hash joint

Hashish [ha-sheesh] is a cannabis preparation composed of compressed stalked resin glands, called trichomes, collected from the unfertilized buds of the cannabis plant. It contains the same active ingredients but in higher concentrations than unsifted buds or leaves.

Hashish is often a paste-like substance with varying hardness and pliability, its color most commonly light to dark brown but varying toward green, yellow, black or red. Hashish is heated in a pipe, hookah, bong, bubbler, vaporizer, hot knife, smoked in joints mixed with cannabis buds or tobacco, or cooked in foods.

It is believed that hashish originated in the Middle East (Western Asia), where the cannabis plant was widely available. Northern India has a long social tradition in the production of hashish, known locally as Charas, which is believed to be the same plant resin as was burned in the ceremonial ‘booz rooz’ of ancient Persia. Cannabis sativa subsp. indica grows wild almost everywhere on the Indian sub-continent, and special strains have been particularly cultivated for production of ‘ganja’ and ‘hashish’ particularly in West Bengal, Rajasthan and the Himalayas. The earliest hashish was created by gently rubbing palms and fingers on cannabis buds for hours to accumulate resin, which would then be scraped off the hand.

Hashish is made from cannabinoid-rich glandular hairs known as trichomes, as well as varying amounts of cannabis flower and leaf fragments. The flowers of a mature female plant contain the most trichomes, though trichomes are found on other parts of the plant. Certain strains of cannabis are cultivated specifically for their ability to produce large amounts of trichomes. The resin reservoirs of the trichomes, sometimes erroneously called pollen (vendors often use the misnomer ‘pollen catchers’ to describe screened kief-grinders), are separated from the plant through various methods.

Mechanical separation methods use physical action to remove the trichomes from the plant, such as sieving through a screen by hand or in motorized tumblers. The resulting powder, referred to as ‘kief,’ is compressed with the aid of heat into blocks of hashish. Ice-water separation is another mechanical method of isolating trichomes.

Chemical separation methods generally use a solvent such as ethanol or hexane to dissolve the lipophilic desirable resin. Remaining plant materials are filtered out of the solution and sent to the compost. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving behind the desirable resins, called honey oil, ‘hash oil,’ or just ‘oil.’ Honey oil still contains waxes and essential oils and can be further purified by vacuum distillation to yield ‘red oil.’ The product of chemical separations is more commonly referred to as ‘honey oil.’ This oil is not really hashish, as the latter name covers trichomes that are extracted by sieving, hence leaving most of the glands intact. The reason hash oil is fluid, is that the resin glands have been broken.

Tiny pieces of leaf matter or even purposefully added adulterants introduced when the hash is being produced will reduce the purity of the material. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of hashish comes in wide ranges from almost none to 70%, and that of hash oil from 30–90%.

Fresh hashish considered to be good quality is soft and pliable and becomes progressively harder and less potent over weeks and months as its THC content oxidizes to other cannabinoids and as essential oils evaporate. Hashish color usually reflects the methods of harvesting, manufacturing, and storage. Hash is generally said to be black (Afghanistan), brown or blonde (Morocco); there is also hashish of greenish or reddish (Lebanon) hue. A green tinge may indicate that the hashish contains a large amount of leaf material.

Ash after burning should be white and soft; hard, dark cinder-like shapes may indicate impurities.


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