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The number of states with some form of legalization in place is increasing every month, adding to the already growing number of people becoming avid cannabis consumers with access to high-quality products. Concentrates, vape cartridges, edibles, and other innovative creations have captivated beginners, connoisseurs, and everyone in between, while ancillary product manufacturers have provided technology to adapt to the growing market(s).
One such market that has seen exponential growth through cannabis legalization has been home growing and extraction. No longer needing to worry about the legality of growing a personal amount of cannabis, many home cultivators have been able to hone their craft and yield exceptional flower and are looking for things to do with it. While hydrocarbon extraction is very much illegal (and will probably remain illegal due to the dangers involved), recent innovations in the solventless space have allowed for home growers to make use of their harvest in an exciting new way: pressing rosin.
With the right equipment (and the right starter material) pressing rosin at home can be extremely rewarding, resulting in fine solventless concentrates. Follow along as we explore the process of pressing rosin at home.
- What Types of Concentrates Can Be Made at Home?
- Home Growing and Rosin Production
- Advancements in Rosin Pressing and Solventless Hash Washing Technology
- Key Aspects to Consider When Pressing Rosin
- Basic Rosin Pressing Overview
- Rosin Finishing and Hash Storage Techniques
- Final Thoughts on Making Your Own Rosin
What Types of Concentrates Can Be Made at Home?
Many states allow for creating concentrates at home, however, there are some specific restrictions and regional laws to be aware of.
As mentioned, no conversation about home extraction can be had without addressing a large elephant in the room: at-home hydrocarbon extraction has been the cause of several dangerous explosions resulting in property damage and serious personal injury.
For this reason, nearly all home-based hydrocarbon extraction is illegal, in almost all legalized states (we use this double qualifier because some state laws do not directly address the issue of home concentrate production).
Butane extraction is the most common to be banned, but a grouping of similar compounds like hexane and methane are considered along with it in the same sentiment. Many state laws go out of their way to name such compounds or include language that is meant to cover them.
Here is a sampling of the laws in major legalized states:
- In Oregon, concentrates can not be extracted using butane, hexane, isopropyl alcohol, ethanol, and carbon dioxide.
- In Colorado, the law states that you cannot manufacture marijuana concentrate using an inherently hazardous substance. Such substances include butane, propane, and diethyl ether, but specifically do not include alcohol or ethanol.
- In Michigan, separation of plant resin by butane extraction, or another method that utilizes a substance with a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit is banned.
- In California, you cannot make use of a “toxic” chemical, which is noted as, “such as butane.”
- In Illinois, home producers are banned from using “volatile or explosive gas, including, but not limited to, canisters of butane gas.”
- In Washington, you cannot use “butane or other explosive gases to extract or separate resin from marijuana,” and the law notes, “cooking oil, butter, and other nonexplosive home cooking substances may be used to make marijuana extracts for noncommercial personal use.” Ideally, rosin pressing falls under the latter.
Few states that have home cultivation explicitly outlaw all types of concentrate production. Here is where pressing your own comes in!
Due to safer production methods and a lack of hazardous chemicals, solventless concentrates are considered safe and are allowed to be produced at home in many legalized states, and a few states even go out of their way to acknowledge that solventless preparations are permitted in their laws.
You’ll need to check your local laws to be sure that solventless concentrate production is legal in your area. If you’re uncertain about your local regulations, consider reaching out to your state’s local cannabis regulatory board. It may take a little time to get a response, but most are happy to help and answer your questions.
Dry sifting is by far the most basic form of solventless production and can be done with just screens and shaking, making it the most likely to be allowed. A crude version of trichome sifting happens in the kief collector of a flower grinder, and to our knowledge, no legalized state has banned those (again, always always check the laws if you’re unsure). In terms of what’s permissible, after sifting would be ice water hash, also due to the minimal and basic nature of the elements involved. A select few states may push back against the heating element of rosin pressing, but those appear to be rare instances.
Overall, solventless products are the ideal path to choose for those looking to make their own concentrates at home and are permitted in most states that allow for home cultivation.
Home Growing and Rosin Production
Advances in both home growing and solventless concentrate production mean that those looking to get into at-home rosin pressing are free to explore and experiment with relative safety. Home hash makers have the peace of mind of having personal oversight over each step of production and ensuring that their products meet their own personal standards of purity and cleanliness. Operations like PurePressure have made purpose-built rosin presses and hash washing machines that are approachable to both novice and experienced producers alike. With this combo of circumstances in place, there’s never been a better time to dive into rosin production.
