The resulting concentrate when heat and pressure are applied to the cannabis plant. Rosin is a desirable technique because its concentration doesn't require the use of external solvents. It can also be used to turn lower-grade hash into a concentrate that can be dabbed. Cannabis can be pressed into rosin by a professional with an industrial press, or at home with a hair straightener.
Rosin is a marijuana extract that is free of chemicals and can be inhaled with a regular pipe, dab rig, or vaporizer.
I prefer my concentrates solvent-free, so I choose rosin.
More about rosin
Rosin is a solventless extract that uses heat and pressure to force the compounds within the trichome gland out of the cannabis plant, where all of the THCA, other cannabinoids, and terpenes are located. Think of it like squeezing the juice from grapes or oil from olives, with the end result being similar to butane hash oil (BHO), but without the harmful chemicals.
The rosin process serves as an alternative to a closed-loop extraction system, which outside of cannabis production, is used in making essential oils. Closed-loop extraction is time-consuming, requires technical training, a lot of expensive equipment — pumps, a tank, and a specially designed room to perform the extraction — and you won't have a solventless concentrate until you purge all the residual solvents using a vacuum oven. Even then, there may still be minor amounts leftover in solvent-based extracts. (Warning: Do not try any processes involving chemicals at home; these should be left to a professional.)
While rosin will also have a high THCA concentration and should be consumed carefully, the process of making rosin is considered safer than many other concentrates. With the temperature and pressure used during the rosin extraction tending to dictate color and consistency, rosin is available as shatter, wax, badder/batter/budder, rosin coins, and taffy.
History of rosin
Although it may have accidentally been made long ago and 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, known by @soilgrown_solventless, started making and snapping pictures of it while attempting to make use of some 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 he may have stumbled upon a new technique, he took a piece of hash, put it between parchment paper, and pressed it against a hot dab nail. Then came the oil, now known as rosin. He began using a hair straightener after experimenting with his wife's hair curler. She suggested he then use the flat-iron tool, and after running out of hash, began using buds. The oil came out the same way.
In the few years since, rosin production has evolved to using screens and an industrial press to make mass quantities and more consistent products.
Consumer preference for rosin
Why do some prefer rosin? Although it's a slight misnomer, rosin is known as a solventless technique because it doesn't use any external solvents to dissolve the trichome. However, natural hydrocarbon terpenes act as a solvent. Thus, the only “solvents” left are the natural hydrocarbon terpenes from the trichome glands.
Rosin can turn low-quality hash into a dabbable wax. It's also a very quick process compared with other extraction methods. It doesn't require time in a vacuum oven to purge out residual solvents. It can be made safely at home with minimal investment, allowing home growers to make the most of their trim, typically a byproduct that's thrown away.
Rosin input material
A variety of input materials can be used to create rosin. The input material can affect how many plant contaminants are left in the rosin, which can therefore affect the quality of rosin. Rosin from a flower is going to be different from rosin from kief or ice hash, for example.
Rosin from buds typically has some contaminants in the form of plant material that makes it through to the final product. They tend to be small pieces, but they can make a big difference to the flavor when dabbing rosin. The plant material will add a layer of burnt flavor to the overall experience. To avoid having too much plant material in your rosin, try using a rosin screen or mesh bag.
Dry sift kief or hash
Rosin from kief adds an extra step to the preparation but tends to be cleaner, as the trichomes are removed from the buds prior to exposing them to heat and pressure. This extra step ensures that no plant impurities make their way into the final product.
Bubble hash rosin
Rosin from bubble hash is a great way to make use of lower-quality hash that does not fully melt as a result of plant contaminants. While you would not want to rosin 5-star or 6-star hash, rosin is a simple way to make your non-dabbable one to two-star hash into a flavorful dab.
Fresh frozen ice hash
This process makes live rosin, which is highly sought after due to the high cannabinoid and terpene retention of the fresh frozen cannabis. Similar to live resin — butane hash oil made from frozen buds — live rosin is rosin made from frozen buds.
