The holidays are right around the corner but guess what – it’s 2020 and everything is weird. I know a lot of us will be doing things a little differently this year. Whether that’s staying home, having virtual gatherings or small, inner circle get-togethers, this 2020 holiday season is going to be unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. So I thought, instead of inundating you with more recipes that taste like pumpkin or boring you with tales of holidays past, let’s talk about rosin! This year has been long and bizarre, frustrating, sad, exciting and sometimes fun, so let’s end it by taking our minds off of things for a minute to talk about what rosin is, how to make it and what to do with it.
What is Rosin?
Instead of jumping straight into rosin, we need a quick refresher on concentrates and extractions. When you hear about wax, dab or shatter, you’re hearing about cannabis extracts, which are any oil that concentrates the chemical components of cannabis like THC and CBD. Typically a solvent is used to separate the chemicals in the cannabis from the plant matter, most commonly butane (hence the name butane hash oil, or BHO) or carbon dioxide (CO2). Rosin also refers to an extract, but rosin is solventless. Using a combination of pressure and heat, you can extract the sticky, usually full spectrum resin from cannabis flower, kief or hash that I’d put head to head against a BHO or other hydrocarbon extraction any day.
Now, I’m not trying to pick any fights with those of you that are a fan of BHO or CO2 oil, and I’m sure I’ve had plenty of both in my day. My love of rosin is newfound and I’m just excited and ready to share my new knowledge.
Why rosin though? There are perfectly good extracts like wax and CO2 oil already on the market that are probably – and I’m just guessing here – relatively easy to get in Arizona with your medical card. It’ll probably get even easier now that the vote to legalize recreational cannabis passed (congratulations Arizona!).
Rosin is versatile, relatively easy to make at home and comparable to other extracts without using any additional chemical solvents. While extracts that use solvents aren’t inherently bad, I’m just more likely to reach for the extract that I know won’t have any residual butane or propane in the product, regardless of how little, especially if it’s easily attainable or easy to make at home.
Making Quick Rosin
When I say rosin is relatively easy to make, I mean it. All it takes is heat and pressure, and if you can get your hands on a low heat hair straightener, you’re already halfway there. Not to mention that if you dab you likely already have many of the additional tools you’ll need.
This is the method I looked into first, and from first hand experience, finding a hair straightener that can stay within the appropriate heat range was the hardest part of the process. In order to extract the rosin without burning off the THC, CBD and terpenes (you want to save that for when you take the dab), your straightener needs to be between 280-300 degrees fahrenheit. We had a hard time finding one that fit these parameters, but we were being pretty thrifty as we were just experimenting and switched gears to a different method pretty quickly, which we’ll get into later. I’d suggest trying this method if you already have one at home, or know someone who would be willing to lend you theirs for a rosin making project, and try it on the lowest setting first.
You can make rosin using flower, kief or bubble hash (an extract made with ice water and agitation). So far, I don’t have any personal experience making rosin with kief or bubble hash, but I have found that it’s important to look for a few things in the flower that you are going to use for extraction. Also, this is all advice based on trial and error in my kitchen and personal experience (and I’m still very new to this as well), if you have better luck with flower at a different stage than I do, that’s awesome and I’m glad you found something that works!
Get your hands on the freshest flower possible. Not like, fresh off of the plant, but if it just finished the drying and curing process and recently became ready for consumption, use that one. In my experience, a fresher bud is going to have a higher moisture content which in turn will give you a better rosin yield. Ideally, you’d want to pin point it at around 62% humidity but we’re not scientists, so feel it out. I’ve found that if I grind up my flower, press it into a disc with my fingers and it keeps its shape, it’s usually nice and sticky and will press out well. A bud that is covered in crystals can also be a good visual indicator that you’ll get a good oil from that bud.
Now let’s get into it.
Heat resistant gloves – for safety! I want you to have fun but also be safe and please don’t burn yourself! This goes for any method of rosin extraction, safety first!
Parchment paper – unbleached if possible
Collection tools – dab tools work great for this
Cannabis – you can use flower, kief or bubble hash for this.
Scissors – for cutting down your parchment paper
First, turn your hair straightener on to the lowest setting. If it has an adjustable temperature setting, try starting at around 280 degrees. Cut a piece of your parchment paper down to a small square. Usually a 4×4 square will work, just make sure that there is enough paper for both the flower material and the rosin to be pressed out into the paper and not all over the straightener and everything else. Fold your parchment paper in half and then put a small amount of your cannabis material between the folded paper. Try to eyeball it so there’s enough plant material for both plates of the straightener to make contact with it all but not so much that it’s spilling out the sides.
Helpful tip: usually, parchment paper is lined on both sides, but it might be useful to check yours. If one side of the parchment paper is shinier than the other, it’s probably lined with a food safe nonstick coating. When you fold your paper, fold the shiny side in so it will be easier to collect your rosin at the end!
Using your fingers, press the plant material out between the folded paper until it’s flattened and will fit in the straightener. Once the straightener is heated up, and with your heat resistant gloves on, carefully place the parchment paper between the plates. Apply firm pressure to the straightener for 3-7 seconds. When you hear sizzling, it should be safe to remove, as this is a pretty good indication that the resin has melted away from the plant material. Carefully remove the parchment from the straightener, open it up and remove your flattened plant material. It may be fairly difficult to remove the rosin from parchment when it’s hot, so go ahead and set it aside for a few minutes to cool down.
Once the rosin has reached a temperature that you feel comfortable working with, use one of your dab tools, or whatever creative solution you came up with, to collect your rosin off of the paper. If you have a silicone dab container, this works great for storage. If not, you can easily store it on another piece of folded parchment paper. You may also want to pick out any stray plant material you find, but it’s not necessary.
And there you go, you just made your very first homemade rosin dab!
Now, if you’re anything like us and you’re seriously considering making your own rosin on a regular basis, I would definitely suggest buying your own at home press. It’s a little nuts, sure, but you could go online right now and buy your very own personal rosin press. This isn’t sponsored or an ad, but we have a Rosineer Presso, delivered to the door for, if I remember correctly, around $300.
What’s nice about a personal rosin press is the control and ease of use. Sure, a hair straightener is pretty easy, but your pressure and temperature might be harder to control as well as being limited to working with a smaller amount of cannabis. The Presso, and other presses like it, have two plates with separate temperature controls, a timer and a lever with a dial that adjusts the pressure. We’re able to press out quite a few grams at a time with controlled time, temperature and pressure and have been seeing really nice yields at great quality.
I Have Rosin, Now What?
So, here you are now with all of this freshly made rosin but what to do with it? Easy, rosin is pretty dang versatile.
Dab it. If you have experience with a dab rig or other various tools for BHO or other extracts, rosin can be vaporized in the same way. It also works great in vaporizer pens. Depending on the consistency of your rosin, it can be rolled into a joint or smoked on top of a bowl. I would recommend refrigerating or freezing a small sheet of rosin and breaking it into pieces, like shatter, for bowls or rolling. You can also do the opposite, warm up the rosin and roll it around the outside of a joint. Dissolve a little into your tea or coffee, or infuse it into butter.
Whatever you do with these new found rosin skills and knowledge, I hope it brings you a tiny bit of joy at the end of this crazy year. If all else fails, let’s take a big rosin dab and maybe we can all just take a nap until the new year.