Hash, or hashish, is a concentrate produced by pressing or rubbing together the resin glands of a cannabis plant to form brick, slab, or rolled pieces. Hashish can be chocolate brown, greenish khaki, or sandy brown in color.
More about hash
The cannabis concentrate hash is typically inhaled or smoked. Hashish can be made using a few different methods, but the essential steps include removing the resin, or trichome glands, from a cannabis plant and repeatedly compressing them to form a hardened, solid piece. It's arguably one of the oldest types of cannabis concentrates, with written texts referring to hashish dating as far back as the 12th and 13th centuries. The varying look and feel of hash is closely tied to its history and the method used to make it.
Sieved hashish, originating in the Middle East and Central Asia, is made from resin powder that's been collected from harvested and cured cannabis. Modern methods use fine mesh or silk fabrics to physically sift and separate the trichomes from the plant material. The mesh or fabrics used for sifting have varying pore sizes to help refine the trichomes. The resulting powder, or kief, is then pressed and prepared as hash bars, slabs, or bricks, which can have a flat, hard, or sometimes chalky appearance.
Hash vs. weed: what's the difference?
Both hash and weed come from the cannabis plant. Weed typically refers to the dried flowers of the plant, while hash is a concentrate derived from the resin.
What makes hash different from other cannabis concentrates?
Hash is the original concentrate. Aside from being the world's oldest cannabis concentrate, it is made of trichome glands, which house many of the beneficial compounds available in the cannabis plant. These active molecules — the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids of cannabis — work synergistically and may have positive medical effects. Terpenes have also been shown to heighten the effects of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. In a 2011 study published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, Dr. Ethan B. Russo wrote about the entourage effect of cannabinoids and terpenes. Terpenes can boost and amplify the cannabis experience, and lab studies have shown that flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Another standout quality of hash is that it's a low-tech concentrate: its production doesn't require lab-grade equipment or solvents.
Hash can also have a long shelf life. If stored properly, the dry resin powder that's collected and used to make sieved hash can last for years. The rate of degradation increases once the kief has been pressed into a slab or bar. The structure of the trichome gland, before it's pressed, acts as a natural barrier to oxygen, moisture, and other factors that can degrade potency and flavor.
How do you consume hash?
The most common way to use hash is to smoke it, either by itself or combined with flower. You may find references to eating it, but weed edibles provide much tastier options and are easier to dose.
How to smoke hash
Add it to a bowl/joint
One of the simplest ways of consuming hash is to add it to a bowl of flower in a bong, bubbler, or pipe, boosting the potency and effects.
Hash can also be incorporated into a joint and smoked. (If you're attempting this for the first time, it may be easier if you avoid using a rolling machine.) Before adding any hash, first lay out your rolling paper and add a layer of ground flower. Drier, chalkier hash can be crushed or cut up, and then sprinkled on the flower before it's rolled. Stickier, higher quality hash softens and is malleable when warmed. You can warm it up by rolling it gently in the palms of your hands. Form it into a thin serpentine shape, then place it on top of the flower. Slowly roll the joint, secure the edges, and enjoy as usual.
Hash can also be smoked on its own. “Hot knifing,” taking “knife hits” or “knife tokes” refers to a method for smoking hash where two metal knives, usually butter knives, are heated on a hot surface, like the coils of an electric range. The knives are placed on the hot surface until they are very hot or glowing a reddish color. A piece of hash is placed on the heated part of the flat knife blade.
The second knife is placed over the hash, which helps steady it and increase the burn rate, yielding more smoke. When it starts to smoke, the smoker holds the small end of a funnel-shaped instrument (such as a 2-liter soda bottle cut in half) to their mouth and places the wide end over the knives to capture as much smoke as possible while inhaling.
Smoke in a pipe
Pipes are also a convenient way to smoke hash. When smoking hash by itself in a pipe, use a screen to prevent the smoldering piece of hash from entering the pipe and accidentally being inhaled. Screens can be a mesh style of either stainless steel or titanium or a glass style that's shaped like a flower or star. Place the screen in the opening of the pipe's bowl and put a piece of hash on top. Heat it with a lighter or hemp wick until you see a steady wisp of smoke emerge. Remove the heat and inhale from the mouthpiece.
Dabbing is a popular method for consuming concentrates and extracts, and hash is no exception. Dabbing uses a particular type of water pipe called a dab rig. Using a dab tool, drop a piece of hash onto the hot nail. Once you see steady wisps of smoke emerge, place a carb cap over the nail and inhale through the mouthpiece of the dab rig.
Hash vs. charas
In the simplest definition, hash is a concentrate made from the removed trichomes of the cannabis plant. Sieved hash, specifically, uses the trichomes of dried and cured cannabis that's been collected using a sieving process, then machine- or hand-pressed to create the final product.
