Water hash is another simple way to extract the trichome heads from the bulk of the cannabis plant. This important step in obtaining the desired medicinal compounds without ingesting the bulk of the plant was at the center of the constitutional challenge that was recently affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada. Using simple and ancient techniques, similar to making dry sift hash, water or bubble hash is made using water to carry the medicinal trichome heads through the sieve or screen.
Before the dried cannabis is used it should be thoroughly inspected for debris: stalk and fan leaves should be removed leaving only flowers and the small resinous leaves that surround them. Bags with incrementally finer mesh sizes are placed one inside the other over a bucket. The water serves to carry the resin heads downwards in a cascade through the various mesh-sized “bubble bags”. Using very cold water or adding ice increases the brittleness of the trichomes, allowing them to separate more easily from the plant fibre. The ice also serves the mechanical function of knocking the heads off upon contact with the immersed plant material. Once the material is submerged it must be stirred to encourage the further mechanical separation of the resin.
In ancient China and Afghanistan, water washes were performed once the resin had been dry sifted to in order to purify it further. One of the drawbacks to using water to clean or aid extraction is that some of the terpenes (aromatic oils) produced in the trichome are water soluble and will be washed away. Terpenes don’t only offer unique scents and flavours but work together to compliment the effects of the cannabinoids. There is also the fact that once you get your resin wet, it must be dried properly or risk moulding.
One technique for drying is to freeze the hash before finely grating or “micro-planing” the hash evenly on the drying surface. It is important that the resin is spread thinly to facilitate drying. While keeping the maximum amount of surface area exposed is helpful for drying, it can cause your resin glands to degenerate. The THC in the resin will begin transforming into CBN while exposed to air, heat, or sunlight, offering fewer medical properties. The more it is exposed, the faster it will degrade. Using a cool dark dry room and employing a desiccant, such as thick cardboard, to absorb the moisture will prevent rapid degradation.
With the plant material and moisture out of the way, you are left with only the cannabinoids (hopefully some terpenes) and the plant wax shell that encapsulates them. by homogenizing the remaining medicine for laboratory testing it is easier to standardize precise doses for particular medical conditions.
You can donate to help cover the costs of my Canadian Supreme Court challenge for patient access to cannabis extracts.
By Owen Smith
(Article first appeared at LiftCannabis)