Thursday December 31, 2020
Updated on 2/18/2021
Introduction to Solventless Concentrates
Solventless extraction methods have taken the cannabis industry by storm in the past several years. Nowadays, top-tier rosin and full-melt hash are some of the most sought after products on dispensary shelves. Seemingly everyone from beginner to connoisseur wants to get in on the allure of these products, and rightfully so. Exquisite solventless preparations like rosin are nurturing a blooming market of consumers keen on the intricacies and nuances of hash-making. Similar to the level of scrupulous observation seen amongst wine and whiskey aficionados, solventless concentrates are being revered for their ability to bring out the best notes in cannabis – ushering in a new era of cannabis consumption where attention to detail is of paramount importance.
This spike in demand has not only advanced rosin and solventless innovation to new heights but also helped bring prices down to a more affordable level. The cost of high-end rosin is now justifiable for many consumers to incorporate into their regular routine. And for those who still aren’t ready or economically able to consume rosin regularly, the current price point makes it a delightful option when looking to “treat yourself” or splurge for something flavorful and unique on a special occasion.
Unlike solvent-based concentrates, the quality of rosin and other solventless products are directly proportional to the quality of flower used at the start of the process. Because of this, hash producers must take an extreme amount of time and consideration making these products – which reflects quite noticeably in effects. In fact, many people who try rosin for the first time have a difficult time going back to live resin or other solvent-based products. Trust us when we say that solventless concentrates are just as good for beginners as they are for seasoned smoking veterans. However, due to the attention to detail during production, it’s extremely important to consume rosin and solventless products with the same focus to ensure you’re getting the most out of your dabs.
If this sounds complicated to you, don’t worry! Dabbing hash and rosin is just as simple as dabbing hydrocarbons when you get the process down – and believe us when we say it’s worth the extra steps.
In order to present you with everything you need to know about consuming hash rosin, we teamed up with the experts at PurePressure, the cannabis industry’s most prominent rosin press manufacturer. Creating purpose-driven solventless hash equipment is the name of PurePressure’s game, and most of the top commercial hash extractors use their equipment to make the products you know and love. Simply put, PurePressure is the authority in the solventless space and definitely know their way around a dab rig. Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about proper dabbing techniques for solventless products like rosin and full-melt bubble hash.
Brief History of Solventless Hash Consumption
Hash consumption has a storied history across the globe, with many countries and communities incorporating resin-filled traditions into their daily lives. And while the term ‘solventless’ is relatively new, chemical-free hash products have been around for longer than live resin, wax, shatter, and any other hydrocarbon extraction method combined.
Some of the earliest origins of solventless hash can be traced back to Eastern Asia and their hand-rolled variety of hashish, Charas. Charas is created by simply rubbing resinous colas from cannabis plants between one’s hands. The resin collected from several plants is then rolled and formed into a ball, where it is ready to be consumed. This is the basis of solventless hash production. At the end of the day, it all comes down the resin glands of the cannabis plant and over the years, growers, hashishans and concentrate connoisseurs have created and refined techniques to bring us the high quality rosins and hash products we enjoy today.
Modern Hash and Rosin Production Methods
Advancements in technology combined with progress made in medical and recreational marijuana reform have allowed modern concentrate innovation to flourish. In the last 5-10 years, the landscape of concentrates has shifted drastically. Remember when shatter was the most sought after concentrate? How about when live resin dethroned shatter as the consumer favorite? In a span of only a couple years, the landscape of consumer hash preference has evolved. Nowadays, rosin and other solventless preparations reign supreme and have added a layer of refinement and “specialness” to dabbing. What’s even better is that these products are becoming affordable enough to replace hydrocarbon extractions altogether.
Part of this revolution is due to the advancement of modern rosin presses. As mentioned, we partnered with Pure Pressure for this guide specifically because they represent the forefront of pressing technology, utilized by some of the nations top rosin manufacturers. The delicacy of rosin requires precision to consistently make high-quality products. Without such reliable precision, rosin would be far more difficult to produce, thus increasing the price and slowing production.
Bubble Hash & Rosin: What’s the Difference?
It’s true, many consumers have said goodbye to live resin, shatter and waxes in favor of solventless hash options. But what options are available? When it comes to solventless, there are a few different choices. However, it’s important to note that all of these products are solely created with ice, water and pressure alone.
Bubble Hash vs. Full-Melt vs. Rosin
Before we can move on, understanding the difference between rosin and bubble hash is crucial. The biggest point to note here is that rosin is the resulting product of heat and pressure application, most commonly from bubble hash. Rosin can be extracted from cannabis and hemp flower as well, but almost all commercial rosin is created from bubble hash. So, when thinking about the two, keep in mind that there could be no rosin without bubble hash.
Bubble Hash (Ice Water Hash) and Full-Melt
Ice water hash, commonly referred to as “bubble hash,” is one of the most traditional hash making techniques of the modern era, and simply takes ancient sifting methodology plus some added chemistry and physics. THC is not water soluble, meaning that in its natural state, no matter how much it is mixed in water, the two will not combine, due to their chemical properties. Bubble hash is created through a method known as agitation. Cannabis flower (typically freshly harvested or fresh-frozen) is placed in a large bucket of ice water. As the flower cools to sub-zero temperatures, the plant’s trichomes become brittle and susceptible to breaking off. With a careful paddling of the mixture, trichomes are agitated off of the plant matter. After the trichomes have been collected, they are poured and filtered through several micron bags (typically 25, 45, 73, 90, 120, 160, 190, and 220 micron). The collected trichomes are gathered up and placed onto parchment paper where they are then left to dry naturally or freeze-dried to preserve flavor and freshness.
The various micron sizes help determine the overall “grade” of the bubble hash (see star rating below). Typically, the most sought after hash contains only trichome heads and stalks. This is referred to as 5- or 6-star bubble hash, full-melt bubble hash (or just full-melt), as it will behave similar to a traditional dab when placed on a heated surface. Full-melt bubble hash is regarded as one of the highest tier solventless offerings because it only amounts to a fraction of a full bubble hash yield. Typically, full-melt bubble hash will be found between the 70 and 90 micron range (most believe 90 micron is the highest quality). 120 micron can sometimes sneak it’s way into the discussion of full-melt, but only in certain instances where resin farming is impeccable. Most high-end, premium rosin will come from full-melt bubble hash.
