Cannabis concentrates are one of those consumption methods that, unless you dab, you’re probably not sure if you’ve used them. Concentrates are the shooting star of the legal cannabis industry, and are expected to pull in nearly $14 billion in sales by 2026.
Put simply, cannabis concentrates are made by a myriad of extraction methods to separate and isolate cannabinoids like CBD, THC, aromatic compounds called terpenes, and microscopic, mushroom-like compounds called trichomes. Though difficult to see with the naked eye, trichomes are the hard-working manufacturer of the plant’s many healing compounds.
Bubble hash, a.k.a. ice water hash, is a type of concentrate that focuses specifically on these trichomes. From the Greek word “trichoma” meaning “growth of hair,” these hairs cover the leaves and buds of cannabis plants. Trichomes are sticky, gooey, and shiny. However, they are incredibly fragile and difficult to process without damaging them, putting you at risk of losing many of their most beneficial effects.
Because trichomes are sensitive and could be damaged due to light, heat, oxygen, physical contact, and time — so pretty much anything — making bubble hash is a good way to preserve their delicate structure, because it’s the least disruptive.
Bubble hash, which takes its name from the way it bubbles when the final product is exposed to flame, requires only a couple of ingredients and a little bit of elbow grease to make.
What’s the difference between bubble hash, kief, and ‘regular’ hash?
All of these products consist of trichomes, but the methods used to make them into concentrates from flower vary. The final products are all different in appearance, taste, texture, aroma, and potency.
KIEF: if you have a dual-chamber grinder with a fine mesh screen, you’ve (perhaps unintentionally) made kief. When you grind cannabis, trichomes and other plant matter are separated from larger plant pieces and fall through the screen into the collection chamber below.
HASH: the tradition of making hashish, or hash, traces its roots back to the Middle East in the 11th century. Hash is made by taking kief and applying heat and pressure to make a firm, waxy, brick-shaped, concentrated substance.
BUBBLE HASH: ice water is used to freeze then safely separate trichomes from other plant matter. The freezing process helps keep delicate trichomes from damage and breakage.
How is bubble hash made?
If you have time and ambition, you can make your own bubble hash at home — it’s that simple.
Here’s the short of it: bubble hash is made by agitating cannabis plant material in ice water. This process freezes the trichomes, which break away from the plant matter and sink to the bottom of a metal sieve after progressing through a series of mesh screens, each diminishing in size. The finer the sieve, the more trichomes, and less plant matter, you’ll get.
To take out the guesswork, consumers can use a Bubble Bag, made specifically for ice water hash. But you could also use any ice water-filled container and your own fine mesh sieves. Or, if you feel like spending some time falling into a Google search hole, you’ll see hash-washing machines, or even “how-to” guides on how to make ice-water hash with your washing machine.
The Internet can be a crazy place, and it’s your hard-earned money. Choose wisely.
However you decide to make bubble hash, a consumable and quality final product is what you’re after. Depending on several factors like the amount of plant material and the ripeness of the cannabis plant, your bubble hash can range in color from blonde to black, with lighter colors generally believed to be of higher quality.
Typically, bubble hash is smoked in a pipe with a metal screen, though it can be used on dab rigs, in joints, blunts, and spliffs, or in a bowl, bubbler, or bong.
What is bubble hash used for?
It’s important to remember that hash is much more potent than the flower from which it came, so be sure to start low and go slow when consuming any kind of concentrate that contains THC.