Hash or hashish has been around for a long time. The word “hashish” itself has Arabic origins meaning ‘grass’. Hash made its way to the West in the 19th century when Europeans moved to Africa. In the early 20th century, practitioners of Western medicine used hashish. This stopped towards the end of the 20th century. That is when the government banned marijuana and hashish. However, with hash now legalized in many states in the US, it is witnessing a burgeoning resurgence.
People are now keen to learn about something that they spoke of in whispers earlier. Because of this resurgence of interest in hashish, more people are wanting to use it for recreational and medicinal purposes. Also, there are now more advanced methods to extract the hash. The newer methods give a more powerful and potent product. Let’s get into a more detailed look into what is hash.
What is Hash?
Hash or hashish comes from the trichomes or the ‘hair’ of the Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or the Cannabis ruderalis plants. More specifically, hashish comes from the resin in the trichomes of the cannabis plant. Hashish has many different street names, most of them are slang. Here are some names for hashish: charas, fudge, Norwegian wood, Lebanese blonde, and many more. Some more names: shatter, butane honey oil (BHO), wax, budder, and black glass.
The most common way to use hashish is to smoke it in a pipe. Another way to smoke it is to smoke it rolled in a ‘blunt’—an empty cigar. People also use a bong or water pipe to inhale it. Now people use e-cigarettes or vaporizers to inhale hashish, known as ‘dabbing’ or ‘vaping’. Many users also brew hashish as with tea or add it to foods like cookies or brownies. It gives you a high. Hashish is much more powerful as compared to marijuana. This is because the concentration of the psychoactive components is much higher in hashish.
There are many short-term and long-term effects of the regular use of hashish. These include loss of coordination and difficulty in thinking. The regular use of hash can also cause panic attacks, paranoia, and anxiety. Children born of a mother who is a regular user face memory and brain development problems when they grow up. Using hash from a young age could have low IQ levels. Users also need to be aware that hashish can be very addictive. Once addicted to the substance, it is very difficult to stop using it. Those trying to withdraw experience irritability, cravings, anxiety, sleeping trouble, and decreased appetite.
Types of Hash
There are many types of hash depending on the method used to make it. Here are some of them.
People in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and even Bhutan use this method to make hashish. In this method, the hash makers rub the mature living plants in their hands. The sticky resin sticks to their hands as a dark green or blackish residue. Later they scrub this residue off their hands and roll it into balls to ‘cure’. The ‘curing’ process can sometimes take years. This is one of the most common and popular forms of hash.
Rubbing the mature plants is also an art and not everyone can master it easily. However, in India and the sub-continent, this is a very common method of producing hashish. In India, the derogatory name for someone rubbing the cannabis plant is ‘chars or a person addicted to charas or hashish.
Dry Sift or Dry-sieve Hash
For dry sift hashish we gently rub the fully grown, harvested, and dried cannabis over a fine mesh. The rubbing causes the crystalline powdery resin to fall off the dried plant and fall through the mesh to get a fine powder called kief. The finer the screen, the better the quality of the hash. The more you rub the dry cannabis the more it gets contaminated with other plant parts, reducing the quality of the hashish.
For the finest quality hash, you use a fine mesh and you rub the cannabis for a very short time. As you can imagine this produces very little kief. That is one reason why hashish can be quite expensive.
Later you press the kief into blocks. Traditionally you do this by wrapping the kief in plastic and layers of wet newspaper and alternating with heat and pressing. Some machines can compact the kief into a block by just applying a lot of pressure.
The resultant block is a golden, dark brown, or blackish substance that is gooey like Play-Doh.
Bubble Hash (also known as Ice Water or Ice-O-later hash)
Rob Clarke and Neil Schumacher proposed this method of hash extraction in the 1980s. In 1997, Reinhard Delp patented the first device that used this extraction method. Mila Jansen modified these patents at a later stage.
In this method, we mix the dried and frozen cannabis with ice and water and agitated. The agitation breaks the trichomes off and suspends them in the water. Then we pass the agitated mixture through different sizes of mesh filters to separate the hashish. This kind of hash looks a bit like crystallized honey.
This method does not produce a very high-quality hash as it has many impurities in it. The impurities come from plant material that passes through the mesh and contaminates the trichomes.
Getting rosin is a fairly simple process. You just apply heat and a lot of pressure to the dried cannabis to get a golden extract that has great flavor and potency. Some people put the dried cannabis in parchment paper. Then they use a hot hair straightener to press the dried cannabis in the parchment paper. The resin in the dried cannabis oozes out and melts into the parchment paper. Then they remove the heat, the hair straightener, and the dried cannabis. When the parchment paper cools down the rosin resembles dried wax. You scrape off this waxy substance to get rosin. This is a DIY method. Almost anyone can do this.
Please note, resin and rosin are two different words. These words are not interchangeable. They are two different things.
Shatter, Crumble, Wax, Budder
Now, people have discovered ways to obtain hashish from cannabis using solvents. People are using butane, CO2 and, propane to extract huge amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis. With names like Shatter, Wax, Budder, and Crumble these products are gaining popularity in North America.
You need to be very careful while using solvents to extract hashish as the processes are potentially dangerous. Propane is a highly combustible solvent. There have been many accidents caused by the improper use of propane. This method requires equipment that costs a lot. In this equipment, neither the solvent nor the cannabis comes in contact with air. Also, if you do not remove the solvents properly from the hashish, they are harmful to the users.
But the product obtained using solvents is very potent and powerful.
Hash vs Marijuana
People use the names hash, hashish, and marijuana interchangeably. However, marijuana and hashish are two different products. Marijuana comes from the harvested and dried buds and tops of the female cannabis plant. Marijuana also has several interesting names. Weed, Mary Jane, pot, ganja, dope, and skunk, among many other names are common street names for marijuana
Compared to marijuana, hashish goes through more processes. The basic process to make hashish is as follows. You sift the dried tops and buds of the cannabis plants to collect kief. Then you compress the kief into balls or bricks. Hashish is much more potent and concentrated as compared to marijuana. Though we use the names interchangeably, they are different.
Hash or charas or Norwegian wood, whatever you want to call it is gaining prominence now that many states are legalizing the product. This has caused a lot of interest in learning what hashish is, how to produce it, and what the hullabaloo is about.
One common misconception everyone has is that hashish and marijuana are the same things. People also use the names interchangeably. They may both come from cannabis, but they are different products. Hash is much more concentrated, pure, and potent compared to marijuana.
There are many different types of hashish like the Indian hand-rubbed hash. You also have dry sift has and bubble hash. Now there are more exotic versions obtained using solvents like propane and butane.
Regular users need to be aware of the short- and long-term effects of hash. These ill-effects include panic and anxiety attacks as well as problems with memory loss and loss of coordination. Children born of mothers who were addicts have low IQs and memory problems. Users who start using hashish at young ages tend to have memory problems at a later stage in their lives.
Even though people want to try out and experience hashish, they need to be aware of the downside of using and abusing the substance. Hash can be addictive and can be a very difficult addiction to give up. So be aware!