When dabbed properly, full-melt will remain light in color and puddle up as the membranes of the trichome heads are broken down, combining together into one resinous “puddle.” There should be no plant residue once Q-tipped.
The remaining micron sizes that are not full-melt contain a mixture of larger trichome heads, trichome stalks and various plant matter and debris. Still filled with resin and other essential cannabis oils, these remaining trichomes are best suited being pressed into rosin. To do so, the freeze-dried bubble hash is placed into special rosin bags and into a rosin press where heat and pressure are applied to further extract the oils.
In a way, rosin could be classified as a full-melt hash. It melts on contact with a nail or banger and it leaves no charred plant matter behind. However, the moniker of full-melt truly refers to high-quality bubble hash. Simply put, rosin is the resulting byproduct of pressing that high-quality hash. Long story short, you can’t get rosin without some sort of quality starting material (flower or bubble hash).
Once rosin is extracted from bubble hash, it can be manipulated in multiple ways via various finishing techniques and extractor processes. At the end of the day, all of the different rosin products you see on dispensary shelves (live rosin, rosin jam, rosin sauce) all start the same way – bubble hash pressed into rosin via a rosin press. Much of the higher end rosin offerings will use full-melt hash as their starting material. These products will typically be the extractor’s premium line of products.
All this is important information to take in when considering the approach to solventless hash consumption. Every rosin product has been created through meticulous intricacies from start to finish and a one-size-fits-all approach to dabbing doesn’t really work in the solventless world. Instead, it’s worthwhile to consider the unique properties of each gram of rosin, full-melt or other solventless hash products you encounter and try to bring out the best notes while consuming – not unlike the way high-end wines and whiskeys are treated. Next, we’ll discuss the bubble hash star rating system and how it helps classify solventless products on a gradient scale.
Hash Quality and Star Rating
To fully understand the nuances of different solventless concentrates, we must first look at the “star” rating system. This system, arranged on a scale from 1 to 6, helps hash producers and consumers alike determine what material is best for different applications.
For consumers, the star rating for hash products lets us know how well the product will “melt” on our banger (see “full-melt” discussion below) and if it will leave any residual plant matter behind.
The star rating system applies to different preparations of solventless concentrates, like dry sift and kief, however, it most commonly refers to bubble hash. Understanding the star rating as it applies to bubble hash not only lets us know which hash products are the best but also gives critical insight into the agitation extraction process. Check out the table below for a quick reference of bubble hash star ratings:
Solventless Hash Star Ratings:
- 1 Star: The lowest quality hash, typically more than 50% plant matter and “unmeltable.” Plant matter content in one star bubble hash makes dabbing undesirable and ineffective. Typically, 1 star bubble hash is used in edible preparations and not sold as a standalone product for consumption.
- 2 Star: Similar to 1 star, 2 star bubble hash is low in trichome stalk and head count, while high in plant matter. Also used in edible production, you may see 2 star being sold in the form of “Bubble Blunts” as well.
- 3 Star: Enhanced micron filtering begins to kick in at the 3 star stage, with much less organic plant matter than 1 or 2 star. There are still smaller plant particles within 3 star bubble hash, but at this stage it is more trichomes than debris. Still not quite desirable to dab, 3 star bubble hash is often used as a bowl-topper or pressed into rosin.
- 4 Star: Often referred to as half-melt, 4 star bubble hash nearly reaches a full-melt consistency but falls short with residual plant matter still being in the mix. 4 star and half-melt is sold typically under the name “Bubble Hash” on dispensary shelves and is used for bowl-topping. It can be dabbed, but extractors will press it into rosin for best dabbing results.
- 5 Star: Entering full-melt territory, quality 5 star bubble hash should only contain trichome heads and stalks. Dabbing 5 star will leave minimal residue on your banger and bubble/melt fully with a rich, flavorful consumption experience. Many high-end rosins are pressed from 5 star bubble hash.
- 6 Star: If all the conditions line up and an extractor can get their hands on premium starting material, 6 star bubble hash, AKA full-melt, is possible through careful extraction. This is the cream of the crop, the small portion of a bubble hash yield that is nearly all trichome heads rich with cannabinoids and essential oils. When dabbed properly, 6 star should leave no residue on your banger and wipe away clean with a Q-tip. Many claim to offer 6 star products but that is not always the case. Check the melt quality to determine the actual star rating. Most “persy” and “premium” rosin varieties come from 6 star bubble hash.
As you can see, the yield of a bubble hash wash results in some pretty different quality levels. This factors into the price point of solventless products, as only a small percentage of the yield can be used to make the best rosin products. That being said, every rosin product on the shelf is still high-quality. Despite the star rating, pretty much every gram of bubble hash produced comes from quality starting material. You can’t fake results with solventless hash, and it all starts with great flower.
Different Types of Solventless Concentrates
Just like hydrocarbon extracted concentrates (live resin, shatter, wax, etc.), solventless concentrates come in many forms. Differences in starting material, pressing and post-production can create a wide spectrum of concentrate preparations, each with different qualities. In terms of commercial rosin production, the following products are some of the most commonly seen on dispensary shelves.
Plant material is sifted through a silk screen so that only the unrefined trichome heads, glands, and plant debris can make it through. In order to make a superior-quality hash, this process must be repeated numerous times to sift out any extraneous plant material, using finer and finer screens to harvest only the trichome heads. This refinement process is what differentiates sift from kief, and makes it into something dabbable.
Traditional rosin is a cannabis concentrate created using only heat and pressure. To make rosin, the hash maker will place bubble hash from cured cannabis flower (could also be pressed from cannabis nugs) into a sifting bag. These specialized bags are what allow for the magic of rosin to happen, allowing the tiny, delicate trichomes to cleanly separate from the plant matter.
The bag is placed between sheets of parchment paper, then heated and pressed between two plates using a rosin press. The heat and pressure must be carefully controlled, so as to keep the precious cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds that create cannabis’ effects. The plant matter is contained within the bag, and rosin is pressed out onto the parchment paper for collection.
