Sometimes called a wax press, a rosin press is a tool that uses two heated metal plates to press cannabis flower with enough force to cause the cannabinoids and terpenes to ooze out of the trichomes in an oily, resinous form called rosin. Touted as a way for anyone to produce solventless extracts, a rosin press allows you to go from nug to dab fairly quickly since it's a cannabis-in, concentrate-out machine. Commercial producers may also use kief or hash as rosin press inputs. It's said that flower generally produces more flavorful rosin and kief or hash rosin is more potent.

rosin Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

More about rosin presses

Components of a rosin press include pressure or smash plates, which heat up and apply firm, even pressure to the input material, and a means of creating the pressure. Homemade presses made from hair straighteners might use clamps or just manual squeezing for pressure while commercial models use hand cranks, levers, and pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders.

To contain the plant material, and keep it out of the final product, commercially available presses use rosin bags or small mesh bags. The bags come in sizes that match the pressure plates and the amount of input material — 3 gram or 7 gram, for example. The bag can rest directly on the bottom plate or on a piece of parchment paper that hangs over to catch the oozing rosin. Homemade presses can also use rosin or mesh bags though some DIYers press their flower, kief, or hash directly on parchment paper and just scrape off the resulting rosin rather than use a bag. 

Bottom line: Rosin presses range in size from small, handheld models for home users to big commercial rigs used to produce the rosin carried at your favorite dispensary. Rosin can also be the starting point for making concentrates in a variety of consistencies, including shiny shatter, gloopy budder, and oily sauce

rosin press Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Should you buy a rosin press?

If you like rosin and other concentrates, you may be wondering if you should go to the next step and buy your own rosin press. You could make a press, if you're mechanically inclined but beware of the hazards. Aside from the potential for injury and machine failure, 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 and there are scads of posts online about how to do that with hair straighteners, heat plate kits, and other items. 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 solvent-less important? If 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 access to 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.
rosin Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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 a translucent, golden-green resin. 

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 the 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. 

Frequently asked questions

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. 

rosin press with hair straightener Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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. 

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on April 26, 2021.