What is Bubble Hash?

A definitive guide to bubble hash: its history, effects, medical benefits, how it’s made, how to make it, and why it’s gaining in popularity.
Last Modified: March 22, 2019

Before modern day extraction techniques fueled the rise of concentrates, bubble hash was one of the purest forms of cannabis. Although the concept of bubble hash has been around since the early 1980s, it has only recently begun to gain in popularity. Read along to learn about its history, its differences to other concentrates, how to use it and how to make it.


What is Bubble Hash?

Bubble hash is a solventless concentrate that is extracted via ice water. Bubble hash is composed of millions of trichome glands that resemble granular brown sugar, and when pressed together resemble traditional hash. Although it’s not known to be the strongest concentrate, it’s packed with a variety of all-important terpenes.

During production, trichome glands that coat the cannabis plant are knocked off during an agitation process in the water. These glands are filtered through micron screens for a pure trichome product. This form of cannabis routinely tests between 30-60% THC.

Types of Bubble Hash

When browsing through a dispensary, users will find various qualities of bubble hash. These are separated by the starting materials’ quality and the final screen size the trichomes were able to pass through.

Trim Processed

Trim processed bubble hash generally is the lowest quality. Although bubble hash derived from high-quality trim can be of exceptional quality, it’s rare to find. These types of bubble hash are usually dark in color and take longer to burn.

Bud Processed

Bubble hash derived from whole buds is usually the highest quality. It’s no guarantee that using buds will produce top-shelf bubble hash, but the odds are higher when starting with high-end material.

Micron Screen Sizes

This is the most significant determining factor in the quality of bubble hash. The larger the screen size, the more contaminants are allowed to mix with the bubble hash. Bubble hash sifted through the smallest screen sizes will result in pure resin glands.

Bubble hash processed through larger screen sizes generally are darker in color due to the other compounds besides the resin glands. Lighter colors found in bubble hash are the result of only trichome heads being allowed to pass through.

How Bubble Hash Differs From Other Concentrates?

Bubble hash differs significantly from most concentrates because it’s a solventless extract. Solventless means that no chemical solvents were used to extract the THC from the plant.

The vast majority of concentrates are extracted with various solvents. The solvents commonly used are butane, CO2, alcohol, ethanol, and propane. Concentrates that are routinely extracted with solvents are shatter, isolate, budder, live resin, crumble and CO2 oil.

Other solventless extracts are rosin and hash. Rosin is extracted via pressure and heat. Hash is one of the oldest methods for smoking cannabis, and it’s been extracted traditionally by rubbing hands on the marijuana flowers.

Bubble Hash Potency

Bubble hash isn’t nearly as strong as many other concentrates. It’s THC content usually stay in the range of 30-60%. Although this amount isn’t low by any standard, other solvent-based concentrates are much more potent.

Most solvent-based extracts find themselves in the range of 60-80%. There are even methods, such as THC isolate, that are able to reach a mind-blowing 99% THC content.

Although bubble hash ranks as one of the least strong concentrates in terms of THC, they do rank incredibly high in terpenes. Scientists believe that terpenes play a larger role than once thought.

Various scientific reports have stated that terpenes interact with the body to influence the way cannabinoids affect people. This means that THC content works in conjunction with terpenes to make a person feel high. As terpenes become better understood, there may be an even more significant demand for bubble hash.

Bubble Hash Effects

The effects of bubble hash are unique. Owing to their high terpene content, users who smoke bubble hash claim a strong onset that leaves them feeling incredibly euphoric. Other compounds such as chlorophyll, lipids, and other cannabinoids create “noise” in the effects of cannabis; and without these, the high from bubble hash is surreal and clear.

Users who smoke bubble hash will find that there are no “hangover” effects from bubble hash. There are multiple reasons why this may be the case, one being that bubble hash is solventless and the other being that it’s purely THC.

Bubble Hash History

The method for creating bubble hash is thought to originate sometime in the 1980s. According to historical sources, Neville Schoenmakers, the renowned owner of the world’s first cannabis seed bank, invented the bubble hash technique.

It was then “Sadhu Sam” of Santa Cruz, CA who popularized the method of extracting bubble hash from ice-water. It was from this point on that bubble hash began its rounds throughout the world because of its unique properties. The name bubble hash comes from the fact that small bubbles appear as it’s being smoked.

Bubble hash is also known as full melt bubble hash and full melt ice water hash.


How Bubble Hash is Made

As time has moved forward, so have the methods in which bubble hash is made. The original “recipe” from Sadhu Sam called for a few grams of cannabis, a bucket, a small paddle, a mesh filter, and cold water. It was with these easily accessible tools that he popularized this new form of marijuana.

Soon after, small cannabis niche shops from Canada to Amsterdam began selling bubble bags. These bags come in various sizes and are placed inside of 3-5 gallon buckets that are filled with ice water. The bags allow trichome heads to fall through and sink to the bottom of the bucket.

This method leaves all the plant matter to stay in the bubble bag while the trichomes accumulate on the bottom of the bucket. Once this first stage is complete, and the plant matter has been agitated adequately to make sure there are no remaining trichome heads; the plant material is then discarded.

