Hash: What is It and How to Smoke It

By WeedWeek May 8, 2020
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Hash is a concentrated product derived from the cannabis plant. It’s less common in North America than other parts of the world. Hash can produce highs that are just as, or even more intense than your average joint. This article will explore all things hash, from what it is to how it’s produced.

What Is Marijuana?

Originally hailing from Central Asia, the marijuana plant is cultivated for its psychoactive effects on the mind and body. Colloquially called ‘weed,’ cannabis is usually prepared for consumption by harvesting and drying the flowers of female cannabis sativa plants – also known as buds – and sometimes the leaves. These dried components are then ground up and rolled into joints.

The active ingredients in cannabis are chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. While there are at least 113 known types of cannabinoids, there are two that stand out. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC,  is the primary psychoactive chemical in cannabis which, alongside many medical uses, produces the euphoria so commonly associated with marijuana, . Cannabidiol, or CBD, psychoactive but non-intoxicating,  but can provide certain effects that can be beneficial to people, including pain management and relief from depression and insomnia.

What Is Hash?

Hash, short for hashish, is essentially an extract made from concentrated trichomes, the cannabinoid-producing glands found on female cannabis sativa plants. These miniscule, mushroom-shaped structures grow from the surface of the flowers and leaves, and are used by the plant as protection against predators and various environmental stresses. There are three types of trichomes – bulbous, sessile, and stalked –  although it is unknown whether one type produces specific chemicals more than others. 

Resin glands are found at the tip of every trichome. This resin contains terpenes, which are chemical compounds that produce scents and flavor profiles, as well as the sought-after cannabinoids. The resin from trichomes is what gives fresh buds that sticky quality, and when dried looks like a light dusting of icing, sugar or crystalized honey. 

To produce hash, these trichomes are separated from the plant material using mechanical processes or chemical solvents, and are then compressed into bricks, disks or sticky balls. Because hash excludes as much plant material as possible, the concentration of psychoactive cannabinoids is far greater than with marijuana flower. 

Different Types Of Hash

There are many different types of hash. They vary based on processing methods, the types of plants being used and where they originate. Morocco and Lebanon are two well-known hash producers, with their markets and end products colored by cultural, historical and political factors. Processing methods yielding different types of hash will be discussed in more detail below.

Where Does Hash Originally Come From?

Cannabis is indigenous to Central Asia, and to this day many of the best hash-producing strains are sourced from this area of the world. The Afghani strain comes from Afghanistan, Charas comes from from India, and Manali from the Himalaya region, to name a few.

While the precise origins of hash use have been lost to the sands of time, it is generally agreed to have originated in Persia or Central Asia, and has been enjoyed by people for thousands of years. The contemporary words cannabis and ganja are derived from the Persian word kannab and the Sanskrit word gangika respectively, illustrating the degree to which these cultures have fostered humanity’s relationship with and understanding of cannabis. According to one legend, a Sufi saint named Qutb ad-Dīn Haydar, who lived in the 13th century, popularized the use of hashish among followers. Charas, the Hindustani word for hashish, has been used in India since antiquity as well.  

How To Make Hash

Making hash takes time, effort and a lot of raw cannabis. That said, here are methods for producing it that are accessible to beginners, as well as production methods that require specialized equipment.

Finger Hash

This method is an oldie, but a goodie. Finger hash is so-called because our digits are the only implement needed. To make it, rub fresh buds between your fingers thumbs and palms of the hand. After a period of rubbing (and as with much hash production, patience and persistence are virtues), resin will begin to collect on the skin, which can then be scraped off.

Finger hash also accumulates naturally on the hands and fingers during the harvesting or processing of marijuana products, since trichomes are broken off during the handling of leaves. 

Dry-sift Hash

Some of the highest quality hash comes from the dry-sift method, which involves mechanically separating the trichomes from buds and allowing them to pass through a very fine mesh screen. This is done through a laborious process of hand-sifting and does not require any solvents.

While this method can be time-consuming and tends not to produce high yields, the result is a high quality product praised for its potency and versatility. It can be used in vaporizers, joints, bongs and other delivery mechanisms. 

Master-sifter Hash

They say necessity is the mother of invention;  the pursuit of high-quality highs has certainly driven innovation. In 1987, perhaps after endless hours spent dry-sifting hash through screens, John Gallardi introduced his “Master Sifter” machine, which used vibration to separate resin glands from buds on a commercial scale. Perhaps contributing to its obscurity,  other extraction methods were being explored around the same time.

