More About Ice Hash
Ice hash is a solventless concentrate made up of trichomes that are sifted through a series of screens in the presence of water and ice cubes. Ice hash is also known as bubble hash, ice wax, and water sift. These terms are used to describe different forms of ice hash, but there are only subtle differences between the four.
The central goal of making ice hash is to separate trichome glands from all other plant components. Trichomes are glandular appendages on the surface of the cannabis flower that produce and hold the plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and other molecules. The purpose of ice hash is to remove all contaminant barriers between the user and the experience that trichomes provide.
The History of Ice Hash
The techniques used to make ice hash were first popularized by seed expert and industry pioneer Skunkman (aka Sadhu Sam or David Watson) in the 1980s. After learning that resin glands sink in water, Skunkman introduced the wider cannabis market to a hashish making process of stirring whole plant cannabis or sieved resin in water. He even took out an ad in High Times Magazine in 1987, offering secret tips for water extraction at home.
Skunkman’s water-extraction methods paved the way for the first automated sieving machines In the 1990s, as well as new techniques for ice-water extraction. Around this time, Canadian cannabis entrepreneur and activist Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson entered the scene, eventually revolutionizing the hash world with the Bubble Bag extraction system.
Throughout the ’90s, Bubbleman was active in medical cannabis advocacy, cannabis macro photography, and the development of cannabis extraction and decontamination. He popularized the water extraction method with the first multi-bag filtration kit in 1999 — designing three bags that would filter glandular trichome heads for the sake of, in Bubbleman’s own words, “harm reduction, finding the best way to deliver cannabinoids, and exploring the limits of pot purity .”
How to Use
Ice hash is a fairly versatile concentrate. There are several different ways to use ice hash, though some are generally preferred over others. Different methods of use may also suit different needs. Some users may prefer a sprinkle of ice hash over their bowl for an extra potency boost, while others may prefer to dab with ice hash for the full effect.
Sprinkle on a bowl
Sprinkling hash over a bowl is one of the simplest and most reliable ways to boost a bowl’s potency. “Icing” dry flower with a sprinkling of ice hash can produce a high that’s more pronounced without being overpowering. If you’re looking for a milder, more manageable introduction to ice hash, sprinkling some on a bowl might be the method for you.
Dabbing with ice hash delivers potent effects, but it also takes a bit more effort than sprinkling over a bowl. To dab with ice hash, press your solventless concentrate inside a piece of folded parchment paper. The heat from your hand should be enough to blend the trichome glands together. Once your ice hash is pressed within the parchment paper, separate the pressed sheet into “dab-ready” sections. Remember that it’s best to store your hash in a dark, cool environment, and wait to press it when you’re ready for a dab session.
Titanium dab nails are valued for their durability and lower outgassing rates than other metals. Unlike most metals, titanium doesn’t release harmful gases when heated beyond certain temperatures. If you want to avoid the potential contaminants of metal screens or dab beds, a titanium nail will do the trick.
Handheld vaporizers with a concentrate pad option are also becoming more common as dabbing grows in popularity. Using a handheld vaporizer for ice hash may not provide the purest effect, but it’s certainly a helpful option for beginners or anyone looking for a simple, efficient method of use. If you choose to vaporize ice hash, seek out vaporizers that get hot enough to make ice hash bubble — between 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit, or 260-287.78 degrees Celsius.
When making ice hash, the goal is always to isolate the trichome glands from the cannabis plant. Any plant material that is not removed reduces the ability to bubble and therefore reduces the quality of hash.
That’s where micron sizes come in-the openings in a filter screen through which material moves are measured in microns. Using screens of varying micron sizes is how hash makers capture the trichome heads and separate them from the rest of the plant.
Trichomes range from 20-125 microns. Filter screens or bags designed to make bubble hash are made to correspond with the bags of varying micron sizes that are used to make bubble hash. If a concentrate has the micron listed on the package, this number indicates the micron size of the bag used for that particular fraction of water hash.
