Hash (short for hashish) might be most accurately described as concentrate of cannabis. It is made by separating THC-bearing sap (resin) and “crystals” from coarser plant fibers, so that you are left with the essence of marijuana. This condensed product is several times denser and more powerful than the marijuana would be if it were simply cured and smoked.
Hash at its most basic is a paste-like substance that varies in pliability. As a small grower you may not want to take the time’s and effort to make your own hashish. Nevertheless it’s a topic that’s bound to come up at some point.
The topics below are not instructional so much as it is informational. Knowing the basics of hashish will help you decide if it’s something you may one day want to pursue as you progress as a grower.
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“Commercial” black hash often contains opium—something to be aware of before you find yourself waking up in a strange place. A flood of opium from Afghanistan in recent years (I can’t help but see images of Air America in Vietnam) has found its way into hash sold on the street, sometimes in ratios as high as 50 percent.
The addition of raw opium into the poorest-quality hash turns it into a potent smoke, some- times too potent for casual pot smokers who aren’t prepared for the often nauseating and sometimes paralyzing effects of opium smoke. Opium-laced hash can usually be identified as having a pliable and sticky texture; it will have a sickly sweet smell before burning that will become stronger when it is burned. Like opium, the smoke of opium-laced hashish seems to continue expanding in your lungs even after you’ve stopped inhaling. If you suspect the hash you’re smoking is doctored with opium, I recommend taking no more than three hits before waiting at least fifteen minutes to see how powerful its effect will be.
Another, potentially more dangerous, additive that is sometimes found in both black-market hashish and marijuana is crystal meta. This cheap bootleg methamphetamine is not impressive when I recall Christmas parties of the 1970s that had candy bowls filled with multicolored Benzedrine and Dexedrine pills that were more effective and less damaging to their users.
I’ve smoked ganja laced with meta, and the effect on me and the people I smoked it with was unpleasant, with increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and profuse perspiration along with a short-lived speed buzz. Those effects could be lethal to an unsuspecting smoker who suffers from hypertension, any cardiac troubles, or diabetes. I’m not sure what effect the addition of crystal math has on seeds within a bud, but growers who sow them should probably not get their hopes up.
A very simple black hash, called “charas,” or “finger hash” is made by kneading soft plant tissues with the fingers (thus heating it) until it is rendered into a tarry mass. Spread the mass out onto a flat surface until it is thoroughly dried and hardened (three or four days, depending on ambient temperature and humidity), and break it into stoning-size chunks before wrapping it in aluminum foil.
Probably the best-tasting hash is the least processed. One favorite is a primoquality recipe from the Rif Mountains of Morocco in which resin is extracted by using a stout club to pound whole green plants against a dished-in rock. The congealed green resin that forms on the rock’s surface is scraped away with a knife, then gently pressed in half-inch layers between two sheets of fabric, where it is left to dry and harden, then broken into chunks for smoking. This type of unheated hashish is generally agreed to be the sweetest smoke, but its potency of course depends on how powerful the plants it was made from. It falls into a sack and is then gently pressed. It doesn’t get touched by hand and is not heated. It has the purest sweetest flavor (when it’s top quality).
In Holland, where decriminalizing pot has spawned a very lucrative industry of hash and marijuana cafes, pot professionals make a truly ass-kicking hashish called “Nederhash” from superseding Dutch hydroponic weed. The color quality of Nederhash varies from blond to almost white. Light brown or green varieties are that color because of an excess of plant material in the collected resins (intentionally added by unscrupulous manufacturers to increase weight), usually with a general reduction in potency.
Nederhash is typically made in small quantities, so recipes, taste, and quality vary, but if any client of an Amsterdam hash cafe has ever been disappointed, I haven’t heard of it. The Dutch use a small, commercially available machine that resembles a hobbyist’s rock tumbler, called a “Pollinator” to gently tumble marijuana stems, buds- the whole plant-thus knocking loose THC crystals and resins. When a powder of crystals has accumulated in the bottom of the tumbling jar, they are poured onto a clean ceramic dinner plate or metal pie tin, and gently pressed into a soft mass.
The attraction of Nederhash is that it is usually very fresh because it’s made in small batches. Unlike”imported” black-market hashish, which can be stored for years in a sealed canning jar, Nederhash has a tendency to mold, and it should be smoked immediately or kept frozen.
When the buds I’ve grown finally reach maturity, I want to sample some of them right away—again, part of the fun of planting seeds from a bag of “street” weed is that you might end up with a number of different strains with sometimes very different buds. When I don’t want to wait for buds to cure by air-drying, I speed-cure them by placing trimmed buds still on their main branches into a heavy airlock freezer bag, then squeezing and kneading them from outside the back until they change from green foliage to a damp, almost black mass.
As with the finger hash described earlier, the warmth of being kneaded activates THC within the buds and brings out the resins; in short, this actually increases the potency of buds, and even enhances taste and smoothness by increasing the release of sugars from cellulose. Hash buds must be smoked right away, because they are damp, dense, and prone to mold.
