🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
Bubble hash is referred to as a solventless cannabis product, since no solvents are used to create it. It stands in contrast to other forms of cannabis extracts like distillate or crumble, which use hydrocarbons like CO2 and butane in production.
So why is it called “bubble” hash? We’re dealing with a hash that’s made almost entirely of oily trichome heads, that contains only a tiny amount of plant material. As such, this resin forms clear domes, or bubbles, when heated, the result of the cannabis resin vaporizing and leaving no burnt plant material behind.
This is where bubble gets its other name - full melt hash. True bubble hash will disappear completely when heated without leaving any residue inside the bowl. As it’s been famously stated: “if it doesn’t bubble it’s not worth the trouble”. While bubble hash is a category of its own, full melt resides at the pinnacle. 6-star hash can be considered full melt. Read more about How Bubble Hash Is Rated.
What Does Bubble Hash Look Like?
Most bubble hash is in a grainy, sandy, loose form, a collection of trichome heads which are the tiny crystal-like globes that form a sugary coating over cannabis flowers. Each trichome contains high concentrations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids relative to other parts of the plant. The color ranges from a light blond to a tan brown color. Green hash is a sign of heavy plant material contamination.
The trichomes generally will stick together, creating a workable mass but not one solid, homogeneous substance. It’s best to store hash in cool temperatures, which increases its handleability and also preserves its therapeutic properties.
Another way to keep hash is in the form of a Temple Ball, an ancient form of solventless cannabis extraction brought to the forefront of modern cannabis culture by Frenchy Cannoli. Temple Balls are made by heating and rolling bubble hash together, compacting it into a solid sphere so that the outer layer can oxidize while the trichomes inside are preserved. Here’s an article where you can Learn How To Make Temple Balls.
While lighter colors of hash are generally more desirable, darker hash isn’t necessarily bad. While oxidation (bad) can cause darker hash, sometimes more ripe trichomes heads (good) can also lead to darker coloration. And sometimes ultra-light blond hash achieved that color through immature trichome heads, which just means appearance supersedes actual quality. Color doesn’t tell the whole story.
How Bubble Hash Is Made
Bubble Hash is made using ice, water, and cannabis flowers, a method known as Ice Water Extraction. These three ingredients are mixed together in a wash bucket, then the mixture is strained through a series of filters known as bubble wash bags. While the plant material is caught in the screens, the tiny trichomes heads are allowed to pass through an increasingly smaller and smaller series of mesh filters. These filters range in size from 220 microns to 25 microns. As the size of the filters gets smaller, the pore size comes to more closely match the size of the trichome heads.
The wash bags are removed one by one and their filter screens are scraped for the hash that collects on top of it, which is present in varying grades depending on the screen size. The closer the filter screen pores match the exact size of full trichome heads (not including the trichome stalks to which they’re attached), the purer the resulting hash will be.
After the hash is collected from the wash bags it needs to dry to prevent microbial growth that will ruin the hash. Moldy hash cannot be used. The ideal way to dry hash is with a freeze dryer, a relatively specialized and expensive piece of equipment. With a freeze dryer, the wet hash is frozen and then the moisture is sublimated with the help of a vacuum chamber. A much more DIY way to dry hash involves gently grinding down the fresh hash into small chunks and leaving it to air dry on top of parchment-lined cardboard. Learn more about drying bubble hash in our article Best Ways to Dry Bubble Hash.
Once bubble hash is dry, it’s ready to be consumed. But unless you’re working with true full melt hash, there’s likely one last step to make it even more refined, enjoyable, and effective.
3 and 4-star hash makes great starting material for pressing hash rosin. When bubble hash is pressed between heated rosin plates and filtered through rosin filter bags, much of the lipids and wax from trichomes membranes and any lingering plant material is held behind, while golden rosin flows through. Hash rosin provides a loud and clear expression of the cannabis plant from which it was sourced, and it commands center stage of the solventless experience for many cannabis enthusiasts.
Learn the basics of pressing hash rosin in our Hash Rosin Starter Guide.
Hash has been around in some form or another for thousands of years, but bubble hash is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Ice Water Extraction method we know today, with a set of wash bags to filter out trichomes from a cannabis and ice water slurry, wasn’t developed until the early 90’s. Even more recent is the evolution of hash rosin, taking solventless processing even one step further, concentrating the essence of the cannabis plant's most beloved attributes.
These are exciting times to be alive in the world of hash! Can you imagine what might be next in solventless extraction? What do you see on the horizon?
Let us know in the comments!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is bubble hash?
Bubble hash is a type of cannabis concentrate, a collection of the plant’s most potent attributes, made using a simple and chemical-free extraction process. It’s called “bubble” hash because it forms tiny bubbles when heated, which is an indication of its purity.
What does “solventless” mean?
Solventless refers to a cannabis extract that’s made without the use of chemicals, or solvents, to extract certain therapeutic components of the plant from the rest of the plant material.
How is bubble hash made?
Bubble hash is made by mixing ice water and cannabis flowers together, causing the medicine-rich trichomes to fall off of the plant material. This trichome and ice water mixture is then poured through a series of filter screens, called wash bags, to isolate the trichome heads for collection.
How do you consume bubble hash?
The highest grades of bubble hash, known as 5 and 6-star bubble hash, can be dabbed by itself. This premium quality of bubble hash, also called full-melt hash, is so pure it’s ideal to be consumed as it is, with a dab rig and quartz banger. Slightly lesser grades of hash, 3 and 4-star hash, is perfect for use as starting material for pressing hash rosin.
How is bubble hash rated for quality?
Bubble hash is rated using a “star” system, ranging from 1 to 6-stars. 1 and 2-star hash is good for making edibles, 3 and 4-star hash is good for making rosin, and the highest grades, which is 5 and 6-star hash, can be dabbed as it is.