Rosin is a sticky cannabis concentrate made by applying heat and pressure to plant material. It can be made with flower to produce flower rosin or from hash to produce hash rosin. A solvent-free form of concentrate, it differs from resin, which is made by passing a chemical solvent through harvested cannabis.
Cannabis can be pressed into rosin by a professional with an industrial press, or made at home with a hair straightener. The technique can also be used to turn lower-grade hash into a concentrate that can be dabbed.
History of rosin
Although there is much debate on its origin, rosin was first introduced to the cannabis community through ICMag in 2006 by forum member Compashon. It only gained notoriety in 2015 when Phil “Soilgrown” Salazar started making it and snapped pictures of it while attempting to make use of lower-quality hash.
While pressing the hash to flatten it out, Salazar noticed that resin started spewing out the side, leaving the original hash dry and unusable. Thinking that he may have stumbled upon a new technique, he placed a piece of hash between parchment paper, and pressed it against a hot dab nail. Out came the oil now known as rosin.
Salazar started using a hair straightener after experimenting with his wife's hair curler. She suggested he use the flat-iron tool, and after running out of hash, he began using buds. The oil came out the same way.
In the years since, rosin production has evolved to using screens and industrial presses to mass-produce more consistent products.
How is rosin produced?
Rosin production uses heat and pressure to burst the trichome head from cannabis and expel the oil full of terpenes and cannabinoids. Imagine it as the process of extracting juice from grapes or oil from olives, resulting in a substance similar to butane hash oil (BHO), but without the need for chemicals.
Rosin production offers a straightforward alternative to closed-loop resin extraction, which is commonly used in the production of essential oils. Closed-loop extraction is a lengthy and complex process that demands technical expertise, costly equipment, a dedicated extraction room, and the additional step of purging residual solvents using a vacuum oven before obtaining a usable concentrate. In contrast, the process of making rosin is considered safer than many other concentrates. Temperature, pressure, and the quality of the starting material will dictate the color of the rosin and consistency in the form of fresh press, badder, jam, or solventless. Finished rosin is solvent-free, can be consumed immediately, and maintains the flavor profile of any given strain with the fresh terpenes and cannabinoids intact.
Rosin production is a simple process and is accessible to most people. It can be made safely at home with minimal investment and allows home growers to make the most of their trim, a byproduct that's typically thrown away when buds are harvested.
What materials do you need to make rosin?
A variety of materials can be used to create rosin, and each can affect the quality of the final product. For example, rosin produced using flower will be different from rosin produced using kief or ice hash.
Rosin made from flower is not common in the regulated market since it tends to contain too many contaminants in the form of plant material, lipids, and waxes that diminish the overall quality and shelf-life of the product. It works for home production, but not in scale.
The plant material left behind can add a layer of burnt flavor to the overall experience — to avoid getting it in your rosin, try using a rosin screen or mesh bag.
Kief or hash
Kief and hash are loose trichomes - a byproduct of ground cannabis. Making rosin from kief adds an extra step to the preparation process through trichome removal. But removing them first ensures that no plant impurities make it into the final product. Of course, the starting material is what will dictate the quality of the rosin.
Hair straightener or rosin press
While it is possible to make rosin using just a hair straightener, some people may prefer to invest in a rosin press, a tool that uses two heated plates to press the cannabis flower with enough force to cause the cannabinoids and terpenes to ooze out of the trichomes, to enhance the process.
When it comes to producing rosin on a larger scale, manufacturers rely on robust machinery specifically designed to apply consistent pressure to larger quantities of material.
There are various types of rosin equipment and methods available, such as press kits, hydraulic presses, handheld presses, heater controllers, and more. Some of these options include features like extra-large plates, multiple plates, and the ability to apply up to 20 tons of pressure.
How to make rosin at home
Making your own rosin is easy and fairly safe.
- Hair straightener
- Parchment paper
- Cannabis product (flower, kief, or hash)
- Dabber or other tool to collect rosin
- Rosin bag (optional)
- Heat-resistant gloves (optional, but recommended)
Step 1: Gently flatten bud
It's not necessary to grind your bud. Gently flatten it a bit with your hands to make the press easier. Check to make sure the nug you've chosen will fit inside the parchment and the flat surface of the straightener. Be sure to use buds that are properly cured and not too wet or dry.
Step 2: Add bud to rosin bag
If you're using a rosin bag, place the plant material into it — nylon food-grade screens or mesh bags are recommended.
Note: This step is optional for flower, but necessary for hash or dry sift.
Step 3: Adjust press or straightener temperature
Set the temperature on your hair straightener or press. Start with low temperatures — about 170°F — and work your way up. High temps are quick but can scorch the plant material and result in dark, runny rosin.
Step 4: Place flower between parchment paper
Place your bag or loose flower between two pieces of parchment paper. Use only as much material as will fit under the heating element. Leave a couple of inches of extra parchment paper on all sides to catch the rosin. You don't want it to spill over onto the plates.
Step 5: Press until sizzling
Press the parchment paper with the preheated straightener for 4 - 30 seconds. The time you need to press depends on the quality of your flower, but release when you hear a sizzle.
Pressing firmly, with the straightener laying flat like a stapler, will generally yield better results. This may take a few attempts to perfect.
Step 6: Check oil
After removing the flower from the parchment paper, check the amount of oil procured.
Step 7: Repeat process
You can reposition the nug on a clean spot on the paper or use fresh paper to press again. Repeat until there's no more new rosin coming out of the bud.