Advancements in Rosin Pressing and Solventless Hash Washing Technology
When discussing DIY rosin pressing, one of the first things that enters the conversation is the hair-straightener method. In short, you can somewhat replicate the rosin pressing process by using just a hair straightener, a nug of cannabis, and some parchment paper. The process is simple: you heat up the hair iron to a low setting, place a nug between folded parchment, and squeeze. Though an extremely rudimentary version of it, the overall setup does include everything that goes into rosin pressing: pressure, heat, and a way to collect what comes out. It can be a fun way to get a dab from a place you might not expect it.
However, by today’s standards, that’s about the equivalent of frying an egg on a hot car engine. Is it technically possible? Sure. Is it the ideal way to prepare an egg? Far from it. The rosin will likely be of low quality, with minimal yield, and might not be worth the nug it was squeezed from. The modern market has come a long way from this dorm-room level tech, and now there are numerous machines for making high-quality rosin at home.
For the best results in home pressing, consider a purpose-built machine directly intended for making rosin. While there are numerous options that adapt hydraulic presses built for other primary purposes, they are unlikely to grant the same level of versatility and control. However, in the end, the important thing is to come away with a way to press rosin, so go with what you can, you can always upgrade later as you develop your skills.
Similarly, the old “traditional” way of making ice water hash makes use of a Brute brand plastic garbage bin. Today, technology has moved beyond making hash in garbage containers, and dedicated hash washers allow for more efficient, cleaner harvesting, with higher yields and an overall better end product. We’ve reviewed the Bruteless hash washing vessel before, and come away quite impressed. While the initial investment into equipment might be more, the resulting jump in quality is hard to argue with.
Again, even if you don’t wind up going top of the line for every element of your production, upgrading at least a part of it will have a big impact, so look into hash washers if you’re wanting to make your own ice water hash for pressing.
Remember that if you can start out from any point and build as you go. Even if your total setup is a patchwork of older and newer technologies, making rosin today has advanced far beyond the days of hair straighteners. Take advantage of available technology whenever able for the best rosin results.
Key Aspects to Consider When Pressing Rosin
A quick note before we dive in: when making rosin, the quality of your starting material is of fundamental importance. With solventless concentrates, the true profile of the cultivar is preserved throughout the process, so if you start with mediocre flower, you’re more likely to wind up with mediocre rosin, and the same goes for starting with hash. Press whatever bud or hash you’re drawn to, but be aware that the process won’t improve on your material’s quality the way that some hydrocarbon methods can.
Speaking of starter materials, one of the first things you’ll need to determine is what to press, dry sift, flower or hash? Broadly speaking, hash pressing is likely to have higher yield and quality than pressing flower, due to the lower amount of plant matter. Furthermore, flower must be cured before it can be pressed (Flower must be dried, but the 55-62% relative humidity [RH] range is perfect.). When flower is dried and cured, there is a higher likelihood of cannabinoid and terpene loss. Impressive rosin can be pressed directly from flower and kief, (if you’re familiar with our Helix rosin press review, you’ll note that the PotGuide team has pressed some ourselves).
Next, you’ll want to determine the duration, temperature, and pressure of your press.
There is no standard duration for rosin pressing, and can range anywhere from about 1 to 5 minutes, but it will be up to you and your starter material to determine what’s right for each press. Denser material like flower tends to be longer, while and the finer your hash is, the less time it will take.
For temperature, you’ll aim for a different range of heat depending on the starter material as well.
Hash can be pressed well between 160°F - 200°F, flower 200°F - 220°F, and dry sift between 180°F - 220°F. You can go as low as about 140°F when using top-quality hash.
Lower temperatures tend to preserve more flavor and terpenes, and higher temperatures tend to do better for yield, but things like density and relative humidity will impact these factors as well.
As for pressure, this variable will have the widest range and will be the most dependent on what you’re pressing. For rosin, pressing between 300 and 1000 psi is ideal, for flower you’ll move a bit higher between 600-1000 psi, and finally, kief or hash will range between 300 and 800 psi. Having an understanding of the difference in pressure between starting materials can be key to avoiding potential blowouts.
Basic Rosin Pressing Overview
We’ll be using PurePressure’s Helix 3 Ton Manual Rosin Press as an example because it's what PotGuide has the most familiarity with, but the information here is applicable to most presses.
To start, at minimum, a good rosin press needs to allow for fine-tuned and accurate control of heat and pressure to deliver high quality, consistent results. As you shop around for your press, you’ll notice that pricing for most options reflects how well they perform these two tasks. Lower priced options are likely to have less accurate control, however, that’s not always the case. Just be aware as you’re making your selections.