Exposing the massed buds to the open air or to very low heat—about 150 degrees—on a clean cookie sheet in an oven dries them, but you can smoke from damp blackbody within a couple of hours of their removal from a plant. Just tear a small bud from the main stalk, place it over a pie tin, and gently massage the bud between thumb and forefinger to roll hard, round seeds that have grown from the main stem free of the smokable bud that surrounds them.
Seeds are sheathed within a protective green membrane that is as smokable as the bud. (White or light green seeds are immature and not likely to sprout; the darker and fattest seeds are the best choices for storage for next year’s crop.) Using scissors or just your fingers, shred the remaining bud into a loose, airy mass that will dry quickly in open air.
If you’re really in a hurry, you can give the shredded bud thirty seconds in a microwave, after which it should be dry enough to smoke—remember, slightly moist weed has a sweeter, less acrid smoke than completely dry leaves or buds.
Literally, Kif—sometimes spelled keel or kief, and usually pronounced “keef”— translates from the Arabic as “what,” while the term “kif-kif” means “the same as” (I leave the reasons for their association with the recreational drug by that name to the reader). Kif is a traditional marijuana derivative that continues to be a favored recreational drug in Morocco and the Middle East. There are several definitions of the word kit, including a mixture of tobacco and marijuana bud or hashish laced with kif powder that is traditional in Morocco.
Kif also describes a collection of unadulterated THC-laden “crystals” that are removed from the outside of mature cannabis plants by gently rubbing their parts against a fine- mesh metal screen or cheesecloth. The powder that falls away drops through the cloth or screen and is collected onto a plate. Then, like hash resins that are beaten or other- wise coaxed from inside plant tissues, the accumulated kif powder is lightly pressed into sticky sheets and smoked alone (a practice that seems generally unpopular among Middle Easterners), sprinkled as powder onto cannabis bud, or, most common, mixed with tobacco. Marijuana smokers in the United States have long reported employing a similar practice in which a tobacco cigarette is smoked after smoking a joint or bowl to enhance their buzz; an Americanized version of Moroccan tobacco kif can be seen in the “blunt,” a pot-filled cigar that I used to really enjoy before I gave up tobacco.
Commercially manufactured kif boxes with fine grating screens held elevated an inch or so above their bottoms make it easy to rub free THC-bearing granules that fall through the screen and into the box’s bottom; if you don’t have a kif box, a fine metal window screen or a section of coarse linen stretched over a bowl and held in place by rubber bands can suffice—I personally like the abrasiveness and easy cleaning of a screen made from no-see-em insect netting. With either type of kif collector, the harvesting process is as simple as lightly rubbing the outside of the marijuana being collected from over the abrasive screen, loosening THC-bearing crystals that fall through and collect in the bottom of the reservoir below.
Some kif-makers prefer to extract powder from buds only (buds are still very much smokable after this operation); another school of thought maintains that buds should retain all of their potency, and kif should be collected from branches and stems that are too harsh to smoke by themselves. Kif can be collected from green stems (and leaves), but in my experience the job is easiest, with the greatest yield, after the parts being C have dried completely enough to snap when bent. An added problem—and also a benefit—encountered when collecting kif from green or damp plants is a buildup of hashish resin on the screen; this is most easily by allowing the screen to dry thoroughly for one or two days, then wringing the resins into a bowl if your screen is fabric, or gently scraping them free if your screen is metal.
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If you smoke marijuana through a pipe or bong, warlike resins left as residue accumulate each time you smoke, until the pipe’s airways become clogged with sticky black globs that impede the flow of smoke and must be cleaned out. My favorite tools for this job with most pipes include a large pair of scissors and a long-shaft, small-blade flathead screwdriver—these pretty much cover my cleaning needs.
When you scrape out a copious glob of black goo with that first swipe down a clogged pipe’s airway, you might be repulsed at furst, but I like to repress the urge to scrape it into the garbage. Instead, I scrape the tar onto a book-size square of aluminum foil, which I then fold carefully around it. Each time I clean my pipe or bong thereafter, I’ll add whatever tars I collect from them to the mass inside the foil.
As weeks pass, the collected resins will dry and harden, until they resemble black hash—which they are, in a sense. At any time they may be smoked in a pipe bowl, but resin by itself burns poorly, requiring constant flame while toking, and it needs to be stirred frequently as fire encases the resin’s outer surface with a hard shell of ash.
The taste is generally not pleasant, tasting of already-burned pot, and the effects of smoking resin don’t appear to be better than the buzz gotten from the weed it was formed from, despite having the illusion of being concentrated cannabis.
Some smokers mix cannabis tar with opium resin or other drugs to enhance its potency, but I prefer to blend warmth-softened resins into cured marijuana leaves that have been chopped finely or powdered in an electric coffee grinder.
Mixed about fifty-fifty, the resulting “green hash” is smoother to smoke than pure resin, and the more easily combustible leaves help to make it burn cleaner and more steadily. Too, the body buzz of leaves in concert with whatever stoning traits might have been in the marijuana that created the tar can sometimes team up to create a very good high.
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