Want to feel lucky? Consider the statistical probability of being alive on planet Earth at precisely the right moment in human history to witness a technological renaissance and cultural revolution in cannabis. You won that cosmic lottery — we all did.
So what better way to celebrate our good fortune than dabbing some freshly pressed rosin made at home? This simple but powerful extraction method has surfed a tsunami wave of excitement across the continent, obliterating obstacles for would-be dabbers in even the most prohibition-darkened corners of the cannabis landscape.
And rosin isn’t just for people without access to critical concentrates. Even in states, where BHO shatter and wax can be obtained with a quick trip to the nearest dispensary, the potency and flavor of rosin has captured the imaginations of many diehard dabbers, myself very much included.
My first rosin dab set an exceptionally high bar for everything I’ve tried since. It was a transparent, amber glass shatter pressed from connoisseur-grade bubble hash. The effects were astoundingly powerful, with a flavor profile that offered a sweeter, cleaner variation on the classic earthy spice of full spectrum hash.
But not everybody has access to top-shelf hash, which is why a lot of the buzz around rosin tech has to do with pressing flowers. My initial attempts to press my own proved less than successful, but I later learned that I was pressing at too high a temperature. Once I corrected that error, rosin tech became a quick, convenient way to literally squeeze a few tasty dabs out of my flower stash.
Rosin’s simplicity allows anybody with access to cannabis and a few common household items to make dabs at home in a matter of minutes. And if you don’t have one or more of the things you’ll need, nothing required should cost more than $50.
If you’re reading this, odds are you’ve got some cannabis flowers handy. Grab a few grams from your stash — two to four works for our purposes.
Now fetch a flat iron from the bathroom. I know there’s a roughly 50/50 chance you don’t know what a flat iron is, but if you live with someone who has long hair there’s also a roughly 50/50 chance that you’ll find one in the bathroom.
OK, it’s like a pair of barbecue tongs with electric heating plates that touch each other when you squeeze the handles. It’ll have a power cord and (hopefully) a temperature dial on it… did you find it? Now all we need is parchment paper (NOT wax paper) or a “dab mat,” previously known as a silicone baking mat and still sold as such for half the price of the “heady” ones.
Now take a medium-sized bud and either fold it into an envelope of parchment paper or wrap it inside a silicone mat. Take the resulting bundle and press it hard between the heating plates of the flat iron.
You’ll need to find the ideal temperature for the strain you’re using, but for me it was right around 250° F. A higher temperature can coax out a slightly higher yield, but it can also compromise the consistency and flavor of the final product. As a general rule, the lower the pressing temp, the more stable the final product will be.
In terms of pressure, apply as much as you possibly can without breaking the iron. I had great success pressing the iron into the floor with my knee… then I broke the iron. Experiment and find what works for you.
Once you’ve pressed long enough (some say three seconds, some say until you hear a sizzle) it’s the moment of truth. Peeling the paper or mat back the first time combines the anticipation of unwrapping a gift with the anxiety of waiting on test scores, but if you got it right you’ll know right away because you’ll see a golden halo of rosin around your now flattened bud.
Gather up all the rosin with a tool and fire up your dab rig, because the clock just struck 7:10.
If you do have access to some bubble hash, you can use more or less the same method to press that into rosin as well. Only you’ll want to reduce the temperature substantially. Most of the professional hash makers I’ve spoken with agree that between 160° and 180° F is where high-quality hash should turn into rosin. If your starting material isn’t that great, it might require a bit more, but don’t expect magical results. As in all cannabis extraction, what you get out is largely dictated by what you put in.
Or as Evan X. from High Noon Extracts once told me, “You can’t turn chicken shit into chicken salad.”
You also don’t have to press rosin to dab bubble hash, you can just press the hash lightly, so the “loose” hash becomes a cuttable, pickable, dabbable patty of gum. You can achieve the same effect by rubbing loose hash against itself in the palm of your hand. But however you do it, the idea is to heat up the hash just enough to make it malleable and then finesse it into a glob.
Dabbing pressed bubble provides a unique sensory experience that amplifies the flavors and effects of full spectrum hash, giving you the immediacy of a dab and the deep complexity of a classic hash high. If your hash is already full melt, this is all you really need to do with it.
And if you do have some tasty hash that needs a boost in potency and melt – or you just want an experience similar to dabbing shatter without concerning yourself with residual solvents – pressing it into rosin could be just what’s called for.
No matter which starting material you chose, remember that it all boils down to heat and pressure. I’ve seen rosin made with a pneumatic press that exerts enough pressure to crush bones, but you don’t need to get even close to that. T-shirt presses, coffee mug presses – anything that combines heat and pressure has the potential for creating rosin.
And a final word of caution: make sure you know what’s in your cannabis. This is important even if you don’t plan to make rosin, but especially if you do. When you squeeze the cannabinoids out of flowers you also squeeze out any residual water, which can contain pesticides, chemical nutrients and other potentially harmful remnants of the cultivation process. Like the desirable THC, these elements will also be concentrated in the final product, so clean starting material is a must. Only press flowers from trusted suppliers.
Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now as Rosin Up Your Rig.