The hash has cold water

Hash 3Photo Marcus Bubbleman Ed Rosenthal 1 1

Cannabis concentrates: A return to cold water, traditional extraction methods are making a comeback

The production of hashish continues using traditional techniques as has been done for thousands of years. Hashish producing regions from the Himalayas or Morocco most likely make hashish in a manner similar to hand-made XNUMXth century hashish. The rise of legal cannabis markets has ushered in a whole new era of innovation in hashish production. One of these advanced techniques is cold water extraction, also sometimes called ice water extraction or cold water extraction: ice hash or ice-o-lator.

According to archaeological records, humans have used hashish for spiritual and medicinal purposes for millennia. As of May 2020, the Journal of the Institute of Archeology at Tel Aviv University has published new evidence of the use of hashish dating from the Iron Age, from the Judaist shrine of Arad in Israel.


Freezing and stirring remove the need for harsh solvents, which have taken over the industry in recent years. Brands are returning to ice-water hashish to create the clean, pure, solvent-free concentrate their customers are now looking for. Cold water extraction is also playing a part in the new trend for pure terpene concentrates like live resin and full spectrum terpene extractions.

The principle of cold water extraction is the proper preservation of cannabinoids and terpenes, without the addition of ingredients. With consumers increasingly wary of petrochemical-based extraction techniques, it is no surprise that many producers are once again working with cold-water (or cold water) extraction techniques. ice).

Cannabis concentrates, water hash

Ed Rosenthal, one of the grandfathers of cannabis cultivation and extraction techniques, has explained that cold water extracts rely on "water, ice and agitation". When subjected to these ingredients, the microscopic trichomes that agglomerate on the surface of the flower become extremely fragile. During agitation, these trichomes break off in the ice cold wash water. Trichomes are fat soluble and are therefore easy to collect with fine mesh bags. When dry, the detached cannabinoid trichomes are pressed into balls, bricks, or sold as a kief-like powder.

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Cold water extraction, as the name suggests, is a process that operates at temperatures at or below the freezing point. This protects many more of the more sensitive compounds than under solvent extraction conditions.

Unlike other extraction techniques, cold water extraction is simple and affordable enough for small producers to adopt it. But as the commercial market began to move away from petrochemicals in favor of more natural production standards, even commercial facilities like CaliHash are now working with cold water extraction.

As Calihash explains, a cold water extraction “fundamentally respects the integrity of the original cannabinoid profile”. In most extraction processes, extreme heat and pressure is often involved. These harsh conditions destroy or alter the most volatile cannabinoids and terpenes. In some cases, the extraction goes through such high temperatures that the end product is almost devoid of a terpene profile.


Broadly speaking, modern hash production for legal markets falls into two categories: solvent-based and solvent-free. Over the past decade or so, solvent-based hashish extraction has come to dominate the market. Today, concentrates like Butane Honey Oil (BHO), wax, shards, and resins are common in most dispensaries.

Solvent extractions use butane, propane, ethanol or CO2. Producers mix the cannabis flower (or garnish) with the chosen solvent to dissolve the valuable cannabinoids and terpene from the plant material. Once dissolved, the mixture is exposed to high heat to evaporate the remaining solvent, leaving a very concentrated product. Solvent-based extractions vary widely in their texture, consistency, and terpene content, depending on several factors.

Cannabis concentrates, water hash

A well-extracted concentrate will not contain any measurable contaminants from the production process. However, there is a risk that these chemicals will end up in the BHO, wax or shards purchased by the end consumer. To reduce risk, legal markets all require some level of contamination testing. Each market has a different set of acceptable limits for the most common chemical contaminants, such as pesticides, fertilizers, and solvents.

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Nate Seltenrich pointed out in his 2019 article for Environmental Health Perspectives that many of these acceptable limits have been removed from those set for producers of herbal drugs and other pharmaceuticals. However, these industries do not use butane or propane, the two most common chemicals in cannabis extraction. With no example to follow, explains Saltenrich, "state regulators are on their own," and "this has led to a wide variety of residue limits for solvents among legal states."

Finally, many solvents may also have acceptable limits for ingestion, according to the Food and Drug Administration. However, there are no test results for inhalation, as would be the case for cannabis concentrates. It remains to be seen whether there are any risks associated with long-term exposure to cannabis concentrates produced by solvents that contain persistent residues.


The idea of ​​finding persistent solvents in cannabis leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many consumers, even though most state regulators have deemed them safe and placed acceptable limits on them. This shift towards cold water extracts reflects a natural shift in the market, as some consumers seem to prefer “pure” concentrates over “potent” concentrates.

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Weed media broadcaster and communications manager specializing in legal cannabis. Do you know what they say? knowledge is power. Understand the science behind cannabis medicine, while staying up to date with the latest health related research, treatments and products. Stay up to date with the latest news and ideas on legalization, laws, political movements. Discover tips, tricks and how-to guides from the most seasoned growers on the planet as well as the latest research and findings from the scientific community on the medical qualities of cannabis.