The larger micron sizes are used to capture the entire capillary stalked trichomes (90- 120 microns), while the smaller micron sizes (20-40 microns) are typically used to isolate the glands from the stalks. While some terpenes and cannabinoids can be found in the stalk of the trichome, the majority are found in the top gland where they are stored. Some connoisseurs see this as the purest form of ice hash and prefer the smaller micron bags to the larger microns that will remove the entire trichome but also have a higher chance of pulling in plant contaminants.
It’s also important to remember that trichomes don’t always conform to micron screen sizes. In fact, trichome sizes are cultivar-dependent. Some cultivars will produce thicker trichome heads, while others will have small heads. Plant maturity will also affect the size. However, the right combination of filter screens and micron sizes can reliably produce quality hash. Most water hash equipment consists of several filtration bags of varying micron sizes.
The Star Rating
The quality of ice hash is generally measured by how well it melts. Since measuring quality by micron sizes presents too many variables, hash makers use a star rating system to grade hash quality more accurately. While there is no universal system, the 6-star rating system is the most popular amongst hash makers.
1-2 Star: Cooking Grade Hash
Cooking grade hash is highly contaminated with plant matter. Commonly used to make edibles — hence the name — cooking grade hash is also suitable for sprinkling over bowls or in joints. It consists of both low and high microns, and it doesn’t melt well, so it shouldn’t be used for dabbing.
3-4 Star: Halfmelt
A lower-grade hash that usually only melts halfway, leaving residue and plant contaminants behind. Halfmelt is sufficient for sprinkling over bowls or in joints. It’s also well-suited for vaping. Similarly to fullmelt, halfmelt can also be heated and pressed into rosin .
5-6 Star: Fullmelt
Fullmelt ice hash is the highest grade. It completely melts into a puddle, or oil, if it’s a 6-star hash. A 4-star halfmelt hash can technically be turned into a “true fullmelt.” A fullmelt ice hash is great for dabbing, and typically produced with 70-120 micron sieves. According to Bubbleman, “A fullmelt experience will start by watching solid microencapsulated glandular trichome heads liquefy as you heat them up into a golden oil that boils and bubbles and dances around your dish or screen.”
The 1-6 star rating system is subjective, but it does provide a sufficient avenue to single out quality hash. The higher the rating, the better the bubble hash will melt. The lower the rating, the more plant contaminants the hash will have.
How to Make Ice Hash
Ice hash is one of the most potent, powerful concentrates you can make without solvents. The needed materials are minimal; a set of at least 5 bubble bags (silkscreen bags or filters of varying micron sizes), a bucket, fresh frozen or cured flower, and a large spoon or stirring tool. Fresh frozen flower is generally preferred for making ice hash, because the frozen trichome heads break off the stem and rest of the plant more easily. The ice hash-making process can be divided into the following steps:
1. Line the Bucket
The first step is to line the bucket with your micron filters or bubble bags. Start with your smallest micron filter and line with the rest of the bags in ascending size order, so your largest micron-sized bag is on top.
2. Fill the Bucket
Fill the bucket with a layer of ice, then flower, and follow this pattern to the top of the bucket. It’s usually recommended to fill your bucket with as much ice as possible. The colder your mixture, the more likely trichome heads are to freeze and break off. It’s also best practice to make sure the top layer is ice and not flower. Once all layers of ice and flower are in the bucket, fill it with water, preferably just high enough that you can still stir without spilling over.
3. Stir the Bucket
Allow the water to sit and chill, then gently stir your mix for a few minutes. The time and force used to agitate while vary depending on your starting material. Once the ice starts to melt, you can also gently increase your stirring speed. Add ice periodically to keep the water cold. The ideal ice-to-water ratio throughout your stir is about 1:1.