Step 8: Collect rosin
Once you have finished pressing, use a dabber to collect the rosin.
Step 8: Store
Package or store the rosin for later use — between parchment is fine if you plan to use it soon after. You can also turn it into rosin taffy by stretching, pulling, and twisting it with the dabber until it's a taffy-like consistency.
What's considered a “good” yield?
The goal of pressing rosin is to get all the cannabinoids and terpenes out of the trichome glands. Theoretically, if your cannabis has 18% cannabinoids and 2% terpenes, the yield you'd get from pressing one gram of flower would be 0.2 grams of rosin. Of course, a lot of factors contribute to the overall output as well as the quality of your rosin.
If you don't feel like you got everything out of your first run, you can always grab new parchment paper and press the cannabis again. Increasing the temperature or pressure on your second run will ensure you get every last bit of oil out of your product.
Keep in mind that when you're pressing nugs to make rosin, you're squeezing the plant matter. That plant matter can make its way into your final product, but that doesn't mean your product is bad. Practice makes perfect, and the more you get your set-up and filtering processes down, the higher quality rosin you'll be able to produce.
How to consume rosin
Since it's a highly potent, concentrated form of cannabis, a little bit of rosin goes a long way, and there are a number of ways to consume it. You can smoke it in a three-hole pipe with a hot wand or add it to a joint mixed with flower. Another option is to use a concentrate pen or dab rig to vaporize or inhale it, as this is the most commonly used method.
Rosin is a potent substance that contains a high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes. It is advisable to begin with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage. For individuals seeking immediate relief, rosin is an effective method of consumption.
Live resin vs rosin: what's the difference?
Although the terms are similar, there's a major difference between live resin and live rosin.
Though both products start with fresh plant material — or some that have been fresh frozen — live resin is made from a chemical solvent extraction process, resulting in butane hash oil or something similar. With live rosin, the plant material is first turned into bubble hash using an ice water bath and a system of mesh bags to separate the trichomes from the plant. The resulting hash can then be pressed into live rosin, a potent, solvent-free concentrate that retains more terpenes and cannabinoids.
How much does a gram of rosin cost?
It depends on the manufacturer, retailer, legal location, and quality of the input. A recent check found prices in Los Angeles running between $40 and $90 a gram. Always shop at a licensed retailer to be sure you're getting a quality product.
Should you buy a rosin press?
If you like rosin and other concentrates, you may be wondering if you should take the step to purchase your own rosin press. While you can make a rosin press if you're mechanically inclined, the risks of potential injury and other safety hazards outweigh the benefits. Additionally, homemade presses are notoriously short-lived money pits that often wind up wasting that precious bud you carefully chose. Of course, it's ultimately up to you and your preferences, but let's look at a few things to help you decide:
- How much concentrate do you want? If you just want a gram here and there for your own consumption, and you like to experiment or DIY, a homemade press might suffice. If you grow your own weed and want to easily convert it into concentrate for your own use, a small, commercially available press might be a great option. If you want to sell or give away concentrate, get a large commercially produced pneumatic or hydraulic press and compressor to go with it.
- Is solventless important? If you're using solvent-free concentrates or knowing exactly what's in your concentrate is important to you, having your own press might be a good idea.
- Do you like to tinker and experiment or just get down to dabbing? If you grow your own or have plenty of plant material and you like to experiment with yield, flavors, and quality, you would probably enjoy having a rosin press. Different strains react differently to the amount of pressure, time, and heat used in the pressing process. It will take some time to dial in the results you want. If that kind of experimentation appeals to you, a rosin press may be a good purchase.
What makes a good rosin press?
Sure, you could just rub some cured buds together between your hands until the sticky, black trichome goo creates something you could smoke or dab. (Congrats, you just made charas.) Or you could keep your hands clean and use a bit of machinery to render glittery, trichome-coated buds into translucent, golden-green rosin.
If you decide to shop for a rosin press, keep these things in mind:
- Plate shape: Long, narrow plates provide good surface area while allowing the liquified terpenes and cannabinoids a quick escape from the pressure. Plates that are square or too big easily scorch the terpenes.
- Even heat distribution: Look for a machine that delivers even heat across the plate surfaces. Plates should be constructed of aluminum – stainless steel has poor heat distribution. Lower-quality presses that don't heat evenly lead to low-quality rosin.
- Machine power: Presses can have one of four means of providing the pressure to squeeze the plates together – manual, pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric (which can be a bit of a hybrid). Manual handheld presses are the starting point, best for pressing small amounts of bud or dry sift from the kief collector in the bottom of your grinder. Pneumatic and hydraulic presses both have their fans but the high-end professional models are mostly pneumatic since it provides more even power with less maintenance and upkeep. Finally, electric rosin presses are the newest on the market and may be best for DIYers looking to press higher quantities or boutique commercial operations. These use electricity, rather than a compressor, to operate hydraulic cylinders and they tend to be priced less than pneumatic or hydraulic presses.
- Quality/machine life: A quality machine will be designed to last years, and will be priced accordingly. Pay attention to the warranty that's included and search online for reviews.
- Customer service: Online reviews can give you an idea of a company's customer service. You can also email them a question to see if they respond and how long it takes. If you can't even find contact information, that's a bad sign.
What is the cheapest rosin press?
Some would argue that a hair straightener and clamp of some sort is the cheapest option. But for actual rosin presses you can purchase, Walmart has a handheld model for $119.99 and a bigger tabletop model for $249.00