From Sub Par to Six Star: How to Make Better Hash Rosin

Fear not, young terp hunters, I too was once washing old trim in a hot garage with absolutely no idea which way was up and which way was down. I am here to tell you there is hope! There are simple and logical steps you can take to make those trichomes glisten.
Rosin
Photo Courtesy of Slite23, taken by @terpshotz on Instagram

Hash rosin has surged in popularity over the last few years in both the traditional and legal markets as consumers and operators alike begin to learn a bit more about the products they consume.

This surge has been a net positive for the most part because access to quality concentrates has increased across the board but there’s one small problem: the giant ugly stockpile of dried out cardboard-flavored rosin which more than loosely resembles the Gluppity Glupp and Shloppity Shlopp that pesky Lorax was so up in arms about.

Rosin-making is a simple enough process but its inherent simplicity has led to a lot of producers throwing their hat in the ring without really understanding how to make good rosin or what that even means in the first place.

As a hopelessly hash-addled consumer and self-proclaimed terp sommelier, I’ve taken it upon myself to talk to some of the people I consider to be apex predators of the rosin game, true snow leopards at the top of hash mountain whose work has earned them accolades across the space. I came to them on hand and knee, humbly requesting that they divulge some of their secret and forbidden knowledge so that we as a people may collectively smoke fire as often as humanly possible. This is, after all, the most inherently righteous pursuit mankind may embark on.

I’m going to skip the whole arduous explanation about how hash rosin is made because there are plenty of articles and videos available to explain that process. You take weed, you fresh freeze it, you mix it with ice water and agitate. You drain it through your different size filter bags, collect the hash, dry the hash, and press the hash into rosin using heat and pressure. This is one of the most simple processes ever coined by man or beast but simplicity in this case does not translate to “easy money.” A lot can go wrong along the way but there are a few key things you can focus on to improve your chances of making some super fire rosin just like your favorite heady bois. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a select few areas of importance to focus on:

  • Fire in Fire Out
  • Proper Drying and Curing
  • Understanding the Market
Photo Courtesy of Slite23, taken by @terpshotz on Instagram

Fire in Fire Out

This is going to elicit an eye roll from some of the newbies who maybe don’t want to spend 10 years getting better at growing before they start making good hash, but everyone I spoke to insisted that if you don’t know how to grow good material or you don’t have access to good material, your rosin doesn’t stand a chance in hell.

“It essentially comes down to the starting material and I assume all good or most good hash makers know that by now,” said Pat of Northern California-based Mountain Man Melts. “It’s all about the starting material and then it comes down to indoor, dep or full-sun and I still prefer full-sun. I mean, there’s obviously some really good indoor but full-sun is, I think, the easiest way to get the best terpene profiles out of the plants.”

The indoor vs full-sun debate concerning rosin making has been going strong for a while now and everyone has a different answer regarding which is better. I tend to prefer the full-sun but I’m also a blissed out forest wook of yesteryear so I’m biased. It really comes down to personal preference. The most important thing is that the plants are healthy, happy and according to Relentless Melts, it also helps to use genetics that have been bred with hash production in mind.

“The problem with making hash right now is that nothing really washes,” said the owner of Relentless Melts, a traditional market brand operating out of Southern California. “That’s why we ourselves are breeding for hash because whatever is in the U.S. has been selected for flower all this time while the rest of the world has been selecting for hash all along.”

There are many theories and tricks regarding how to select the best strain for hash. The finger test is the most common where you rub a bud with your fingers to feel how gritty or oily the trichome heads are. Slite23, a hashmaker from Spain, told High Times that pheno hunting is of the utmost importance in finding genetics that will produce quality rosin at a high enough yield to be worth his time.

“It’s not the strain, it’s the phenotype I think,” Slite23 said. “If you are making a selection for water hash it’s a little bit difficult because maybe you find one or two or three because one is full of stalks, the other one is full of waxes, the other one is watery, it will not wash really good. There are so many factors that you need to pay attention to when you make a selection for water hash.”

For all of these reasons, it’s best for the hash maker to also be the grower or to at the very least know the grower extremely well if you want to achieve good quality and good yields batch to batch. If you limit yourself to material grown by strangers you open yourself up to all kinds of problems. That said, growing is not always a practical option for the at-home people or a lot of the concentrate brands. For those who find themselves under the watchful eye of shitty landlords or unable to convince their higher ups to splurge on a cultivation license, might I humbly suggest you be as choosy as humanly possible when selecting who to work with and what material to use or you might find yourself stuck with a whole bunch of hash you can’t smoke or sell because somebody fucked up and sprayed sulfur in the middle of flower and now the melt tastes like rotten eggs. 

