If you're unfamiliar with the rosin making process, get ready for a cannabis DIY experience that could change your consumption life forever. Rosin is a concentrate made by exposing cannabis to heat and pressure in order to force out the terpenes and cannabinoids found in the plant's trichome glands. Rosin can be made out of flower, dry sift (kief), or subpar hash with a few tools you likely have around the house.
Since rosin is created without the use of solvents, which can alter the flavor and resulting product, it's preferred by consumers who don't want any chance of having residual, man-made chemicals in their concentrates.
This extraction technique has been used by other industries for thousands of years. Imagine squeezing the oil out of an olive or the juice from a grape. The rosin process literally presses the starting material until it produces a potent, solventless concentrate. It can even turn hash that just won't melt into a dabbable product.
Rosin technology has been around for decades, but it didn't really take off until Phil “Soilgrown” Salazar (@soilgrown_solventless) began sharing photos of his rosin experiments on social media and discussing his techniques with the cannabis community. While Salazar didn't invent the process, he did play a huge role in creating the hype that has spurred many solventless enthusiasts to begin experimenting on their own.
Ready to join the fun? Before you make your first batch of rosin, you'll need a hair straightener, parchment paper, cannabis, a rosin bag (optional), heat-resistant gloves (optional, but recommended) and a dabber to collect the rosin when you're done.
A hair straightener with 2-inch plates and customizable temperature controls work best, but the process will still work with a straightener that has low, medium, and high settings. It may just take a little more trial and error.
Temperature plays a big role in determining the quality and overall yield and the ideal temperature is heavily dependent on the chemical makeup of the cannabis used. If your flower, dry sift, or hash is terpene-rich, a lower temperature is needed. This is because the terpenes squeezed out of the trichome glands during the initial press act as a natural solvent to facilitate the rosin process. With fewer terpenes to play that role, you'll need more pressure and heat to coax the cannabinoids out of the glands.
As a general rule of thumb, temperatures between 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit, or 121-149 degrees Celsius, will yield a more stable product, like shatter. Temperatures between 300-335 degrees Fahrenheit, or 149-168 degrees Celsius, tend to result in a sappier texture.
You can make rosin by pressing a cured, gently broken down nug directly between two pieces of parchment paper, or by placing dry sift or hash into a rosin screen or mesh bag and placing the bag in between the parchment paper. While typically used by more experienced rosin makers, these screens and bags are used to filter out plant particulates that can make their way into your finished product. The smaller the screen size, the more particulates it will hold back, but it will also restrict the flow of your rosin and possibly reduce your overall yield.
Choosing the correct screen size is a delicate balance should you go that route. Finer mesh screens (25-45 microns) are ideal for any form of dry sift or hash. Larger mesh screens (70-120 microns) can be used for either lightly ground nugs or trim.
We recommend using heat resistant gloves to avoid burning your fingertips, many hair straighteners come with a pair and if not they can easily be found online or at a beauty supply store. If you are using a hair straightener, you will need to use your hands to apply pressure by squeezing the tip of the flat iron. Do this at your own risk and with caution.
It's important not to overfill screens, bags, or even parchment paper with loose bud — or to apply too much pressure or heat too fast. A rosin bag that's too full could burst, screens with too much material in them can overflow, and overflowing buds can take away from the efficiency of the process. Start with low pressure and increase slowly for the best results and don't overload your bag or flatiron.
Steps for making rosin
Step 1: Break down the plant material and mold it into a small rectangle. This is done to reduce any plant particulates that may end up in your rosin. Also, make sure to use buds that are properly cured and not too wet or too dry.
Step 2: If using a rosin bag, place the plant material into the filter. We recommend nylon food-grade screens or a mesh bag. (This step is optional for flower, but necessary for hash or dry sift.)
Step 3: Set the temperature on your hair straightener or press. Our advice: Start with low temperatures and work your way up.
Step 4: Place your bag or loose flower between two pieces of parchment paper. Use only as much material that will fit under the heating element. It is important that you leave a couple of inches of extra parchment paper on all sides to catch the rosin that is produced. You don't want rosin to spill over onto the plates.
Step 5: Press the parchment paper with the preheated straightener or plates for 4 to 30 seconds. The time you need to press depends on the quality of your flower. 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.
Step 6: 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 one or two more times.
Step 7: Once you have pressed your product, use a dabber to collect the rosin.
Step 8: Package or store the rosin for later use or turn it into rosin taffy by stretching, pulling, and twisting it with the dabber until it's a taffy-like consistency.
What's 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 1 gram of flower would be 0.2 grams of rosin. Of course, a lot of factors contribute to the overall output and 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. Under imperfect conditions, that plant matter can make its way into your final product, but that doesn't mean your product is bad.
Rosin is commonly judged by a 6-star rating system used to judge all solventless concentrates. Your rosin should bubble when exposed to heat. Any plant particulates or impurities will reduce the amount of bubbling, which correlates to the star rating: 1-2 being the lowest and 6 being the highest — and the most difficult to produce. While it's true that the higher the star, the better the dab, a little plant material in your rosin isn't going to be a deal breaker.
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 do the pros press rosin?
Professional rosin manufacturers and at-home enthusiasts may opt to purchase press kits that contain hydraulic presses, heat controllers, and more in order to process larger quantities of rosin and have better control over all the parameters involved. Rosin press prices range from $300 to more than $4,000, with an array of accessories to customize your set up.
Whether you're interested in trying your hand at rosin with a hair straightener or looking to invest in a more high-tech setup, pressing rosin is a tinkerer's playground, with a plethora of temperature and pressure options to yield the heady results you seek.