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Monday May 1, 2017

Updated on 8/2/2021

By Michael Walters

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Over the past several years, both rosin and rosin presses have been gaining popularity in the cannabis industry, and for good reason. Don’t let the common nickname of the “everyman’s concentrate” fool you though (this term only refers to the accessibility and simplicity of the extraction), rosin is no run of the mill product.

In fact, rosin rivals the potency and purity of some of the most advanced hydrocarbon extracts on the market – without the use of any solvents. What once was a product made in bedrooms and garages with hair straighteners and t-shirt presses has grown into a full-scale manufacturing movement.

So what is rosin exactly? And why has it become so popular in recent memory? The answer is in the details.

What is Rosin?

Although it has been gaining traction over the last five years or so, the concept of extracting cannabinoids through heat and pressure is not a new trend. Different processes of collecting trichomes and applying pressure have been used for thousands of years, however, we are only now refining these processes into pure, clean dabbable products. And high-quality rosin is just that.

Another exciting aspect and big reason why rosin is gaining popularity is its versatility.

Rosin can be made from many types of starting materials, including flower, kief and bubble hash – either dried or fresh frozen.

Couple that with the limitless heat, pressure and timing combinations of a rosin press and you can get some seriously potent and diverse results.

Rosin is also uniquely versatile in the fact that it can be manipulated into almost any type or texture of concentrate. From shatter and sugar to budder and wax, rosin has many adaptability options, making it an awesome product for extraction artists to experiment with.

Example of a dab of rosin Example of a dab of rosin.

The concept of extracting rosin is quite simple. Essentially, two heated plates are pressed on both sides of the desired starting material (which is enclosed in parchment paper or rosin pouches) at a high pressure. The heat from the plates loosens the resinous glands, or trichomes, that contain all of the plant’s cannabinoids while the pressure effectively squeezes it from the flower. This basic process is the groundwork for rosin presses and the technology that makes them run.

Obviously the process is a bit more scientifically refined, but that is the general thought behind using a rosin press to make rosin. Don’t be blinded by the simplicity though, there is more to extracting quality rosin than you may think.

How Does Rosin Compare to Hydrocarbon Extracts?

Rosin is debatably the only product on the market that is a direct reflection of the starting material used. In other words, there’s no workaround to making excellent rosin, and there’s no way to manipulate its chemical structure. Because there are no chemicals or solvents introduced during rosin extraction – like hydrocarbon extractions – the integrity of the plant is maintained throughout the process.

This chemical homeostasis in rosin creates a cleaner high and a reliable product that rivals the potency of hydrocarbon products like live resin and HCFSE or HTFSE sauce. However, unlike BHO (debatably the most popular hydrocarbon extraction method) there is no way to hide impurities within the starting material.

Rosin pressing involves no chemical solvents Rosin pressing involves no chemical solvents, just heat and pressure.

For example, when some companies experience issues with their grows (powdery mildew, mold, bud rot, etc.) they unfortunately mask them by extracting hydrocarbon concentrates from that flower. Pretty shady, right? With rosin, there is no workaround. Simply put, if you start with subpar product, you will get subpar rosin. That’s why – if the rosin is quality – you can rest assured knowing that the starting product was quality as well. As they say in the industry, quality in, quality out.

The chemical homeostasis and purity of high-quality rosin concentrates are some of the key reasons more and more connoisseurs and novices alike are turning to rosin for their daily dab of choice.

Additionally, rosin transcends the conception of traditional concentrates in that all forms and types are capable of superior levels of potency, terpene content and purity. For instance, wax and budder are generally considered lower-end, or bargain-bin, hydrocarbon concentrates, however, rosin budder and wax can rival even the strongest hydrocarbon live resin or sauce. This is because of the superb-quality starting material that must be used to make superior rosin.

What to Look For When Buying Rosin

When pressing rosin, the starting material must meet quality control standards, otherwise the resulting product will be less than ideal. That means that starting material with mold, powdery mildew or any other affliction is not suitable for making rosin. This is great from a consumer standpoint because it is easy to identify subpar products and be sure you are only dabbing products that came from high-quality flower.

