How to make rosin
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- Steps for making rosin
- What’s a “good” yield?
- How do the pros press rosin?
If you’re unfamiliar with the rosin making process, get ready for a cannabis DIY experience that could change your consumption life forever. Rosin is a concentrate made by exposing cannabis to heat and pressure in order to force out the terpenes and cannabinoids found in the plant’s trichome glands. Rosin can be made out of flower, dry sift (kief), or subpar hash with a few tools you likely have around the house.
Rosin is a concentrate made by exposing cannabis to heat and pressure in order to force out the terpenes and cannabinoids found in the plant’s trichome glands. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Since rosin is created without the use of solvents, which can alter the flavor and resulting product, it’s preferred by consumers who don’t want any chance of having residual, man-made chemicals in their concentrates.
This extraction technique has been used by other industries for thousands of years. Imagine squeezing the oil out of an olive or the juice from a grape. The rosin process literally presses the starting material until it produces a potent, solventless concentrate. It can even turn hash that just won’t melt into a dabbable product.
Rosin technology has been around for decades, but it didn’t really take off until Phil “Soilgrown” Salazar (@soilgrown_solventless) began sharing photos of his rosin experiments on social media and discussing his techniques with the cannabis community. While Salazar didn’t invent the process, he did play a huge role in creating the hype that has spurred many solventless enthusiasts to begin experimenting on their own.
A post shared by Soilgrown Solventless (@soilgrown_solventless) on Nov 15, 2015 at 10:11am PST
Ready to join the fun? Before you make your first batch of rosin, you’ll need a hair straightener, parchment paper, cannabis, a rosin bag (optional), heat-resistant gloves (optional, but recommended) and a dabber to collect the rosin when you’re done.
A hair straightener with 2-inch plates and customizable temperature controls work best, but the process will still work with a straightener that has low, medium, and high settings. It may just take a little more trial and error.
Temperature plays a big role in determining the quality and overall yield and the ideal temperature is heavily dependent on the chemical makeup of the cannabis used. If your flower, dry sift, or hash is terpene-rich, a lower temperature is needed. This is because the terpenes squeezed out of the trichome glands during the initial press act as a natural solvent to facilitate the rosin process. With fewer terpenes to play that role, you’ll need more pressure and heat to coax the cannabinoids out of the glands.
As a general rule of thumb, temperatures between 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit, or 121-149 degrees Celsius, will yield a more stable product, like shatter. Temperatures between 300-335 degrees Fahrenheit, or 149-168 degrees Celsius, tend to result in a sappier texture.
You can make rosin by pressing a cured nug, dry sift, or hash directly between two pieces of parchment paper and apply heat using a hair straightener. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
You can make rosin by pressing a cured, gently broken down nug directly between two pieces of parchment paper, or by placing dry sift or hash into a rosin screen or mesh bag and placing the bag in between the parchment paper. While typically used by more experienced rosin makers, these screens and bags are used to filter out plant particulates that can make their way into your finished product. The smaller the screen size, the more particulates it will hold back, but it will also restrict the flow of your rosin and possibly reduce your overall yield.
Choosing the correct screen size is a delicate balance should you go that route. Finer mesh screens (25-45 microns) are ideal for any form of dry sift or hash. Larger mesh screens (70-120 microns) can be used for either lightly ground nugs or trim.
We recommend using heat resistant gloves to avoid burning your fingertips, many hair straighteners come with a pair and if not they can easily be found online or at a beauty supply store. If you are using a hair straightener, you will need to use your hands to apply pressure by squeezing the tip of the flat iron. Do this at your own risk and with caution.
It’s important not to overfill screens, bags, or even parchment paper with loose bud — or to apply too much pressure or heat too fast. A rosin bag that’s too full could burst, screens with too much material in them can overflow, and overflowing buds can take away from the efficiency of the process. Start with low pressure and increase slowly for the best results and don’t overload your bag or flatiron.
Steps for making rosin
Step 1: Break down the plant material and mold it into a small rectangle. This is done to reduce any plant particulates that may end up in your rosin. Also, make sure to use buds that are properly cured and not too wet or too dry.
Break down the plant material and mold it into a small rectangle.
Step 2: If using a rosin bag, place the plant material into the filter. We recommend nylon food-grade screens or a mesh bag. (This step is optional for flower, but necessary for hash or dry sift.)
