The different types of hash and how to choose a variety

Four different types of hash

It can be very difficult to assess hashish for quality and effect. Cannabis flowers possess obvious characteristics such as aroma and crystal coverage to indicate their quality and potency. Hashish does not provide such obvious clues, and may also contain contaminants if produced in poor conditions.

How to assess quality of hashish

In this article I am generally assuming “hashish” to mean traditional types of hash such as dry-sift or hand-rubbed, rather than the high-strength solvent extracts so popular today. However, I have also made some mention of ice-o-lator hash (now also known as “solventless” extract) as it is common in the Dutch coffeeshops, and also can be assessed in similar ways to traditional hash.

In the coffeeshops, it is not always possible to subject your potential hashish purchase to rigorous checks. Some of these checks include handling the hashish, and many coffeeshop “dealers” generally try to prevent their products being handled in case of dirty or perfumed hands compromising its quality. But if you can’t touch it yourself, you can at least ask the coffeeshop employee to demonstrate.

Round balls of hash

What to look for in good quality hash depends on the type, as hand-rubbed and dry-sift have different properties. But for any type of hash, first check the aroma. Good quality, fresh hashish should be at least mildly fragrant; warning signs could be a stale or even mouldy smell (if the product has not been dried fully—this applies more to hand-rubbed and ice-o-lator hash) or even a noticeable “plasticky” smell, which could indicate presence of contaminants.

Visual characteristics of good-quality types of hash

The appearance of hashish varies widely by type. Dry-sift is probably the most common type found in coffeeshops today; this type is produced by sieving the dry flowers so that the trichomes are separated out. The dry, trichome-packed powder that results is known as kif or kief; it is then compressed to form hash.

Good-quality, pressed dry-sift ranges in appearance from light blondish-brown, soft, crumbly (almost “sandy”) in texture (for lightly-pressed hash), to dark-brown, shiny and hard (for heavily-pressed types). If looking at a hard, heavily-pressed form of dry-sift, it should still appear a lighter blondish-brown hue when cut open, and should become soft when warmed. Some dry-sift hashish, particularly of Lebanese origin, may be more reddish than blonde in appearance.

Hand-rubbed hashish, most commonly from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, is the second most common type found in Dutch coffeeshops. This form of hashish is produced by rubbing the living plants to remove the sticky resin, which is then rolled into balls or eggs and left to cure before being consumed or sold.

Hand-rubbed hash

Hand-rubbed types of hash should be smooth, black or brownish-black, and often sticky to the touch. When opened up, the interior should be a delicate brown, perhaps with a slight green tinge (a very green interior indicates excessive residual plant material).

Again, good-quality hand-rubbed hash should be relatively hard when cold, and soft and pliable when warmed. Excessive stickiness, especially when cold, may indicate the presence of added oils to increase weight. Look out for presence of fluffy white mould, which can be present if not cured properly.

Ice-o-lator also varies widely in appearance, and may be sold unpressed or pressed in coffeeshops. Unpressed should be uniform in colour, and appear as crystally powder, perhaps with small lumps where the powder has naturally coagulated.

Pressed should range from light greyish-brown to dark brown; the texture is usually soft and slightly sticky, and very high-grade, “full-melt” types may remain sticky and amorphous at room temperature. Lower grades may be harder due to presence of plant material, but this does not necessarily imply unacceptable quality.

The “bubble test” for good-quality hashish

One excellent way of assessing hashish quality, whatever the type of hash, is the “bubble test”. This entails taking a piece of hash and applying a flame to it; if hashish is good-quality, the resin will begin to bubble noticeably. Very high-grade hash will often catch fire rapidly, and burn with a clean flame.

If the hash is black after this test, it may indicate that contaminants have been combusted along with the resin (use a clean flame from a lighter rather than a match, as the latter can leave black soot of its own on the hash).

If the hashish does not bubble, it may be very poor-quality and either contain contaminants or high levels of residual plant material. As the old adage states, “if it don’t bubble, it’s not worth the trouble”. On the other hand, if it bubbles excessively, it may be an indication of the presence of added oils—unscrupulous producers are wise to the bubble test, and intentionally add oils that will produce the same effect.

With experience, the combination of smell, appearance and “bubble factor” should indicate quality or lack of—added oils often give a greasy appearance and a plasticky smell.

Different types of hash

What effect are you looking for?

The effect of hashish can vary widely, primarily according to the strain. However, effect of hash made from less mature plants may differ from that made from more mature plants even if the strain is the same.

“Young” hashish from early plants often contains a higher THC-to-CBD ratio, and produces a “higher”, more “racy” effect. Hashish that has been cured for a shorter time prior to sale may also provide a “higher” effect as less THC has degraded to CBN (Cannabinol).

With individual strains, sativas are generally “higher” in effect than indicas. However, many of the world’s major hash-producing countries have begun to experience dilution of the gene pool as foreign genetics are introduced, so it can be very difficult to predict the effect of hashish until it is sampled.

