The Definitive Guide to Solventless Rosin and Ice Water Hash Textures
When it comes to dabable cannabis concentrates, solventless options reign supreme in the quality department. For anyone who hasn’t been introduced to these products personally, “solventless” refers to extracts that are produced mechanically without the use of any solvents such as butane, CO2, or alcohol. The most sought after categories of solventless concentrates are rosin and ice water hash, which have gained immense popularity in the cannabis community over the last decade due to their purity, superior flavor profiles, and effects.
In many places, live hash rosin has become the preferred choice for many cannabis enthusiasts who value top notch terpene profiles and the best of what cannabis plants have to offer. It’s made by washing freshly frozen buds in an ice water bath, which separates the delicate trichomes that are graded, collected, and freeze dried. The resulting material is known as bubble hash (also referred to as ice water extract or ice water hash). To make rosin, the live bubble hash is put into a fine mesh filter and pressed between heated, pressurized plates to extract the terpene and cannabinoid-rich resins from inside the trichomes, leaving you with a potent, completely solventless concentrate. While bubble hash as-is tends to be far less common at the dispensary, its finest form is known as full melt, which is coveted by connoisseurs due to its rarity and difficulty of production.
Solventless rosin can vary greatly in texture, ranging from a glass, shatter-like product to a gooey, sugary sap-like consistency and many others in between depending on factors such as the starting material, temperature, and pressure used during the extraction process. Ice water hash on the other hand will usually only come in one of two textures: either a frozen, beach sand-like consistency or is a tacky, half melted tangle of trichome heads. Each type of rosin or hash tends to offer unique characteristics and appeal to different cannabis enthusiasts.
The Different Types of Rosin Textures
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that there isn’t a single texture that makes a higher quality rosin than another. Each strain’s unique characteristics, namely its terpene composition, wax content, and cannabinoid profile often dictate the viscosity of the resulting rosin, which narrows the range of possible consistencies. It’s also important to understand that personal preference and popularity tend to influence processors as to which types of rosin are being made as they have to weigh the time and energy it takes versus how desirable any given texture may be.
Fresh Press Rosin
Fresh press, aka first press, is sought after for its raw, unaltered solventless profile that is likely to evolve in the texture department over time. This type of rosin is simply filtered, pressed, and jarred without having any post-processing alterations. It’s very difficult to achieve room temperature shelf stable rosin with fresh press, so it’s typically sold chilled and is highly suggested that you store it that way too. Otherwise, chances are it will “budder” up, which isn’t always a bad thing. While rosin shatter isn’t its own category of consistency, fresh pressed rosin is typically the only type of solventless that you’ll encounter a shatter-like consistency.
Live Rosin Jam or Rosin Sauce
Rosin jam, which is also sometimes called rosin sauce, lava, slush, or one of many other names, is a unique solventless texture characterized by its separation of terpenes and cannabinoids, resulting in a blend of THCA microcrystals and terpene sauce. This texture is usually achieved by placing a sealed jar of live rosin in an oven between 190-225°F. After removing the jar from the oven it is then placed on a heated pad around 100°F until the THCA crystals form. It can range from a wet sugar all the way to raw, discernible THCA crystals in terpene sauce and is typically prized for its flavor and shelf stability without refrigeration.
Cold Cure Rosin
Among the very most popular forms of modern live rosin is cold cure, which provides a very even, badder-like consistency that’s reminiscent of undercooked dough. It’s made by taking fresh press in a sealed jar and letting it cure in temperatures ranging between 45-70°F for up to a month. Once the terpenes separate from the mixture and settle at the top it is lightly whipped to homogenize the product. It tends to be highly shelf stable at room temperatures when done correctly which is the reason many processors go to extra lengths to make cold cure.
Badder, also known as budder or less commonly batter (which is often a hydrocarbon product instead), has a creamy and butter-like texture. It is soft and easy to manipulate and is another popular consistency that’s fairly easy to create. The badder texture is achieved by placing a jar of sealed live rosin in the oven. The process is similar to jam production, but you aren’t curing it long enough for THCA crystals to form.
Solventless sap is a rosin with a thick, viscous, and gooey texture that is often similar to rosin sauce or jam, but with a more even, homogenized composition and no THCA crystal formations. It is made by pacing a sealed jar of rosin in the oven for slightly less time than you would for a full decarboxylation. It typically has a lower viscosity than other textures, giving it a more syrupy appearance.
Rosin diamonds are THCA formations that closely resemble crystals. Solventless diamonds are created by mechanically separating rosin or bubble hash on a rosin press. The separation process on the press starts at a low temperature and pressure to slowly remove the terpenes. The temperature and pressure is slowly increased over time to refine the THCA into an isolate. Once the THCA has been aggregated into a chalky powder form on the press plates, the THCA powder is processed further with heat to form the diamonds. Due to the added labor, consumables, and loss, diamonds are typically the least common solventless texture found on shelves.
It's important to point out that achieving the desired texture of solventless rosin requires precise control of temperature, pressure, and pressing times during the extraction process. Different strains and starting materials may respond differently to the same pressing conditions, so experienced rosin makers often adjust their techniques accordingly to produce the intended result and preserve the unique characteristics of each strain.
