Cannabis rosin appears to have entered the market a little over a decade ago – it was supposedly ‘invented’ and popularized by a member of an online cannabis forum somewhere around 2006. Since then, rosin has become one of the most popular types of concentrate used for dabbing.
Rosin can be relatively easily made at home, or it can be purchased. The home manufacturing process, which we’ll briefly go over in a minute, is fun, easy and can produce some surprisingly high-quality rosin concentrate.
What Exactly Is Rosin and How Does It Differ From Other Cannabis Concentrates?
Rosin is a concentrate, extracted from the cannabis flower by applying heat and pressure. The flower material is pressed between two plates, preheated to around 250, which causes the THC-rich wax contained in the trichomes to heat up, liquefy and flow ‘out’, after which it can be easily collected.
There are no solvents involved and the concentrate is obtained purely by mechanical means, resulting in a very pure and high-quality product that contains all the active and aromatic components of the flower trichomes.
Most other concentrates, including hash oil, are extracted by using chemical solvents – usually hydrocarbons like butane. The solvent extraction is more efficient but leaves some of the terpenes and other constituents of the flower bud behind.
The hydrocarbons used for the extraction may also leave some residue behind, imparting unwanted flavor to the finished product.
How Is Rosin Made?
You may have noticed that earlier when we mentioned the invention of rosin, we put the word ‘invented’ in quotes. That’s because the process of manufacturing rosin is nothing complex or novel – it’s largely the same process that is used to extract virgin olive oil from olives or virgin coconut oil from coconuts.
Still, you have to admit that there was some ingenuity involved in coming up with the hair press extraction method, which we’ll discuss next!
The Hair Press/Hair Straightener Method
Here is a brief overview of the popular ‘hair press method’, which arguably kick-started the process of rosin becoming so popular among cannabis users:
Set the press/straightener to around 240. Once it heats up, press your flower material between the plates and collect the oil that collects on the sides, using a dabber, a stick, or a small spoon.
To make the process cleaner and more efficient, two strips of parchment paper are typically added as a barrier between the plates and the flower material. If you make the two strips of paper an inch or so wider than the plates of the hair press/straightener, the oily concentrate will accumulate on the sides of the paper as you press.
Once the whole thing has cooled down, the oil thickens again and is easy to collect with a tiny spoon or a stick – if you have a dabber for a dab rig, it is perfect for that purpose.
If you decide to use hash or kief as a starting material (which is typical), you will need to add some sort of a sieve/filtration material, through which the concentrate will pass as you apply pressure. Special filtering bags, called ‘micron bags’ are sold specifically for that purpose.
The bags come in different mesh sizes, which tell you how well they will filter the finished product. The filter bags are not a must if you’re going to be squeezing whole flower material because all the larger flower particles mixed in with the trichomes will act as a sieve on their own.
The High-tech Industrial Process (Which You Can Also Perform at Home If You’re Willing to Invest in a Press)
Clearly, the temperatures involved in extracting rosin are not that high and are easily achievable at home. The pressure, however, is a different story. To efficiently extract rosin from flower material, great pressures are required, and commercial presses are typically designed to apply many tons of pressure on the pressing plates – hundreds of times more than is achievable with a simple hair press.
Another aspect of the industrial extraction process that you’ll have trouble replicating at home is the filtration – the typical filter bags used in a hobby setting may not fully get rid of the tiny trichome particles and some of them may remain stuck in the finished product.
There are ways to construct your own DIY press that uses threaded rods which you tighten with a wrench to apply pressure, but this is obviously not something most people would like to bother with.
A commercial press, specifically designed for rosin extraction costs a few hundred dollars, although there are much more expensive options.
Is Rosin Extracted From Whole Flower or Just Hash/Kief?
Hash or kief is much more commonly used, as it only contains the trichomes of the cannabis flower – the part that carries almost all of the THC (or CBD if that’s what you prefer to use) and terpenes.
But you can certainly use the whole buds. The problem with using the whole flower material is that the plant particles that don’t carry any oils will soak up some of the liquified oil from the trichomes they are in contact with, reducing your yield. With insufficient pressure or low-quality flower, especially flower that is is too dry, you may have trouble extracting any oil at all.
The flower material ‘spent’ during the DIY extraction process doesn’t have to be thrown out – it can be used in a dry herb vaporizer, although don’t expect it to be very potent after a lot of its oil has been extracted as rosin.
What Active Compounds Does Rosin Contain?
Because rosin is the ‘juice’ squeezed out of the trichomes/flower, it has the same active chemical profile as the whole flower material, making it the richest full-spectrum concentrate. It typically contains more terpenes compared to concentrates produced by solvent extraction.
Homemade rosin will often contain a small amount of trichomes, due to improper filtration. Those impurities may (but won’t necessarily) cause some harshness when the rosin is dabbed or vaped, particularly at higher temperatures.
How Is Rosin Consumed?
Rosin can be consumed just like any other cannabis concentrate – in a dab rig, which is probably the most popular and best option, or in a vaping device designed for concentrates. It can also be used as an additive to regular cannabis flower to increase its potency. And of course, it can be used topically for pain relief or incorporated into edibles.