What is Hash? Where It Comes From, Common Types, and How It’s Made
Hash has been consumed for centuries across the globe. But what is hash exactly and how is it made?
Photography by Georgia Love for Herb
Hash, also known as hashish, is a traditional method of consuming pressed cannabis resin. Cannabis resin is broken off from the bud through a process of sieving. There are many different traditional methods for hash making, and techniques vary from region to region.
Nowadays, technology has revolutionized the hash and concentrate business. Machine and solvent-based extractions are more common in the United States than in more traditional hashish products, including charas, which are delightful round balls of rolled cannabis resin from landrace Indica plants in the Himalayas.
Solvent-based extractions, such as butane hash oil (BHO) and CO2 oil, are extremely pure. However, there may be some benefit in opting for less processed forms of concentrated resin.
Many of the terpenes and flavor molecules in cannabis are lost during solvent-based extractions (especially CO2), and has has been deemed a healthy cannabis product all around thanks to the higher concentrations of CBD typically present in traditional hashish.
With more traditional forms of hash making, sieved kief crystals are pressed, kneaded, and sometimes heated to create a ball or compressed brick of hashish. Sticky globs of this stuff can be put into a pipe or on top of some ground bud in a vaporizer. Some hash has more of a soft, crumbly, consistency.
This hash is often pressed rather than hand-rolled. In fact, until the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, hash was pressed using a technique which required it to be buried underground, allowing it to be naturally pressed.
This type of hash is very simple to make at home. Anyone with kief can simply put their sugary crystals into a kief press and transform loose powder into a simple, hash-like disk. While traditional hash making takes craftsmanship, compressed kief is perhaps the simplest way to make a basic hash.
Where Does Hash Come From?
Hash is one of the oldest ways of processing cannabis. Northern Africa and the Middle East are the two regions most known for traditional hash making. Hash is generally recognized as originating in the Middle East and today that region, particularly the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, is still known for producing some of the world’s best hash while the world’s two largest hash exporters are Morocco and Afghanistan.
The first mention of hashish in history is found in writings from around the 11th century, most popularly in the book Thousand and One Nights or Arabian Nights.
There is also historical evidence that hash was consumed regularly in Persia (modern-day Iran) and Persians are widely credited with spreading hash use across the rest of the Middle East. There are also theories that the Mongols, under Genghis Khan, helped to spread the use of hash throughout the Middle East and as far as central Europe.
Legends also tell of an 11th century group called the Order of Assassins, a real historical cult of hash smokers popularised today by the video game series Assassin’s Creed. The word Assassin itself is said to come from the word Hashishin, which means “hash eaters.” Letters from Marco Polo’s travels and other historical records mention the Hashishin as a group of warriors led by a man named Sheik Hasan ibn al-Sabbah who were trained to defend the Holy Land from crusaders.
While some claim that crusaders brought weed back to the west with them, hash is more commonly thought to have been brought to Europe by Napoleon’s troops, after they were introduced to the substance in Egypt. Hash became so popular among French soldiers that it was banned in Egypt in 1800. Ironically, after the occupation ended in 1801, troops brought cannabis back to France with them and by 1843, hash became widely available across the country.
Today, various forms of hash and different processing technologies have rapidly made highly potent hash-like extractions popular all over the world.
Common Types of Hash
Other than concentrates, here are a few buzzwords for specific types of hash most commonly found at dispensaries and other Western access points.
Bubble hash is made by agitating cannabis resin glands off of plant material using ice water and sometimes special sieving bags called bubble bags. The extracted material is then collected as a goo that drys into a powdery substance.
This powder can then be further rolled and pressed into a product with a smoother consistency, but it is often served up as a slightly crumbly, hash goo.
Want to learn more about making bubble hash? Take a look at the full article here.
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 a soft dough.
Dry Ice Hash
Dry ice hash is similar to bubble hash, but this one uses dry ice. The result is a delicious golden powder that you can scoop up and roll into a joint to place atop some flower in a vaporizer.
This method of extraction is very fast, taking all of about 15 minutes in total, plus the dry ice does not leave any moisture behind. This means that the simple hash will be ready to consume after straining.
Finger hash is familiar to anyone who has trimmed a few buds of weed. As cannabis is handled, the sticky trichomes form a thick resinous coating on the fingers. Trimmers often collect this finger hashish by rubbing their hands together over a plate during the trimming process. One distinguishing feature of finger hashish is the prominence of aromatic terpenes. This is because of the freshness of the material.
Considered one step up from finger hash in sophistication, blender hash requires the use of—surprise!—a blender. Cannabis, often trim, is added to the blender, along with ice and water. Blending this mixture separates the trichomes from the plant matter. The trichomes sink to the bottom when the blender is turned off. A fine screen catches the plant matter but allows the water and trichomes through. After this settles in a jar for about half an hour, the top two-thirds is poured out (be careful not to pour out any trichomes). Refrigerate this mixture for about 10 minutes, then strain it through a coffee filter. The resulting kief, once it dries, can be pressed into hashish using heat and pressure.
Silk Screen Hash
With the silk screen method, ground cannabis is shaken on a screen. The trichomes separate and fall onto a hard surface, ideally a dark one, where they can be seen and collected. This kief is then pressed into hashish. Some hashish makers use a number of progressively finer screens to create high-grade hashish with almost no vegetable matter at all.
Flat Screen Hash
In flat screening, a framed metal screen with holes between 70 and 125 microns is used. Dried trim is moved back and forth across the screen. This detaches the trichomes, which drop through the screen to collect as kief. More pressure on the cannabis creates a low-grade form of hashish with more vegetable matter.
The drum method is basically an automated way to make screen hash. The trim is placed in the drum, and the drum vibrates. This makes the trichomes fall through the fine screen. This can continue for hours. It yields a fine grade of kief, which can then be pressed into hashish.