Classic rosin can have either a clear or opaque appearance, and will range in color from soft green and amber to pale white depending on the amount of residual plant matter and condition of the cannabinoids on the plant.
Live rosin is similar to classic rosin in process, but uses fresh frozen starting material and freeze-dried bubble hash. Live rosin is the most common type of solventless concentrate you will see at the dispensary. Since not many people press cured bubble hash anymore, the “live” moniker is sometimes left off of these products. Live rosin is some of the most sought-out rosin for its combination of purity and high terpene retention, but can also fetch a high price, due to the labor-intensive nature of its production.
Originally, it was thought that sauce and diamond tech was exclusive to solvent-based extracts due to the heat and pressure needed to achieve them. At the time, the standard methods of these steps were thought to be too extreme for delicate rosin, or were achieved through solvents and purging, thus negating the “solventless” title.
However, hash technicians pushed on and figured out solventless ways to create these wonders of modern dabbing using very precise pressure and heating combinations to induce crystallization. Seeing rosin in a sauce and diamond combo is still very rare in the overall market, so if you come across some at a good price, give it a try.
Rosin lava is made by gently heating rosin after the pressing steps, which encourages the THC in it to nucleate (a fancy word for bunch together naturally), and create crystals. This is essentially the early steps of diamond tech, but done on a smaller scale so as not to risk ruining the rosin, while still preserving a high amount of terpenes. It has a consistency similar to live resin or sugar extract, and is thought to be more stable at room temperature than other rosin preparations, which require refrigeration to ensure optimal terpene and flavor retention.
Similar to rosin jam, rosin badder, batter or budder is made by introducing low heat to rosin (far below the vaporization point) and then whipping it to create a soft, buttery form. The introduction of air makes for a light, very smooth end product.
Solventless Terpene Sauce
Solventless terp sauce (AKA terp sauce) is rosin made by separating cannabis terpenes and essential oils from the mixture’s THCA. Terp sauce has a viscous consistency and is most commonly used in vape cartridge preparations. Numerous variables occur in the pressing process for terp sauce, with multiple pressings needed to fully separate the compounds. By learning to carefully calculate heat and pressure, hash makers can produce different levels of viscosity on demand and also reintroduce THCA back into the mixture for increased potency.
Rosin Vape Cartridges
Rosin cartridges are by far the easiest way to try rosin for any cannabis consumer, from novice to pro. As rosin is overall a drier concentrate, it took some hash maker engineering to create a rosin preparation that remains both viscous and shelf-stable at room temperature (see Solventless Terpene Sauce above).
With the precision of modern hash presses, hash makers can now create liquid rosin reliably, and that has resulted in rosin vaporizer cartridges. In contrast to solvent-based cartridges, rosin carts tend to be smoother and more flavorful – just like dabbed rosin, but far more convenient. For those curious about rosin, and aren’t as planted in the wide world of dabbing, these are worth a try to see if you want to explore further.
Other Solventless Products
Dabbing isn’t the only way to enjoy the benefits of solventless concentrate. Almost any infused product made from extracts can be made using rosin!
Rosin Infusions (Edibles and Topicals)
As mentioned, the rise of viscous rosin preparations opens the door to all sorts of infusions. Rosin edibles have a reputation for clean, bright flavors without the “hashy” notes that other methods can impart. Rosin’s unadulterated flavor notes allow it to combine more synergistically with the flavors of the foods it’s infused into, rather than being hidden, or overpowering them. Similarly, rosin-infused topicals tend to have less hash-heavy scents.
Perhaps most attractive is that you’re putting something into your body untouched by chemicals in any way. It’s something we value in our everyday food and skincare products, and the same holds true for infused ones.
CBD Rosin Products
Rosin can also be made from CBD or hemp flower. While this might be harder to find at your local dispensary (though they are around), CBD rosin can be found widely available online, and you can even make your own.
Beyond the superior taste and smoothness that you’d expect from any rosin, those that are using cannabis primarily as medicine might find CBD rosin is an attractive option for its lack of chemicals. Medical cannabis patients can be some of the most vulnerable to even the slightest contamination, and while cannabis products are overall well-tested, removing the possibility of chemicals altogether gives a peace of mind that’s hard to match. Just like THC rosin infusions, CBD rosin is excellent for infusion in foods and skincare products. If you’re using CBD to focus on health, why not go with the cleanest option?
Understanding the Finer Points of Rosin
Rosin is among the most true “craft” items on the cannabis market. Much like fine wine, whiskey and heirloom tomatoes, the quality of the goods are determined by the ability of the artisans creating them. Like other craft goods, high-quality rosin production requires exacting attention to detail, a robust knowledge of the many factors that affect the final product, and the know-how, equipment and expertise to follow through.
Why Rosin is an Artisan Product
As we touched on earlier, superior rosin comes from the application of very precise heat and pressure, and thus artisans must rely on specialized tools to make it. Advanced rosin presses like PurePressure’s allow master rosin makers to translate their extensive experience and research into reliably high quality products. While hydrocarbon extracts also require precise, highly specialized equipment, aside from the starting material used, the difference is in the fine adjustments needed. For an analogue, consider the craftsmanship of letterpress cards compared to an industrial printing machine. Both have their uses, however the letterpress results in finer detail as a result of more care by its operator.
Rosin is also “craft” in the sense that it offers greater depth than most other cannabis concentrates, and many other cannabis products in general. The pure, unadulterated nature of rosin means that all of its qualities are front and center, with nothing to mute or distort their many fine intricacies. This full-spectrum experience translates to deeper flavors, clearer scents, and more refined effects than industrialized cannabis products.
However, that purity comes at a cost, both financially and in efficiency. Due to rosin’s purity, each step must be carefully executed to ensure it does not affect the final product. In order to make good rosin, the hashmaker must start with superior starting material, either in the form of high-quality buds or separated trichomes (such as ice water hash, or sift). Any imperfections in the base ingredients will be directly evident in the final product. Hydrocarbon-produced concentrates, by contrast, are able to overcome imperfections of moderate or poor starting material in some of the intermediate stages of refinement using chemical processing techniques. Very expensive live resin may in fact come from some less-than-desirable starting material, or even moldy flower, while high-quality rosin scientifically cannot.