If you’re looking to purchase rosin at a dispensary, you’re in luck. More and more dispensaries are starting to carry high-quality rosin at their stores, which is good news for consumers. While the majority of rosin sold is very good, always keep an eye out for quality control.

Example of quality rosin. Example of quality rosin.

To ensure you are purchasing the best rosin possible, be sure to keep an eye out for these traits:

  • Clean, light amber/tan color

    • If rosin is green, don’t purchase
      • This means plant matter/chlorophyll is present
    • Darker rosin can indicate older starting material, but doesn’t mean it is poor quality
      • Use your nose; if it smells good, odds are it will be great to dab
      • If it smells poor, don’t purchase
  • Strong smell

    • Quality rosin should smell like the flower it came from
    • If it smells like nothing or hay-ish, don’t purchase
  • No plant matter present

    • Plant matter is rare in commercial rosin, but if you do see it, avoid purchasing
      • Plant matter looks like small specks/hairs (again, rare to find)
    • Translucent (if shatter/sap)
      • Shatter and sap forms of rosin should be translucent and clear
    • Consistent hue (if budder/wax)
      • Wax and budder forms of rosin should be tan/amber throughout

Sticking to these general traits will help you purchase top-notch rosin products from dispensaries. Additionally, if you decide to try your hand at pressing your own rosin, you can use these traits (and this flower rosin blog) to judge the quality and other key characteristics.

Modern Rosin Press Technology

Nowadays, commercial manufacturers (and even some home-pressers) have traded in their hair straighteners and tortilla presses for industrial-grade hydraulic or pneumatic presses, resulting in some seriously pure products. The demand is higher than ever for rosin presses, which has resulted in many companies creating innovative products for manufactures to use.

Because of this spike in demand, companies like PurePressure, an employee owned rosin press and accessory company based out of Denver, Colorado, have been flourishing.

PurePressure creates purpose-driven products engineered in America to fit the needs of any business seeking to produce top-quality rosin.

Additionally, PurePressure has emerged as an industry leader in rosin press technology, innovation and functionality – so much so that companies who aren’t using their technology are falling behind. In a fiercely competitive industry (especially in the concentrate category), PurePressure’s impressive line of rosin presses and accessories are raising the bar for non-solvent extractions and setting companies apart from the masses.

Modern rosin presses are easily operated with great results.

The future of non-solvent extraction is certainly bright. And if you haven’t tried rosin yet, you’re going to want to. Non-solvent extractions, rosin in particular, are the freshest, fastest-growing trend in the industry and will only continue to gain popularity.

Now that you’ve learned more about rosin, rosin presses and the methods behind making a great non-solvent concentrate, it’s time to go out and use your knowledge. We implore you to apply what you’ve learned in this article to track down some top-shelf rosin to sample. If you find yourself unable to locate high-quality rosin, don’t hesitate to reach out to your favorite dispensary and ask them to carry it! Most dispensaries want to make their patrons happy, so your voice will likely be heard loud and clear.

One thing is for certain, once you do find a good rosin product, it’s likely that you’ll love it. And if you love it so much you want to try making your own, our friends at PurePressure are there to help you every step of the way.

Photo Credits: PurePressure


Michael Walters Michael Walters

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric, Michael started his journey in the cannabis industry managing content, communications, and technical writing for one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains. In 2016, Michael pivoted to the ancillary sector to become PotGuide's Content Manager and was responsible for overseeing all of PotGuide’s editorial endeavors and content marketing strategies. Now, Michael is PotGuide's Director of Content & Marketing, focusing his efforts toward new educational content and exciting media endeavors.

With a life-long passion for cannabis knowledge and education, Michael devoted himself to becoming a subject matter expert on marijuana at an early age. Now, Michael has worked in the marijuana industry for over four years helping break down negative stigma and promoting safe cannabis practices. An avid consumer himself, Michael has worked tirelessly to improve content marketing strategies for cannabis businesses and is devoted to creating meaningful content that is useful to a wide variety of marijuana consumers. Follow Michael on LinkedIn and Instagram for updates and insights.

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