Hash Textures Explained
Hash is a catch-all term for many different types of cannabis or even hemp extracts, but in this case, it most commonly refers to ice water hash or sometimes dry sift hash, its non-water separated cousin. Kief however is typically denoted as the unrefined version of dry sift and contains a mixture of trichome heads, stalks, and plant matter but is often of fairly middling to low quality. For our purposes we’ll focus on bubble hash and dry sift textures, which are simple in comparison to rosin due to the fact that their resin is still contained within the trichome heads and stalks. These products tend to change texture much more swiftly at room temperature and often are less shelf stable.
Another important concept to understand is when it comes to bubble hash and dry sift quality, they’re ranked on a star-based grading scale, from one to six. 1 - 2 star products are low quality and destined for food grade instead of vaporized or smoked applications. 3 - 4 star hashes are on the low end of rosin grade, whereas 5 star ice water hash is the most common material that is pressed into high quality rosin. Lastly, 6 star, or full melt as it’s affectionately known, is the highest and best grade that raw trichomes are available in. It’s called melt or full melt because when dabbed, it should leave little to no residue in the banger, which is the ultimate sign of purity.
Full Melt or 6 Star Hash
When made properly, high quality ice water hash resembles a soft, sand-like texture where you can see the individual trichome heads with the naked eye. Full melt or 6 star bubble hash is typically found in the 90-120 micron range. It’s anywhere from an off-white to a golden or light brown color and it will literally melt in minutes at room temperature. That’s why it’s kept in an airtight container in a freezer or refrigerator at all times to preserve its loose, granular consistency.
Full Spectrum Bubble Hash
Full spectrum bubble hash typically contains the full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids and can be any star rating. This is achieved by collecting the full range of usable micron ranges from the wash (25-160micron) and combining them. This is best suited as a bowl topper or an addition to a joint because of how it can char your banger with contaminants. Some brands also use bubble hash to infuse their edibles as the active ingredient, which as a result is going to be a true full spectrum product unless otherwise specified.
Greased Bubble Hash
Top shelf bubble hash when it’s stored above approximately 40°F even for just a little while will almost always transform into a very tacky, gooey yet slightly granular texture as the resin melts. Lower grades of ice water hash will often resist this augmentation for a little longer due to the increased thickness of the trichome’s cuticle and husk.
Piatella, which originates from Spain, is a soft and wet texture of full melt bubble hash that has been melted down, whipped, and cured in the refrigerator. Referred to this way, it’s a relatively new form of solventless ice water hash that is making waves in the industry. Unfortunately it’s so new that it is very difficult to find at the moment, but we expect that to change quickly as consumer awareness grows and the demand for piatella hash increases.
Hand Pressed or Brick Hash
Also known as old world hashish, hand pressed or brick style hashes are simply unrefrigerated versions of bubble hash or dry sift that are pressed into dense layers by hand or with simple tools. It’s then typically cured for long periods of time to richen its flavors, much like wine and is quite thick yet pliable when cut into pieces. These products will virtually always have a much darker color compared to live ice water hash and have been made for possibly thousands of years. Old word hashish is far less popular than it used to be with modern solventless consumers, but is still desired by some connoisseurs for its unparalleled earthy, skunky flavors.
Temple balls are a type of old world style hashish that have been carefully formed into a ball by hand, which are then stored and cured for long periods of time to concentrate their flavor. This process has been performed perhaps for thousands of years. They can range in color from a medium beige to almost jet black depending on what quality of cannabis was used and how long it has been cured for. Temple balls are essentially the modern moniker for charas, but traditional charas are made with live trichomes instead of dried and cured ones like most temple balls are.
Since the vast majority of dry sift ends up graded between 2 and 4 stars at best, it tends to remain shelf stable in the same sandy texture that frozen ice water hash does at room temperature. Paradoxically, true 5 or 6 six star full melt dry sift however typically behaves like its ice water-produced counterpart and almost always needs to be frozen or refrigerated to remain separated, otherwise it will tend to melt together just like unrefrigerated bubble hash does. If you’re lucky enough to come across some incredible static tech dry sift, keep it cold in an airtight jar!
Last but not least is kief, which is frequently confused with sift or dry sift. As noted above, kief is the unrefined, loose mixture of trichome heads, stalks, and abraded plant material. That’s why it’s often rather green or dark beige, which is due to those tiny bits of organic, non-resinous debris and leaked chlorophyll. Kief is commonly collected during the dry trimming process and at the bottom of grinders but is typically low quality in comparison to many of the other hash products defined here. That doesn’t mean it isn’t potent or can’t be pressed into rosin however, just that it’s usually worth the effort to clean it first to make a better product.
Finding the Right Solventless Texture for You
Now that you have a clearer picture of the range that solventless rosin and hash is available in, our last suggestion is to experiment with as many as you’re interested in to find out which ones you like the most. Although it’s not a hard rule, the less viscous a rosin is, the more terpenes it tends to contain, and vice versa since terpenes strongly affect viscosity in extracts and concentrates. Finally, if you want to find out more about the best solventless options, make sure to subscribe to our email list and share TerpGuide with your friends!
Rosin Sap: Jungle Boys (@jungleboysrosin), Rosin Diamonds: Ryan Lecates (@rosin.ryan)
Piatella Hash: @terpodactyl_media via Leaf Magazine, Temple Ball: Seattle Bubble Works via Seattle Times
Brick Hash, Dry Sift, and Kief: Canva Pro
All other imagery was taken by members of the TerpGuide team.