Once you’ve got a press sorted, next you’ll turn to your starter material to prepare it for pressing.
To begin, regardless of whether you’re starting with flower or hash, you’ll need to load your starter into a filter bag. It is recommended to invert the bag to allow for flatter seams and optimal contact with the pressing plates.
Next, shape the material in the bag into an even rectangular shape, mimicking the shape of the bag. Cleaner, defined lines will allow for a smoother, more even pressing, and thus better yield. Proper shaping also helps to avoid bag blowout by diminishing the development of pressure points within the bag as it’s pressed.
Then, prep your parchment paper on the machine. When determining how much paper to use, remember to account for drip and flow, and leave appropriate room.
Center the filter bag on the plates and set the plates. For hash and sift, you’ll want to warm the starting material before pressure is applied, which you can achieve by setting it on the plates and lowering the top plate so that the starter is just barely touched, then setting the plates to low heat. This helps to begin the emulsion of the terpenes and cannabinoids. For flower, simply move on to pressing.
Next, you’ll start the actual press. Make sure that your plates are at the desired heat and lower your press. Using the Helix, turn the handle to lower the plates until you’ve hit the right pressure, the Pressware operating system will allow you to carefully monitor and adjust your presses. Turn the handle to progressively add pressure (temp, duration and pressure guidelines from above) and watch the rosin flow.
After the press is complete, remove the parchment paper from the press, then remove the bag from the parchment and collect the rosin, either by using a scraper and putting it onto a fresh piece of parchment for storage or pouring it into a glass jar while still warm (depending on how much starting material you pressed and your overall yield.).
You can repeat the pressing process 2-3 times on your filter bag to get out every last drop. You’ll typically notice some degree of difference between the presses, and this is why you’ll often see rosin products noted as either first or second press. Upping the temperature as you go into your second press is a good way to help maximize yield and get the remaining cannabinoids and terpenes out.
In general, 2nd press flower rosin is more suited to making edibles and topicals, however, 2nd press hash can often be of high quality. Sift can go either way, as it has a wider variance of quality and debris material.
Rosin Finishing and Hash Storage Techniques
For home pressing, classic “coin” style rosin will be the easiest to make, because it requires no post-production manipulation. You can also opt to “cold cure” which consists of letting fresh-pressed rosin sit in a sealed jar at room temperature (or just slightly below it) for a day or two.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can gently warm and then whip your rosin to produce the badder-like consistency.
However, the sky's the limit. As you hone your rosin-making abilities, you can venture into more advanced techniques like jar tech — which involves carefully manipulating temperature inside of a sealed jar to induce THCA crystallization and create “diamonds” and other novel rosin forms. These techniques work best with top-quality hash (any may be difficult or impossible to achieve with lower quality product), so think of these as a target to aim for.
Be aware that your coin-style rosin is susceptible to “buttering” if it is not refrigerated or frozen. It will lose its clarity and take on a more milky or chalky appearance. Thus, refrigerated storage is ideal, limiting light and air exposure. If you’re keeping rosin in your kitchen fridge, remember to put it in an opaque or tinted container to avoid repeated light exposure when you open the door (or make good use of that crisper drawer). However, this is only ideal for about a week or two.
If you’re looking for longer term storage for your rosin, opt for fully freezing. -4°F is what you’re aiming for to best deter degradation.
Frozen rosin can be good for many months (or more), but will slowly diminish in potency and flavor over time.
Final Thoughts on Making Your Own Rosin
So now you’ve got yourself some premium, homemade rosin. For an optimal experience, it’s worthwhile to learn a bit about how to consume it. We’ve got a whole Hash Rosin Consumption Guide on the matter if you’re interested.
Connoisseurs consider low-temp dabbing to be the optimal way to fully take in the full cannabinoid and terpene profile, but you can scale up to your taste. Be wary of going too high though, for all the effort that went into making it, a burnt rosin hit is a wasted rosin hit.
The rosin pressing community is an active one, so consider connecting with other solventless concentrate makers and professionals. PurePressure offers considerable resources to both novice and professional solventless producers on their website.
As your skills develop, it can be incredibly rewarding to compare your efforts to those available on dispensary shelves. How are you stacking up? Is there a mark you’re missing (or surpassing)? Analyzing your results can help you improve as you hone your craft and learn from others. Solventless concentrate making has a long and storied history, and as you start to make your own, you’re joining a long line of artisans. Take your time, and enjoy the journey!
What are your at-home pressing tips? Share in the comments!