While flowers that were frozen directly after being harvested are considered “live,” to get to live rosin, you'll need to first make ice hash with the fresh from plant material. If the resulting ice hash concentrate falls between a one- and four-star rating, it can be placed into a bag and put through the rosin production process to create live rosin. The end result is a strong and flavorful pure concentrate.
Live resin vs rosin
Although the terms are distinguished by a single letter, there's a major difference between live rosin and live resin. While rosin is considered to be a solventless extract, live resin refers to a solvent-based extract, usually BHO, that is made with live or freshly frozen plant material. With the live resin process, a single-pass extraction is used to capture the plant's terpene and cannabinoid profile by processing the resin glands before the plant is dried and cured. For live rosin, the chemical profile of the plant variety is maintained without the use of solvents, offering a flavorful concentrate without the use of potentially hazardous chemicals.
Making rosin at home
Making your own rosin at home is incredibly easy and fairly safe, unless you're prone to burning your fingers while holding a hot iron (it happens). To make your own rosin, you'll need specific equipment and to follow a few simple steps.
In order to make rosin at home, you need to collect the following starting materials:
- A hair straightener or press, preferably with 2-inch-wide heated plates and a temperature display
- Parchment paper
- Filter bags (optional if using flower, but required if using any type of hash)
- Cannabis material (nugs, dry sift, bubble hash, etc.)
- Dabber to collect the rosin
- Heat-resistant gloves (optional, but recommended)
Next, follow these steps to make your own rosin at home.
- Break down the plant material. Buds should be properly cured and not wet or too dry.
- Place the plant material into a teabag-like filter, preferably nylon food-grade screens or a mesh bag. This is optional for flower, but required for hash.
- Set the temperature on your hair straightener or press. A lower temperature of 180-220 degrees Fahrenheit, or 82-104 degrees Celsius, will yield less rosin that tend to produce a sappy or buddery consistency. Higher temperatures of 230 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110-122 degrees Celsius, will give the highest yield with a more flavorful and stable consistency, like shatter. Start with low temperatures and work your way up.
- Place your bag or loose flower in between two pieces of parchment paper. Use only as much material that will fit under the heating element, about one-fourth the size of the parchment paper. Do not overfill! Make sure to leave a couple of inches or centimeters of extra parchment paper on all sides to catch the rosin that is produced.
- Wear optional heat-resistant gloves and press the parchment paper with the preheated straightener or plates for between four to 30 seconds. The time depends on the quality of the flower and temperature used, and pressing firmly with the straightener laying flat like a stapler will generally yield better results. This may take a few times experimenting to get the hang of it.
- After removing the flower from the parchment paper, check the amount of oil. If you've got a low yield, you may need to place the parchment back under the straightener and repeat the process once or twice more. If that doesn't do the trick, consider raising the temperature, applying more pressure, or spending a few extras seconds pressing the product.
- Once you have pressed your product, use a dabber to collect the rosin.
- Package or store the rosin for later use, or turn it into rosin taffy by stretching and pulling it, resulting in a taffylike consistency also referred to as snap-and-pull.
Although you can keep rosin production simple with a hair straightener at home, cannabis enthusiasts may want to go the extra mile. For commercial rosin production, manufacturers use a similar step-by-step process, but with more expensive equipment and a few added steps. A lot of rosin equipment and techniques exist out there, including press kits, hydraulic presses, handheld presses, heater controllers, and more. Some come with extra-large plates, multiple plates, and include up to 20 tons of pressure that are capable of applying up to 3,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure on both plates. They aren't cheap, though. Prices for rosin presses range from $300 to more than $4,000.
A little bit of rosin goes a long way. Once you've made your rosin at home, you can smoke it in a glass bowl or joint, dab it in a rig (the preferred method) or vape it in a pen made for concentrates.
Remember, this is a highly concentrated product full of cannabinoids and has a robust terpene profile. Start with a small dose and work your way up. For medical patients who need fast-acting cannabis, rosin is an easy way to fast-track the plant's healthful properties.
Aside from immediately consuming rosin, you can also use it in edibles and topical treatments.