Anyone at all familiar with cannabis concentrates definitely knows about hash oil. But what’s less well known is how hash oil is made. There are two primary methods for making hash oil. One is to use solvents, and the other is to go with a solventless extraction technique. We’ll break down all the differences between solvent and solventless hash oil.
Hash Oil: A Brief Introduction
Hash oil is a thick, resinous oil that’s made when cannabinoids are isolated and extracted from cannabis plant material. The whole idea behind hash oil is to make a super-potent form of weed.
Hash oil can be consumed in a number of ways. You can smoke it, dab it, and use it in a variety of edibles. Some forms of hash oil can even be used topically. In fact, some people have had success using it to treat certain types of cancer.
To put it simply, hash oil is a concentrated, super-potent form of the most important cannabinoids. Because of that, it’s very effective whether you’re using it to get high or as medicine.
One of the most important features of hash oil is the process through which it’s made. You may be surprised at how many different ways you can make the stuff, but in general, it’s broken down according to whether it was made using a solvent or not. Here are the differences between solvent and solventless hash oil.
Key Differences Between Solvent and Solventless Hash Oil
When hash oil is made using a solvent, the plant material is soaked in some sort of chemical. As it soaks, the chemical solvent essentially dissolves cannabinoids out of the plant. When that step is finished, the solvent is then evaporated away, leaving behind thick, viscous, and potent hash oil.
On the other hand, solventless hash oil is made without the use of a solvent. Instead, techniques that involve heat, pressure, or physically agitating the plant material are used. Either way, the process should produce the same potent hash oil.
Making hash oil using solvents is often cheaper and easier, but it’s also riskier. Many of the chemicals used to extract cannabinoids are highly flammable. As a result, it’s not uncommon for people making their hash oil to blow up their homes.
In fact, this was happening so frequently in Humboldt County, California that the fire department had to issue a statement asking people to stop making hash oil with butane.
Similarly, many consumers have concerns about the chemicals used to make hash oil. In particular, there are concerns that they could contaminate the final product, making it unsafe to use.
Solventless extracts take care of many of these concerns. That’s primarily because this method does not use any chemicals. The only drawback is that many of these techniques can require more expensive equipment and can sometimes be more time-consuming.
Solvent Hash Oil
To better understand the differences between solvent and solventless hash oil, it’s helpful to know a bit more about each one. Here are some of the most commonly used solvents used to make hash oil.
Butane hash oil, or simply BHO, is probably the most common type of hash oil anywhere. It’s made using butane, which generally produces a high-quality final product. The only problem is that butane is volatile. When a house burns down because somebody was making hash oil, odds are they were using butane.
This is a common solvent because it’s so cheap and easy to get. It doesn’t make the purest hash oil around, but as far as other solvents go, it’s a relatively safe option.
Makers of pharmaceutical-grade hash oil often use ether. The primary benefit is that it evaporates at room temperatures, making it simple to work with. The downside, though, is that it’s extremely volatile and it can unexpectedly ignite.
The chemical solvent naphtha was made famous by Rick Simpson. His version of hash oil, called Rick Simpson Oil, has drawn a lot of attention thanks to claims that it can be helpful in treating cancer. Naphtha is often sold as a paint thinner, which makes it cheap and easy to obtain. Some consumers have voiced concern that hash oil made with naphtha may contain trace amounts of the chemical. For what it’s worth, Simpson has consistently reassured people that it’s a safe solvent.
CO2 is generally recognized as one of the cleanest and safest solvents. This is the same gas you breathe out when you exhale. The difficulty is that it requires equipment to use CO2 as a solvent. Basically, CO2 extractors use a combination of pressure and heat to turn CO2 gas into a liquid. From there, cannabis is soaked in the liquid, which then easily evaporates away.
Solventless Hash Oil
There are not as many options for making solventless hash oil. One of the easiest and most popular is to use ice water and a series of filters. This method uses ice and water to agitate plant material, knocking off all the trichomes. When the icy water is then passed through a series of increasingly-fine filters, you’re able to isolate the cannabinoid-rich trichomes. You can follow a similar process using dry ice as well.
After removing and gathering all the trichomes, you can then turn them into a variety of different concentrates. The simplest way is to squeeze them all together using wax paper and a hot hair straightener. But for more consistent results, you should use a specialized rosin press. These machines also use pressure and heat to make the final product, but they give you much better results every time.
Final Hit: What Are The Differences Between Solvent and Solventless Hash Oil?
At the end of the day, the main differences between solvent and solventless hash oil all have to do with the process through which the final product is made. Solvent hash oil uses a chemical to extract cannabinoids; solventless hash oil does not.
It is often more dangerous to use solvents, and there is some concern that residual traces of the solvent could show up in the finished hash oil. Solventless hash oil avoids these problems, but can sometimes be more time-consuming and require additional equipment.