirculation involves a constant flow of ice-cold water through the cannabis material while agitating it.
Continuous recirculation aims to minimize damage to delicate trichome heads during agitation, leading to a better quality hash product. The benefits of cold water recirculation include reduced trichome damage, increased space for starting material in the agitation tank, improved precision in timing pulls, reduced downtime during extraction, and minimized risk of overcrowding with ice. To implement continuous recirculation, a setup with a pump is required, allowing water to be continuously filtered and returned to the agitation vessel, creating a closed-loop system.
Cold water recirculation for ice water extraction is an advanced technique that offers significant advantages over the traditional batch-style method. By maintaining a constant flow of water and preventing trichomes from remaining in an abrasive environment, the process ensures the preservation of trichome integrity and results in higher yields of high-quality ice water hash. Additionally, this method allows for more efficient and precise extraction, making it a preferred choice for hash makers seeking to optimize their extraction process and achieve superior results.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is continuous recirculation in ice water extraction, and how does it differ from the traditional batch-style agitation method?
Continuous recirculation in ice water extraction involves constantly moving ice-cold water through the cannabis material while agitating it. Unlike the batch-style method, where water is agitated for a fixed duration and then discarded, continuous recirculation maintains a steady flow of water throughout the agitation process, passing through the agitation vessel, sieving bags, and into a collection vessel before being pumped back into the agitation vessel.
What is the main purpose of using cold water recirculation in hash making?
The primary purpose of employing cold water recirculation in hash making is to minimize potential damage to the delicate trichome heads during the agitation process. By allowing trichome heads to exit the agitation vessel as soon as they fall loose from the starting material, the method helps preserve the integrity of the trichomes, resulting in higher-quality hash.
How does cold water recirculation provide more control over the extraction process?
Cold water recirculation allows for more precise timing of "pulls" during the extraction process. Instead of guessing when to stop agitation and make a pull, hash makers can wait until the sieving bags start to fill up and get clogged with resin, providing more feedback on the resin depletion in the starting material.
What are the benefits of using a pump in the continuous recirculation setup?
The pump is essential for continuous recirculation as it moves the water from the collection vessel, where the filter bags capture the trichomes, back into the agitation vessel. This creates a closed-loop system, enabling the process to be repeated for a desired duration to maximize trichome extraction.
What are some other advantages of cold water recirculation in ice water extraction?
Besides minimizing trichome damage, cold water recirculation leaves more space for starting material in the agitation tank, reduces downtime during extraction, and minimizes the risk of overcrowding with ice. These benefits contribute to higher efficiency and improved output in the extraction process.