Refinement

The next steps are based on refining the trichome heads and material that was small enough to make it through the bubble bag mesh filter.

It’s necessary to have a set of successively smaller micron mesh bags to filter out everything that isn’t trichomes. The starting bubble bag would be in the range of 200-300 microns, and by the last step will be around 20-25 microns.

To put these sizes into perspective, fine sand will slide through a 250-micron filter, whereas a 37-micron size filter will allow pollen grains through. The final micron size for trichomes to safely pass through is 20-25. For added perspective, to filter blood cells, a 12-micron size filter would be necessary.

After the final pass, the only material left in the bucket should be the prized golden/white trichome heads filled with THC. The last mesh screen has an even smaller micron mesh below that catches all of the trichome heads for easier removal.

Drying and Storing

One of the last steps is drying the newly extracted trichome heads. These trichomes can be left in the bag containing them to air dry, or they are carefully removed and placed onto a fine micron screen. Once on the screen, they can be spread out to dry.

The rule of thumb is to leave the micron screen in the dark for roughly 7 days, giving ample time for the resin to completely dry. The bubble hash is ready once it’s solid to the touch.

Once dry, the bubble hash can be stored in glass jars for as long as it lasts. It’s important to note that bubble hash should always be kept out of direct sunlight.

The Relationship Between Water and Trichomes

The resin glands found on cannabis are denser than water molecules. The cold temperature of the water is meant to retain the volatile oils found on trichomes, such as terpenes.

It’s for this specific reason that ice cold water is always used in the production of bubble hash.

New Methods of Making Bubble Hash

The method of using bubble bags in buckets is slowly becoming the old school method. Even air drying is going extinct among major producers of bubble hash. The modern methods of extracting bubble hash are through bubble machines. Air drying is being replaced by high-tech freeze dryers.

Bubble Hash Machines

Bubble hash machines are compact washing systems that automate the agitation process. When using bubble bags, users would need to agitate the water for long periods. Now, bubble machines automate the process while the user is left to changing the bags after each successive wash.

This machine enables users to cut production time down drastically. Their price is also equally affordable, especially if used often.

Freeze Drying Bubble Hash

Professional producers no longer utilize air drying techniques because of the duration of time required to wait. Expensive freeze drying machines are able to dry large batches of bubble hash in a matter of hours.

These pharmaceutical-grade freeze dryers are entirely automated and only require the user to load the trays with bubble hash.

The key advantage of using a freeze dryer is that they retain a high level of terpene content and reduce the degradation of THC. Terpenes play a significant role in cannabis, such as the scent and taste, as well as affecting the overall high users feel.

Since bubble hash producers are in a competitive market, the vast majority utilize this piece of technology to improve their bubble hash.


A DIY Guide To Make Bubble Hash

Just as Sadhu Sam did in the 80s, users keen on making their own bubble hash can do so as well. The tools required are:

  • A 5-gallon bucket to a 32-gallon trash can (depending on the amount to process)
  • A large wooden spoon or paddle
  • Cannabis (trim or whole buds; 1 oz to multiple pounds)
  • Ice
  • Purified water
  • A set of bubble bags
  • A set of micron screens

Tips For Making The Best Bubble Hash

Making bubble hash is a straightforward process, but there are a few tips that should be followed to yield the best flavor, quantity, and overall quality.

Freeze or refrigerate your cannabis

Recent discoveries show that freezing your cannabis before processing into bubble hash leads to increased taste and potency.

Only use the highest quality flowers or trim

As the saying goes, putting in quality will get quality out. Bubble hash is a direct representative of the quality of cannabis that’s used to make it.

Use purified water

Tap water is filled with a high amount of contaminants and minerals. Minerals are necessary for when the plant is growing, but unnecessary while processing bubble hash. High mineral content and contaminants can impart a taste from the end product.

Steps to Make Bubble Hash

Follow these steps for a fail-safe method in producing quality bubble hash.

Step 1

Fill your bucket with water and Ice. Fill only 25% of the bucket with water and 40-50% with ice. The rest of the space will be for the bubble bag and plant material.

Step 2

Place the cannabis into the bubble bag and begin stirring vigorously for 30 minutes.

If the bubble bag has progressively smaller micron filters built in, then step two won’t be repeated. If the bubble bag has progressively smaller mesh sizes separately, then this step will need to be repeated until the finest mesh size is reached.

Step 3

Shake out the plant material and discard it. If the bubble bag has multiple screens, then drain the water and let the bag air dry for 30 minutes.

If the trichome heads are being collected at the bottom of the bucket, then allow 30 minutes to make sure all the glands have sunk to the bottom. After 30 minutes, carefully drain over an ultra-fine micron screen.

Step 4

The bag with multiple mesh levels will have varying quality of bubble hash that they collected. Carefully check each level and scoop out the bubble hash. Make sure to keep each separated and labeled as to which micron screen they came from.

Bubble hash collected from the bottom of the bucket will only be that of the smallest micron bag used. If a 25-micron bag was used, then the resulting bubble hash will be the best quality.

Step 5

Place the bubble hash on baking sheets. Freeze dryers are far too expensive, so only air drying is useful for this method. Place the sheets in a dark place and allow them to dry for 5-7 days.