4. Strain and Repeat
Once your stir time is completed, lift the top bag with the plant material and strain the liquid into the bucket until only ice and flower are left in the first bag. As you repeat the strain through successive bags, observe the traits of what’s left on the screen. Depending on your needs, various micron filters offer different melt levels. Bubble bags between 73 and 90 microns are assumed to produce the finest resin. To collect the remaining concentrate, turn each bag inside out after draining.
5. Dry Your Hash
The final step is to press all excess moisture out of your hash. Drying is arguably the most important factor in ensuring the quality of your final product. Gently press the excess moisture out of your ice hash and then use a butter knife, or razor blade, to break it down into small pieces. If you do not have access to a freeze dryer, the smaller pieces will make it easier for the hash to dry out.
Spread the small pieces of ice hash over a piece of parchment paper and place in a cool and dry environment. Some hash makers choose to place the hash in the freezer and once frozen, use a microplane zester, to break the hash into smaller pieces to ensure the quick removal of all moisture.
A cannabis concentrate formed by sifting the trichomes of the cannabis plant in the presence of ice water. Ice hash, (commonly referred to as ice water hash, bubble hash, or wet sift) is typically dabbed, but can also be used to add potency to flower.
How to make ice water hash
Making bubble hash
Before attempting to make the best possible ice water separation, we should study a bit of theory that will help us to better understand the process of removing resin glands. The Alchimiaweb team wants to make things easy for you, so you can read the theory in our post about dry sift hash.
Different types of bubble hash
Once we have this concepts clear, we can see now how to make the purest possible bubble hash. It should be noted that, when we speak about purity, we are referring to the highest possible concentration of trichome heads, reducing the presence of contaminants like dust or plant debris to the minimum. In short, anything but glandular trichome heads is considered a contaminant.
Needed materials to make ice water hashish
To be successful, we do need a few quality materials to facilitate the removal and collection of trichome heads. For this post we’ve used the following:
- 6 Bubble Bags (220-190-160-120-73-45)
- Two food-grade plastic buckets
- Ice cubes
- A stainless steel skimming spoon
- Oil pads, Slick Sheet or parchment paper
- Small washing machine, which makes the stirring process automatically, saving labor and time. You can also use a plastic bucket to stir the mix in case you don’t have a machine.
Full melt clear dome
Naturally, we’ll also need plant material from which to separate the resin glands. We can use either trim or buds, dried or fresh, although if we are using buds we should try to crumble them into smaller pieces in order to increase yields. For this post, we used dry outdoor trim, although many times best results – regarding purity – come from indoor plant material, since plants have been in a much cleaner environment, without all the dust, insects, etc. found outdoors.
Ideally, our plant material should be frozen very fast (flash freezing), but this is something complicated for amateurs. Then, our options are freezing it in our conventional freezer or just keeping it in the refrigerator, without reaching the freezing point. We prefer chilling our plant material (especially when it is fresh) since in this way the water inside the buds don’t freeze and pierce the plant tissues, enabling chlorophyll to escape and harm our resin. This is an important point especially with live resins. You can check our post on fresh chilled material to make hash to know more about this phenomenon.
If we use dry plant material, we should soak it for a while to re hydrate it; in this way, we’ll find much less plant debris in our hash.
Resin extraction process
Water hash of excellent quality
Put your screen bags in one of your buckets. You should put the screens in ascending order: 45- 73 – 120 – 160 – 190 – 220 microns. Cover the bucket and leave it for later.
Put layers of ice cubes and frozen/chilled buds in the other bucket (or inside the screen bag of the washing machine, in case you’re using it). Fill the bucket/machine halfway with ice and weed and then add ice cold water until soaking everything about 5 cm deep.
Collecting the resin
When the water is between 0-4ºC – and the plant material is hydrated – gently stir the mix with our skimming spoon/machine for about 5-7 minutes. We don’t want to beat the mix since this would result in a more contaminated resin, we can do it on the second run. Now, let it rest for 4-5 minutes before passing the mix through the screens.
