How does 'Ice hash' work?
The theory is so simple, you could compare it to panning for gold. The good stuff sinks! First, we need to encourage separation of the 'good stuff' (THCA) from the 'bad stuff' (plant matter etc). This is done with ice, a blender, then some filtering through the best cheesecloth you can find, and finally patience to extract the remaining liquid completely.
Here's a step by step ...
Part 1: Raw ingredients and kitchen equipment
We start with a fairly solid looking lump of your wild brick weed, found places I won't go into much detail on ... ;) Needless to say, it's not an ounce, maybe half ounce or 12g thereabout. I didn't weigh it.
Next, you are definitely going to require something similar to this ... seen here sterilized, cleaned, and ready for duty. Usually I make my smoothies with this, my favorite piece of kitchen equipment - a professional blender that cost me about $90 only from a home gadgets mall somewhere in Southeast Asia. So far it probably delivered me $9000 in smoothies. In fact, even Cryptoninja.guru (my space Robot pet) is banned from using any of his attachments on it.
Easy's blender is kick-ass. The smoothies that come out from it will make you say yaammmmmyyyy
Part 2 - Initial smash
Into a mortar the brick the block went, basically quick/lazy way to start opening up the dense brick open to sort the thicker stalks, and generally making it pull apart and offer up more surface area (trust me, it's maths and science). Soon into the blender he's going with ice and water - prior to which we're gonna chill it all in the freezer first for 20-30 mins.
Part 3 - Before
Get some more close up 'before' images. Here I have just snapped and broke up the block above, pummeled it a bit, then taken this shot with a macro attachment on my iphone. Getting some idea, this isn't really high grade stuff but we can see some crystallization. Ideal candidate for hash, let's remove all that worthless plant matter, and see what some chemistry magic can do.
Part 4 - On ice
Next, into the freezer we go. I've crumbled the block roughly (picture coming up, and above). Now it sits in the freezer and I just stuck the extra ice-brick there to give it some faster cooling. The chemistry is that the colder things are, the more easily the THC crystals will 'separate' from the plant. It makes sense, freeze any sticky gooey substance and it becomes brittle like toffee.
Part 5 - Spliff break (mandatory)
At this stage, as you may be able to tell this process has been awful labor intensive. Now we may take a break for 30-40mins, first so that rough broken up shake and grass gets nice and cold. Also, to mentally prepare for what is ahead - which won't be difficult if you prepare well. Time for a spliff!
Part 6 - Filter stuff
Now enjoying the spliff, let's go through the filters I found, and how they came in handy before demonstrating more in the final steps ...
Filtration media. We need it to filter the fine stuff that contains the THCA goodness from the lumpy plant matter. Be prepared to order online unless you can find it locally. There are all kinds of ice-hash threads about different 'micron' levels. You'll see from my experience tho, some readily available household pollen bags did just fine.
Paper coffee filters
Far left, coffee filters - paper ones. Before I started, I didn't realize just how bad these are to try straining with. Coffee is grainy and allows water through. Putting anything else in there is just a disaster. The next items reveal how to let the good stuff through, and keep the plant matter aside. Only at the very end, we find out these come in very useful. Read on to see how!
Ever found those filtered coffees to taste a bit weak? Yeah, well, they don't let enough of anything through them.
Paper filter - 'tho shalt not pass'
Herb extraction / pollen bags
Middle item - Then I discovered these are readily available in the supermarket, to my delight!
They have pictures of dried herbs on the packaging ... and that's about it. They're specifically designed for VERY similar tasks. The cost? 50cents or so. Steal. Looking at them with the macro, we can estimate micron level to be around 120. I think they are going to be ideal ... they were. coming up
Close up of the pollen bag, blown up 15* at least by macro. The holes are uniform and even, and I can just tell by feel it will work better. Holes are not too big, not too small. A bit of veggie matter is also, only going to bulk up our hash. It's no major deal when the starting weed is mediocre anyway.
I'm in Asia, maybe try your local Asian food store for these?
Asian 'coffee sock'
Far right on the layout above - This remains unused. The holes appear to be just too large, and it just seemed awkward. If you have ever seen a street-side coffee vendor in Southeast Asia, you'll understand how this thing is supposed to be used. I thought it would be awesome to use in a hash making process ... see why here in this video from Singapore ... pioneers of some of the greatest street coffee ever (IMO).
Anyway, the coffee sock might work for a first pass with a larger amount of trim, or to start and work down through smaller and smaller grade filters. Just for curiosity here, it only cost about $1 from a local store, so I had to bring it home and inspect fully. Here is the mesh holes through the macro, although it doesn't look so bad in this picture, to the naked eye the holes were clearly going to let WAY too much through.
Part 7 or So - Down to business
Our final bowl of rough broken chop, chilled in the freezer. As I see I'm still removing a stick, I believe this is actually before the freezing. So much for sequential shots, anyway you get the idea. This is like a small soup bowl of quite average street grass weed. Woot. Perhaps $12 worth. Is it about to turn into gold, or mere 21st century alchemy and snake oil?