Charas is the name of another similar cannabis concentrate, though there are a number of fundamental differences. Charas, like sieved hash, uses the removed trichomes of the cannabis plant, but the trichomes aren't sourced from dried and cured cannabis. The trichomes are typically sourced from fresh, living cannabis plants using a method called hand-rubbing.
Hand-rubbing is a process by which a person, using both hands, gathers cannabis resin by physically rubbing the still-growing stalks of mature plants. The collector repeatedly rubs the cannabis stalks, which produce a very sticky resin that easily adheres to the hands. The collector then rubs their hand together, rolling and pressing the resin between their palms, creating a rounded, smooth, and glossy blob called charas.
The hand-rubbing method isn't as efficient as sieving. When the collectors rub the stalks, much of the resin is lost simply by falling to the ground or sticks to clothing and other parts of the plant. Hand-rubbing is also a repetitive, manual process that demands a lot of time, physical energy, and endurance. Gram for gram, sieved hash requires far less time and energy to produce.
Additionally, rubbed charas isn't as potent as sieved hash and spoils faster. The rubbing motion of the hands breaks the leaves and small stems of the cannabis plant, which mixes moisture, plant material, and other impurities into the concentrate. The introduction of contaminants affects charas' shelf life and potency, as it degrades faster than hash and can only be kept for about a month before it spoils. Hash is simpler to produce, store, and transport, making it easier to distribute across greater distances, which is why it's far more commonplace than charas.
That being said, charas holds an important role in cannabis history and remains a key element in many traditions and cultures. Rubbed charas is likely to have originated in South Asia, primarily in India and Nepal. It also has a loose association with Hinduism, specifically with the god Shiva (also spelled Siva), one of three principal Hindu deities.
In the Vedas, ancient texts dating as far back as 1500 BCE, there is a legend that Shiva brought cannabis, or ganja, from the mountains of the Himalayas. Interpretations of the Vedas also say that on one particularly hot day, Shiva came across a field of cannabis plants growing tall, which gave him plenty of comfort and protection from the scorching sun. He was said to eat some of the leaves, which revived his energy and improved his disposition. After discovering cannabis and its positive effects, he henceforth considered it his favorite food. He's sometimes referred to as the Lord of Bhang — bhang being a drink of blended milk, spices, and cannabis that's still prepared and consumed in India today.
In Hindu culture today, traditions associated with cannabis and charas continue to be practiced, although neither is currently a legal substance in India or Nepal. Mahashivratri, or Maha Shivaratri, is an annual Hindu festival celebrating Shiva that focuses on awakening from darkness to a place of peace, truth, and goodwill. The night before the start of the festival is referred to as The Night of Shiva or The Great Night of Shiva. Through the entire duration of the night, Shaivites, or Saivites — those who regard Shiva as the Supreme Being — and Hindu alike traditionally stay up to meditate, chant Vedic mantras, fast, and practice yoga. The night also holds traditions of drinking bhang and smoking charas and flower from a chillum — a straight smoking pipe made of clay, stone, or other material — in order to aid with meditation, prayer, and experiencing a heightened sense of connectedness.
Although rubbed charas and sieved hash are different, they are two of the oldest cannabis concentrates in the world that share the same essential recipe: collecting and pressing the trichomes of cannabis for consumption.
How to make hash: different traditions throughout the world
Being humankind's oldest cannabis concentrate has allowed hash to develop in various ways in different cultures. The varying methods for resin collection and hash production are directly tied to geography, climate, and local resources.
In the early 20th century, around the time of World War I, Lebanon began large-scale cannabis and hash production. Despite its prohibition since 1946, farmers continue to maintain their cannabis fields and manufacture hash for export, sometimes resulting in deadly armed conflicts with local authorities and security forces. The greatest concentration of hash farms is located in the Beqaa, or Bekaa, Valley, near the ancient city of Baalbek.
Lebanon has a climate conducive to hash production due to its mild temperatures and low humidity. Additionally, the annual rainfall is enough to support the cannabis farms without requiring costly irrigation. Lebanese blonde hash and Lebanese red hash are the two most common types produced.
Dried, cured cannabis plant material is poured into a round dish with a mesh screen bottom. The dish is shaken vigorously over a concave pan, which collects any resin powder that falls out, leaving the undesirable plant material in the dish to be discarded. The resulting resin powder is collected and sifted in three phases that will remove unwanted materials as well as help grade it for quality. The finer the resin powder, the higher its grade in quality. The grading will determine the product type it'll ultimately become. Both Lebanon and Morocco sometimes export the resin powder as kief.