Ice-o-lator may vary in effect according to the micron size, particularly for hybrid varieties. The reason for this is that sativa and indica strains have trichomes of different sizes—sativa usually has small trichomes, indica usually has large—and hybrids contain a mixture of both sizes. Thus, the larger trichomes may be separated out from the smaller ones during the ice-o-lator production process.

  • Disclaimer:
    Laws and regulations regarding cannabis use differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.


23 thoughts on “The different types of hash and how to choose a variety”

      1. You order it from Nepal.

        But Nepalese hash is the way it is collected and come in round balls. They aren’t cured the same way as sticky
        In Canada, British Colombia especially, make it the same. Of course,the Afghani sticky consistency,comes from curing time by cannabis experts.
        I personally don’t care for it since it’s way to low in THC and a crazy cough for this old girl.

  1. Megan McFadden

    I have something that looks like hash but not for sure wat it is how do I find out

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Megan,

      My professional and personal advice is ‘never put anything in your body that you can’t identify’, so if you are in any doubt at all, do not consume it! Hash comes in many types, as this article explains, so it is not possible to give you a definite answer based on your question. Here are a couple of things you can try though, more as an experiment than a definitive guide:

      – Warm a bit of it with a lighter. Hash should soften and bubble (look closely, the bubbles are very small). It should produce white or pale grey smoke. If the smoke is black, do not consume it. If there is no smoke and the ‘hash’ stays hard, do not consume it. If the smoke smells bad – plastic-y or like chemicals, or just unpleasant – also no.

      If you leave the lighter held to it, hash will catch fire within a few seconds. If this doesn’t happen, be suspicious.

      – Put it in the fridge. Hash should harden within about a minute. If it stays soft, this is a warning sign. At average room temperature (18 – 20 degrees C), hash should be hard enough to make a tapping sound if you tap a hard surface with it. After two minutes in the fridge, it should be noticeably harder; if it stays soft, do not consume it. Holding it your hand for a few minutes should be enough to warm it up and make it soft again. If you hold it and play with it long enough, it becomes a bit like Plasticine (which is sometimes used to cut hash, so this is why you should test it in the fridge – Plasticine does not go hard as quickly when it is cooled).

      Finally, if you possibly can, find someone you can trust who has experience and ask them to have a look at it. I understand though that this may not be possible, which is why you are posting here. Good luck, and I hope this information is helpful.

      With best wishes,


    2. I’m kinda in the same boat., but braved it and tbh..I’ve absolutely smoked worse before. It’s not unpleasant, though it is a bit rough…nice head stone though and no nastiness.. definitely have someone you trust have a look at it and see though if you can.
      Scarlett has said everything that I would have.
      All the best

  2. Well what do you know? Looks like I produced a premium grade of hash when I harvested my two pants . My plants were huge ad produced big tricome covered buds. My hand rubbed preformed exactly as stated in the article. My dry sift and heat pressed discs look and smoke like you would expect a premium grade to act.

  3. Hash can be good without bubbling. Even thought the bubble test is a good indicator it doesnt completly tell the truth.

    1. This is true. Amazing hash can and does smolder.
      Put on a stainless steel nail, capped with a glass/jar. Using straws..
      Put in a dab rig.
      Heck, shoved in a water pipe/ actual pipe…the measure is ash left.
      Light and breezy..good.
      Dark, smudge..bad…

      May the road rise to our aspirations… 🙂

    2. Completely agree as Indian Kumaoni Charas doesn’t belong bubble but can be a really good quality product

  4. Hand rubbed in afghanistan???????come on, this is the sensi seeds website……Ben,did you read it?

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Krug, thanks for your comment

      Hand-rubbed hash is produced in Afghanistan, although it is not as common as hand-pressed and mechanically pressed, so I do see the point you are making. I will bring your comment to the attention of Seshata, the author of this article.

      With best wishes,


    2. RandomPerson

      Yea, that is a centuries to millennia long tradition of harvesting cannabis and opium poppy in the mountains of Afghanistan/Pakistan. Present day of them use the described method of mixing hash with opium in a ball because it stores long and is easier to hide from US soldiers on base or in village searches. in Joint US-Afghan Military bases and forward operating bases(FOB), many of my friends have said they were always finding heroin, hash, and opium on bases with afghan soldiers. there was like a 10 foot tall weed plant in one FOB. Wild opium poppy growing within 600 meters of the outer perimeter. The afghan regulars they were training/supporting all show mental and physical signs of starvation during childhood. They would get so high, they wouldn’t realize there was a mortar or sniper attack happening and were effectively incapacitated In the battle space. Sorry for the history lesson, but I find the history of cannabis and drug use in various cultures over history interesting.

      1. Paul Christensen

        Drug use is similarly common in the U.S armed forces… there’s a ton of bias in “war stories” hence the whole cliché of the exaggerating soldier. I see what you’re talking about but let’s not go around generalizing all the afghani troops.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Profile-image

    Sensi Seeds

    The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
    More about this author
Scroll to Top