Pass the mix through your bags and start collecting the different screens. The 220 micron bag contains the ice cubes and the buds, which we’ll keep chilled for the next run. Remove the 190 and the 160 micron bags, which usually have poor yields, basically plant debris and trichome stalks. The 120 screen can yield very nice resin, and the 73 screen contains our precious top grade hash. If the process was correct, we’ll be surprised with the yield of this bag, since we really don’t need much beating to remove the trichome heads from their stalks. The 45 micron screen contains our 2nd grade hash.
Resin glands ready to dry
Now, we are ready for the second run. Mix again the cold water, the ice cubes and the buds and beat it for around 10 minutes. Experience is required to observe which are the best phenotypes and screen sizes for making top grade concentrates.
Drying and storing hash
Use a frozen spoon or a plastic card to remove the resin from the bag. The best way to dry our resin is placing it in a dark, cool and dry place. Heating it is not advised since we can harm its organoleptic and psychoactive features. Place it in a non-stick surface and chop it as fine as possible. Some people use a frozen microplane or a strainer for this purpose. Others put the chopped resin in the refrigerator to dry it.
Basically, we only have to follow the same advice than when drying our marijuana buds regarding light, temperature and humidity. Once the resin is chopped, put it inside a small container and cover it with a piece of screen so no particles fall onto it. Now we only have to wait 4-5 days to taste our homemade hash. You can cure the resin for some days or weeks and see if you like it better this way.
Have a nice smoke!
Bubble hash: Fresh-frozen vs dry flowers
Fresh Frozen cannabis extractions
How to make hash with CO2 or dry ice
Fresh chilled cannabis to make water hash
Live Resin, Holy Water, Terp Sap
How to water marijuana plants in soil
Comments in “How to make ice water hash” (11)
Anyone ever try the mushroom blue juice method on fan or sugar leaves? Would love to hear from anyone that has or knows what that process would produce. Thanks
Tim Alchimia 2020-10-19
Hi, thanks for your comment. As I understand it, the ice water in this method works to extract the psilocybin from the mushrooms. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t work with cannabis as the active ingredients like THC or CBD simply aren’t soluble in water. All the best and happy growing!
First off , excellent how to . Glad your on here to show us how . 2nd . In you video , you use a bubble now harvester , but in your kits you sell a washer that is different, what are the differences between the two , and why don’t you use or why did you switch to the different washer ?
Tim Alchimia 2020-06-15
Hi, thanks for your comment and kind words! The video in this article is one we borrowed from Bubbleman, the manufacturer of Bubble Bags and the Bubble Now machine, which is why you see him using that particular machine. The machines that we sell in our store are essentially the same model of portable washing machine designed for camping etc. and there’s nothing special about the Bubble Now to make it any better at extraction than any other of the machines. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy hashing!
What would you say is the ratio for bud or plant materials required to the yield of hash produced? I am new to extraction and live in a state that is still living in the dark ages of complete marijuana prohibition
Tim Alchimia 2020-03-31
Hey Eazy, thanks for your comment and question. With Water Hash, the yields can vary a great deal depending on various factors, the most important of which is the variety/selection used, but other factors such as lights used, temperatures during flowering and trichome maturity can also influence the outcome. Some strains or varieties are capable of yielding up to 20% return from dried material, and sometimes more! Conversely, some varieties that appear to be very frosty will deliver really disappointing results, under 5%. Some varieties will perform better as Fresh Frozen, others will give better results as dried material. It’s all about selecting the right plant! But, as a rough guide, I personally consider anything over 10% return from dry material to be a success, as long as the quality of the resin is of a high enough standard to make it worthwhile, anyway! I hope that helps, best wishes and happy hashing!
Can you use the leftover bud for anything?