Similarly, each step of the rosin-making process must hit the same high standards in order to reach the final goal. A bad pressing, either too hot, too hard or too long, will ruin all that superior starting material in an instant. What works for the particular density, humidity, terpene and lipid content of one batch of bud or hash is not guaranteed to work for the next. A master hashmaker will have to learn to estimate these parameters through extensive trial and error.
What Makes Quality Solventless Hash
Understanding the finery that goes into the rosin production process is of little use without knowing how to appreciate the good product that comes out of it. High-quality rosin is valued for the depth and complexity of its tasting notes, smoothness and effects.
For example, say you are smoking rosin and bud from the same exact harvest. How might the experience differ? For our purposes, we’ll use a popular, flavorful strain like Strawberry Cough.
When smoked as flower, you will of course get some of the terpenes and flavor of the bud, but you’ll also be getting a lot more. There is the taste and effect of the burning carbon plant matter you’re inhaling, as well as the paper or wrap. The high heat of combustion will convert some of the THC to CBN, and burn off other terpenes and cannabinoids, converting some to undesirable, and potentially harmful, compounds like Benzene. You will still, of course, be able to experience some of the famous strawberry flavor, cerebral uplift and creative burst that the strain is known for.
Rosin offers a parallel, yet refined experience. In the most ideal rosin form, the carbon material will be absent or incredibly minimized, allowing the natural terpenes and flavors to come forward. The hint of strawberry might now be a bright bold note, sweet and clear above the others. You’ll also be able to taste the other flavors from terpenes present in smaller amounts that will augment the intense strawberry. Suddenly, that one flavor of the bud expands. You might start to notice how it is a bit floral, with a slight tang on the very end. Lack of carbon will also make for a smoother pull and exhale, making the overall smoking experience more enjoyable. Finally, effect, the king of desirable cannabis traits, can be experienced in its full, unadulterated form. When dabbed properly, the hit will impart the most authentic representation of the strain; no increased CBN to make you sleepy, no losing potency to converted cannabinoids. Previously suppressed or burnt terpenes will be able to showcase their entourage effects more potently as well. With the filter of excess material removed, the strain can shine in its full glory.
How close your hit resembles that “true” form of a strain’s entourage will be determined by the quality of rosin and your process in consuming it, but overall, the closer you can come, the better the smoking experience is likely to be. Even when compared to other high-end concentrates like diamonds or live resin, there is a purity and subtlety in rosin that is unmatched in the cannabis landscape. The best contrast is that hydrocarbon extracts tend to make up for a lack of complex flavor and effect by adding more terpenes and THC (such as with live resin sauce with diamonds), resulting in big, bold entourages with some very strong notes, whereas rosin removes everything that might have stood in the way, resulting in more complex and subtle entourage effects and flavors.
Essential Tools and Accessories for Consuming Solventless Products
If you’re going to invest your money into quality concentrates in the form of hash rosin, making sure you have the right tools to consume is important. While prices can range, there are some consistent components seen in both beginner and connoisseur level dabbing setups. Check out some of the most essential pieces to any consumer’s collection.
A dab rig is the most common element of your dabbing setup. It is the chambered vessel that will contain and deliver vapor from your banger to your lungs. Size-wise, a dab rig should be smaller than a traditional flower bong. This is because of the flavor-preserving components of a small chamber. With minimal expansion allowed within the chamber, vapor can be delivered in a more direct route, thus preserving integrity of the dab’s flavor and effect.
If you purchase a dab rig, be sure to use it only for concentrates. Using your dab rig solely for concentrates will keep the flavor fresh and prevent your piece from exposure to smoke and plant matter – both of which can leave lasting after tastes on your rig. When you’re consuming something as flavorful as solventless concentrates, you don’t want to squander the experience.
If you’re going to pick up a quality rig, consider grabbing a dab mat as well. A dab mat won’t directly affect the quality of your dab, but it can help protect your rig, so they are important by extension. Especially if you’ve sprung on a nice rig, having a landing pad can go a long way in correcting for small mistakes. As many bong smokers know, it only takes setting it down too hard one time to ruin a piece forever. If you’re in any way worried about slippage as well, grab a dab mat for your counter or tabletop.
Conventional Dab Rig vs. Electric
There are certainly plenty of options for choosing a dab rig. Do you want something hand-blown or mass-produced? Something made by an artist or a production company? There are several things to consider when choosing the right rig for you. When it all boils down though, as long as you choose a sturdy piece with a small-ish chamber, it doesn’t matter too much whether you have a $1000 heady rig or a nice $100 rig made by an unknown artist from your hometown. A decent glass rig and banger will definitely do the trick for most consumers.
While differences in glass rigs may not be that big of a deal, conventional vs. electric most certainly is. Popular electric dabbing rigs like the Puffco Peak are appealing for their ease of use, however, these devices do not allow for low enough temperatures for proper solventless consumption. Because of this, we always recommend using a traditional borosilicate dab rig and badger setup when consuming rosin and other dabbable hash products.
While titanium nails and other varieties (like silicon carbide) exist, the majority of consumers interested in solventless concentrates will use a quartz banger. A quartz banger is essentially a bucket for your concentrates to sit in while they vaporize. When choosing a banger for your dab rig, make sure you find something that lines up with the size and height respectively. A banger too big will make dabbing awkward, while one that’s too small will leave you pulling precious concentrates down the neck.
Like dab rigs, price can vary based on several factors. There are many great local banger options to find at every head shop, so check out your favorite spot to look around. For the best results, try to find a quartz banger that has a large surface area on the bottom. This will help evenly heat your concentrates and have smooth vaporization without “hot zones.”
Having a functional carb cap is crucial for achieving even vaporization. Capping your banger and restricting airflow creates convection heating within your banger and a consistent experience. Combine that with modern innovation like bubble caps and spinner caps and you can have your puddles spinning evenly across the entire surface area of your banger.
“Terp spinning” solventless concentrates brings out the complete flavor profile of a dab and makes sure that every particle of your extract is heated evenly and effectively. While not essential, there are many affordable spin caps out there and are certainly worth the investment for increased flavor and fidelity of your dabs.
