How to Make Concentrates from Cannabis - dummies

How to Make Concentrates from Cannabis

By Kim Casey

You can create your own respectable concentrates safely and without the use of dangerous processes, expensive machinery, and toxic solvents. In this article, you discover how to make your own kief, dry ice hash, bubble hash, rosin, charas, tinctures, and butter.

How to make kief (dry sift)

Kief consists of the trichomes that cover cannabis buds. Trichomes contain most of the cannabinoids and terpenes a plant contains. Making kief is simply a matter of knocking the trichomes off the bud and collecting them. You can use one of the following methods to make kief:

  • Store your flower in a kief box or pollen sifter box. These boxes have two chambers, and the bottom of the top chamber is made of a fine mesh. You place your flower in the top chamber, and as kief naturally falls off the flower, it collects in the bottom chamber.
  • Use a three-chamber grinder to grind your flower. The top chamber grinds the flower, which falls into the second chamber. The kief that falls off the flower passes through a screen at the bottom of the second chamber and collects in the bottom chamber.
  • To collect larger quantities of kief, buy or make a large pollen sifter (shown in the following figure) and obtain a slightly smaller box or tray to collect the kief. (You can make your own pollen sifter by stapling or gluing a fine screen or mesh to a wood frame.) With the sifter positioned above the tray, gently press down on and roll dried, cured flower against the mesh or screen causing the trichomes to fall off the flower, through the mesh, and onto the tray.
pollen sifter
A homemade pollen sifter.

The finer the mesh, the lower the yield and the higher the quality of your sift because less plant matter falls through the mesh. For the mesh material, consider using silk screens used for screen printing. Also consider cranking down the temperature in your work area or breaking up and freezing your flower before you start — the cold makes the trichomes less sticky, enabling them to more easily separate from the plant matter.

You can consume kief by rolling a joint in it or sprinkling it over flower after packing your pipe or bong bowl. You can also use kief to create other products, such as hash.

How to make dry sift hash

When you have some kief, you’re ready to make your own dry sift hash. All you do is add a little heat and pressure to form it into a ball or patty. You have several options:

  • Load the kief into a pollen press or similar device and tighten the plunger.

Place a small piece of parchment paper under and over the kief to keep it from sticking to the press.

  • Ball up the kief and roll it between the palms of your hands, sort of like making meatballs but with more pressure.
  • Wrap it tightly in cellophane or parchment paper, tape it securely, and place it in a shoe below your heal. Walk around with it for a while, doing whatever you need to do.
  • Wrap your kief tightly in cellophane. Fill a glass jar or bottle with hot water, seal it tightly, and place the bottle on top of the wrapped kief and leave it for 30 to 60 seconds. Roll the bottle over the wrapped kief to press it into a patty.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the kief tightly in cellophane and then a newspaper. Wet the newspaper with hot water and place it on a baking pan and into the oven for 10 minutes (no longer than that). Using a spatula, remove your package from the oven, place it on the counter (or on a cutting board), and roll it with a rolling pin (one or two passes should do the trick).

How to make bubble hash

Bubble hash uses ice-cold water and agitation to separate the trichomes from the plant material. The easiest way to create bubble hash is to buy and use a bubble bag extraction kit, which you can find online or order from most hardware stores. The kit typically comes with a bucket and multiple bags with increasingly finer mesh screens at the bottom.

extraction kit for bubble hash
A bubble-bag extraction kit.

Here’s how you use a bubble bag extraction kit to make bubble hash:

  1. Break up your plant matter and freeze it.
    Your plant matter may be any combination of leaves, buds, trim, or shake, but the more trichomes it has, the better the yield and the quality of the end product. Cold is mandatory because it hardens the product and allows the trichomes to snap off the plant matter.

    You can use a combination of indica and sativa or a single strain. The indica trichomes have fat heads that get caught in larger screens whereas the sativa trichomes require a smaller screen to catch.

  2. Place your bags in the bucket with the finest mesh screen on the bottom followed by bags with progressively wider mesh screens, as though you’re double-bagging your groceries.
    For example, you might have a 25 micron bag at the bottom that collects the trichomes followed by a 73-, 160-, and finally a 220-micron bag at the top. After placing each bag, fold its top over the bucket to secure it in place.
  3. Fill the bucket about one-third full of ice.
  4. Add your frozen plant matter until the bucket is about half full.
  5. Add cold water, as cold as possible, until the bucket is about three-fourths full.
  6. Mix the ice, water, plant solution thoroughly and vigorously.
    You can use a paint mixer attached to an electric drill to ensure a thorough mixing. Mix until all flower is broken into tiny pieces and the solution appears frothy at the top.
  7. Let the solution rest for 30 minutes to enable extraction.
  8. Slowly lift the topmost bag out of the bucket, allowing the fluid to drain into the next bag down. When nearly all the water has drained from the bag, squeeze it tight to remove as much liquid as possible, and then set the bag aside.
  9. Repeat Step 8 with subsequent bags.
    The last bag contains your trichomes.
  10. Using a spoon or plastic kitchen scraper, scoop out the mushy trichome product from all bags except the first one you removed (the bag with most of the plant material), and place it on a tray lined with paper towel.
    All bags except the first one you removed contain usable product, but you may want to keep the product from each bag separate, because product quality from the different bags varies — product from the smallest mesh bag is highest.
  11. (Optional) Repeat Steps 2–10 if you want to extract additional trichomes from the plant matter.
  12. Place the tray with the mushy trichome product in a cool, dry, dark place to dry.
    The dried material can be pressed into cakes with your hands or used loose.