If using a rosin bag, place the plant material into the filter.
Step 3: Set the temperature on your hair straightener or press. Our advice: Start with low temperatures and work your way up.
Set the temperature on your hair straightener or press.
Step 4: Place your bag or loose flower between two pieces of parchment paper. Use only as much material that will fit under the heating element. It is important that you leave a couple of inches of extra parchment paper on all sides to catch the rosin that is produced. You don’t want rosin to spill over onto the plates.
Place your bag or loose flower between two pieces of parchment paper.
Step 5: Press the parchment paper with the preheated straightener or plates for 4 to 30 seconds. The time you need to press depends on the quality of your flower. Pressing firmly with the straightener laying flat like a stapler will generally yield better results. This may take a few times experimenting to get the hang of it.
Press the parchment paper with the preheated straightener or plates for 4 to 30 seconds.
Step 6: After removing the flower from the parchment paper, check the amount of oil.
After removing the flower from the parchment paper, check the amount of oil.
If you’ve got a low yield, you may need to place the parchment back under the straightener and repeat the process one or two more times.
If you’ve got a low yield, you may need to repeat the process one or two more times.
Step 7: Once you have pressed your product, use a dabber to collect the rosin.
Once you have pressed your product, use a dabber to collect the rosin.
Step 8: Package or store the rosin for later use or turn it into rosin taffy by stretching, pulling, and twisting it with the dabber until it’s a taffy-like consistency.
Package or store the rosin for later use or turn it into rosin taffy.
What’s a “good” yield?
The goal of pressing rosin is to get all the cannabinoids and terpenes out of the trichome glands. Theoretically, if your cannabis has 18% cannabinoids and 2% terpenes, the yield you’d get from pressing 1 gram of flower would be 0.2 grams of rosin. Of course, a lot of factors contribute to the overall output and quality of your rosin.
If you don’t feel like you got everything out of your first run, you can always grab new parchment paper and press the cannabis again. Increasing the temperature or pressure on your second run will ensure you get every last bit of oil out of your product.
Keep in mind that when you’re pressing nugs to make rosin, you’re squeezing the plant matter. Under imperfect conditions, that plant matter can make its way into your final product, but that doesn’t mean your product is bad.
Rosin is commonly judged by a 6-star rating system used to judge all solventless concentrates. Your rosin should bubble when exposed to heat. Any plant particulates or impurities will reduce the amount of bubbling, which correlates to the star rating: 1-2 being the lowest and 6 being the highest — and the most difficult to produce. While it’s true that the higher the star, the better the dab, a little plant material in your rosin isn’t going to be a deal breaker.
Practice makes perfect, and the more you get your set up and filtering processes down, the higher quality rosin you’ll be able to produce.
How do the pros press rosin?
Professional rosin manufacturers and at-home enthusiasts may opt to purchase press kits that contain hydraulic presses, heat controllers, and more in order to process larger quantities of rosin and have better control over all the parameters involved. Rosin press prices range from $300 to more than $4,000, with an array of accessories to customize your set up.
Professional rosin manufacturers and at-home enthusiasts may opt to purchase press kits that contain hydraulic presses, heat controllers, and more. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Whether you’re interested in trying your hand at rosin with a hair straightener or looking to invest in a more high-tech setup, pressing rosin is a tinkerer’s playground, with a plethora of temperature and pressure options to yield the heady results you seek.
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From rosin to shatter: understanding cannabis concentrates
Did you know that a better understanding of cannabis concentrates can improve patient experience when using cannabis medicines?
Cannabis concentrates can offer a lot more value for money in terms of efficacy, making them a popular choice among patients. Understanding the difference between the types of cannabis extracts and distillates can help patients get the best out of their medicine. ‘Concentrate’ simply means concentrated cannabis compounds derived from the raw plant.
One kind of concentrate in particular – CBD oil – has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years for its medicinal value. However, contrary to popular belief, THC also has many medicinal qualities and more research is being done into the combined effects of THC and CBD for therapeutic use.
Oils that contain THCa can be used without any psychotropic effects as it is only when the THCa is heated that it turns into THC. However, some concentrates contain very high amounts of the psychoactive component THC – up to 99% in some cases – so, it is vital for patients to properly understand the medicine they are using.
