Solventless cannabis extracts are much older and rooted in tradition than one may think. Over the last decade, cannabis extracts (also known as cannabis concentrates or dabs) have risen in popularity among cannabis consumers due to their high potency, intense effects, and unique flavor profiles.
Their journey to the top has been a humble one. Evolved throughout history – from finger hash to honey oil, to blasting tubes and butane cans – to what has now become a science and an art form. The developments made over the years in the field of cannabis extraction have opened the door to a world of new extraction techniques and cannabis extract products.
In this article, we’re going to dive into all the basics of solventless extraction from its origins to the different types of solventless products that are made and why these types of concentrates are popular. Here’s an in-depth beginner’s guide to solventless weed extracts.
Breaking Down Cannabis Extracts
The term “solventless” is used to describe cannabis extracts that are made without the use of any chemical solvents. Over the last several years, the cannabis industry has seen a shift towards solventless concentrates from their butane, propane, and carbon dioxide-based counterparts.
Solventless extracts date back to as far as the early 12th century when hashish consumption began to gain popularity throughout the Middle East. This primitive form of hash making involved the collection of resin from fresh cannabis plants onto the skin of the hash maker, who would then rub the sticky plant resin off their skin and into balls of hashish.
While a good traditional finger hash is nothing to scoff at, the industry has evolved with time and has moved towards a new world of concentrates. Science and technology have drastically improved the modern hash maker’s ability to create craft extracts that offer the highest amounts of potency, flavor, and effect.
Solventless extraction processes have opened the door for the creation of a myriad of products with maximized yields, cannabinoid profiles, consistency, and product quality. With no need for using solvents, these products are generally purer and safer while also giving users a phenomenal THC high.
Basic Types of Solventless Concentrates
Weed concentrates or extracts come in many types, each with unique consistencies and qualities. However, while many users are more than familiar with solvent-based cannabis extracts like Shatter, Budder, and Wax, you might want to know more about some of the unique solventless marijuana concentrates available.
Dry sift hash, commonly known as kief, is one of the oldest forms of cannabis extracts. Dry sift hash is a solventless concentrate that is created by sifting dry cannabis buds through several screens. This process produces a fine and powdery green residue that can be consumed as it is or pressed together into a mold to create a puck of hash.
If you’ve ever had a grinder with a screen in it, congrats; you’re practically an extractor. That kief catch at the bottom of your grinder has been collecting dry sift hash for you this whole time. While other forms of dry sift hash pass through a much more complex and fine series of screens than the kief catch in your grinder, the kief in the bottom of your grinder is a great example of a dry sift cannabis extract.
Rosin in its traditional form is one of the simplest solventless marijuana products to make. The process of making rosin involves pressing cured cannabis nugs in between a hot press. While you can make cannabis rosin with hair straighteners, it’s best made with a rosin press.
Like a t-shirt press, a rosin press has a heated top and bottom plate which clamp together and apply heat to whatever is in between. When that combination of heat and pressure is applied to the cured cannabis nugs, the nugs will begin to ooze a smokable resin, which is what we know as rosin.
Live Water Hash
Water hash has been around for many generations but refined by modern-day hash makers, who are now creating some of the best cannabis concentrates on the market. The roots of water hash come from “washing” cannabis buds in buckets of ice water that are lined with bubble bags (fine screened filter bags).
These bags come in a range of sizes and allow different grades of plant material to pass through or collect in them. The “washing” process occurs when a source of agitation, typically a paddle, is used to stir the cannabis flower product in the ice water, resulting in trichome heads falling from the plant material and collecting in the different grades of bubble bags.
The collected trichome heads are then recovered from the micron bags and set to dry in freeze dryers. Here at Leiffa, our water hash begins its journey as fresh frozen flowers straight from our garden. The fresh frozen flowers are then washed with care and dried, leaving a sand-like product. The extract is sticky and will grease together over time as it is left out of cold storage.
Live rosin is made via a combination of the extraction processes for water hash and rosin. Like water hash, fresh frozen whole-plant material is washed in a bath of ice water, causing the heads of trichomes to separate. These heads are collected via a series of micron bags and then set to dry in freeze dryers.
Once the heads have dried, the hash is placed into micron bags and squished on a rosin press at low temperatures which ultimately results in live rosin, presented in a few different textures and consistencies. The material we use here at Leiffa is all carefully grown and manicured to our specifications in-house, before being frozen fresh as close as possible to harvest time.
Why Solventless Extracts Are So Popular
It’s no surprise that solventless extracts have become a go-to for cannabis consumers everywhere. Aside from their astounding flavors, high potencies, and enjoyable effects, solventless extracts provide a safer experience, not just for the consumer, but the extractor as well.
Before cannabis legalization started to take hold and mandated lab testing became a common thing, inexperienced and unethical cannabis extractors were putting out products that could be considered unfinished, which were often not genuinely safe for consumption.
When using solvents for extraction, a process called “purging” takes place where the solvents used in the extraction process are evaporated from the mix of cannabis residue and solvent. Before lab testing became mandatory, extractors often didn’t know if they had fully purged the residual solvents from their final products.
While lab testing has minimized the amount of unpurged product that gets into the hands of consumers, by consuming solventless extracts, one can ensure they eliminate the chance of consuming any residual solvents during their smoking experience.
The process of creating solventless extracts is generally safer than the processes of extraction that involve the utilization of gasses as solvents. The extraction of BHO (butane hash oil), PHO (propane hash oil), and CO2 distillate, all must take place in a facility with proper equipment, ventilation, and explosion safety precautions, as the products are highly flammable and under high amounts of pressure during production.
Since the production of solventless extracts does not involve the use of any of those potentially harmful gasses, they are considered to be better for the environment, likely to contain fewer impurities as a final product, and are considered a much more natural product. The increased safety in the extraction process is not the only reason solventless extracts have become more popular, however.
How To Consume Solventless Cannabis Products
Considering there’s a multitude of different types of solventless extracts, you probably have a few questions on how to consume them. Well, look no further.
When consuming higher-grade and more connoisseur-type solventless products it’s common to use a dab rig and a nail. After heating the nail, you allow it to cool to a certain temperature that allows for the concentrate to be vaporized without burning it. This gives you potent THC-packed vapor without reducing the impact of the cannabinoids and terpenes.
If you don’t have a dab rig, there are all sorts of solventless cartridge options available on the market. Here at Leiffa, we provide a range of high-quality solventless extracts like water hash, multiple different types of hash rosin, as well as edibles that are infused with our solventless concentrates.
Now that you’re an expert on all things solventless (or at least have the basics down), go get out there and try some for yourself! From dry sift hash to potent live rosin, there are many incredible concentrates to try via dabbing, vaping, or even mixing your dabs with weed for smoking purposes.
If you’re looking for the best cannabis concentrates in Colorado, look no further than Leiffa. From water hash to live rosin, we offer some of the most potent extracts available on the market. If dabs aren’t for you, you can also find premium Colorado cannabis, edibles, vape products, and everything else you might need.