Tim Alchimia 2019-03-06
Hi Nat, thanks for your question. Yes, you can definitely use the leftover flowers and leaves for something, as the bubble hash process won’t remove all the trichomes. The easiest way to make use of them is for cooking with butter (you don’t even need to dry the remains, as they will be cooked in water as per the recipe in our post about cannabis butter or the alternative vegan option). You could also dry the leftovers and make a tincture with alcohol or glycerine, or even make BHO, and although the quality would not be the greatest it’s be ideal for using in edibles or topical preparations. I hope that’s given you some ideas, all the best and happy hashing!
Tim, can’t say how grateful I am that you took the time to respond so fully to my questions. I browsed all over the place and watched an obsessive amount of video tutorials and you very kindly cleared up the gaps I couldn’t quite glean from all of the above. Huge thanks!
Did my first wash last night and have been devouring your articles thank you! There’s one aspect I’ve been unable to get my head round – what does the cold do? Is the cold just to snap the stems of the trichomes, and then unnecessary? Or is it to freeze the trichome heads to prevent them dissolving in the water and therefore passing through the bag filters? If the latter, can they melt then be refrozen (one tutorial left a mix overnight and still got hash)? What is their melting point? Another question – how nervous should I be drying the hash? I would rather avoid using a strainer (I think I lose some, I compress the heads, make a mess, mix my piles, and takes a lot of time) – I’d be more comfortable doing a slow fridge dry. But I’m using a strainer because no tutorial out there seems to cover drying, so I’ve no idea how sensitive the hash is (and the only way to find out is to take a risk!) In the video above there was a real rush to seive almost immediately. Why? Huge thanks
Tim Alchimia 2019-01-07
Hi Chris, we’re happy you’ve found the articles useful, thanks for your comments and questions. Firstly, the cold is primarily to help the resin heads to “snap off” the plant, as you say, while the trichomes won’t dissolve if the water isn’t cold, they’ll be more sticky and much more difficult to work with i the water isn’t as close to freezing as possible. The cold is also useful in terms of preserving the terpene profile of the hash and also to prevent chlorophyll from contaminating the end product. The warmer the water, the more chlorophyll will be extracted from the leaf matter, and this may end up colouring the hash somewhat. As for drying, well it’s probably the most important part of the process. The idea is to break the hash up into pieces that are as small as possible, to aid drying and to ensure no moisture remains trapped inside the hash. For this reason many extractors like to sieve the hash fresh out of the collection bag, while it still has enough liquid to enable it to pass through the mesh. I’ve personally never been a fan of this method, always preferring to either chop the hash very finely with a spatula blade, or alternatively using a microplane, which involves taking the hash from the collection bag, forming it into a small patty which goes into the freezer overnight, with the microplane itself to ensure everything is nice and cold. The next day you can finely grate the solid frozen patty, spreading it evenly over a sheet of parchment paper to dry. Some hash makers like to use pizza boxes (clean ones, not reused!) to keep the hash covered while drying. I hope that’s cleared up any doubts for you, happy hashing!
Wonder Wheel 2018-12-11
Awesome article. Question: Flash freezing for live resin. Can you make a home made deep freezer by putting dry ice and alcohol (Iso) in a container and then putting fresh buds into a metal box of some sort and freeze the fresh plant material that way? Kind of a poor man’s cryogenic freezer. I believe the temp got to -90 F in the dry ice mix. Thanks for any response Brian B
Tim Alchimia 2018-12-18
Hi thanks for your comment, that sounds like an interesting idea, and yes it would probably work however in my own personal opinion it’d be overkill, I don’t think you really need it to be that cold. Whenever I’ve frozen freshly cut material I’ve simply turned the freezer to maximum power for a few hours previous to freezing the material and it’s done a superb job, getting to around -30ºC which very quickly froze the buds, so I can’t see all the effort being really necessary. Of course, if you do decide to make the DIY flash freezer, please let us know how it goes, we’re genuinely fascinated. All the best and happy freezing!
