Cannabis enthusiast and student of the art of solventless extraction
Cannabis material that’s properly washed for bubble hash often imparts a cloudy appearance in the wash due to thousands of trichome heads released into the ice water and cannabis mixture. It’s common to see an off-white color in the hash water, indicative of the resin that’s been effectively separated and left suspended in the water. In addition to the cloudy, creamy look of hash water, a greenish hue is also common.
Green water is a sign of plant contamination and an early indicator that the quality of your hash may be compromised. Given that cannabis plant material is mostly green, this makes sense. The green color is caused by chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis during the plant’s growth cycle, but not something we want to see in our hash.
But sometimes, water changes colors in surprising ways. For example, sometimes we see water that’s turned red or purple while washing cannabis material. What causes water to turn these different colors? The answer is anthocyanins.
What Are Anthocyanins?
Anthocyanins are a category of compounds known as flavonoids, which are produced naturally in cannabis. While flavonoids are not entirely unique to the cannabis plant, they are found in abundance within cannabis. Flavonoids are similar to terpenes in that they impart unique scents and flavors to cannabis flowers. They can appear as red, pink, purple, blue, or even black depending on the pH levels of their environment.
Anthocyanins are water-soluble and located mostly in the epidermal layer of plants. They’re sometimes even present in high concentrations within trichome stalks. For the most part, they are not found in high concentrations within the trichome heads, which are the “fruits” of the cannabis plant that hash makers primarily target.
Anthocyanins are unstable and highly susceptible to degradation. Temperatures over 75 degrees Fahrenheit will cause significant degradation, which provides another reason to maintain temperature control of the grow space and drying/curing environment.
Reading the Colors in Hash Water
Now we can see that green water is caused by chlorophyll, and red or purple water is caused by anthocyanins. So is this a bad thing?
Green water can indicate excess force used in mixing the water and cannabis. It can also be a signal that you washed the cannabis material for too long, effectively beating it up into a pulp. Ice nucleation can also contribute to bright green color. Ice nucleation can also contribute to bright green color. Not rehydrating cannabis properly also makes the material more prone to breaking down into tiny pieces, which leaves a green color in your water and indicates contamination.
Shades of red, pink, and purple indicate the presence of anthocyanins, which aren’t considered contamination in the same way as chlorophyll. However, since anthocyanins aren’t found in significant amounts in trichome heads, high-grade hash that contains mostly trichome heads probably won’t have too much color.
Because anthocyanins show up as different colors depending on the pH of their environment, we can tell that if the hash water is purple, the plant’s pH was a more neutral environment. If the hash water is more red, that indicates the living plant had a more acidic environment.
Does the Color of the Hash Water Impact the Color of the Hash?
Since anthocyanins are not found in abundance inside the trichome heads they can be easier to prevent from getting into the final product. If you can effectively isolate the trichome heads, you eliminate the likelihood of having a reddish or purplish hash. That said, if your hash turns out purple, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Anthocyanins do not negatively impact hash like chlorophyll does.
Chlorophyll is a different story. In most cases, chlorophyll is difficult to completely wash away, even if you’ve done a good job of isolating the trichome heads. Either way, there’s a good chance that the color of the water will be indicative of the color of the hash.
Generally speaking, the purest hash is a cloudy or slightly golden color, which is the color of full mature trichome heads. Any green, red, or purple hues in hash indicate the presence of other plant material besides trichome heads. Green is the color you most want to avoid, as this is strictly plant contamination. Red or purple hues in the hash could be the result of trichome stalks, which are not as bad as chlorophyll.
Even if the hash water has some coloration, you can remove a lot of it through proper sieving with your wash bags. Using filter bags lets you capture only the mature trichome heads, which won’t contain green or red or purple. Green is the color you most want to avoid!
Also, thorough rinsing of the hash collected on each filter is helpful in removing both chlorophyll and anthocyanins from the hash. Remember to avoid rinsing the hash over the next filter screen in the sequence, as the contaminants will get caught in the hash beneath it.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are a class of metabolites that are prolific in cannabis plants. Flavonoids, like terpenes, contribute to the therapeutic value of cannabis.
What are anthocyanins?
Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid that can show up as either red, purple, blue, or even black in the cannabis plant, depending on the pH of the plant. Anthocyanins cause the reddish or purplish color in water for washing hash.
What are the therapeutic benefits of anthocyanins?
Anthocyanins consumed in foods like berries, pomegranates, red onions, and tomatoes are thought to boost overall health and even treat heart disease and cancer. They also exist in significant amounts in the cannabis plant. While they’ve long been used in herbal medicine to treat a number of conditions, much more research needs to be done to understand what benefits they can offer through consuming cannabis.
Is green hash bad?
Green hash is a sign of chlorophyll contamination, indicating that there is significant plant matter included with the trichome heads. While green hash can still be high in therapeutic value, it’s not considered a high grade of hash due to the plant contamination.
Is purple hash water a good sign?
Purple hash water is a sign that anthocyanins are present. Anthocyanins can be found in trichome stalks and within the epidermal layer of plant growth, but not as much in trichome heads. Generally the more purple the hash, the higher the rate of trichome stalks to trichome heads. Overall, purple hash water is no cause for concern, but the hash should be rinsed well on every filter before collection.