There are many different types of butane torches available for purchase, but finding the best torch for dabbing is important for consistent heating. Unless you’re going to be using an e-nail or a terpmometer, you’ll want to make sure you find a reliable torch that works with your heating and cooling times. Brands like Blazer and Vector are atop the list, but other more affordable options are out there as well.
Dabs are both sticky and meant to be touched to hot surfaces, so your fingers are not an ideal tool to handle them in any way. To handle your rosin dabs, you’ll want to use a dab tool. The material used will affect how it transfers heat, so you’ll want to be aware if you tend towards hotter dabs.
Glass tends to result in the most burnt fingers and is the most delicate, but it's also the easiest to clean, and the purest, if one were worried about using metals. Both stainless steel and titanium are excellent durable options, and their specialized tips will make handling your rosin much easier. Though if you’re opting for Titanium, be sure to get medical grade (also known as “grade 2”). Damascus is typically the most expensive and “heady” of the offerings, often with fancy handles and the like. While Damascus is extraordinarily durable, it is largely prized for the water-like designs on the blades that give it that extra flair of swagger.
Another key factor when selecting a dab tool is shape. You’ll want to choose a tool that matches the type of rosin you enjoy to minimize frustration and get the most utility. For example, if you enjoy shatter-like coin rosin, a flat tip to help break it apart is useful. Or if saucy rosin is your preference, something with a spoon-shape.
Alternately it can be a good idea to have a kit with multiple dab tools in it if you enjoy a wide variety of rosin types. Most importantly, however, is that you’ll want to keep your dab tool clean. Any bits of fabric or residue (looking at you, pesky pet hairs) that get stuck to it can wind up in your dab and ruin your hit, thus wasting rosin. A quick blast with your torch and a wipe with a paper towel will usually do the trick, but might require extra cleaning with ISO for heavy buildup. Be sure to let it cool before using it on more rosin.
Investing in a Rosin Press and Solventless Equipment
Many consumers who start dabbing solventless concentrates find it difficult to go back to hydrocarbon products as their daily consumption method. As a result, these newly turned hash connoisseurs often look for solutions to press rosin at home. We get asked a lot whether or not it’s worth the investment to purchase a proper rosin setup. For anyone interested in making rosin or other solventless products at home, it’s important to know that there are many cheap products available that should most certainly be avoided.
If you’re serious about making rosin, going with the products that commercial producers choose is the best choice. PurePressure rosin presses are at the forefront of innovation and, as mentioned above, their team of experts is full of cannabis industry experience. From manual presses to fully automated units, PurePressure allows you to precisely apply several tons of force dialed in down to the pound.
Click here if you’re interested in purchasing a rosin press for at home solventless extraction.
Beyond having a quality rosin press, if you want to make top shelf rosin you’ll need supporting equipment like parchment paper, micron pouches, hash washers, bubble bags, freeze dryers and more. Collecting all this equipment can be a hassle if you don’t have the know-how. Luckily, PurePressure is a one-stop shop for solventless production from washing to pressing and offer plenty of accessory bundles to make sure you have everything you need.
How to Consume Solventless Concentrates
So you’ve obtained some rosin, a decent dab rig, the necessary tools, and you’re ready to get to dabbing. Let’s take a look at the actual process.
Preparing Your Dab Rig
You’ll want to start out on a sturdy, flat surface like a tabletop or counter. Set out your rig and torch, with the needed accessories within reach. Make sure that the banger is well fit to the stem of your rig, and that both are clean. It’s a good idea to check and make sure that your torch is topped off with butane, and that you have some extra paper towels around for any unexpected additional cleanup. Fill the rig with water, being careful not to overfill (for most rigs, the chamber will be about 1/5th-1/6th full, but this will vary depending on your rig).
A good way to test if your rig is filled to the right amount is to give it a dry pull and see.
Ideally, the water should be high enough to cover the downstem and produce percolation when drawn from, but not high enough that it splashes up to your mouth or the banger when inhaled. Try to make your test pull about the same strength as your normal inhalation (if you’re prone to big, fast, lung-filled rips, make sure to test it that way but be sure to test with a carb cap on to adjust for airflow). If any water does reach your banger or nail when testing, be sure to wipe it clean before heating. Impurities in the water can damage it when heated.
The Importance of a Clean Rig
Before dabbing, you’ll want to make sure that your rig is clean, with fresh water in it. Any residue, be it in burnt carbon buildup, reclaim concentrate or old water can noticeably affect the taste of the rosin due to rosin’s delicate and pure flavor.
Similarly, any strong flavors lingering on your palette from food can also interfere. Be sure to go in with a clean slate and let your rosin shine.
Heating Your Banger
When dabbing concentrates in general, there are two main methodologies, each with unique pros and cons: cold start vs. hot start.
Cold Start Dabbing
Cold start dabbing, as the name implies, begins with the concentrate being placed in an unheated, “cold,” banger. The banger is then heated with the concentrate in it. When the concentrate reaches boiling point (or to whatever desired temperature), the banger is carb capped, and the consumer takes the hit as normal, with a smooth even inhale. Unlike bongs, there is no slide to move; the banger should not be touched.
The cold start method is a relatively newer trend in dabbing, which rose in popularity alongside low-temperature dabbing. As dabbers realized that lower temperatures could provide more flavorful, broad-spectrum hits, they began to wonder just how necessary the heating process is, eventually leading to cold start dabbing. Cold start dabbing has a handful of benefits over traditional dabbing, such as requiring far less time and butane to heat the banger. Using the boiling point of the concentrate (the temperature it begins to vaporize at) as a visual cue can be much easier than the timing and guesswork of the hot start method in achieving successful low-temp dabs.
The tradeoff is that using a cold start will not provide the sustained heat point that hot start dabbing does, and thus, it is better suited for smaller dabs in order to minimize wasted concentrate that might not vaporize as the temperature quickly recedes. For larger dabs done with a cold start, you’ll need to estimate the right amount of added temperature to sustain the correct heat point for a duration long enough to vaporize the whole dab, while still keeping it low enough to not burn it. This removes some of the cold start’s benefits of being fast, easy and accurate, however it is still possible to achieve with a little practice.
