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How and why ice-water Hash works

160 μm ice-water Hash (2*) on wicking mesh. Photo captured by ODI

All ice-water hash methods use water, ice, and agitation to separate resin glands from the plant material. In its most basic, ice-cold water and plant material are placed in a bucket that has been lined with filtration bags, which are arranged in ascending order from the finest to the most course. This is similar to the arrangement and composition of screens used in the production of dry sift hash or kief. Like those screens, the filtration bags filter the resin glands by micron size, separating the loose resin glands (hash) from the “trash” or plant material. A micron is one-millionth of a meter or .001 millimetres. Which is incredibly small considering the diameter of a human hair being on average 50 micrometres.

Holy Dawg flower close to the end of its life cycle. Photo captured by ODI

The material is stirred/agitated to wipe the resin glands off the surface of the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Once separated, the resin begins to sink to the base of the extraction vessel because the glands themselves are heavy than the water they are suspended in. The plant material is generally lighter than the water used to extract and therefore floats to the surface of the extraction vessel. This allows for the separation and ultimate isolation and removal of fully intact resin glands from the extraction vessel which are collected and concentrated into hashish.

The agitation process at its most simple, ice, water and material being agitated by hand. Photo by ODI

Pre-made systems use multiple bags that sort the glands by size allowing for a much finer assortment of resin. This is unlike dry sift kief making where the material used is agitated and the resin is separated all in the same step. This is in relation to ice water hash production which isolates these two phases into two distinct steps. The agitation step and the separation step. This allows for a high degree of refinement of the resin glands based on size. Ice water hash, when done correctly, does not put a lot of strain onto the plant material itself which allows for multiple agitations before the material begins to contaminate the final product. In most extraction techniques the material is processed once to gain the highest refinement possible without contaminating the sifted material with broken or damaged plant material.

70 μm isolation once sifted through multiple filtration bags has produced a superior quality resin (3*). Photo by ODI

As with all extraction methods, cold temperature is the key element to success. The ice keeps the water and material very cold so the glands remain brittle and snap off when the material is agitated. After the material is agitated in the ice water, it’s allowed to settle to the base of the extraction vessel. Then filtration bags are used to separate the glands removed based on their size. After the water hash is dried, it’s ready to smoke but further refinement can be used to distinguish the hash produced from maker to maker.

Heat pressed full-spectrum 38 μm – 120 μm Holy Dawg ice water hash (3*). Photo captured by ODI

Ice water hash varies in colour, flavour and texture and can be many shades of white, brown, red, even purple. When extracted from the finest-grade material, the potency of water hash can test as high as many solvent hash products, with up to 80% cannabinoid content making it some of the most potent full-plant extract on the planet. This level of refinement is unique and is only made possible by attention to detail by the extractor and the farmer. Quality material leads to quality hashish, that’s the bottom line. Hash makers are simply people that help express the full spectrum of the cannabis plants resin by removing and concentrating it into a substance that mirrors the original plant source but on a much higher level.

Holy Dawg flowers towards the end of their life cycle. Photo captured by ODI
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Ice water Hash: The basics

70 μm (left) & 38 μm (right) Pressed White Widow Outdoor Bubble hash (2*) Photo captured by O’Diesel

Ice water hashish, also known as bubble hash are terms used to describe resin that has been collected from the cannabis plant using ice-water and gentle agitation. Agitation by this medium releases the resin glands from their bond form on the plant and allows resin collectors to separate and collect this resin into a concentrated form, expressing the full spectrum of the material processed.

Holy Dawg Outdoor, photo captured by O’Diesel

Ice-water hash production is a highly valued methodology for making cannabis concentrates and is employed all over the world. Its name comes from the ice-cold water used to extract cannabis resin from the leaf surfaces of the trim, leaf, and the buds of the cannabis plant. On a fundamental level, the process works because the cannabinoids contained within these resin glands are not water-soluble, allowing them to retain their shape and not degrade in the presence of water and ice.  

70 μm Holy Dawg outdoor bubble hash (3*) photo captured by O’Diesel

Ice-water hash is either retained as loose heads after the extraction process, which resembles a sandy or granular texture, or the grains are pressed into traditional hashish. High-quality (4* – 5*) granular hash can easily be pressed into traditional hashish using nothing more than the heat from the palm of one’s hand and some light, brisk friction, applied using the thumb of the other hand.  Whereas lower quality hashish (1*-3*) may not readily melt into a mass through the application of heat and pressure. Loose or pressed, ice-water hashish still captivates even the most experienced consumers due to the unique and full-spectrum experience of this potent natural product.

Sour HS 70 μm hash. Photo by Nikka T of Essential Extracts.

Ice-water hash can be made in small or large quantities, allowing for a wide range of quality, texture and experience. Pre-made extraction systems can be purchased to simplify the process as the leg work of sourcing and manufacturing sifting equipment can be challenging. It is also possible to make ice water hash using tools around the house but with inexpensive kits available the savings are often negligible.

Resin caught in the 70 μm mesh before removal, photo captured by O’Diesel

Pre-made extraction systems offer increased precision and efficiency during the ice water hash production process which is becoming more and more attractive as the market move towards precision isolation of resin, based on gland size and ultimately ripeness. The availability of pre-made systems has contributed significantly to a surge in the popularity of ice water hash around the world.

Removal of resin from the 70 μm mesh, photo captured by O’Diesel

It’s also next to impossible to seriously injure yourself or anyone else making ice-water hash because the process doesn’t involve any flammable chemicals or potentially explosive machinery which makes this technique a safe and viable means of extracting resin in one’s home. Allowing more and more people to engage with the production of hashish and develop on their understanding of the plant and its sticky resin that we all know and love so much.

Filtration process in action as the agitated material extraction liquid is poured through the 160 μm, 120 μm, 70 μm & 38 μm mesh screens. Photo captured by O’Diesel