Keep it Cold – Drying and Curing

After hash is collected from the washing process it must be dried before it can be pressed into rosin. Not only that, but after it’s pressed into rosin most people reading this article are going to want to cure it before consuming, packaging or selling. There’s nothing wrong with fresh press rosin if you enjoy little shards of it breaking off and flying across the room every time you try to take a dab, but cold cured rosin is monumentally easier to handle and store both for personal consumption and commercial sales so for the sake of keeping this article beginner-focused we’re just going to talk about cold curing. 

There are two main ways to dry hash, air-drying and freeze-drying. This next part might hurt your soul and wallet a bit to hear but if you want to be a serious hashmaker, you need a bloody freeze drier. Hell, you need like five of them because they break if you so much as raise your voice at them. Air drying is perfectly viable for the at-home people but you’re still going to lose a lot of quality if you don’t spend a bit of money on your air dry setup and you’ll be drying at a fraction of the speed. Either way, it is imperative to make sure your hash is completely dry before you press it. According to Relentless Melts, it can result in more than just bad-tasting product.

“If you’re a person that’s pressing then you can end up giving people really bad respiratory issues,” the owner of Relentless Melts said. “When I was first buying rosin from my homies before there was a lot of tech behind it, like hash rosin, I would end up with a gnarly cough because my buddy wouldn’t dry it right. He would just leave a bunch of moisture in it and it wouldn’t crackle on the nail or anything, but you feel like you’re having asthma.” 

If you’re air drying, you might consider throwing a dehumidifier in the room to speed up the process and suck out that last bit of unwanted moisture from the hash. Keeping the dry room cold and dark also helps preserve quality, but overall, a freeze drier is imperative if you want to do this for a living or even smoke the best rosin at home. The drying process takes less than a day typically whereas air drying can take several weeks and your product is degrading that whole time.

Pressing is a pretty simple science so I’m going to gloss over the pressing part. There’s minutiae to it, of course, but heat and pressure are pretty hard to fuck up. From what I’ve picked up over the years you just want to make sure you double bag your hash and apply pressure to the bag very slowly to avoid blowouts. Temperature, pressure, time and parchment technique all fall under personal preference for what you’re trying to achieve so the next step is curing. 

The easiest way to cure that fresh press into some easily-scoopable batter-like material that can be stored at room temperature is to put it all into a mason jar and keep it at room temperature, or colder if possible, until a layer of terpene juice starts to form at the top of the jar. The jar is then “whipped” or agitated using a small hand tool which congeals everything into the nice cold cure consistency most rosin dabbers enjoy by now. According to Slite23, he cold cures at a much colder temperature than room temperature.

“Cold cure is better than room temp,” Slite23 said, indicating that his process takes up to a month or more while a room temp cure can be accomplished inside of a week. “You can preserve terpenes, color, everything.”

Understanding the Market

I’ll keep this part brief because this is already way too long but if you want to make any kind of a living as a hashmaker in 2023, you need to understand your consumer base which is something all my interviewees stressed to me. You gotta get out there, shake some hands, smoke some cannons with the people and try other people’s work to know if yours is any good. Hash culture is not an exact science. It’s difficult to appeal to and a lot of fire goes unnoticed year to year because of bad branding or just good old fashioned social anxiety keeping hashmakers on the hill instead of at the events.

“I feel like your brand is not going to take off unless you have good friends in this business,” Relentless Melts said. “If you don’t have good friends it’s gonna take a long ass time or a lot of money for marketing.”

Hash is also hard to scale and bring to market without a proper team. I know plenty of hashmakers who work 15-20 hour days during the season because they refuse to hand off any part of the process and it keeps them overworked and underpaid. Building a business takes a lot of knowledge but it also takes a good team, as Pat of Mountain Man Melts reminded me.

“Trying to expand without the right team, or the right people around you, it’s nearly impossible because you can’t do everything yourself,” Pat said. “Right now my right hand guy for all of our grows has the same passion and desire for everything to be clean and proper how I like it. So that desire is passed along to the plants.”

Past that, just show that rosin some love and it’ll love you right back, which is true with any endeavor worth pursuing in life.

“Be humble and grow the best weed you can every time,” Slite23 said. “You don’t need to think that you are the best, but you need to be the best for yourself because the products speak by themselves.”

Some other random tips from the killers that didn’t have a good place to include:

  • Don’t over-agitate the material but don’t be a wimp about it either.
  • Machine washing is fine as long as you spend the money on a proper machine.
  • Z crosses don’t always have to yield like shit, spend more time hunting through seeds.
  • Keep things as cold as possible but work with what you have, you don’t need a fully decked out professional cold room just keep a spare set of wash bags because certain strains grease up at lower temperatures than others.
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