If you wanna find out ... dump it all into the blender with about 5-6 ice cubes, and a cup or so of water. Use your judgement, about equal water/ice to amount of weed. Not too much ....
Part 8 - Whizz that sh1t up!
On the slowest setting you can, and keep it slow. It might spray everywhere in the blender, so take it off, and push all the stuff back down, and keep going. Repeat cleaning up the contents which might spray everywhere. Finally, once it is blending smooth, keep the speed down. We don't want to completely obliterate it, generate too much heat. If your blades just aren't sharp and hard enough steel, you might struggle. This sub $100 blender did just fine.
Chemistry magic is happening - we're seriously 'agitating' our weed now to make the THCA crystals just fall away and separate from everything else ... like gold :)
At this stage, you're probably thinking. What the fu*k. Easyrider, you're a baller! Did you just prank me big time, my weed is RUINED! Damn you! No, don't panic ... keep going. However, I do hope you saved something aside to smoke, as it'll be a few hours (or a day) before we see actual hash.
Disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you do mess up your weed. I found patience, a steady hand, and staying sober worked for me.
Part 9 - Straining the good stuff out
Now it's been in the blender and hopefully all became some kind of sandy slush. In batches and into several bowls if needed, you can start straining it off. Into the pollen bag it goes, then held over a bowl and let it drain. Slowly we go, don't worry if you fill a few bowls, make them even. Squeeze as you get to the end, then you can flush through more cold water.
It's flowing through and the THCA crystals in suspension, are a lot more tiny than the plant particles. Pure science. The active ingredients will flow through, all your vegatable crap will stay in the bag. As an added bonus, fertilizers, chemicals, etc, will stay in the water. The hash all sinks.
Note - keep the strained off mash. It's can be packed into a brick and used in place of tobacco. I am unsure, but mine did seem to retain just a little potency.
It's like coffee in fact, with a thick creamy layer initially appearing. Don't squeeze so hard, let it drain at it's own pace.
Part 10 - Settle it and chill it
It's called Ice hash for a reason. Now get that filtered mixture in the fridge, and let it chill. Don't let it freeze however!. Be very careful, we want to let the heavy matter settle to the base of our bowls. You can agitate them ever so slightly, by gently rotating them on their bases every 20 mins or so. You could also tap gently on the edges with a spoon. Aim to leave them for a couple hours now. Do whatever, take dinner or watch a movie. Leaving it cold will ensure even more of the good stuff remains separated and sinks. I took them out to begin bringing to room temp just before I went to bed that day.
Part 11 - Draining, draining, draining
This was the most laborious part, and I'm sure much much faster with experience. After the filtering through the pollen bags. See the previous note about leftovers - I squashed mine into a brick and let it dry in the sun, it smoked well and made a good 'tobacco' for spliffs.
Pic of leftovers missing ... next time ok ;)
Part 12 - Day 2 - Recommend to sleep it off
I get the bowls out into the sun first thing. Next, using paper kitchen towels, twist them up, and dip the tip at the top of the water. Osmosis will start to carry out water from the bowl, and only water.
Practice is certain to accelerate this stage, all we need do is lift the water (and only the water) from the bowl. What's left will be pure hash.
Next time, I will greatly speed up this process by using a syringe or turkey baster, covering the end with the paper coffee filters. I really did fuss too much about what I could lose in the water, when much of it was just stained brown water. However, the hash is very wet and sludgy at first, and easy to waste. Patience and a steady hand rule again.
Part 13 - Keep going ... and going ...
Slowly but surely through the day, I managed via making a mess, with kitchen towels and paper coffee filters, to extract almost all the water from the bowl.
Eventually, you arrive at the river silt mud seen here. Just a skim layer of water is sitting on top, and the more you go the more the water seems to want to sit on top.
Part ... 14 Are you still counting? Pour it out
When I got close enough, I just poured the whole lot out onto a wad of coffee paper filters. 3 or 4 of them. As you can see in the image, result was they are very good at sucking out the last water from the hash. At this point, i can also use a credit card to manipulate it.
Keep going, eventually it got tacky enough to pick up without a credit card. Now, I apologize for loosing the pace at the end here, as so much effort went into the earlier parts of this article! Next pictures speak for themselves ... #visual. The coffee papers work and sucked more water out, until I was left with a sticky block. It's that simple!
Before I know what was going on, I was holding it in my hands!
However, I let it between some more coffee paper filters, under a fan. The final shots are how it become a lovely, and strong, little wad of squishy black.
Once it was dried completely, and compressed gently between the coffee filter papers
Smoking effects? Pungent, oily, weedy, #old-school. One of these to 5 or 6 usual, and that makes sense with the vastly increased density.
Finished product, seen under the macro lens here.