Bubble Hash

The key to bubble hash is getting buds as cold as possible. Named for the way this hash bubbles up beneath flame, this method of processing is achieved by submerging plant material into icy water, then agitating it. The resin-filled trichomes become brittle and break away, sinking to the bottom of a metal sieve before passing through a series of increasingly fine mesh screens. After being dried, the resulting resin can be consumed in a variety of ways, including rolled into balls and placed atop a bowl or joint of bud.

The more bubble hash bubbles beneath flame, the higher quality it is, with the highest being dubbed “full melt” or “ice wax,” which melts into a little golden puddle. Bubble hash which produces more of a fizzle when touched with flame indicates higher levels of contamination with plant material. Because it requires no solvents, leaving behind no residues, Bubble hash is considered very pure. 

How To Smoke Hash?

There are a few different ways to smoke hash, including using hot knives. Below are two common methods that don’t require any special equipment or unfamiliar processes. 

Roll It Into A Joint

Among the easiest and most common ways to smoke hash is to roll small pieces into a tobacco cigarette, a joint filled with a combination of tobacco and marijuana, or straight on top of  ground marijuana flower.This latter combo will deliver an intense and potent high, since you’re doubling up the cannabinoids in both buds and resin.

Packing Hash Into A Bong Or Pipe

For smoking with a bong or pipe, caution should be taken to prevent burning embers from travelling up the pipe. Small screens can be placed inside the bowl. Lacking this, another way is to lay the crumbled hash on top of a small amount of bud to do the trick.

Eating Hash Edibles

Cooking with hash products is becoming increasingly popular in North America. The concentrate tends to have robust taste, pairing well with umami-rich taste profiles. Hash butter is extremely versatile for many types of cooking and baking. The THC in hash is activated through heat, so when using recipes that don’t call for cooking, putting hash through a decarboxylation (heating) process will activate the THC and produce the “high” that is characteristic of cannabis.

Vaping Hash

Whether in vaporizers or vaping pens, these devices bring the hash to a boiling point, which produces a vapor that can then be inhaled. Vaping equipment varies, and there can be incompatibilities with equipment which is designed to handle more refined concentrates than hash. Vaporizers that are equipped to handle dry herb – the least-refined product – are less likely to become gunked up with oily resins.

Drinking Hashish

As with any cannabis edible, the high of drinking hash can take time to kick in and often brings a more intense experience. While drinking hash isn’t as common as some other forms of cannabis, such as CBD-infused drinks, people continue to experiment with hash drinks, with some dropping a crumb or two into hot coffee, tea or even chocolate milk. 

Effects

Because hash is the concentrated mass of trichomes of the marijuana plant, its effects will be similar to a marijuana high, magnified. As with all drug use, the experience will be mediated based on the dose imbibed, combined with individual factors including metabolic rates and body mass index. 

Some effects to be expected may include feelings of euphoria, heightened or distorted perception, enhanced emotions, increased appetite  (aka, the munchies), and short-term memory loss (including the so-called fishbowl effect, where memories from only a few moments before can vanish). Anxiety and depression can also result from short or long term use of hashish. As with any drug, finding the correct dose is the most important variable.

Difference Between Marijuana And Hashish

The difference between marijuana and hashish simply lies within its processing. Both begin with the dried flowers and leaves of the female cannabis sativa plant. In marijuana production, this is the end of the process – the plant material can ground up to be smoked in joints or otherwise used. For hashish, the trichomes – which are located at the tops of buds and include the resin glands – are separated from the plant material in order to isolate the resin. Once enough is collected, this mass of trichomes are pressed into bricks, balls or slices as the final product. Because of the concentrated levels of trichomes, hash tends to be much more potent than marijuana. 

Difference Between Kief and Hash

If you’ve ever used a handheld grinder for your buds, you’ll have seen kief. When the buds and leaves of the cannabis plant are dried or cooled down, the trichomes become brittle and can break off. Kief is the name for these separated trichomes. 

Hash is simply kief which has been collected into blocks either through heat or pressure. This makes kief easier to store and more versatile in how it’s consumed. 

Conclusion

Lesser-known in North America than its bud counterpart, hash is a time-honored and effective delivery system for the juiciest parts of the cannabis sativa plant. By extracting and compressing the chemical components of pot that give that unique high, there’s little wonder that its popularity continues to grow. When used responsibly, a little hashish goes a long way.

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