Step 6

After a week has passed, touch the bubble hash. If it’s hard, then it’s ready to be smoked.


How to Consume Bubble Hash

Bubble hash can be consumed in a wide variety of ways. From vaping to edibles, there isn’t a method that users can’t consume bubble hash with.

Vaping

Vaping is a modern way to consume cannabis. These handheld devices heat plant material or oils in a convection or conduction chamber. Many vaporizers allow users to fine-tune the temperature, thus allowing users more control over the products they vape.

Bubble hash is easily vaporized. Since vaporizers allow for specific temperatures, users can find a relatively low temperature to extract the optimal flavor from bubble hash. Depending on the quality of bubble hash, a screen may be needed within the vaporizers’ chamber to adequately catch resin left behind.

Dabbing

Dabbing is the method of vaporizing concentrated cannabis through an “oil rig,” which looks similar to a small bong. Oil rigs differ by having a metallic nail that users manually heat with a mini-torch.

Once red hot, users can use a small metallic pick to place a portion of bubble hash on the nail. The bubble hash is instantly vaporized as the user inhales. It’s usually best to flatten the bubble hash to create a larger surface area so that it vaporizes quickly.

Concentrate connoisseurs have begun to flock to solventless extracts, mainly because of their enhanced taste and solventless nature. The terpene profile is retained through the extraction process, and dabbing creates a perfect rush of full-flavors and an immediate high.

Smoking

Bubble hash has the benefit of not requiring specialized tools to smoke. From bongs to joints, bubble hash can be packed as easily as cannabis flowers.

Pipe

Just like smoking cannabis flowers, a pipe can be used. Take a small piece from the bubble hash ball and place it into a pipe, with or without marijuana buds.

Bong

Similar to how users use bongs, bubble hash can be loaded into a bongs’ bowl and smoked. The bubble hash can be left by itself or mixed with cannabis buds.

Joint/Blunt

Bubble hash can easily be enjoyed in a joint or blunt. Bubble hash is extremely malleable and can be elongated by squeezing and rolling it. It can then be placed with cannabis buds or tobacco.

Edibles

All that’s needed for creating edibles infused with bubble hash is a transport oil. This oil can be olive, coconut, hemp seed, flax seed, almond, or canola oil.

Butter can also be used to make cannabutter, but many are beginning to shift away due to health concerns. With so many healthy oils, butter is being left out of many edible recipes.

The bubble hash is activated once cooking begins. Whether cooking a stew or a brownie, the heating process will actively decarboxylate the THC, thus making it psychoactive.

Caution should be taken when eating bubble hash edibles because their strength is difficult to gauge.


Bubble Hash Prices

The price of bubble hash is variable. Limited edition strains and popular producers make for a big price tag. On the other spectrum, bubble hash can be surprisingly cheap when made from lower-quality material.

Top-Shelf

Bubble hash isn’t cheap (for top-shelf that is). This solventless extract retails in most dispensaries for $50-100 per gram. Top-shelf bubble hash uses the best cannabis starting material and filters the trichome heads with the finest screen. This price can quickly increase if the strain used is highly popular or if the amount of bubble hash available is limited.

Mid-Shelf

For average quality bubble hash, buyers can expect a price range between $20-40 per gram. This level of bubble hash was filtered with medium-fine screens and used mid-range cannabis material.

Budget

Budget quality bubble hash ranges between $5-15. These are low quality because they were filtered using larger screen sizes and poor plant material.


Bubble Hash Health Benefits

This is one of the driving forces of bubble hash’s rise in popularity. After the initial craze of concentrates extracted from solvents, people began to realize the dangers of vaporizing chemicals.

Butane, propane, and other harmful chemicals are the principal solvents to displace THC from cannabis buds. It’s still not understood how long these chemicals stay in the human body, even if test results show that the concentrate has been adequately purged.

On the other hand, bubble hash is a solventless extract. Water, ice, and gravity are the tools needed to create this unique product. The only material being burned are resin glands. This has lead many health-conscious advocates within the cannabis community to push for broader adoption of bubble hash and other solventless extracts.

The Solvent-Based Dilemma

Besides health concerns, the environment is profoundly affected by the popularity of solvent-based extracts. Large quantities of chemicals are being polluted by producers that are not regulated, and these solvents eventually find their way into waterways and the soil.

This has a tremendous impact on the environment, and will soon be strictly regulated as recreational cannabis increases in popularity. Since Bubble Hash doesn’t require solvents, it doesn’t contribute to the mounting pollution found in solvent-based extracts.


Bubble Hash: The Cleanest Cannabis Concentrate

As bubble hash continues to lead the trend of solventless concentrates, the cannabis industry may take an in-depth look into itself to find ways in making cleaner extracts. The profound idea that concentrates can be made without chemicals is groundbreaking in and of itself and is leading many users to question the methods employed by concentrate producers.

Overall, bubble hash has taught the cannabis community that old methods with a modern twist are still relevant. The technique pioneered by Neville and Sadhu Sam is still alive and well, and the torch for bubble hash continues to exchange hands.


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