A dollop of golden resin lands on the smoldering, yet quickly cooling, quartz banger. On impact, the glistening Purple Tangie hashish immediately begins to pulsate furiously; large, clear domes of orange and pine bliss form and pop in rapid succession. I hasten to inhale all of the tangy, swirling blue smoke and I am immediately awash in a pleasant and uplifting energy. There is nothing quite like the unique experience of dabbing bubble hash.
When it comes to the enjoyment of concentrates, dabbing BHO and CO2 oil will get you high for sure, but the experience is very different from smoking hashish. For example, the taste of CO2 oil is sometimes rather bland. For this reason, many of solvent-free CO2 extraction companies invest a lot of effort in reintroducing the right amount of terpenes so that the concentrate is up to par. With BHO, there is often a chest-expanding sensation that takes many dabbers time to get used to. I find that, contrary to that chest-expanding feeling, dabbing hashish immediately opens a sparkly channel of positive feeling up through my nose, between my eyes and toward the top of my head. A calm hush descends upon the outside world as I become inwardly focused on the thick, rolling blue smoke tunneling down to my lungs and then easily bursting forth from my mouth. When I dab hashish, I feel like I temporarily relinquish control of my body — and I am fine with that. With each breath, waves of euphoria course through my veins and my skin feels like it is vibrating.
Given my immense love for hashish, many are surprised to find out that this love affair began relatively recently. It was at the 2014 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup that I had my eyes opened to the world of concentrates made without chemical solvents. Coming from the desert that was the Florida concentrates scene, I was eager to ingest as many dabs as possible, so I dabbed everything in sight with much enthusiasm. I found myself in front of a well-appointed booth with huge chunks of chocolate of different colors on display. I am no fan of chocolate, so I screwed up my face and turned away, mumbling about my distaste for the sweet brown delicacy. A voice piped up in a thick French accent, “This is not chocolate. This is hashish.”
Sure, I had tasted some hashish when my husband was gifted a few precious morsels of the dark substance. However, I had never seen it in any quantities larger than half of a fingernail. My response was to ask if it could be dabbed. When I was assured it could, I did, and it was glorious. That was the beginning.
Weeks later, after a deep introductory smoke and coffee session, the French man — aptly named Frenchy Cannoli — offered me the opportunity to both write about hashish for an international magazine and to learn to make it myself. The very first teaching session had me hooked.
I had made other concentrates before. Earlier in 2014, my husband and I had traveled to intern at a CO2 oil manufacturing company. One of the main turn-offs of that process was how mechanical and energetically sterile it all felt. In CO2 extractions, cannabis is crushed in a grinder, stuffed in tubes and then, for six hours amidst the loudest racket imaginable, cannabis oil is forced out of the plant material.
In contrast, the whole procedure of making bubble hash is far more romantic. The material used must be treated as delicately as the material that will eventually be sold in stores. Washing resin requires a keen eye, paying attention to all the variables. Is there enough ice? Too much? Should the machine (or hand stirrer) be more aggressive to loosen the stubborn trichomes? Has the material been in water long enough or for too much time? The manner of making hashish is all about balance.
Once dried, the magic continues in the pressing stage, which is my favorite part. My love for hashish practically overflows when it is time to melt the clean trichome heads into one luscious mass. In a sensual dance of gentle prodding and coercion, I shape warm resin with my hands, caressing, forming, squeezing and rolling. By the time I am done, I love that piece of hashish thoroughly. I have deposited a piece of myself into the process.
And the benefits of bubble hash are not just atmospheric. High THCA and THC percentages are touted as reasons for preferring other types of extracts, but bubble hash made from the right varieties will yield percentages in the high 70s to 80s.
Plus, while I do not have a scientific basis for my belief, my body can feel the difference between consuming just the oil byproduct in BHO and CO2 oil versus the whole trichome in hashish.
Though I like pressed hash the most, granular hash has my heart, too. The majority of hashish that I consume and write about is from dedicated modern-style hashmakers who prefer to separate their trichome glands through multiple micron screens, creating a powdery hash. I can appreciate the great effort it takes to make quality hashish of all consistencies and I like it all.
However, while I am easily enamored by expertly dried glands perched discretely atop each other, I am positively enraptured by examples of the best pressed hash available. The beauty of the smooth, gleaming skin of a well-rolled temple ball is unrivaled by the aesthetic of any other presentation of cannabis trichomes, and that includes solventless diamonds. No matter how gorgeous they may be, they are not my best friend. That particular space in my heart is reserved for broad-spectrum, partially decarbed, pressed bubble hash.
Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.