With a history that spans thousands of years, hash, or hashish, is one of the many varieties of cannabis concentrates. The goal of producing concentrates is to isolate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material (like buds and leaves) to produce a liquid or solid substance that can be inhaled or ingested. Hash consists of kief, the sticky, crystal-like substance at the head of the plant’s trichomes, which are the mushroom-shaped glands on the plant’s leaves.
How is hash made?
Historically, hash was made by collecting the material that sticks to hands when cannabis flower is handled. Today it’s more typically produced by separating the kief and using pressure and heat to rupture the resin glands, which changes the composition. It’s often formed into a soft ball or brick, but it may also be sold in powdered form. It is made using a purely mechanical process, so no solvents (such as butane or propane) are used. Hash ranges in colour from golden yellow to bright green, depending on how it’s produced — the more plant material that ends up in the final product, the greener it will be.
The various production processes for hash use different temperatures and collecting methods. In the dry sift process, the cannabis is often frozen to allow the trichomes to break off more easily. The plant material is carefully brushed back and forth over a fine-mesh screen (or a series of ever smaller screens), and the trichomes fall through, to be collected underneath.
Another method involves combining the cannabis flower with dry ice, which is about five times colder than regular ice. It’s then shaken in a mesh bag, and the frosty trichomes fall into a basin below. A more complicated extraction process involves straining the material through silk screens and ice water; this produces bubble hash, which is a fine material that will melt instead of burn when a flame is applied.
How is it consumed?
Unless it’s being smoked in a joint, hash requires a specific accessory for consumption, such as a pipe, bong, concentrate-specific vaporizer or dried flower vaporizer with a concentrate attachment.
Hash generally isn’t appropriate for dabbing, but highly concentrated bubble hash, labelled “full-melt” or “six-star” (the stars refer to the quality) can be. If you are new to cannabis, dabbing is not recommended — it is a complicated process that can produce strong, immediate effects, and it may increase your risk of overconsuming and experiencing negative effects.
What are the pros and cons of hash?
When vaporized or dabbed, hash offers a smoke-free option to inhaling dried cannabis flower, which can come with potential risks associated with smoking.
Because hash is a highly concentrated product, you should consume less than you would dried cannabis flower. However, the concentration also comes with the potential for overconsumption. To minimize the risk, Health Canada recommends that you start with a very small amount, especially if you are trying a new product, and wait to see how it affects your body.
While the correct dosage for you depends on many variables, such as your weight, how much food you consumed prior to consumption and your metabolic rate, try starting with a pinch (roughly the size of a dime).
What should I consider when shopping for hash?
Like all concentrates, hash differs from other forms of cannabis in that it has the potential to contain a higher concentration of cannabinoids: up to 60% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, for example, in contrast to the potential 30% in raw cannabis. Concentrates available through the OCS that are meant to be inhaled can contain no more than 1,000 mg of THC per package.