Learn | 04.26.2023

What Is Hash?

As the cannabis landscape evolves, hash remains a timeless treasure for enthusiasts worldwide.

This ancient concentrate has been refined and innovated through centuries, creating a diverse array of products and techniques. Let us delve into the intriguing history of hash and examine the modern methods that have expanded its appeal. Prepare for a historical and scientific journey into the world of hashish.

What is Hash?

Photo courtesy of Elroi / Adobe Stock

Hash, often referred to as hashish, stands as a testament to the time-honoured practice of consuming compressed cannabis resin. The intricate process of sieving allows for the isolation of resin from the bud, with the various regional techniques lending diversity to this ancient art.

In recent times, technological advancements have propelled the hash and concentrate industry into a new era. Machine and solvent-based extraction methods such as butane hash oil (BHO) and CO2 oil, which are extremely pure. These methods have gained popularity around the world. This is likely because there is evidence linking hashish to less harmful forms of consumption, since there is higher concentrations of CBD molecules typically present in hashish.

 

The Hashish Legacy

Hashish boasts a rich history with its roots dating back to the 11th century. Found in writings from the Arabian Nights, hashish’s prominence grew, thanks to the Persians who popularized it across the Middle East. This cannabis concentrate has been intertwined with legends and historical figures. Most notably, historical figures such as the Order of Assassins, Genghis Khan’s Mongols, and Napoleon troops, who are largely credited for its dissemination across Europe and beyond.

Legends tell tales of an enigmatic Order of Assassins, a clandestine cult which happened to be something of hash connoisseurs that emerged in the 11thcentury. Immortalized in the chronicles of history and the modern telling of it through the critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed series. Etymological tales link the word “Assassin” to Hashishin” which roughly translates to “hash devourers.” Archives of Marco Polo’s voyages and historical documents depict the Hashishin as a formidable cadre of warriors, commanded by the mystified Sheik Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, dedicated to safeguarding the holy land from the encroachment of crusaders.

Debate persists regarding the westward journey of cannabis; some posit that crusaders themselves were responsible for its dissemination, while others attribute its European debut to the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Enticed by the allure of hash during their Egyptian expedition, French soldiers swiftly succumbed to its intoxicating charm. The substance’s rapid rise to prominence among the troops prompted an Egyptian ban in 1800. Yet, in a twist of fate, French forces returning home in 1801 carried the coveted cannabis with them. By 1843, the ubiquity of hash in France was undeniable, its appeal radiating across the nation.

In the modern era, a myriad of hash forms and novel processing techniques have emerged, catapulting highly potent hash-like extractions to prominence on a global scale. The storied history of hash continues to evolve, as the world embraces the legacy of these ancient concentrates and the innovations that shape their future.

Traditional Hash Production

Before diving into the modern methods of hash production, its essential to appreciate the traditional techniques that remain cherished in various regions. Hand-rolled balls of cannabis resin, called charas, are still crafted from landrace Indica plants in the Himalayas. In Northern Africa and the Middle East, sieved kief crystals are pressed, kneaded, and heated to create delightful hashish.

Modern Hash Techniques

Technology has propelled hash production into new realms, introducing numerous innovative methods that have transformed the concentrate landscape:

Bubble Hash

This technique utilizes ice water and specially designed sieving bags, known as bubble bags, to agitate cannabis resin glands from the plant material. The extracted gooey substance dries into a powdery hash that can be further processed into a smoother consistency.

Want to learn more about making bubble hash? Look at the full article here.

Dry Ice Hash

A method that leverages the sublimination properties of dry ice, creating a golden power that can be smoked or vaporized. This rapid extraction process takes only about 15 minutes, and the absence of moisture allows for immediate consumption after straining.

Finger Hash

A rudimentary form of hash that results from the simple act of handling cannabis. The sticky, resinous coating that accumulates on the fingers can be collected and smoked. This hash variety is characterized by the prominence of aromatic terpenes due to the freshness of the material.

Blender Hash

This technique involves blending cannabis trim, ice, and water to separate trichomes from the plant matter. The trichomes sink to the bottom, while a fine screen catches the plant matter. The mixture is then strained through a coffee filter, yielding kief that can be pressed hashish.

Charas

Among these classic concentrates is the enchanting charas, handcrafted spheres of resin derived from landrace Indica plants native to the majestic Himalayan mountains. Charas are traditional hash balls that are sieved and hand-rolled in Nepal and northern India. In their native region, charas are traditionally made with landrace indica strains, which give these tasty resin dollops a calming and sedative effect. Charas look like a dark, pliable gooey ball, with a texture similar to soft dough.

Silk Screen and Flat Screening

In both these methods, ground cannabis is shaken over a screen with holes ranging from 70-125 microns in diameter. The trichomes fall through the screen, collecting as kief, which can then be pressed into hashish. Silk screening involves using progressively finer screens to create high-grade hashish with minimal vegetable matter.

Drum Method

An automated process in which the trim is placed in a vibrating drum, enabling trichomes to fall through a fine screen and collect as kief. This technique yields a fine grade of kief that can be pressed into hashish.

The Future of Hash

As cannabis legalization progresses globally, the popularity of hash and its various production techniques will likely continue to grow. Traditional hash forms such as charas coexist with modern solvent-based extractions, catering to diverse preferences among cannabis enthusiasts. The industry is still young and evolving, we can anticipate innovative methods and new products to further expand the world of hash. Research into the potential therapeutic benefits of terpenes and cannabinoids presented in different hash varieties is expected to deepen our understanding of this ancient substance. Furthermore, environmentally conscious production methods and sustainable practices will play a crucial role in shaping the future of hash. Education and awareness around responsible consumption, quality control, and product transparency will contribute to the growth and development of the industry.

As consumers become more discerning and knowledgeable, the demand for high-quality, artisanal hash products will increase, fostering a new generation of hash connoisseurs.

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