Cold start dabbing for rosin can be a mixed bag. As mentioned, it works best for small dabs, allowing you to take a good inhale right at your lowest preferred temperature point. However, the delicacy of rosin means that it can be pretty easy to over-torch if you’re not accustomed to the method.
Hot Start Dabbing
Traditional dabbing utilizes a hot start method, where the heating element (usually a quartz banger or titanium nail) is heated far beyond the desired temperature (typically to red-hot), then let to cool until it enters the desired range. When the temperature is right (typically determined using a timer, but can also be done with a laser thermometer), the dab is added, capped, and ready to be inhaled. As described above in cold start dabbing, be sure not to touch the banger while hot, and there is no need to slide or move anything (beyond your carb caps, covered elsewhere in the guide). Without a laser thermometer, deciding the ideal temperature point will take a little trial and error for newer dabbers, or when using a new rig/banger, but once you find a good range, it’s easy to dial in from there.
Hot start dabbing has been around essentially since the start of dabbing. For those consumers that remember (or are still in) the dreaded “knife hit” days, that is essentially the start of hot start dabbing. The method was advanced by the early dome- and- “skillet” setups that allowed for a plate to be heated with a torch. The vaporized concentrates placed onto it were then funneled into a glass hood and into a rig for inhalation. This gave way to titanium nails, which still required a dome, and eventually “domeless” nails that funneled the smoke via design.
Quartz bangers came about as dabbing began to carve out its own popularity and following as an independent niche of cannabis instead of being simply a rare complement to traditional smoking and edibles. Quartz is not only far more affordable than titanium, it is both cleaner and easier to keep clean. With the addition of carb-capping, modern dabbing can allow for sustained, large dabs at optimal temperature ranges.
Though hot start dabbing today has become a refined method, without expensive tools, it is difficult to achieve perfect accuracy. Even with a timer, the consumer must act quickly to get the dab onto the banger while it is within the desired temperature range. The rate at which a banger heats and cools will be determined by its thickness, and that will vary between pieces. Using a hot start has the inverse problem of a cold start, if the dab is taken too early, you’re likely to wind up with a hot, harsh, and bland, or possibly even burnt hit. If it is taken too late, it will not vaporize properly and also be wasted, or at least diminished.
Again, in reference to rosin, there are pros and cons. For pros, hot start dabbing allows for potentially bigger rosin dabs, that you can sip from as the banger cools. Once you have your desirable range figured out, hot start dabbing can be precise to a reliable level. As mentioned, there’s the risk of burning away the delicate THC and terpenes if the dab is taken too hot, however, with a timer you’ll always have a relatively good feel for that limit, making it easier to avoid, and ideal for rosin. A quartz insert can help to further mitigate any heat damage, and can provide some lengthy hits without burning your rosin.
Best Temperature for Dabbing Solventless Concentrates
Like anything in life, the exact temperature for dabbing hash rosin is pretty subjective. Some like a little more clouds and vapor, while others prefer fewer clouds in favor of more flavor. For dabbing temperature, the general rule of thumb is to keep things under 550 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid exposure to potential toxicants. But with solventless concentrates, taking low-temperature dabs is highly recommended.
Proper temperature is one of the most important aspects of dabbing solventless concentrates. Simply put, if you take a dab that's too hot, you'll burn your hash and experience a harsh, flavorless hit. Be sure to pay extra attention to the heat of your banger when dabbing rosin or full-melt. Some refinement is necessary, especially when you are using a new banger, but with proper diligence it can be fairly easy to achieve consistent dabs.
Low-temp dabbing is especially important with solventless concentrates because trichomes and essential plant oils have been meticulously collected to preserve the overall plant essence. Consuming at high temperatures not only degrades the potency and flavor but also is disrespectful to the amount of care and delicacy placed into production.
A proper low-temperature hash rosin dab should be taken between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. For more clouds and less flavor, stay near 400℉. For enhanced flavor, try sticking close to 350℉
Further exemplifying the need for low-temp dabbing, many terpenes begin to boil off at temperatures above 350℉. Going any higher in temperature lowers your chances of feeling the positive benefits of the entourage effect and will almost certainly burn off other important compounds adding to the full-spectrum concentrate experience.
Dabbing Full-Melt Hash vs. Rosin
Dabbing full-melt hash can be a little different than rosin. In this case, full-melt often needs less heat to produce optimal vapor and flavor. Full-melt should always be taken at low temperatures to avoid wasting flavor. Plus, lower quality bubble hash will combust at high temperatures and degrade your banger. Take a quick look below at the difference in temperature for optimal dabbing of both full-melt and rosin:
Proper Temperatures For Dabbing Solventless Concentrates:
- Rosin: 350-400℉
- Full-Melt: 300-350℉
Because of the unique nature of solventless concentrates, every strain behaves uniquely. Some strains might dab best at even lower temperatures than listed, while some you might find need a little extra heat. Remember, dabbing temperature is subjective. Just make sure you aren’t burning your concentrate, then dial in the temperature to fit your desired balance between clouds and flavor.
Taking Your Dab (Application, Inhaling, Carb Capping, Reheating)
It may seem basic, but there’s more to taking a dab than just putting your lips on the mouthpiece of your rig and inhaling. Vaporization relies highly on proper airflow, as does the convection heating of your concentrate within a quartz banger. Without enough airflow, your concentrate can burn off on the surface of your banger. This is why it’s important to take your dab at the right temperature and use carb capping techniques while you inhale. The best way to do this is with a spin cap.
If you’re using a spin cap, the strength of your inhale will directly influence how fast your puddle spins around on the surface of your banger. Adding a terp pearl can help exemplify this effect. The main goal is to create movement in your melted concentrate while it is being heated by the banger. The more it can move around and spread out, the better flavor and vaporization you will experience.
Once your dab concludes giving off vapor you may try to reheat your puddle if you feel it wasn’t fully vaporized in the first try. Be careful though, reheating your dab can be tricky and does not allow for much temperature control. If you are considering a reheat, simply apply heat from your torch for 1-2 seconds to the bottom of your banger and then re-cap. Burning your concentrate is very possible here so only reheat in instances where you feel the dab has been wasted through inefficient initial heating.
