Frenchy Cannoli is a veteran hash maker, known world-wide for his love of, passion for and as a purveyor of the finest hashish.
There are many myths surrounding the correct way to make the highest quality hash possible, with confusion surrounding how to preserve volatile terpenes and cannabinoids in relation to heat. High Times sat down with the man himself to clarify these myths and to get some tips on how to get the best out of your hashish making.
High Times: There are many extractors now working with new methods to create solvent and non-solvent extraction. How important is working with correct temperatures when considering cannabinoids?
Frenchy Cannnoli: I actually do not “extract” resin from the plant. I use a sieving methodology to collect the resin heads in their whole state, which is vastly different from extracting the resin from the trichomes. Therefore, I will answer your questions as a Hashishin, and not as an extractor.
It is mandatory to work cannabis resin under cold conditions when sieving, whether it be dry-sieving or using an ice-water methodology like I do, and then with heat when pressing the resin to compensate or take advantage of the main characteristic of cannabis resin—its stickiness.
Temperatures are not simply a tool to manipulate sticky resin but also the means to decarboxylation, a process in which a molecule of carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed so that cannabinoid compounds can readily pass into the lung’s blood barrier; in the process, the THCA and CBDA are converted into THC and CBD respectively.
HT: Can you explain this further, and how should this process be done correctly?
FC: Decarboxylation happens naturally with time and temperature during drying and curing, the time necessary can be shortened considerably by adding more heat. The more heat, the faster it occurs, within reasonable ranges.
It is mandatory to control the decarboxylation temperatures carefully. When we heat cannabis to convert the THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD, we are also converting THC to CBN at a faster rate. At about 70 percent decarboxylation, we start converting THC to CBN at a faster rate than we are converting THCA to THC. After about 70 percent decarboxylation, there is degradation of the THC into CBN, a more sedative cannabinoid.
HT: What is the difference between combustion and decarboxylation?
FC: Decarboxylation is mostly used for edibles, tinctures and capsules, but we can use the data as a guideline. The temperatures generally applied range from 180° to 240°F (82.2°C to 115.5°C) for 30 minutes to an hour—well under the boiling point of cannabinoids, which ranges between 314.6°F (157°C) to 428°F (220°C) for THC.
Combustion temperatures with most titanium e-nails range between 650°F to 800°F (343.3°C to 426.6°C), while ceramic and quartz bowls temperature are in the high 500°F (260°F) and over.
I do not know how much decarboxylation is possible at a temperature over 400°F (204.4°C) when degradation of THC into CBN starts at 320°F, but it cannot be optimum despite general beliefs.
HT: If a grower processes their crop using the fresh frozen method, then doesn’t this mean a decarboxylation will need to occur in order to access the full potential of the cannabinoids the plant has to offer?
FC: The answer is YES! All phyto-cannabinoids produced by the plant are in a carboxylic acid form, with a CO2 molecule, which hampers their passage through the air-blood barrier.
HT: Do you think it is best to micro-plane wet resin into smaller pieces when drying?
FC: I do not recommend using the micro-plane method to separate resin for drying. While it is the best adapted method when prepping really sticky resin for a drying room, it is also the best way to destroy the integrity of the trichome membrane and greatly increase the loss of the terpenes and the cannabinoids formed inside. I prefer to work with a cold metal sieve and spoon. However, I should use the past tense, since I now work with a freeze dryer which does not require the use of the micro-plane process or other tech to finely separate the resin for drying.
HT: Many growers will make isolator with dry flowers, dry trim and fresh frozen. What are the pros and cons when it comes to dry sieving material over sieving with ice water?
FC: The oldest archeological evidence of sieving is a hundreds of thousands of years old. Humanity has been sieving grains and seeds since the dawn of time, and the only improvement has been on the quality of the tools.
The quality of dry-sieved resin is largely determined by its purity. Contaminants are unavoidable when working with dry and brittle material; the more force applied to the handling of the material, the more impurities are created. When sieving, the material needs to be agitated multiple times, with more force applied during each subsequent agitation, in order to collect all the trichomes from the plant matter. By working with water, we can rehydrate brittle material beforehand and work with plant matter that has fully regained its suppleness to limit contamination of the resin by broken leaf matter.
Dry sieving is also two inseparable processes; the agitation of the material and the separation of the falling matter through the meshes of the sieve. The incorporation of water into this equation is the true evolution of the methodology. The sieving process becomes two separate processes—No. 1, agitation in the machine, and No. 2, separation (sieving) in the bags.
Water gives us the ability to agitate and separate optimally—without contaminating the purity of the resin—which is truly an amazing development.
HT: Why is the hashish consumed in the rest of the world darker than the products called “hash” in the U.S.? Is darker a sign of quality inferiority?
FC: A darker colored resin indicates ripeness and a small amount of degradation as well. However, traditional hashish production creates over 50 rare monoterpenes that can be traced to the live and dried plant. It becomes something grander than it was!
Un-pressed resin is simply not hashish, as much as a grape cluster is not wine.
I believe that traditions are the reflection of the power of human observation and the cornerstone of evolution. Those that stand the test of time should be evaluated scientifically to show that the custom is in fact more than just old meaningless rituals, that it is in fact, the best practice for the process.
HT: You have taken the quality of hash-making to a whole new level over the course of your career. How can readers adopt your practice of scoring the quality of the cannabis resin they produce themselves?
FC: The general quality of genetics and the advances in science and methodology have created a need for a scoring system that has never been necessary before.
The main dimensions of quality can be classified by the amount of resin formed in the trichomes, also called melt, by the amount and range of cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as by the appearance and stability of the resin—but the human factor is also critical to capture the experience. It is after all a gustatory experience.
My scoring system is available to all on my site, HERE.
HT: Thank you for taking the time to clarify these questions for the readers. Do you have a final message? And where can we follow your work on social media?
FC: My simple message: #fortheloveoftheplant