Washing Hash: Ice vs Iceless Water Extraction


Todde Philips

🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.

Ice water extraction is the method of removing trichomes from the cannabis flowers on which they grow to produce a solventless extract called bubble hash. Ice Water extraction, or washing hash, involves using cold water and a set of nylon sieves, called bubble wash bags. Hash makers mix together cold water and cannabis material to remove the trichomes from the material, then filter out the trichomes using the sieving bags.

Trichomes are tiny appendages that contain high concentrations of therapeutic compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes that cannabis is known for. The heads of these trichomes are the best of the best, and the ultimate prize of solventless extractors and hash makers. Trichomes contain resin, and bubble hash is also referred to as loose resin. 

So why do hash makers use ice cold water for washing hash? Cold water makes the trichomes brittle enough to cleanly break free from the cannabis material, while also remaining in-tact as effective carriers of the valuable oil contained inside. Warmer water softens the protective membrane around trichome heads, making them more liable to rupture and release the precious resin inside. Ice has been the input of choice for hash makers to keep water cold during the soaking and agitation phases of ice water extraction. 

However, it’s possible to keep the water ice cold without adding ice. 

Instead of adding ice to the water, hash makers can use insulation and a water chiller to keep the water at freezing temperatures. 

Why would hash makers want to avoid using ice, which is the long-standing practice for ice water extraction? There are pros and cons to both using ice, and with going the iceless route.

Which way is better? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each approach. 

Washing with Ice

Since the first days of ice water extraction, ice cubes have been an integral part of the process for washing hash. Hash makers add ice cubes to the mixture of water and cannabis material to keep the temperatures near-freezing. The colder the water, the better. 


However, ice has the potential to pulverize the cannabis material and release chlorophyll into the water. Chlorophyll, the contaminate that turns hash green, is very hard to remove from the loose resin once it’s released into the water. 

It’s definitely possible to produce premium hash using ice cubes for ice water extraction. Most hash makers still take this approach. Let’s see some pros and cons of using ice. 

Pros Ice

1) Easy to add more ice to maintain near-freezing temperatures

2) Don’t need to invest in an ice chiller

Cons Ice

1) Too much ice can pulverize the material during the agitation process

2) Ice cubes have pits, holes, some are rough and bumpy, some have bowls that form in them. Ice can possibly catch some of those heads and prevent them from getting washed through the bags

3) Ice cubes take up space in the mixing vessel, reducing the volume of cannabis material hash makers can wash in every run


The main benefit to going iceless is the reduced likelihood of releasing plant and chlorophyll contamination while mixing water and cannabis. As mentioned previously, ice can be exceptionally rough on the cannabis during agitation, and it’s the main culprit in making green hash (green being a clear signal of subpar hash). Ice cubes act like shears as they rub together, cutting and tearing plant material that gets caught in between. 

The easiest way to accomplish an ice less wash is to use pre-chilled water, a well insulated vessel, and a cold wash room.

However, there are also some downsides to leaving out the ice cubes. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of going iceless. 


Pros No Ice

1) Eliminates need for ice machine and ongoing ice production in the lab, reducing operational costs

2) Less likely to pulverize the cannabis material and release chlorophyll into the water

3) Can wash more material per batch

4) Increased hash yield measured with some cultivars

Cons No Ice

1) Need to invest in a water chiller

2) May be more difficult to maintain near-freezing temperatures in the water


Ice Water extraction without the actual ice may very well be the future of solventless hash making. While cold temperatures are necessary for ice water extraction, the ice cubes themselves don’t have to be. There are distinct advantages to washing without ice, namely a reduction in the likelihood that you could end up with some green in your hash. Using a water chiller, insulators, and washing in a cold room are techniques to improve your chances of success with the iceless approach.

Thoughts? Let us know by joining our secret Facebook group. Hang out with a community of like-minded solventless heads like yourself. Ask our head extractor questions, share your latest press and learn from hobbyists and experts in the industry.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published


Access Denied

You do not have permission to view this page