The purity of rosin causes any undesirable element, even minute, to me more noticeable. Thus, proper rosin dabbing includes keeping your rig and banger as clean as possible. In order to do so, you’ll want to remove waste residue after each dab is finished. Currently, the most effective way is using a cotton swab, or Q-Tip.
How to Properly Q-Tip
It is best to clean your banger while it is still warm, so that the leftover residue is still liquid and will be easily absorbed into the swab with some soft wipes. If the banger is let to cool, you’ll notice the residue congeal, and your Q-tip will become a sticky cotton mess that you’ll then more extensively clean with ISO to break up the reclaim and grab the bits of stuck cotton.
While the banger is still cooling (but not scalding hot) gently use the Q-tip head to sop up the leftover waste product, being sure to get all the corners. A good cleanup will likely take 2-4 passes with clean Q-tips. There will generally still be a minor amount of residue left. At this step, some choose to burn off the residue while heating up their next dab. The miniscule amounts that are there are likely to burn off pretty clean, unlike blasting through a puddle of reclaim.
Q-Tipping with ISO
For true purists, in order to get that last bit, dabbers often turn to our old friend isopropyl alcohol (commonly referred to as ISO). After the initial cleanup, a Q-tip is dipped in ISO and run around the banger to break up and absorb any remaining residue, and then a final Q-tip or two is used to soak up the remaining ISO and any stray residue. While it can be a little more involved than just dabbing and going back to it, you’ll notice how much Q-tipping and ISO help to keep your piece clean, and your rosin tasty.
One way to keep your piece clean, while also getting the most out of your rosin, is to use a quartz insert. These small bucket accessories create a dabbing experience that is somewhere in between the hot and cold start, allowing for sustained hits with less risk of burning your dab (and thus, very ideal for your valuable solventless concentrates).
Quartz inserts also make cleanup easier and faster, while requiring less resources (far fewer Q-tips). The idea behind the insert is to more evenly distribute the heat from your banger onto the dab.
To use a quartz insert, first examine the piece and make sure that it is clean. Load it with your desired dab and set it aside, then heat the banger as normal with your torch. When the banger reaches your desired temperature, place the insert into the banger, being careful not to touch the hot sides (using tweezers is highly recommended). Cap it with a carb cap, and proceed as you would with a normal hot start dab. As mentioned previously in this guide, an insert will help you get the most out of your rosin by helping it to stay at the proper temperature for longer, and reduce overheating.
Terp pearls are small glass orbs or cylinders added to the banger that help stir the dab, and create more surface area for the dab to vaporize from, thus getting a more even distribution and flow from your hit. Much like a quartz insert, these can help you get more from your rosin dabs, while also increasing the quality. An analogue in whiskey might be whiskey stones, or specialized ice preparations. You’re not going to ruin your good rosin without them, but they can certainly help it shine to its fullest abilities.
Terp Pearl and Quartz Insert Clean-up
Once your dab is finished, there are a few small differences in cleaning up when using these accessories. Prepare a small dunk tank of ISO (a little Tupperware container tends to the do trick) and set it aside. Then, carefully q-tip the excess residue from the insert. Next, use a pair of tweezers to remove the insert or pearl and put it into the ISO dunk. Take caution and be aware, both the banger and the insert/pearl are likely to still be hot from the dab (and ideally should be, so that the reclaim does not congeal). Placing the hot object into the ISO dunk might also sizzle a little, depending on how hot you took the dab, so place it in the ISO slowly. Let the item soak for a second or two, then place it on a paper towel to evaporate off most of the ISO. Finally you’ll want to use the paper towel or some Q-tips to remove any excess ISO or lingering bits. Your insert or pearl should be fully clean and dry before using it again for another hit.
The Importance of Properly Consuming Rosin and Solventless Concentrates
Now that we’ve gone through how to consume hash rosin properly, it’s important to consider the why. Why go through all the extra effort to take a dab? There are many critics in the world of dabbing, and some people believe in speed and efficiency when it comes to their consumption habits. The fact is when it comes down to the science of vaporizing solventless concentrates, attention to detail is worth the extra effort.
Don’t Waste Your Concentrate, Enjoy It
In the grand scheme of things, solventless concentrate production is an art form. From the careful cultivation and farming of resin to the precisely executed washes and presses, a gram of rosin goes through a lot to make it to dispensary shelves. Taking the time and effort to properly dab solventless concentrates is not only a nod of respect to those who crafted it but also the only way to experience those products as they were intended to be consumed.
For example, dabbing rosin at higher temperatures than recommended can burn off your terpenes and other essential compounds found in full-spectrum concentrates – like THC, CBD and more. At that point, you’re basically burning money (not to mention the potential health dangers of high-temp dabbing). Simply put, artisan quality hash needs an artisan consumption experience.
Do Connoisseur Parts & Accessories Make a Difference?
As we’ve stated many times above, the devil is indeed in the details when it comes to consuming hash rosin. However, that doesn’t mean a quality dab cannot be obtained without the best gear. The many different accessories and parts discussed above can indeed improve the overall experience, but all you really need is the essentials.
For anyone who doesn’t want to invest in a dabbing setup, buying solventless rosin cartridges is the easiest, most affordable option.
If you are looking for guidance on upping your setup, here are a few quick tips regarding more high-end accessory offerings.
Tips for High-End Dabbing Accessories:
- Specialty Bangers: There are many brand name bangers on the market with varying price tags and designs. Some common brands are Quave, Toro, DCS and Evan Shore. Bangers can come in different shapes and sizes, so be sure to match the right size to your rig. A banger with a deep chamber will allow for larger dabs, with minimal spill into the neck and joint area. Additionally, keep an eye out for the thickness of the quarts. Specifically, take a look at the bottom of the banger, as that is where your concentrate will be vaporized. If the surface area of the bottom does not offer proper heat retention, you could be vulnerable to inconsistent heating and cooling times.
- Terp Pearls: Terp pearls are a great addition to any dabbing setup and are pretty affordable. Look for U.S.A made terp pearls from reputable manufacturers and pick a design you like – you really can’t go wrong!