To avoid the added expense of a bubble bag extraction kit, you can use two clean buckets and rig your progression of finer mesh screens. You can even use a coffee filter as your smallest “screen,” although it may drain very slowly. If you go this route, you still need to fill your bucket with ice, plant matter, and cold water and agitate it vigorously. Then, you pour from one bucket, into the other, through progressively finer mesh screens.

How to make dry ice hash

Dry ice provides a quick and easy way to collect kief. Here’s what you need:

  • Cannabis plant matter (fresh frozen or dried flower and trim) — amount can vary, but you don’t want much more than will fill a five-gallon bucket more than a third of the way.
  • Dry ice (about three pounds for up to six ounces of plant matter). You may be able to purchase dry ice at your local supermarket or use your smart phone to search for “dry ice near me.”
  • An ice pick, hammer, or screw driver to break up the ice.
  • A five-gallon bucket.
  • Three bubble hash bags (73-, 160-, and 220-microns) or similar devices for sifting the kief. Use bags made for a five-gallon bucket. (You can use one 220-micron bag, if you don’t mind having different grades of kief all mixed together.)
  • Thick rubber or leather gloves, an oven mitt, or tongs (for handling the dry ice).
  • A clean, dry, flat surface.
  • Paper and tape to cover the work surface (newspaper, wax paper, or parchment paper will do).
  • A spatula, scraper, or plastic card (such as a credit card) to remove the kief from the work surface.
  • Three one quart storage containers for the kief.

Use thick rubber or leather gloves, an oven mitt, or tongs when handling the dry ice. Never allow it to touch your bare skin — it can cause injury similar to a severe burn.

After gathering your supplies and plant matter, take the following steps:

  1. Cover your work surface in paper and tape down the paper so it won’t move.
  2. Break up your flower and/or trim into small pieces and place it in the bucket.
  3. With your gloves on, break up the dry ice into ice-cube size pieces or somewhat larger and add it to the bucket.
  4. Shake the bucket for about five minutes to distribute the cold and start knocking the trichomes off the plant matter.
  5. Place a bubble hash bag or screen over the top of the bucket. Start with the smallest mesh bag.
  6. Turn the bucket over your work surface, allowing the contents to drop into the bag and then remove the bag from the bucket, hold the top of the bag closed, and shake the bag over the work surface.
  7. Continue shaking the bag until trichomes stop falling through the screen.

    For best results, shake the bag for 10 seconds, wait 5 seconds, shake again for 10 seconds, and repeat. This gives the ice a chance to cool the surrounding plant matter between shakes.

  8. Use your spatula, scraper, or plastic card to scrape the kief into a pile, remove it from the work surface, and place it into one of your storage containers.
  9. Over the work surface, transfer the contents of the bag into the next smaller mesh bag and repeat Steps 7–8, and then repeat this step for the final, smallest mesh bag.

You can use the kief you collected to make your own dry sift hash.

How to make rosin

You can make your own rosin for dabbing without the use of harmful and dangerous solvents. All you need is a hair straightener (with a setting of about 300 degrees Fahrenheit), parchment paper, plant matter (cannabis flower, kief, or hash), heat-resistant gloves (for safety), and something to scrap the rosin off the parchment paper when you’re done. After gathering your equipment and materials, take the following steps:

  1. Turn on your hair straightener and set it to between 280 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
    If you don’t have a degree setting on your straightener, start low and gradually increase the temperature.
  2. Cut a square piece of parchment paper that’s slightly larger than twice the width of your straightener and fold it in half.
  3. Place your plant matter near the middle of one half of the folded paper, fold the other half on top of it, and hold the two halves together to keep the plant matter from shifting.
  4. Being careful not to burn your fingers, place the folded package between the metal plates of the hair straightener.
  5. Close the straighter and squeeze as hard as possible but not so hard that you break your straightener. Squeeze for three to five seconds and release.
    You may hear a sizzle indicating that the resin has been extracted.
  6. (Optional) Repeat steps 2–5 using the same plant matter to extract any remaining rosin.
  7. Scrape the rosin off the paper and use it immediately to dab, or place it in an air-tight storage container for later use.

How to make charas

Charas is similar to hash and is thought to have originated in certain parts of Asia. The difference between charas and hash is that hash is typically made from dry, cured flower, whereas charas is made from fresh cannabis typically harvested two to three weeks prior to fully mature flower.

