What Is the Difference Between Microplaning and Sieving for Air Drying Bubble Hash?

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Todde Philips   

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

Drying your freshly made bubble hash is the final step of the ice water extraction method of solventless extraction, and it’s a make or break process. Get it right and you’ll have an evenly-dried batch of bubble that’s ready for rosin production or enjoyment just as it is. Get it wrong and you can invite microbial growth and end up with a mildew-riddled product that’s only good for the trash bin. Drying is critical, but it can also be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with the methods. Unless you’re working with a freeze dryer, you’ll need to air dry the wet bubble hash, but it needs some preparation first. 

Freeze drying bubble hash is the preferred method of drying, but often it’s reserved for commercial operations. The main reason is the cost of the freeze dryers, which run into the multiple thousands of dollars. Not to say that the home hobbyist can’t justify such an expense, especially given the tremendous value they offer, but such a luxury doesn’t always fit into the budget. This is especially true when you can achieve stellar results with the air drying methods. 

Learn more about the various approaches to drying bubble hash in our article Best Ways To Dry Bubble Hash.

Assuming you’re going the air drying route, those fresh hash patties you just scooped out of the bubble wash bags are going to need some prep work before they’re ready to start drying. Let’s take a look at how to prepare fresh hash for air drying using either the microplaning method or the sieving method. 

 

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Getting Started

The overall approach to using a microplane or a sieve is the same, it mostly just varies in the actual tool used to break apart the hash patty. Both achieve very similar results, but they vary slightly in the impact of the tool on the trichomes. 

The idea of using a microplane or a sieve is to grind down the fresh glob of hash into the smallest pieces possible, in order to maximize surface area for drying. The more surface area, the more efficiently the moisture locked inside can evaporate. 

When you scoop fresh hash out of the bubble wash bags as soon as it’s been filtered out from the starting material, it’s completely saturated with water. If you leave this glob in its current form in the open air to dry, the moisture will remain locked on the inside of the mass of hash and likely invite mildew growth. If you get mildew on your hash, it needs to be thrown out. 

Gently grinding down this hash patty over a piece of parchment paper-lined cardboard transforms the hash into a sand-like consistency which can dry quickly. The parchment paper provides the anti-stick properties that makes collection easier, and protects the hash from getting contaminated by the cardboard. The cardboard acts as a desiccant, pulling the moisture out of the hash. 

In it’s wet, unfrozen form the hash is very difficult to handle, often breaking down into an amorphous blob. The first step after collection from the bubble wash bags with a cold metal spoon is to place the hash on top of a 25-micron drying screen. Gently press down on the hash with another piece of drying screen, or just fold it inside the screen and apply pressure to either side. This will lightly squeeze the excess water out of the hash. Be careful not to compact the hash too much, easy does it. 

In order to grind down the wet hash, it needs to be frozen first. So after you’ve collected the hash, given it a light squeeze to release some water, it’s time to put it in the freezer for 24 hours. This will give it enough time to freeze completely solid. Then, after fully frozen, you’ll proceed to either microplaning or sieving. 

Microplane

Microplanes are common kitchen tools that are popular for their ease of use in breaking apart fresh hash. Microplanes are hand-held metal graters traditionally used for zesting citrus fruits and grating cheese, nutmeg, garlic, ginger, and chocolate among others. Microplanes look like long, flat rectangular wands containing hundreds of sharp little grooves. 

 

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These grooves are actually mini blades that can make clean cuts through whatever material is scraped across their surface, effectively shearing off the material into a multitude of small slices. Microplanes work their magic when an object like a lemon, cheese, or hash is scraped across their surface in the opposite direction of the blades. 

Now that the hash is frozen, it’s time to let the microplane do its work. But first, let the microplane sit in the freezer for an hour or so until it’s ice cold. Even better, perform the following task with your hands and arms inside of the freezer, so everything stays nice and cold. 

Break off a piece of the frozen hash and hold it between your fingers. Then scrape it across the surface of the microplane in quick movements, going against the direction of the blades. You don’t have to utilize the entire surface of the microplane, you can work within a few inches, swiping the hash back and forth across the blades. 

Work the hash over a piece of cardboard that’s lined with parchment paper, so the tiny pieces of hash that drop through the bottom side of the microplane collect on top of the silicone side of the parchment.

Once you’re finished grating all the hash, give the microplane a few taps with a metal spoon to let any hash that’s stuck fall through. 

Microplaning hash is often easier than sieving because the blades can easily cut apart the frozen hash, but the downside is damage to the trichomes. 

Sieve

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 A sieve is also traditionally used in the kitchen for draining liquids from solids, refining the texture of sauces, and more. Made out of stainless steel, they look like bowl-shaped screens with a metal handle. Sieves are strainers, they don’t contain blades like microplanes. Their utility comes through the stainless steel mesh screen. 

To use a sieve for breaking down bubble hash, break a small chunk of the frozen hash and rub it back and forth across the bottom of the screen. Let the hash crumble in pieces over a parchment paper-lined cardboard. 

You can also use a metal spoon to grind the hash into the sieve, which can be more effective than simply using your hands like you would with the microplane. Make sure the spoon is clean and ice cold before making contact with the hash. 

Since the sieve doesn’t contain blades like the microplane, it’s less damaging to the trichome membranes. Breaking apart hash to dry with a sieve is the more gentle approach.

Sieving can be trickier than microplaning because you have to force the hash through the mesh screen, but it causes less damage to the trichomes. 

Conclusion

Sieving and microplaning are both good ways of breaking apart bubble hash for air drying. Keep all tools in the freezer until you use them, so everything is ice cold. Once the tools and the hash start to warm, it will be harder to work it. Use a sieve to reduce damage to the trichomes, instead of the microplane that can cut through the trichome membrane, causing the resin to leak out. 


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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a microplane?
A long thin stainless steel tool with a serrated surface that's used to grind items.

What is a sieve?
A stainless steel screen that's used to strain liquids from solids. It's also a great tool for breaking apart bubble hash. 

How do you dry bubble hash?
Freeze the wet hash, then break it down by hand using a microplane or sieve and let it air dry on a piece of cardboard lined with parchment paper. 

Do you have to dry bubble hash?
Yes, if you don't properly dry freshly-made bubble hash it's likely to grow mold. 

What is better a sieve or microplane for drying bubble hash?
Both are effective, but a sieve is slightly less damaging to trichomes when you're breaking apart a frozen piece of hash. 

 

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