- Spinner Caps: Using a spin cap can help evenly vaporize your concentrate across the bottom of your banger. Spin caps can range in price with some going for hundreds of dollars. The good news is that many head shops carry locally blown spinner and bubble caps that are made from quality glass components. If you want to add some action to your puddles go pick one up!
- Laser Thermometer: Using a thermometer offers enhanced precision and the assurance of knowing the exact temperature you are vaporizing your concentrates at. There’s nothing wrong with the tried and true phone timer if you have your heating and cooling times dialed in though. The most important thing is that you make sure you consume at the right temperature.
At the end of the day, the only real barrier to entry for solventless concentrate dabbing is having a rig, banger and torch. From there, the more refined your setup can be is great, but it’s not a deal breaker for obtaining delicious dabs consistently as long as you know how to properly consume.
Getting the Most out of Solventless Hash
There is a common deflating experience described among aficionados of fine wine, and that is watching an amateur consumer drop a giant ice cube in an expensive glass of white wine. The sadness doesn’t come from someone else enjoying a glass of wine in a way they themselves would not enjoy, but instead from remembering an earlier version of themselves, who would have done the same, and missed out on all the exquisite complexity the wine offered.
However, all those sommeliers might be wrong. That person might have tried that expensive wine before and come away thinking they preferred it watered down. There’s no amount of explanation that is going to change the way they prefer it on their taste buds.
The difference is knowledge. Knowing what you like, and how you most prefer to consume it will help you determine if you want to spring for that expensive bottle, or buy three of something you enjoy just as much at a better price. Understanding more about rosin can help you know you’re getting the most out of your rosin for your preferred experience.
Matching Purchases to Personal Taste
To enjoy rosin to the fullest, think about what you’d like to get out of it. Is effect the most important aspect? Is it flavor? Or are neither of those a priority, so long as you’re consuming something free of chemicals? The level of energy that you want to devote to your rosin consumption is up to you, and will play a factor in determining how much “value” you get out of your purchase. Thinking about what you want to get out of rosin can help you determine how much you want to put in.
Another aspect to consider is the different flavor profiles available through hash rosin. While the varieties can be vast, narrowing down your preferences to a few overarching themes can be helpful – especially if a dispensary has strains you’ve never heard of before.
For example, many people have a preference of fruity vs. gas profile. Also commonly referred to as OG or Skunk, a gassy flavor profile will offer a robust musk and almost rotten sensation on the palette. True to their names, fruity strains will have lighter, sweeter flavor profiles and a candy-esque finish when exhaled.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Gas, skunk and OG are all very different smells, as are “Fruity” cultivars that offer flavors like Lemon, Cherry and Grape. However, by grouping them into two main categories like “Gas” and “Fruity,” you can better determine which strains you might enjoy. So, next time you’re at the dispensary and not sure what to buy, try asking the budtender a broad category, like “I’m looking for solventless hash and really like fruity strains, what do you have in stock?” Doing so can help make a difficult decision easier and help make sure you enjoy the products you buy.
How to Store Solventless Concentrates
When you do find your right rosin product, be sure to store it properly. Many rosin preparations are best refrigerated to lock in as much of the terpene content as possible. Others, like rosin carts or rosin lava are more stable at room temperature.
As a general rule, refrigeration is a good bet, unless you’re specifically aware that a certain product is okay without it. For all rosin, you’ll want to minimize heat and light exposure, as these things will degrade the cannabinoids and terpenes. If you’re unsure about the proper storage for the type of rosin you’re purchasing, ask the budtender for some input!
How to Expand Your Solventless Experience
It can be amazing how different one rosin product can be from another. From first-press to second-press, shatter to batter, each will exhibit their flavors and qualities in different ways. It can take some time to find what you like, and even when you find what you like, there’s little reason to stop exploring.
With any craft good, part of the experience is the discovery. It may require waiting for drops, sales or happy hours to grab a high-priced item, or letting yourself explore the bargain bin once in a while to really see the larger picture of what rosin has to offer. It can help to take notes, or keep a journal of your experiences.
Pairings with Food
Cannabis’ complex flavors and scents rival that of fine wine or whiskey; there seems to be an infinite depth to explore. And just like wine and whiskey, rosin can pair extremely well with food, often far better than other forms of cannabis due to its more pronounced flavor. From an array of fruits both domestic and exotic to things like honey, fresh grass and garlic, rosin notes are as varied and distinct as the foods they evoke. Regardless if it’s dabbed or eaten, there are a million ways to match your rosin to an exquisite meal, so get inventive! Doesn’t matter if it’s a nice cheese plate with fresh fruit, a savory steak, or the sherbet for desert, there’s a rosin out there that will go well with any, with each enriching the other.
Spending More on Rosin? Consider a Higher End Dabbing Setup
Once you’ve fully decided to delve into the rosin landscape, we recommend getting a proper setup. That doesn’t have to mean the most expensive, but you should aim for something decent that can handle a variety of rosin preparations.
Think of it this way: you can enjoy champagne out of a standard glass, but a paper cup won’t do it justice. While the upper limits are yours to decide, if you’re going to be spending the money on expensive rosin, it is worthwhile to spend a little on something to enjoy it with.
Final Thoughts on Hash Rosin Consumption
Rosin and other solventless preparations are clearly the future of cannabis concentrates. As more and more consumers continue to dip their toes into the solventless world of dabbing, keep an eye out on the price of premium products. As we're already experiencing, the demand for rosin products has created a shift in the market. Prices have been coming down gradually over the last few years and now rosin rivals the price point of top tier live resin when it was top dog back in 2015.
With proper attention and care, dabbing rosin and full-melt hash can provide a robust, full-spectrum experience that is currently unrivaled in flavor and effect.
Following the steps laid out in this guide will show you how to dab like a pro in no time. As you refine your consumption technique, take notice of how your daily routine migrates to an advanced level. Soon enough, you'll fit right in with the growing hash community.
Remember, don't get discouraged at first. As you can see, there are a lot of different factors that go into achieving a perfect dab of hash rosin. Repetition is key and, over time, everything will start to become easier and less complex. From everyone at PotGuide and PurePressure -- happy dabbing!View Other Info On Concentrates