A cannabis concentrate formed by sifting the trichomes of the cannabis plant in the presence of ice water. Ice hash, (commonly referred to as ice water hash, bubble hash, or wet sift) is typically dabbed, but can also be used to add potency to flower. Ice hash is a modern form of hash making, and just like traditional hash, can be crafted by hand or mechanically.
“What’s the difference between ice hash and bubble hash?”
“Ice hash should bubble when smoked.”
More About Ice Hash
Ice hash is a solventless concentrate made up of trichomes that are sifted through a series of screens in the presence of water and ice cubes. Ice hash is also known as bubble hash, ice wax, and water sift. These terms are used to describe different forms of ice hash, but there are only subtle differences between the four.
The central goal of making ice hash is to separate trichome glands from all other plant components. Trichomes are glandular appendages on the surface of the cannabis flower that produce and hold the plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and other molecules. The purpose of ice hash is to remove all contaminant barriers between the user and the experience that trichomes provide.
The History of Ice Hash
The techniques used to make ice hash were first popularized by seed expert and industry pioneer Skunkman (aka Sadhu Sam or David Watson) in the 1980s. After learning that resin glands sink in water, Skunkman introduced the wider cannabis market to a hashish making process of stirring whole plant cannabis or sieved resin in water. He even took out an ad in High Times Magazine in 1987, offering secret tips for water extraction at home.
Skunkman’s water-extraction methods paved the way for the first automated sieving machines In the 1990s, as well as new techniques for ice-water extraction. Around this time, Canadian cannabis entrepreneur and activist Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson entered the scene, eventually revolutionizing the hash world with the Bubble Bag extraction system.
Throughout the ’90s, Bubbleman was active in medical cannabis advocacy, cannabis macro photography, and the development of cannabis extraction and decontamination. He popularized the water extraction method with the first multi-bag filtration kit in 1999 — designing three bags that would filter glandular trichome heads for the sake of, in Bubbleman’s own words, “harm reduction, finding the best way to deliver cannabinoids, and exploring the limits of pot purity.”
How to Use
Ice hash is a fairly versatile concentrate. There are several different ways to use ice hash, though some are generally preferred over others. Different methods of use may also suit different needs. Some users may prefer a sprinkle of ice hash over their bowl for an extra potency boost, while others may prefer to dab with ice hash for the full effect.
Sprinkle on a bowl
Sprinkling hash over a bowl is one of the simplest and most reliable ways to boost a bowl’s potency. “Icing” dry flower with a sprinkling of ice hash can produce a high that’s more pronounced without being overpowering. If you’re looking for a milder, more manageable introduction to ice hash, sprinkling some on a bowl might be the method for you.
Dabbing with ice hash delivers potent effects, but it also takes a bit more effort than sprinkling over a bowl. To dab with ice hash, press your solventless concentrate inside a piece of folded parchment paper. The heat from your hand should be enough to blend the trichome glands together. Once your ice hash is pressed within the parchment paper, separate the pressed sheet into “dab-ready” sections. Remember that it’s best to store your hash in a dark, cool environment, and wait to press it when you’re ready for a dab session.
Titanium dab nails are valued for their durability and lower outgassing rates than other metals. Unlike most metals, titanium doesn’t release harmful gases when heated beyond certain temperatures. If you want to avoid the potential contaminants of metal screens or dab beds, a titanium nail will do the trick.
Handheld vaporizers with a concentrate pad option are also becoming more common as dabbing grows in popularity. Using a handheld vaporizer for ice hash may not provide the purest effect, but it’s certainly a helpful option for beginners or anyone looking for a simple, efficient method of use. If you choose to vaporize ice hash, seek out vaporizers that get hot enough to make ice hash bubble — between 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit, or 260-287.78 degrees Celsius.
When making ice hash, the goal is always to isolate the trichome glands from the cannabis plant. Any plant material that is not removed reduces the ability to bubble and therefore reduces the quality of hash.
That’s where micron sizes come in-the openings in a filter screen through which material moves are measured in microns. Using screens of varying micron sizes is how hash makers capture the trichome heads and separate them from the rest of the plant.
Trichomes range from 20-125 microns. Filter screens or bags designed to make bubble hash are made to correspond with the bags of varying micron sizes that are used to make bubble hash. If a concentrate has the micron listed on the package, this number indicates the micron size of the bag used for that particular fraction of water hash.