Once the resin powder has been successfully sieved and graded for quality, it's stored — sometimes for years under the right conditions — until it's ready for pressing. Lebanese hash typically comes in the form of large slabs produced by filling cotton or linen bags with a particular grade of resin powder. The bags are pressed using machinery, baseball bats, heavy planks, or large sticks to pound the powder into hardened slabs.
Large-scale commercial production of hashish started in Morocco in the 1960s, though cannabis has an even longer history there. It's likely to have been introduced to the country during the Arab Conquests, which started in the seventh century and came to a close in the 15th century. Despite Morocco's long history with cannabis, it hasn't been legal to grow, sell, or consume since 1956. Starting in 2009, a political shift — credited to the leadership of King Mohammed VI and his senior adviser, Fouad Ali El Himma — has created an environment where political parties are discussing changes in cannabis policy, including the possibility of eventual legalization of cannabis cultivation, product manufacturing, and selling. Additionally, the social perception of cannabis is evolving, with negative connotations associated with cannabis gradually fading.
Sieved Moroccan Polm hash, which has a light-brown color, and Moroccan Slate hash, which ranges in color from a greenish to a sandy-brown color, are the most common types of hashish produced in Morocco. Visitors to the area may be able to acquire hand-rubbed hashish, referred to locally as “gomma” — balls of cannabis resin rubbed from the stalks of fresh plants before they're harvested. Youngsters are said to sell gomma along the roadsides to tourists and visitors.
To prepare for sieving, workers secure a large silk or nylon cloth over the top of a wide-mouthed basin. Using their hands, workers strip the buds and leaves from each branch. Some hashish makers grind the buds and leaves first, while others simply sieve the collected buds and leaves without additional shredding or grinding. The plant material is portioned out and placed on top of the fabric. A nonporous cover is placed over the plant material and secured to prevent any resin powder from being lost.
Once everything is secured, a worker takes two long sticks, one in each hand, and performs a drumming motion, making direct hits on the top of the cover. This drumming technique creates vibrations which loosen the trichomes from the plant material, causing them to fall through the pores of the cloth and collect in the bottom of the basin. The drumming cadence differs for various levels of quality. The highest-quality resin powder is sieved with quick, rapid drum beats, whereas the lowest quality resin powder receives slow drum beats.
Unlike Lebanese and Afghan methods — where cloths with varying pore sizes are used to separate and grade the resin powder — only one pore size is used in Morocco. Like Lebanon, Morocco occasionally exports unpressed resin powder as kief. Yellow resin powder has a higher value than green, which may be diluted with undesired plant material.
Hash from Morocco is typically pressed by mechanical means rather than by hand. The resin powder is secured in a heavy-duty plastic bag. While the bag is flat on a table, it is beaten repeatedly with bats or mallets. The bag is occasionally warmed by either fire or steam to help create the desired form. This technique may have been introduced to Morocco by those who brought hash from Afghanistan.
Hashish from Afghanistan is typically glossy and dark brown or black. Resin collection is a process similar to the one used in Lebanon; mesh cloths with varying pore sizes are used to sieve the resin powder and grade it for quality. Once sifted and graded, the resin powder is stored until it's ready to be used.
To produce Afghan hash, water or tea is added to loose resin powder and heated. While it's still warm, a person balls and kneads the mixture to form a small, flattened shape. It's warmed again and the process continues, with the hashish maker using the palms of both hands to fold, press, and pull the hash. Through the process, the color of the resin powder changes from a light khaki or green to a dark molasses brown. The form is placed in the center of a circular mold, similar to an oversized cookie cutter, and wrapped in heavy plastic. The hash maker uses his foot to press and evenly distribute the hashish in the mold. The plastic is heat-sealed for packaging.
Frequently asked questions
Can you eat raw hash?
Many cannabis connoisseurs who have eaten raw hash report experiencing an intense, psychotropic high that lasts for hours. The legend of Sheik Haidar seems to back up these reports, describing an experience that author Michael Aldrich proposes would most likely have come from eating hash or resin rather than plant material. For a less intense, more manageable experience, smoking hash is recommended over ingestion.
What is hash made of?
Hash is primarily made of compressed resin taken from cannabis resin glands or trichomes.
Is hash illegal?
All forms of cannabis, with the exception of industrial hemp, remain federally illegal. However, hash is largely available in states where recreational consumption is legal. Consult your state laws and regulations to see if hash is a legal form of cannabis in your area.
What's the difference between bubble hash and hash?
Both traditional and bubble hash are concentrations of the plant's resin glands. The difference between the two is in the way they are made as well as their typical consistency. Hash is made by sieving resin glands through a series of mesh screens, while bubble hash is made by separating resin glands from the plant using ice water. Hash is pressed into a slab or brick whereas bubble hash might be left in its sand-like state or rolled into balls.