harlan mclaughlin 2018-10-13
this is my first attempt and I found your site very helpful. thanks. h
Thanks, always thought it would be harder then this! Now if i can just find some cheap bubble bags or some cheap screens. I’ve been making a few different types of tinctures and occasionally an infused olive oil and coconut oil mix. I have a few questions, 1st i normally decarboxylate my already dried/cured buds (unfortunately I can no longer grow here in NJ because of the risk, but growing and creating my own strains was my 1st passiom after smoking it!) But i decarb my buds in a sealed glass jar(s) in the oven for 45-60 minutes at 240-250° F, then I take the jar (s) out of the oven and let them cool before opening them. Then its straight to the tincture or oil. But could I decarboxylate buds then make the bubble hash? I’m thinking that might not work? Then my 2nd question is if I cant decarboxylate then make bubble hash, then how long would you suggest to decarboxylate the bubble hash for in the oven and would the same temperature be used to decarboxylate hash and to decarboxylate buds? And my last question is you said you do 3 washes then dry the buds and use them for cannabutter or for an ethanol or butane extraction. So about how much potency do you believe might be left after 3 washes? You don’t have to give me an exact answer just your guess or estimate on if say 25% is left over or 10% or whatever. Cause I’m wondering how much weight in dried out buds I’d need to make a decent everclear tincture or decent cannabutter or cannaoil? Just wondering about how much potency might be left after 3 washes or if maybe I should just do 1 or 2 washes then make my tincture or cannabutter/oil? Sorry for all the questions and I’ve read lots of articles on this site since I found it last night, definitely have enjoyed it so thank you!
Dani Alchimia 2017-05-11
Hi Chris, As you may know, you can decarboxylate your material (either buds or hash) at different temperatures, thus needing more or less time to complete the process. I’d suggest to use lower temps and prolonge the process a little bit, let’s say 90 minutes at 210F. Some people even decarb their material for 24 hours at around 180F. It’s much better to make the hash and decarboxylate it later. Logically, the more washes you do the less quality and potency you’ll get on your last washes. Also, some plants are done with the second wash, while others can be washed 4-5 times. But yes, the more you wash the more the quality decreases. I’ll put an example: with the Sour Diesel Riri cut, I get 70-80% on the first wash, and the ramaining on the second. No need at all to wash her 3 times. On the other hand, I’ve washed the Gorilla GLue #4 up to 4 times, with amazing yields and quality on the third wash. If you want your tincture to be of decent quality, I’d suggest to wash the plant just once (3-5 minute agitation) and then use the plant material for cooking or extracting with some solvent. In this way you’ll have excellent hash and a very nice tincture or butter. Here you have some options for your bags to make hash. If you want my advice, do not purchase cheap bags. They’re not worth it unless you’re satisfied with a mediocre product. You can get top grade hash with Pure Extract Bags and Bubble Bags. Finally, I always recommend to process fresh plant material whenever possible, it’s much easier to get top quality hash with fresh buds than with dried/cured buds. I think this post will be of your interest. Hope it helped! 😉
Eric myers 2017-03-21
How long to you have to agitate the bud clippings in ice water b4 it is ready to separate the tri combs from all that waist if u plz,,thank you..eric
Dani Alchimia 2017-03-21
Hi Eric, I normally make a first wash of 3-5 minutes. Then a longer second wash (10-15 minutes) and a third one (10-15 minutes) if necessary. Then I normally dry the buds and make either an extraction with some solvent (ethanol, butane) or some cannabutter. Nothing is wasted here!! 😉 Are you using washing machine? Best!
happy birthday to you. never knew how bubble hash worked before. this was a great video. share that 90 90 90 LMAO
Dani Alchimia 2017-02-01
Hi stacinater, Glad you learned how bubblehash works, when done properly it is one of the finest cannabis concentrates! 😉
In this post we tell you the basics for making top grade ice water hash easily at home. Cannabis concentrates are becoming more and more popular, and