All you need to make charas are fresh cannabis and clean hands. To make charas, follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with an organic, unscented soap, and dry them.
  2. Slowly and gently rub flower between the palms of your hands.
    The heat and friction loosen the trichomes and make them stickier, so they come off the flower and stick to your hands.
  3. When your hands are good and sticky and you’ve removed most of the trichomes, rub your hands together to create a stick or ball of trichomes.
    This is charas.
  4. Repeat steps 2–3 until you run out of flower or have all the charas you want.

You can vape charas with a dab rig, add it to a joint or bowl, mix it with tobacco and smoke it in a hookah, or use it to create rosin. The traditional way to smoke it is with a chillum, which is like a one-hitter but requires two people. You make a loose fist with one hand and place the chillum between your pinky and ring finger with your other hand cupped below the hand holding the chillum. You’re essentially using your hands and the chillum to create a pipe. Then, someone lights the charas for you as you inhale.

Smoking charas with a chillum.
Smoking charas with a chillum.

Make your own cannabis butter

Cannabis butter is a great MIP for using in various recipes to create your own edibles. To make your own cannabis butter, first gather the following ingredients and supplies:

  • 1/2 pound of salted butter (it has a higher melting point than unsalted butter).
  • 1/4–1/3 ounce flower. (You can adjust the amount to increase or decrease the potency, and you can add trim, if desired.)
  • 16–48 ounces of filtered or distilled water (amount depends on how long you choose to simmer).
  • Cookie sheet.
  • Parchment paper.
  • 2–3 quart sauce pan.
  • Sharp knife, coffee grinder, or blender.
  • Oven and stove (or crock pot).
  • Cheese cloth.
  • Storage containers (glass is best).

When you have everything you need, take the following steps to make your butter:

  1. Preheat your oven to 245 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread your cannabis out on the paper.
  3. Bake your cannabis for 40 minutes to decarboxylate it and then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.
  4. Chop the cannabis with a knife, grinder, or blender.
  5. Add the butter and one cup water to the saucepan and simmer on low until the butter is melted. (Don’t let it boil.)
  6. Add the chopped cannabis.
  7. Continue to simmer uncovered for at least three hours, stirring occasionally and adding small amounts of water, if necessary. (Don’t let it boil.)
  8. Set a funnel lined with cheese cloth on top of a jar or other suitable container that’s large enough to hold all the liquid.
  9. Slowly pour the contents of the saucepan through the funnel to strain the cannabis butter.
  10. Remove the funnel and place the jar in the refrigerator to cool. The butter will rise to the top, leaving water at the bottom.
  11. Scoop your butter out of the jar and place it in your storage container.

The importance of decarboxylation

Raw cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa), a precursor to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive substance that produces the “high.” THCa has a number of properties that may help relieve symptoms of various medical illnesses. For example, it has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. However, it is non-intoxicating.

THCa has an extra carboxy ring (a group of chemicals) attached to its chemical chain. This ring must be removed to create THC. Various methods, referred to as decarboxylation, are used to remove this ring. The most common method is to apply heat. When cannabis is smoked or vaped, for example, the heat causes immediate decarboxylation. If you make cannabis brownies using chopped flower and trim, decarboxylation occurs during the baking process.

For decarboxylation, cannabis must be heated to 220 degrees Fahrenheit for 30–45 minutes. Unless you’re smoking it, you should keep the temperature below 300 degrees to preserve the integrity of the cannabinoids and terpenes.

Make your own tincture

A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract. You can find THC+CBD tinctures at dispensaries and hemp-derived, CBD-only tinctures online and at many stores across the country. Various commercial processes are used to create tinctures, but you can create your own home-brewed version. Here’s what you need:

  • An 8 ounce or 16 ounce jar with a lid.
  • Enough dried cannabis to fill the jar.
  • Enough consumable alcohol to fill the jar — use Everclear or vodka.

Use only consumable alcohol — alcohol you buy at a liquor store, not rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, which is toxic.

  • A sharp knife or blender.
  • A saucepan.
  • An oven and stove.

Keep the alcohol away from the stovetop. High-proof, consumable alcohol is flammable. Use low heat and preferably an electric stove or hot plate instead of a gas stove. You can even use the heating plate on your electric coffee maker.

To create a tincture, take the following steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 245 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread your cannabis out on the paper.
    Use enough cannabis to fill your jar. You may use less for a less potent tincture.
  3. Bake your cannabis for 40 minutes to decarboxylate it and then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.
  4. Chop the cannabis with a knife, grinder, or blender.
  5. Place the chopped cannabis in a jar and fill it with consumable alcohol.
  6. Place the jar (uncovered) in a saucepan about half full of water and simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
  7. Let the mixture cure and then strain it through a coffee filter.

You consume tinctures typically by placing a few drops under your tongue and waiting a few seconds before swallowing. Start low and go slow. When you brew your own tinctures, you may have no idea how potent it is.