Extraction and distillation
In order to make a concentrated oil, compounds contained in the plant need to be extracted and distilled (or refined). There are two kinds of extraction methods – solvent based and solventless. Traditionally, solventless extraction is done using kief boxes or grinders. This is a simple way of separating compounds by grinding the marijuana and sifting it through a metal gauze (or on a larger scale through a silk screen) – producing what is called ‘dry sift’ or ‘pollen’. The remaining products can then be heated and pressed to create a rosin extract. Ice-water extraction has also been used for many years to make concentrates.
More modern options for extraction today include CO2, hydrocarbon and the cryo-ethanol process. Distillation uses a heating and collection method of separation and this is a more specialised element of the commercial concentrating process. Short path distillation is a specialised form of distillation that creates potent concentrates and a process called ‘winterisation’ removes unwanted compounds such as lipids. The difference between extracts and distillates is their purity – products that have been distilled are, by nature, much purer than extracts.
What do you know about rosin?
Rosin is extracted directly from the flowers – traditionally made from the heating and pressing of hand extracted compounds. As the industry has grown there are now industrial size presses that can obtain rosin on a large scale. This concentrate is totally solvent-free so can give patients peace of mind if they are concerned about what is in their medicine. Rosin also retains terpenes so is just as flavourful as other kinds of cannabis concentrates.
Butane hash oils come from the hydrocarbon extraction process. This process uses high pressures to extract compounds from the plant by stripping them and is fairly good at retaining the terpenes from the plant – producing a tastier final oil product. However, this process does – almost always – leave traces of butane in the product. These oils can be high in THC content, containing anywhere between 70-90% THC and higher in some cases.
CBD oil is a concentrated oil that contains the non-psychoactive component of cannabis only. Typically, this is extracted then distilled and separated from other compounds to create a pure CBD oil. Taken orally through dropping under the tongue, as this is the best method for CBD absorption, this product is very popular for pain relief, anti-inflammation, for conditions such as epilepsy and other medical uses. Some CBD oil is made from the THC carrying plant whereas others are made from hemp which has less than 0.3% THC. CBD oil from hemp only contains traces of CBD and is a food supplement (containing vitamins such as magnesium) rather than a medical grade product.
Resin, live resin and bubble hash
Resin is a naturally forming sap from the plant whereas live resin is a cannabis concentrate that uses buds that have been freeze dried for the extraction process. This allows for more terpenes to be retained within the concentrate before they dry out to create a flavourful product (this still depends on the flavour of the flower being used) compared to concentrates that have come from bud that has been allowed to cure before extraction. Bubble hash is similarly extracted in the sense that it uses cold temperatures during the process through ice-water extraction.
Tinctures are alcohol-extracted concentrates and are quite high in THC content. Alcohol-based extraction methods are often used due to being one of the easiest and quickest ways of creating a concentrated compound product for the medical market. Alcohol-based extraction also allows for the product to retain a longer shelf life, as the alcohol acts as a preservative.
Dabs, shatter, wax, budder and more
These are different names for similar final products which vary depending on what happens to the compounds during the refinement process, or, how it is set post-extraction. Shatter is brittle and glass-like, whereas wax and budder are softer and not transparent, for example. The term ‘dabbing’ is a form of flash vapourisation using a concentrate, which is why different concentrates are sometimes referred to as ‘dabs’.
Normally – concentrates that are light and golden in colour are of high quality as this indicates there is no unwanted compounds such as solvents in the product. However, nowadays, it is possible to wash impure extracts in order to give them a cleaner look – this means that the only way to truly know the quality of your extract is to get it lab tested or to get it from a trusted vendor. Texture and consistency of a cannabis concentrate has little to do with the quality.
The amount of moisture retained within the concentrate, temperature and terpenes within the concentrate, can all impact the texture, as well as whether there has been any molecular disturbance of the compounds. If a concentrate is disturbed during the extraction process a softer consistency more like wax or crumble is created. Sometimes products are whipped up into a butter-like consistency post-extraction, and strains of cannabis that have higher lipid contents can create a sugary consistency.
Please note, this article will appear in issue 10 of Health Europa Quarterly, which will be available to read in July 2019.
Did you know that a better understanding of cannabis concentrates can improve patient experience when using cannabis medicines?