When most OG stoners think of “hash,” they remember an exotic version of marijuana commonly found in Asia and the Middle East.
Modern-day tokers are more likely to associate “hash” with the powerful cannabis concentrate they can make at home.
They’re not quite the same.
The first example of hash refers to hashish, resin glands from the weed plant which have historically been compressed into a brick or ball. Younger readers may associate that type of hash with movie characters smoking the substance in seedy Asian “hash dens.”
The second example usually refers to what’s known as “bubble hash.” It’s also made from concentrated marijuana resin glands, which are easily extracted with ice water and agitation to create a potent product commonly used for dabbing.
Hash is still around, but bubble hash is ubiquitous.
Let’s learn more.
The History of Hash and Bubble Hash
Historians believe that the use of hashish dates back more than a thousand years.
The fact that the word “hashish” means “grass” in the Arabic language might confirm hash’s reputed origins in Egypt, but there’s also evidence that hash was first made in Morocco, India, or Nepal, where it’s known as “charas” and smoked in a pipe.
Charas has been used for centuries in Morocco to make a treat called mahjong, believed to be the first edible ever created.
Hashish made its way to Europe in the 18th century, where the intelligentsia and medical community used it for a while. It remained a staple in many Asian nations, where traveling Americans encountered hash — and its impressive potency — during the 1960s and 70s. Some brought it home, but the high-quality hash was expensive to obtain in America and its use never became commonplace.
Some 20 years later, experimenters began trying to develop methods of creating less-expensive and cleaner hashish. Those processes involved agitating the cannabis to shake potent trichomes from weed plants, and/or using water to extract the resin glands.
The methods proved successful, and have been further refined with the use of specialized machinery and solvents like alcohol and butane. The processes now allow the production of hash oils, powerful cannabis concentrates which may have THC concentrations as great as 90% and are most often consumed with a dab rig.
However, one of the earlier methods of concentrating trichomes from weed plants became popular among users in the 1990s and is still used regularly. All you need is weed, ice water, and mesh sieves — and you can easily make the cannabis concentrate known as bubble hash.
Where Did Bubble Hash Get Its Name?
There are two theories, and they’re equally believable.
Some say the name bubble hash refers to the concentrate’s reaction when it’s exposed to a flame, dabbing torch, or e-nail: it bubbles. (A common saying on the street: “if it doesn’t bubble, it’s not worth the trouble.”) Others claim that the term stems from the sieves used in the process of separating the resin glands from weed; they’re known as bubble bags.
Connoisseurs rate the quality of this concentrate on a scale from one to six stars, but the best product is known as “full melt” bubble hash. High-end bubble hash is extremely pure; when the full melt is exposed to a flame, it completely melts (or bubbles) away and leaves only ash behind. Lower-quality hash still contains some plant material, so it bubbles less.
How Do You Use Bubble Hash?
As we’ve mentioned, the most popular use for bubble hash is for dabbing. Many smokers add a small amount of the hash to their joints or top their bowls with it. Some also use it to make edibles.
It’s possible to smoke bubble hash, of course. But since it’s so potent (well-crafted concentrate produced from top-shelf weed or kief can contain 60-70% THC), that’s not the best use of bubble hash. The smoker is likely to be baked after just a few hits, wasting the rest of the bowl. It’s smarter to dab bubble hash or uses it to boost the potency of regular weed.
How to Make Your Own Bubble Hash
You probably know that trichomes, the weed plant’s resin glands that contain most of its cannabinoids and terpenes, can fall off buds pretty easily. There are usually some trichomes in the shake that falls to the bottom of stash bags and jars.
That’s essentially the reason you can create bubble hash at home without solvents or fancy equipment. Most of the trichomes can be “convinced” to drop off of cannabis plants. They just need a little help.
To produce bubble hash, you need weed or kief (kief will produce better hash), a large bucket, ice, water, and a set of bubble bags we mentioned earlier. They’re made from fine mesh and are sold in a kit that contains six or eight bags plus a drying screen. Bubble bags are available online and in many smoke shops.
The bags are used by layering them, one inside the next. The bag closest to the weed will have the largest mesh (about 200 microns) and the last one in the stack will have the smallest mesh (about 25 microns). The trichomes and plant matter that shake loose from the weed will be filtered through smaller and smaller openings until only the best-quality trichomes remain.
Here’s how to make a bubble hash:
- Put the drying screen on top of some paper towels. That’s where the hash will eventually be placed.
- Freeze your weed or kief. That makes it easier for the trichomes to fall off.
- Line the bucket with the mesh bags. The one with the largest mesh should go on top, with the rest “stacked” in descending order.
- Layer ice and weed in the top bag, and pour enough cold water into the bag to cover them.
- After a few minutes, it’s time to “agitate” the weed by stirring it with a paddle. You can also use a kitchen mixer or power drill with a flat attachment.
- Stir the mixture for 15 minutes, and then squeeze the weed inside the bag to remove all of the water that’s still in it.
- Take out the top bag that contains the weed and put it aside. Then remove the other bags one by one, scraping all of the resin that’s accumulated on the mesh onto the drying screen.
Some people combine all of the resin, while others keep the batches separate. That’s because the hash on the bottom layers will be cleaner and more potent than the resin from the top layers.
Once it’s dry, you have your bubble hash. And once you try it you may never go back to smoking ordinary weed.
Bubble Hash: FAQ
Q: What’s the difference between bubble hash and BHO?
A: BHO, or butane hash oil, is produced with the help of a solvent. Butane is the most common choice, but others can be used as well. The process is more complicated and more dangerous (because of the butane), so it can’t be done at home. BHO is usually slightly more potent than bubble hash and it’s readily available in dispensaries. Bubble hash is still more than twice as potent as regular bud, though, and you can make it on your own (most dispensaries don’t sell it).
Q: Is bubble hash the same as dry sift hash?
A: It’s similar. As the name implies, dry sift is made without water or ice; you hold the weed over a screen and use stiff plastic to “brush” the trichomes from the flower. Dry sift hash is usually made with a stack of smaller and smaller screens to separate plant material and gather high-quality hash at the bottom.
Mullins, M. F. (2021). Cannabis dabbing: An emerging trend. Nursing, 51(5), 46.