We’re not going to be explaining how you can make traditional butane extracted shatter (which will never happen due to the danger involved in the extraction process), but rather how you can make concentrates with the Rosin technique, which results in concentrates far better than traditional BHO shatter in many ways. If you read our guide to strains, which was more about terpenes and interpening than strains, you’ll know how important terpenes are for the smells, tastes, and medicinal benefits of various strains of cannabis. Terpenes are fragile compounds, which is why almost all methods for making concentrates destroy those terpenes. Even still, concentrates can retain some terpenes, but usually not enough to matter.
Besides preserving the terpene profiles of the cannabis used to make the extract, using the Rosin technique is much healthier and safer because the extraction process doesn’t use any solvents. You’ve probably heard of BHO, or Butane Hash Oil. The method used to make it extracts the THC by dissolving the bud in liquid butane. Not only is the incredibly flammable solvent the culprit behind many disastrously fatal kitchen fires by amateur chemists, it’s also cancerous to the end user. A good extract artist may be able to get the butane levels close to zero, but they’ll never reach zero. If your BHO comes from the black market, you’ll likely encounter some disastrously harmful levels of butane. Even in the regulated medical cannabis industry you can find some pretty high butane levels.
So Butane extracted THC can be harmful, but concentrates made with CO2 have to be safe, right? Although many tout CO2 as the solution to all problems with Butane extracts, it has some serious downsides to it as well. Carbon Dioxide is used as a solvent for extracts because it can dissolve THC and other cannabinoids, much like butane can. Unfortunately however, Carbon Dioxide has this annoying property of binding with insecticides and fungicides even more than cannabinoids. This means that if your cannabis was sprayed with any insecticides or fungicides, and then is used for CO2 extracts, it could leave incredibly harmful levels of insecticides and fungicides behind. Again, great extract artists can get these amounts close to zero, but even in a heavily regulated market, you can expect you’ll find some dangerous samples, and once again, going to the black market is going to be far worse.
So Butane and CO2 extracts can have somewhat acceptable levels of poison if done right, but why would you run the risk? If you didn’t see the extract artist make the hash and test that batch with your own eyes, you shouldn’t trust that it’ll be safe. So how can we avoid these problems? Easy, just use the rosin technique to extract your dabs.
What is Rosin?
Rosin = Cannabis + Heat + Pressure
This simple formula explains the basics. To get your dabbable Rosin, which looks exactly like shatter, all you need is cannabis, in any form, plus some heat and pressure. No solvents or any dangerous chemicals are involved, and the simplicity of the process preserves the terpene profiles of the bud you extract from. So what all do you need to make Rosin?
- Cannabis in any form, including bud, kief, hash, etc. If you have a bunch of vaped weed or trimmings you want to extract from, it may be possible, but it may be better to just make some bubble hash (also really easy) first, then extract your Rosin from the bubble hash. Any amount works, although smaller amounts are generally going to provide better and more consistent yields. The average weight of cannabis used is probably ~0.5 – 1 gram of bud, so you don’t need much.
- Flat Iron / Hair Straightener – Ideally a 1.5″ – 2″ Flat Iron with a digital temperature display. This $15 1.5″ Flat Iron is a perfect example of an affordable flat iron with a digital temperature display if you don’t already have one.
- Parchment Paper, like this, but it’s cheaper at the grocery store. NOT wax paper.
- OPTIONAL: Rosin Screens / Filters like these. You only need these if you’re using kief or hash. You can also use nylon milk bags like these, which are actually much cheaper if you cut them to size. Milk bags are usually 200 micron compared to the finer 50-100 micron rosin screens, but you can find 100 micron or finer milk bags like these 80 micron milk bags. Even with the 80 micron milk bags you get twice as many square inches of filter, plus milk bags are useful for other things, such as cannabutter. Rumors suggest that readily available Lipton tea bags could also work, but the material they’re made up of is a bit more absorbent, so you’ll probably get lower yields due to concentrates stuck in the tea bags. If you want to save money, you can cut the filters to the size you need, or you can reuse them. Most nylon screens are machine washable.
- OPTIONAL: Vice or Press (example) – this is used to provide the pressure. Again, you don’t need this because you can provide enough pressure with your own weight, but it’s more ideal because it’s more of a controlled process. If you don’t have one, you might want to have a towel handy so you can press on the flat iron without worrying about the heat.
- OPTIONAL: Laser Thermometer – used to take the temperature of your flat iron. You shouldn’t need one if your flat iron has a digital display, but even if you do, it doesn’t hurt to double check just in case the display is wrong. Even if you don’t have a digital display on your flat iron, you can figure out the ideal temperature with a little trial and error without much loss of Rosin.
- Heat flat iron to ~250-260 F / 121-127 C. Double check with Laser Thermometer if you have it. Use trial and error if you have no display / thermometer.
- If you’re using kief / hash, put it into your rosin filter and fold the edges over so it wont be squeezed out.
- Put your filled rosin filter or bud between the parchment paper. You may want to use an extra layer of parchment paper for bud to prevent stems from making holes in the paper.
- Put your bud / tea bag & parchment paper sandwich in the middle of the flat iron.
- Apply Pressure. Use your vice / press if you have it, otherwise use your body weight. Hold for 10-15 seconds, experiment with time and pressure.
- Fold the bud / rosin filter in half and repeat steps 2-5 for a 2nd press to make sure you extract as much as you can.
- Profit, dab your Rosin and enjoy some next level concentrates.
That’s really all there is to it. If you followed the steps above, you should end up with something similar to the image on the left. However, there are still a few more things worth discussing. If you don’t have a digital flat iron, or a laser thermometer, you may get the temperature wrong on your first attempt. As long as you stay under ~350 F / 177 C, you’re not going to have to worry about losing THC, which gives you a solid 100 F / 50 C range to work with before you risk losing THC.
The worst thing that’ll happen is that the extra heat will melt some plant matter into the extract, giving it a darker color, like the top image on the right. The color you want to aim for is a light gold that is almost clear, closer to the bottom image on the right. If you don’t use enough heat, nothing will happen, it wont melt any resin, and you wont get any Rosin, in which case, all you have to do is try it again. If you’re uncertain about temperature, it’s best to start low and work your way up until it starts melting. Furthermore, you’ll also want to experiment with the pressure and duration just as much. Once again, too much pressure or holding the pressure for too long will lead to a darker concentrate. Even when you get the process down, it may be different from one strain to another, so the best thing you can do is experiment.
Just as simple as that, anyone can make very healthy, flavorful dabs that retain all of the aromas of the bud used to extract it.