If you’re new to the world of cannabis, it can be difficult to understand the jargon used by people who have been on the scene for longer. Even seemingly-simple concepts like the difference between weed and hash or concentrates, or how to establish the quality of your hash, can be baffling to the uninitiated.
At its simplest, weed is the dried, unprocessed flowers of the female cannabis plant, while hash (or hashish) is the resin of the female cannabis plant that’s been separated from the plant itself via mechanical or chemical means.
Does hash give you a different high? Is it stronger than weed?
Smoking hash vs. weed can have different effects. Well-made hashish generally has a stronger effect than the plant it came from. This does not apply to all hashish though, as some lower-quality forms may contain copious amounts of ‘filler’ material which can include sand, henna, plastic, oil, or even animal hair or dung.
But as a general rule, hashish is a more concentrated form of the plant it comes from. In fact, it became the primary means of utilizing cannabis in many countries because local outdoor cannabis was relatively low in cannabinoid concentration. That means a significant amount has to be used in order to achieve a noticeable effect.
The high of both hash and weed is influenced by the strain of cannabis that was used. Just like weed, the psychoactive elements of hashish should mirror that of the parent plant, though there does appear to be some degree of subjective difference in the nature of the effect compared to weed. For example, many people consider hashish to have a clearer, more cerebral effect, even if the plant itself induces a more relaxed, soporific effect in the user.
The taste may differ as well. Many people consider the taste of hashish to be earthier and less floral than the parent plant, although this can depend greatly on the extraction method and how much plant material remains in the hashish.
How is hash made?
Traditionally, mechanical separation has been the primary means of extracting the resin from the flowers. It’s either dried or sieved (dry-sifted) before being shaped and pressed into blocks, or by using the hands to rub the fresh plant so that the resin adheres to the skin and must be scraped off.
Dry-sift hashish is by far the more common in global terms. Several large producer countries including Morocco and Lebanon produce only dry-sift hashish. Even in Afghanistan (along with Morocco, the world’s largest hashish producer), the bulk of hashish destined for export is dry-sift. However, Afghanistan is part of the geographical region that is traditionally known for producing hand-rubbed hashish; it still produces significant quantities of hand-rubbed hashish, along with India, Pakistan, and several other South Asian countries.
Modern extraction techniques
In the last few decades, new techniques have been developed for extracting resin from the plant while minimizing the extent of leaf material that remains. Many of these techniques can be termed chemical separation, such as use of butane gas to “blast” the resin from the flowers. Such extracts are often of unparalleled potency, with reports of up to 90% of THC. In comparison, traditional hash-making methods typically yield finished products that contain 15-40% THC.
Another form of extraction that is difficult to classify as chemical or mechanical is ice-water extraction. Technically, this process (whereby cannabis is steeped in ice water to freeze the resinous trichomes and agitated to snap them off the plant) is primarily mechanical. But the water has a greater role to play beyond just freezing the trichomes. Ice-water extraction can be performed in various ways. Sometimes this requires fairly expensive equipment, but it can also be done in a bucket with a hand-mixer.
If following this technique, it’s easy to see how water helps to separate the trichomes and the rest of the plant matter—the trichomes are much heavier and sink to the bottom while the plant matter floats to the surface.
How to check if your hash is good
There are various ways to assess the quality of hashish. Firstly, the appearance can provide several important clues.
Good-quality dry-sift hash should range in appearance from light yellowish or reddish brown. If it’s lightly pressed, it should be fairly consistent in colour, while heavily-pressed will be generally darker on the outside and lighter on the inside of the block.
Hand-rubbed hashish should be dark brownish-black and should not appear too green in colour as this indicates that a large quantity of plant material remains inside.
In terms of consistency, dry-sift hashish should not be too dry. Overly dry hashish may be old, a sign it has been poorly stored or may have significant quantities of filler.
The desired consistency for a lightly-pressed dry-sift hash is soft, crumbly and slightly oily or sticky to the touch. A heavily-pressed dry-sift hash may be stickier and oilier, and may be extremely hard, but will soften up enough to be used if gentle warmth is applied.
Hand-rubbed hashish can vary considerably in consistency. Typically, it should be dense and uniform in consistency, and not be too sticky, as this can indicate the presence of added oils.
However, some very clean hand-rubbed hashish can be very sticky and can turn almost to liquid when warmed; in these cases, flavour and aroma should indicate if the hash is truly clean or if contaminants are present. Hand-rubbed hashish should always be checked inside for the presence of mould, as moisture from the fresh plant can often become trapped inside if not properly processed.
The taste of hashish can also vary widely between types. Dry-sift hashish tends to be earthier than hand-rubbed, which is generally spicier and more floral in flavour. However, this is an oversimplification, as it greatly depends on the parent plant and is less dependent on the technique used to make it. Generally, as long as no acrid, plasticky or chemical flavour is detected, it is safe to assume that the hash is clean.
4. Testing your hash with the bubble test
Lastly, the bubble test is a good way to determine the quality of hash. Take a small piece of the hash and apply a clean flame (i.e. from a butane lighter or hemp wick rather than a match). If the hash is good-quality, it should bubble noticeably under the flame and give off a pure white smoke. If black, sooty residue remains on the hash once the flame is removed, or if the smoke given off is black, this indicates presence of contaminants.
What do you prefer: Hash or weed? And why? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
- 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.