Ice water hash, commonly referred to as bubble hash, is a popular solventless cannabis concentrate known for its potent effects.
What Is Ice Water Hash?
Made of trichomes that are separated from cannabis flowers using nothing but ice, water, and filter bags, ice water hash preserves terpenes and cannabinoids to create a concentrate rich in flavor and distinctly powerful effects.
Ice water hash is created through a sifting process, where the material is filtered on a micron level (one micron = 1/1000th of a millimeter). Using filter bags that contain various micron levels allows for the separation of different-sized trichome heads. Different micron levels also help separate trichomes from cannabis flowers.
Smaller micron sizes offer more filtering, agitating just the bulbous trichome glands, while larger micron sizes agitate the entire trichome capillary stalk. When making bubble hash, smaller micron sizes result in a higher level of purity because fewer unwanted compounds (plant lipids, tiny plant particles, etc.) can pass through the filter.
A Brief History of Ice Water Hash
Ice hash originated in the 1980s when California underground cannabis enthusiast Sadhu Sam (aka Skunkman) discovered cannabis flowers placed in cold water resulted in resinous trichomes glands sinking to the bottom of the container. At the same time, plant debris and other small particles floated to the top.
He took out an ad in High Times in 1987, offering instructions on making cold water extracts at home. This opened the door for refinement of the original cold water extraction method, and by the 1990s, new techniques for ice water extraction had entered the underground scene.
“Bubbleman” Marcus Richardson was a Canadian cannabis activist who introduced bubble bags to a larger audience. Ultimately, he revolutionized bubble hash when he developed the first multi-bag filtration kit in 1999, containing three different-sized bags that easily filtered trichomes using refined ice water extraction methods introduced by Skunkman in the ‘80s.
Making Ice Water Hash
Once the basics are down, ice water hash is easy to make.
Making quality ice water hash involves separating resinous trichome glands from cannabis flowers and removing all contaminants. If contaminants and trichomes aren’t properly removed, the ice water hash won’t bubble when it’s heated. Ice water hash is also referred to as bubble hash because tiny bubbles should form when it’s heated, which is an indication of its quality.
What’s Needed To Make Ice Water Hash (Hand-Washing Method)
- Bubble Bags — Silkscreen bags or filters with different micron sizes
- Bucket — 5-gallon buckets work well, with several 5-gallon bubble bag options to choose from
- Ice Cubes & Cold Water — Colder water temperatures make for easier separation and decrease the dissolving of trichomes, with a 50/50 ice to water ratio recommended with a temperature of 0ºC
- Cannabis Flower — Fresh frozen or dried and cured cannabis can be used, however, fresh frozen flowers tend to offer higher terpene content and increased yields
- Stirring Spoon — Large wooden or metal spoon, spatula, or paddle
The 5-Step Process for Making Ice Water Hash
1. Line the bucket with a bag or filter.
The first step to creating ice water hash is lining the bucket with bubble bags or filters. Place the smallest micron filter bag on the bottom and continue lining with the rest of the bags from smallest to largest. The largest micron bag should be the one on top.
2. Fill the bucket with ice, plant material, and water.
Once bags are lined in the bucket in ascending order, place a layer of ice in the bucket and then a layer of flower. Then place another layer of ice on top of the flower, followed by another layer of flower. Continue layering until the bucket is full. Once filled with ice and flower almost to the top, slowly fill the bucket with cold water, leaving enough room so the water doesn’t spill over when it’s stirred. Let this soak for about 20 minutes to ensure trichomes become brittle enough to separate from the flowers.
3. Stir the filled bucket.
The next step is to gently stir the mixture, commonly referred to as “washing.” Gently stir the mixture for approximately 10 minutes, maintaining a constant current while stirring slowly. When ice begins to melt, slightly increase the stir speed. Add ice to the bucket as needed to maintain a 50/50 ratio of ice to water.
4. Strain the plant material in the bag and repeat the process.
After your initial stirring time is completed, remove the top bag containing the plant material and strain all the liquid into the bucket until only ice and plant matter remain. Then repeat the process with the next bag, slowly stirring the ice cold water, rinsing, and repeating the entire process. After each bag is removed and strained, it should be turned inside out to collect the remaining resin.
5. Remove the moisture.
The last step of making ice water hash is pressing out any moisture it still contains and allowing the hash to dry. It’s one of the most important steps of the process and will strongly influence the quality of the final product. To dry hash, press out the excess moisture. Once all excess moisture is removed, the hash should be broken down into smaller pieces using a razor blade or knife. Arrange these pieces of hash onto a piece of parchment paper and freeze dry or dry in a cool, dark area.
How Ice Water Hash Is Rated
Some ice water hash is much better than others. The highest quality ice water hash is called full-melt hash because nothing is left behind when it’s burned.
Ice water hash is rated with a one- to six-star rating system, with six stars considered the best.
- 1-2 Stars: This is the lowest quality ice water hash there is, containing a high level of impurities. One or two star hash is best for cooking or baking but is undesirable for dabbing, smoking over a bowl, or using to create rosin.
- 3-4 Stars: This is mid-grade ice water hash, sometimes referred to as “half-melt” hash. Some impurities are left behind after it’s heated, but it is still decent enough for dabbing or for making rosin.
- 5-6 Stars: This is full-melt hash and is considered the best of the best. A five or six star rating means ice water hash is a true bubble hash, with tiny bubbles forming when it’s heated up. This is also the best ice water hash for rosin production.
How To Use Ice Water Hash
Ice water hash can be used in a number of different ways, easily meeting the needs of various cannabis consumers.
Sprinkled on a Bowl
Ice water hash sprinkled on top of a packed pipe or bong bowl can offer a big potency boost. Sprinkling small pieces of hash on a bowl can be a great introduction to those new to ice water hash or concentrates in general.
Dabbing will offer the most potent effects, but ice water hash doesn’t typically dab as well as solvent-based concentrates. Full-melt hash is best for dabbing but should be pressed between a piece of parchment paper to warm trichome glands and release oils containing terpenes and cannabinoids.
Titanium Dab Nail
Ice water hash can also be consumed on a titanium dab nail, which won’t release any potentially toxic chemicals when heated to high temperatures.
A portable, handheld vaporizer is another way to enjoy ice water hash. You’ll want a vaporizer that can reach temperatures between 500-550º F (260-287º C) to ensure the ice water hash gets hot enough to bubble.
Best Strains for Making Ice Water Hash
The type of cannabis used to make ice water hash significantly influences the quality of the hash itself. Considering the basis of ice water hash is resinous, sticky trichome glands, choosing strains that produce heavy resin is key. Trichomes in the 90-120 micron range produce the highest quality concentrate.
While sativa strains can be used, the highest quality ice water hash is created from indica or hybrid varieties. Some of the best strains for ice water hash include Chem, Papaya, and Cake strains, Cookies and Cream, Do-Si-Dos, Tropicana Cookies, Banana OG, and MAC.
When making ice water hash to produce rosin, it’s essential to understand the specific characteristics of a particular strain. This helps determine whether the strain is suitable for making hash in the first place, which will significantly influence the quality of the rosin itself.