🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
The mixing together of ice water and cannabis is probably the most consequential of the steps involved in the ice water extraction process of washing bubble hash. While sieving and drying are also imperative to the process, properly mixing at the outset is the number one prerequisite for success. Agitating ice cold water and cannabis together causes trichome heads to separate from their stalks, liberating the minuscule resin globes from the rest of the material. Once these resin glands are knocked loose, they can be sieved from the ice water slurry with a set of bubble wash bags and then dried for use.
But knocking the trichomes loose isn’t a brute force move. It requires a gentle turbulence and controlled current. The goal is to let the flow of water do the work, by way of a vortex created within the mixing vessel. To create a vortex, the entire volume of water needs to be in unified motion, spinning around the central point of the mixing vessel or washing machine.
There are three main ways to mix cannabis and ice water for washing bubble hash: by hand with a paddle, within an automatic washing machine, or using a hand held drill with a mixing attachment. Of these approaches, only two are consistently capable of producing high quality grade hash.
Although a drill and some type of paddle or mixing attachment can create a vortex within a smaller vessel (like a 5 gallon bucket), it also tends to beat the material into a pulp. Using a drill to wash bubble hash often results in shredded cannabis material, releasing excess chlorophyll into the water as a byproduct. If you’ve ever seen emerald-green bubble hash, you’ve seen chlorophyll contamination.
The high RMP (Rotations per Minute) of a power drill translates into a whipping, rather than a gentle, even movement of the water and material. The adverse effects of mixing with a drill are amplified with fresh frozen. The aggressive beating from the drill causes the material to shatter. Ice nucleation, and therefore chlorophyll contamination, is always a looming possibility with fresh frozen.
So if you’re using a drill to wash bubble hash, it may be time to reconsider. Let’s look at the other options: hand mixing with a paddle, or completely automating the process with a washing machine.
Hand washing gives extractors the most control while mixing. The goal of mixing ice water and cannabis is to gently coax the trichome heads to separate from their stalks, then settle to the bottom of the washing vessel. Turning over the material in sweeping strokes, moving the material from the bottom to the top of the vessel, around and around evenly and gently. Let the current within the water knock the heads free. It’s not about the contact of the paddle (or the ice) directly against the cannabis, but the fluid dynamics.
If you want to consistently produce top quality bubble then hand washing may be your answer. The major downsides are the manual input and difficulty to scale (can’t have one person stirring multiple vessels).
Compact washing machines, specifically the 5 and 10 gallon sizes, are a great solution for many home hobbyists. The same type of washing machine designed to travel in your RV or keep in a small apartment is also great for ice water extraction. With some slight modifications, including switching out the corrugated drainage hose, you can run these machines on the lowest setting to automatically wash your hash.
Washing with machines increases the risk of releasing excessive contamination from the plant material and into the water, where it can stick with the heads and end up in the final product. Although not anywhere near as damaging to plant material as a hand drill, washing machines can still be a bit on the aggressive side. This is why adjusting to the most delicate cycle and speed available is key when using washing machines like this.
Aside from repurposing compact and travel-type washing machines, commercial options designed for solventless production are also available. These provide the ideal combination of automation and control.
Washing machines are great for automation and scaling, but can’t offer the same level of deliberate control that is possible with hand mixing.
Cleaning washing machines is also more difficult and time-consuming than cleaning completely open, bucket-style vessels that are used for hand washing. And any type of mixing vessel should be cleaned after every use.
Read more in Hand Washing vs Machine Washing Bubble Hash.
Drills are great tools to keep around the house, but not for washing bubble hash. With the high RPM of hand held drills, they’re prone to pulverizing your material instead of gently mixing the ice water and cannabis to create a vortex. There are much better options available.
Hand washing and machine washing can produce great hash. Hand washing has the advantage of offering precise control when mixing, which translates into a premium product. Machine washing requires less manual input and is easier to scale (one person can run multiple washing machines).
If small batches of absolute top quality bubble hash is your objective, hand mixing may be the best way for you to go, especially at the start.
Have you ever used a drill to wash bubble hash? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you use a drill to wash hash?
Small paddles or other mixing extensions can be used in combination with a hand held power drill to mix together ice water and cannabis when washing bubble hash.
Is it good to use a drill to wash bubble hash?
Using a drill to wash bubble hash is not ideal. Drills can easily create excess plant contamination in the water which is difficult to remove from the final product.
What is the problem with using a drill to wash bubble hash?
Due to their high RPM (rotations per minute), power drills have a tendency to chop and shred cannabis material rather than gently mixing it.
What is the best way to mix ice water and cannabis when making bubble hash?
Hand washing and machine washing are both good options, with hand washing giving the highest levels of control for premium quality bubble hash. Machine washing is good if you want to minimize your manual input and process material more efficiently at scale.
Why is my bubble hash green?
The green tint in low grade bubble hash is actually plant contamination, tiny pieces of chlorophyll-rich plant matter. Although these microscopic shards of plant material may not seem significant, they do greatly diminish the purity of your hash. An easy way to turn hash green is to wash it with a hand drill.