The larger micron sizes are used to capture the entire capillary stalked trichomes (90- 120 microns), while the smaller micron sizes (20-40 microns) are typically used to isolate the glands from the stalks. While some terpenes and cannabinoids can be found in the stalk of the trichome, the majority are found in the top gland where they are stored. Some connoisseurs see this as the purest form of ice hash and prefer the smaller micron bags to the larger microns that will remove the entire trichome but also have a higher chance of pulling in plant contaminants.
It’s also important to remember that trichomes don’t always conform to micron screen sizes. In fact, trichome sizes are cultivar-dependent. Some cultivars will produce thicker trichome heads, while others will have small heads. Plant maturity will also affect the size. However, the right combination of filter screens and micron sizes can reliably produce quality hash. Most water hash equipment consists of several filtration bags of varying micron sizes.
The Star Rating
The quality of ice hash is generally measured by how well it melts. Since measuring quality by micron sizes presents too many variables, hash makers use a star rating system to grade hash quality more accurately. While there is no universal system, the 6-star rating system is the most popular amongst hash makers.
1-2 Star: Cooking Grade Hash
Cooking grade hash is highly contaminated with plant matter. Commonly used to make edibles — hence the name — cooking grade hash is also suitable for sprinkling over bowls or in joints. It consists of both low and high microns, and it doesn’t melt well, so it shouldn’t be used for dabbing.
3-4 Star: Halfmelt
A lower-grade hash that usually only melts halfway, leaving residue and plant contaminants behind. Halfmelt is sufficient for sprinkling over bowls or in joints. It’s also well-suited for vaping. Similarly to fullmelt, halfmelt can also be heated and pressed into rosin.
5-6 Star: Fullmelt
Fullmelt ice hash is the highest grade. It completely melts into a puddle, or oil, if it’s a 6-star hash. A 4-star halfmelt hash can technically be turned into a “true fullmelt.” A fullmelt ice hash is great for dabbing, and typically produced with 70-120 micron sieves. According to Bubbleman, “A fullmelt experience will start by watching solid microencapsulated glandular trichome heads liquefy as you heat them up into a golden oil that boils and bubbles and dances around your dish or screen.”
The 1-6 star rating system is subjective, but it does provide a sufficient avenue to single out quality hash. The higher the rating, the better the bubble hash will melt. The lower the rating, the more plant contaminants the hash will have.
How to Make Ice Hash
Ice hash is one of the most potent, powerful concentrates you can make without solvents. The needed materials are minimal; a set of at least 5 bubble bags (silkscreen bags or filters of varying micron sizes), a bucket, fresh frozen or cured flower, and a large spoon or stirring tool. Fresh frozen flower is generally preferred for making ice hash, because the frozen trichome heads break off the stem and rest of the plant more easily. The ice hash-making process can be divided into the following steps:
1. Line the Bucket
The first step is to line the bucket with your micron filters or bubble bags. Start with your smallest micron filter and line with the rest of the bags in ascending size order, so your largest micron-sized bag is on top.
2. Fill the Bucket
Fill the bucket with a layer of ice, then flower, and follow this pattern to the top of the bucket. It’s usually recommended to fill your bucket with as much ice as possible. The colder your mixture, the more likely trichome heads are to freeze and break off. It’s also best practice to make sure the top layer is ice and not flower. Once all layers of ice and flower are in the bucket, fill it with water, preferably just high enough that you can still stir without spilling over.
3. Stir the Bucket
Allow the water to sit and chill, then gently stir your mix for a few minutes. The time and force used to agitate while vary depending on your starting material. Once the ice starts to melt, you can also gently increase your stirring speed. Add ice periodically to keep the water cold. The ideal ice-to-water ratio throughout your stir is about 1:1.
4. Strain and Repeat
Once your stir time is completed, lift the top bag with the plant material and strain the liquid into the bucket until only ice and flower are left in the first bag. As you repeat the strain through successive bags, observe the traits of what’s left on the screen. Depending on your needs, various micron filters offer different melt levels. Bubble bags between 73 and 90 microns are assumed to produce the finest resin. To collect the remaining concentrate, turn each bag inside out after draining.
5. Dry Your Hash
The final step is to press all excess moisture out of your hash. Drying is arguably the most important factor in ensuring the quality of your final product. Gently press the excess moisture out of your ice hash and then use a butter knife, or razor blade, to break it down into small pieces. If you do not have access to a freeze dryer, the smaller pieces will make it easier for the hash to dry out.
Spread the small pieces of ice hash over a piece of parchment paper and place in a cool and dry environment. Some hash makers choose to place the hash in the freezer and once frozen, use a microplane zester, to break the hash into smaller pieces to ensure the quick removal of all moisture.