News and Best Practices

Know Which Hash Is Best for Your Customer

November 8, 2016

We’ve come a long way from the concentrates that our parents dabbled in. Today, we have an entire smorgasbord of hashes to choose from.

Smoking hash has many benefits over smoking flower. It can provide a more potent and clearer high. Also, customer with a sensitive throat or lungs may prefer hash over flower. Finally, a small amount of hash can cause the same amount of elevation as a larger amount of flower, so smoking hash produces less smoke overall.

Types of hash

The following guide will give you a crash course on how these different hashes are made and what benefits they have over other types.

Pressed/rolled hash

Pressed hash is the simplest form of hash; it’s just trichomes pressed and smashed together. When these little glandular sacs are pressed, they create a brown, sticky substance that resembles chocolate. Pressed hash comes in a lot of different types, from rolled hash (usually sold as round balls) to scissor hash (a goop that collects on the trimmer’s scissors). Pressed hash can be smoked, vaporized or infused into edibles. It’s possible to dab pressed hash, but it is unnecessary and may gunk up your nail.

Ice/water hash

Ice hash looks just like pressed hash, except it tends to appear more green or gold. It’s made by dropping plant material into containers full of ice water. The plant material is agitated and knocks off the trichomes, which are filtered through bags with tiny holes in them. After filtering through a series of bags with progressively smaller holes, only the cold water hash is left at the bottom. These trichomes are collected and pressed together, forming ice hash.

Ice hash usually costs more than pressed hash, due to the time it takes for the water agitation and filtration steps. Because there are no solvents involved in this extraction method, ice hash tends to burn cleaner and may contain more flavorful terpenes than pressed hash.


This type of hash looks like peanut butter spread. It is usually packed with terpenes and will smell like plant essence. Budder is made by placing plant matter in a tube and forcing hydrocarbons—typically butane or propane, or a mixture of the two—through it. The result is a black, bubbling soup of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and waxes contained in the plant, along with those volatile hydrocarbons. The spent plant matter is discarded.

Because we can’t consume butane or propane—not to mention, they’re insanely flammable—the next step is to purge those components. This is usually done in a vacuum oven with excellent ventilation. (Please do not try this at home; only experienced technicians should perform this step.) Once the hydrocarbons are purged, the goop may get cleaned up with some additional steps, leaving only the essential cannabis components as the budder.

Budder tends to be high in THC and terpenes, with THC values ranging from 30-60%. Budder can be smoked via combustion, but this is an incredibly inefficient way to consume it. To get the most out of it, budder should be dabbed on a hot nail or vaporized.


Shatter hash is essentially budder that’s been run through some additional separation steps. We call these separation steps “winterizing,” in which budder is dissolved in ethanol (such as Everclear), shaken, then frozen. The ethanol will separate some of the waxes and plant material from the budder. Once this is done several times, the result is shatter hash.

Shatter looks like broken glass, with colors that range from a faint yellowish-green to an amber brown. If it’s kept at a cool enough temperature, it will shatter into pieces (hence, the name). At higher temperatures, shatter becomes a sticky, gummy substance.

Shatter is valued because of its high THC content, which typically ranges between 60-80%. Some high-quality shatters can reach near 90%. To get the most out of shatter, dab it. Shatter can be smoked, but that’s not recommended.

Live resin

Live resin is a form of budder or shatter that’s taken from freshly harvested or uncured plants. This results in a product with much higher terpene levels than those made from cured or dried flowers. Live resin tends to be more expensive than budder or shatter, but it’s more flavorful, too.


The rosin technique generates the cleanest hash for dabbing. Because there are no solvents involved (as there is with budder, shatter or live resin), rosin contains no contaminants, just pure plant extract. Plant material is subjected to heat and pressure to force out oils and terpenes. The temperature is kept low enough to keep most of the terpenes from boiling off.

Presses are available for the commercial production of rosin hash. The plant material is placed in the press, mashed under high pressure and heat, and out comes a clean oil packed with terpenes. Rosin, like the other extracts, should always be dabbed.

Crystalline THCA

This isn’t exactly a hash as much as it is a lab reagent. Crystalline THCA is pure THC crystals. They look like white snowflakes.

We may not see much customer demand for crystalline THCA because shatter is already pretty close to pure THC. Shatter still has trace amounts of other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes that can “smooth out” the high caused by pure THC.

Taking crystalline THCA might make the customer feel like they’ve taken Marinol, a pure THC pharmaceutical spray that can cause many of the desired effects of cannabis (increased appetite, drowsiness, anesthesia, anti-inflammation) but can also amplify some of its negative effects (paranoia, muscle tension/clenching, anxiety).

By Randy Robinson
Dispensary Management Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on dispensary operations. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cannabis consultant for specific compliance and dispensary/retailing advice.
© 2016 CAN Performance Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
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© 2017 CAN Performance Group, LLC. All rights reserved.