Cannabis enthusiast and student of the art of solventless extraction
✅ Updated 1/25/22
Color can give us insights into the characteristics and qualities of bubble hash. The age of the hash, drying method, source material, and other factors play into the appearance of bubble hash. The color of hash might give us some indicators, however color doesn’t always convey the entire story.
There is a general rule that the lighter the color, the higher the quality of bubble hash. More often than not this generalization will point you in the right direction. Color can be used as a guide, but it’s nuanced and should be taken in the broader context.
Let’s examine the variables that contribute to different colors in bubble hash.
After bubble hash is created through the ice water extraction method (which separates trichome heads from cannabis starter material using just ice, water, and screens known as bubble bags), the hash is wet and needs to be dried. If moisture isn’t allowed to effectively escape from the freshly-made bubble hash, then the hash has a high likelihood of being ruined due to bacteria, mold, and mildew growth. Drying is a critical step in bubble hash production.
The drying method of choice is a freeze dryer, which is the most efficient way to thoroughly remove moisture from bubble hash. Drying with a freeze dryer can be done in less than a day, while air drying takes significantly longer.
Bubble hash dried in a freeze drier will have a lighter color than the same bubble left out to air dry. Why? This has to do with length of time exposed to air, which allows oxidation to occur. Oxidation, or the process of a substance changing because of the addition of oxygen, causes bubble hash to darken.
After bubble hash is dried it can be placed in sealed glass jars for curing and storage. While sealed, the bubble hash oxidizes at a much slower rate. The less oxidation that occurs, the better.
Learn more about hash drying methods here.
Age of Cannabis Starter Material (and the Bubble Hash itself)
Over time, all hash oxidizes as a result of chemical changes with the introduction of oxygen. Oxidation not only gives hash a darker hue, it doesn’t contribute to the quality of the product.
Oxidation and degradation go hand in hand, and in the case of bubble hash it’s something we want to carefully minimize. This is why proper storage methods are so important.
Even high quality hash that’s properly stored can take on a darker color over time.
The age and oxidation levels of the cannabis starter material used in bubble hash extraction also contributes to the color of the hash. One advantage of using fresh frozen cannabis material is that it minimizes the amount of oxidation that takes place, versus using cannabis flowers that are hung to dry in the open air for up to two weeks in traditional fashion.
Just as with bubble hash, the older the cannabis starter material, the more opportunity for oxidation occurs. Whether using fresh frozen or dried source material for bubble hash, the fresher the buds, the lighter the hash.
Learn more about using fresh frozen versus dried cannabis flowers here.
Bubble hash is so unique because it isolates and captures the most potent and powerful elements of the cannabis plant: trichome heads. The goal in creating bubble hash is to separate these trichomes from all the rest of the plant material. Tiny plant particles, any dust or debris, and even the trichome stalks that support the heads are considered contaminants in bubble hash.
Chlorophyll is a pigment in plant material that can impart a greenish tint onto bubble hash. A greenish-golden tint in bubble hash is a sign that plant contaminants are present. One cause of this contamination is agitating the cannabis material too aggressively or too long during the ice water extraction process.
Not all plant contaminants will appear green, tho. It often will appear as a dark brown. Hash that’s very dark in color usually has a relatively high amount of plant contaminants.
Various sizes in filter screens, or bubble bags, also yield various grades of bubble hash. Larger screens (those made with a higher number of microns) allow more plant material and contaminants to pass through, compared to smaller screens that capture more material while allowing just the trichomes to pass through.
Hash collected from bubble bags over 125 microns contains a higher amount of plant particle contaminants, leading to a darker color.
Ripeness of Trichomes
The ripeness of trichomes determines when a cannabis plant will be harvested. By examining individual trichome heads, growers can tell when the trichomes are producing our sought-after therapeutic substances at their peak capacity.
Clear trichome heads are still maturing, milky trichome heads are showing signs of ripeness, and a speckle of amber signals the beginning of the ideal window to harvest.
Trichomes that are allowed to mature more thoroughly before harvest appear darker than more underdeveloped trichomes. This has to do with the ripening of the basal cell within the trichome, as it turns from clear to opaque and completely amber.
Sometimes, super light bubble hash gets the appearance of snow from underdeveloped or premature trichomes. These premature heads won’t pack the same power as fully ripe heads that impart maximum therapeutic effect.
How Temple Balls Can Help Preserve Color
Temple balls are unique and beautiful forms of bubble hash. Temple balls are composed of a mass of bubble hash rolled into a sphere. Over time, the outer layer becomes oxidized, creating a barrier between the outside air and the inside of the temple ball. This darkened outer layer protects the trichomes inside from oxidation and therefore maintains the original color for long periods of time (although the color will naturally darken over time). Temple Balls do much more than maintain color, however. They also allow bubble hash to age like wine and get better over time.
Read up more about Temple Balls in our overview of the original cannabis concentrate.
Don’t be so quick to gauge a hash by its color! What appears to the eye can be deceiving. There’s only one thing that really matters when judging hash, and that’s your experience with it.
There is high quality and super potent bubble hash that’s darker in color. There’s very light hash that might sparkle the eye but doesn’t pack a punch. If it’s enjoyable to smoke or dab, then it doesn’t matter the color.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why does bubble hash have different colors?
Some factors that affect color include age of starting material, indoor vs outdoor grown, fresh frozen or dried/cured, and amount of contaminants in the hash.
What are considered contaminants in bubble hash?
The most common contaminants in bubble hash are tiny pieces of plant material, chlorophyll, and trichome stalks. Although the trichome stalks contain many of the therapeutic compounds in cannabis, it's only the full, mature trichome heads we want.
What is the best color for bubble hash?
Many people prefer the lightest color of hash possible, but color alone isn't the best gauge of quality. Dark hash can still be incredibly high quality, and often stems from very ripe trichomes.
What causes green bubble hash?
Plant material causes green hash, which is a sign of contamination. If your hash is coming out green, it's time to reevaluate your process.
How can you get lighter bubble hash?
Using fresh starting material (especially fresh frozen) and thoroughly rinsing the hash during extraction are two ways to keep the color light and avoid contamination.