🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
Dry sift, or sift for short, is a type of solventless cannabis concentrate that’s similar to bubble hash in quality and appearance. While bubble hash is made with water and a series of filter bags, dry sift is extracted without water.
Dry sifting involves sieving cannabis flowers or trim leaves with a series of mesh screens. As the cannabis material is agitated over the top screen, trichomes fall away and get caught on the screens beneath. Various sizes of screens collect various grades of dry sift, with the highest grades being composed almost entirely of trichomes.
Learn more about how to make dry sift in our Ultimate Guide To Dry Sift.
Sifting cannabis is a straightforward process, but there are some pitfalls to keep in mind. Let’s look at our top 5 mistakes to avoid when dry sifting.
#1 Misunderstanding LPI
Solventless cannabis concentrates are made with techniques that involve isolating the trichomes from the flowers with purely mechanical processes that don’t involve chemicals or solvents. This is achieved with the help of nylon filters. Rosin uses rosin filter bags, bubble hash uses bubble wash bags, and dry sift uses sifting screens. While rosin bags and bubble bags use microns as a measurement of filter size, dry sift screens use lines per inch, or LPI. LPI is how we measure the pore size in the sift screens, and it’s a count of the number of threads of nylon in every inch of the screen.
LPI is not the same as microns, so the numbers associated with sifting screens don’t equate to the numbers used for rosin bags and bubble bags. We know that high quality bubble hash is collected from the 45 micron bubble bag, but there’s no 45 micron dry sift screen. Rather, the 230 LPI sift screen is what will collect some of the highest grade dry sift.
51 LPI = 292 Microns
86 LPI = 167 Microns
230 LPI = 63 Microns *premium quality dry sift is collected from this screen
355 LPI = 41 Microns
#2 Sifting in a Warm Room
Similar to washing bubble hash, cold temperatures are necessary for optimum extraction when dry sifting. Cold temperatures help to keep trichomes somewhat brittle so they more easily snap away from the plant material. Conversely, warm temperatures can cause trichomes to easily rupture and smear across the screen, creating a greasy mess. If possible, work in a room that has a dedicated extra air conditioning unit installed, which you can turn all the way down. If you don’t have air conditioning, try to dry sift at night or on cooler days when the temperature inside is lower. Even 70 degrees is on the warm side for sifting.
Aim for 62 degrees Fahrenheit or colder in the room where you are dry sifting.
#3 Using Material That’s Too Moist
Extra dry, crunchy, and brittle material is perfect to use for dry sifting. In this very dry condition, trichomes can more easily break away from the plant material as it’s sifted over the series of sieving screens. Moist and supple material will roll over the screen without releasing trichomes as readily as extra dry material.
The level of dryness that’s normally targeted for smoking flower still isn’t enough. Material for dry sifting should be dried out to the point that easily crumbles between the fingers, dryer than you would like for smoking. Even better than large, full flowers, extra dry trim leaves or small popcorn buds are perfect for dry sifting.
#4 Not Cleaning the Dry Sift after Sieving
The trichomes that fall through the top screen and scatter on top of the lower screens may look pure, but in fact there is a massive amount of tiny plant pieces mixed with the trichomes. These near-microscopic pieces of plant material are considered contamination that lower the overall quality of the dry sift. Fortunately, there are techniques to clean the sift by removing the plant material contamination.
Static Tech uses the power of static electricity to divide trichomes and plant contaminates, so that the contaminate can be easily removed. There are multiple variations of Static Tech, but each one operates with the same basic principles. Parchment paper is wrapped around a rigid object or edge, which is used to push through a layer of contaminated dry sift. The friction between the parchment paper and the mesh screen creates a charge of static electricity, which will draw in the trichomes along one side of the leading edge the the contaminate remains on the other.
Learn more about Static Tech in The Ultimate Guide To Dry Sift.
#5 Dry Sifting with Dry Ice
Contamination is a recurring theme in our list of most common mistakes, and this last mistake involves contamination as a result of using dry ice when dry sifting. Unlike the ice water extraction method of making bubble hash, keeping cannabis material dry and brittle is key creating the best dry sift. Cannabis trim leaves and/or flowers are swept back and forth across a sieving screen with open palms, allowing the trichomes to break free from the crispy dried material. The trichomes then fall through the mesh filters for collection while the remaining material is held back.
Similar to ice water extraction, cold temperatures are massively beneficial when dry sifting. Some extractors like to place dry ice beneath the mesh screens in order to chill the material and make the trichomes even more brittle. The more brittle the trichomes, the easier the heads can separate and fall away for collection. However, this approach comes at a cost.
Although using dry ice generally increases dry sift yield, the resulting super-cold temperature also makes the cannabis material so crisp and crumbly that it shatters into tiny pieces that contaminate the sift. These tiny pieces of material are the same size as the trichome heads or even smaller, making them extremely hard to separate from the final product. Even after using the Static Tech method to clean dry sift, these tiny plant contaminants often remain.
Make sure the room in which you’re dry sifting is cold, but don’t go as far as using dry ice to chill the material. While you may be happy with the yield, you likely won’t be happy with the quality.
Hopefully you can learn from our dry sifting mistakes! Understand the concept of lines per inch in dry sift screens and how to identify a screen size to collect the highest quality dry sift. Sift extra dry and brittle material in a cold room. Clean up your dry sift with Static Tech and stay away from dry ice. Keep these things in mind and you can avoid some of the common pitfalls with dry sifting.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How cold should the room be when making dry sift?
Aim for 62 degrees Fahrenheit or colder in the room where you’re making dry sift. Warm rooms are not ideal for dry sifting.
How can you clean dry sift?
You can clean up and remove contaminants from dry sift with a method known as Static Tech, which involves using static electricity to separate plant particles from trichomes.
What size dry sifting screen collects the highest quality dry sift?
Dry sifting screens around 230 LPI collect high grades of dry sift.
How dry should cannabis material be for dry sifting?
Cannabis should be extra dry and crunchy for making dry sift. Moist and soft cannabis is not as good for making dry sift.
Is dry ice good for making dry sift?
No, it’s not good to use dry ice for making dry sift, as dry ice creates temperatures that are so cold, the material splinters and creates microscopic contaminants that are hard to remove from the dry sift. Dry sift made with dry ice usually includes more plant contaminants than sift made without dry ice.