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What Does Good BHO Look Like? Dabbing and Hash Oil Myths: Part One

April 2, 2014

One of the most exciting developments to come from the union of cannabis technology is hash oil, a highly potent form of marijuana that can deliver therapeutic compounds patients need without involving combusted plant material. Unfortunately the practice of cannabis extraction is still in its infancy, and not every processor has the scientific finesse to create a clean, pure product. In a market that remains largely unregulated, it can be difficult to determine hash oil quality, and it is in this under-informed climate that myths take root.

There may not be a legal obligation for purity (yet), but X-Tracted Labs in Seattle is setting a new standard for hash oil through rigorous testing and scientifically informed processes. With the help of Steep Hill Labs, X-Tracted established a process so exemplary that Washington state lawmakers designed the rules of recreational extracts by studying their operation. In an attempt to separate the myths from the facts, Leafly spent a morning with X-Tracted’s CEO Ryan, who founded their elite concentrate brand called Refine Seattle.

In this session, we asked about the different consistencies of BHO. What makes them different? Which is best?

Myth #1: You Can Determine Hash Oil Quality Based on Its Texture

As consumers, we don’t have much criteria to work with when evaluating hash oil: at best, the product will be labeled with the strain’s name and maybe the cannabinoid content. Because of this, many people have taken to assessing hash oil based on its appearance and texture.

Hash oil can be soft or hard, runny or solid, brittle or crumbly, sticky or dry. These textures are often loosely categorized under a variety of terms, including shatter, wax, honeycomb, budder, and pull-and-snap. As diverse as these oils might be, their differences are only skin deep.

“The biggest misconception that most people have is there’s some chain of hierarchy in how your oil, concentrate, wax, and shatter ends up looking,” Ryan said. “The difference could be as simple as a few molecules of H2O, that’s it.”

If any points are given out for texture, it would be for how easy the oil is to handle, dose, and dab with. Both crumbly and runny wax can be difficult to administer, so many prefer an in-between like the malleable pull-and-snap waxes.

Myth #2: Transparent Shatter is the Mark of Quality

X-Tracted’s “pull-and-snap” hash oil.

Consumers tend to think that the prime cut of hash oil is shatter so clear you can see right through it. With a glass-like consistency and transparency, shatter is an impressive specimen to behold, but what is the scientific basis of its superiority? According to Refine Seattle and their partners at Steep Hill, this notion also has mythical origins.

“[Steep Hill Labs] has done over 10,000 tests, and when we test these concentrates, it’s more likely that clear shatter is going to have higher parts-per-million residual solvents,” Ryan told us. “That doesn’t mean there’s not clear shatter that doesn’t come out with zero PPMs, it just means that more times than not, shatter will have higher parts per million.”

Parts per million, or PPMs, refers to trace solvents (e.g., butane) that weren’t fully purged from the product. Ryan explained that shatter tends to have higher PPMs because it undergoes a different process involving lower purging temperatures. Even with hash oil, looks aren’t everything.

Don’t forget to check out What Makes Hash Oil Medicine? Dabbing and Hash Oil Myths: Part Two!

  • Legendary Bruce Lee Roy


    • Susie Mmpatient

      Dude, you upvoted your own post? I hope you were referring to the article, not jimbro’s post, which was on-point as far as it went.

  • Bushcraft Is Life

    Through the years of buying BHO, I’ve found that eyeing the quality of concentrates is sorta hit and miss. Generally ‘they’ say lighter and clearer is best with a pungent smell when trying to determine the quality of the wax/shatter. Sometimes this is true, other times not so much. Terps add darker color to the oils, and most would agree these are good. I think we still have much to learn when it comes to the relationship of chemicals such as terpines and their effects when combined with THC/CBD/CBN. I’ve smoked nearly pure THC crystalline and didn’t like it as much as some trim run waxes. Why? No terps left the pure THC feeling almost like a caffeine high for me, not something I enjoyed. Was the THC crystalline ‘best’, or was it the trim run? The answer is subjective.

  • jimbro44

    I’ve noticed weird things that would lend themselves to the myths he’s debunking…. generally, it seemed like darker waxes could have a harsher taste and lighter/clearer ones tasted a bit better and seemed stronger (I think more time in contact w solvent might get more terps, although their solubility in various solvents like butane vary so that’s why it smells so lemony and not like weed.. Unless u do live resin or add terps… anyway)

    I generally add my bho to flower (entourage effect, don’t rob urself by smoking thc isolate all day, imho (and some science) you’ll get higher w more cannabinoids), so I also noticed melting the bho first helped the taste n I agree after doing that it’s usually terpenes… got a cbd strain wax that was probably about as much thc as regular wax (I’m sure it was less) but higher than normal ratio of cbd.. it’s pretty dark amber, almost brown, but pull and stick and i really enjoy it… right before that I got some like honeycomb/shatter that was yellow JUST like the pic and was quite strong and good tasting..

    Testing is where it’s at tho.. I can’t believe how few places here in AZ do, and some do but it’s not clearly labeled, you’d have to ask for each product n have them look it up..

    Even with flower if I’m stuck deciding between 2 strain I go to test results over look and smell.. BUT my dispensary shows, thc, cbd, cbn, cbc, thcv and cbg… if it was just thc cbd thats akin to telling someone there’s sugar and fat in a candy bar, as opposed to listing ingredients ( not a perfect analogy, there’s like over 70 or something cannabinoids most of which we are still trying to figure out… one thing they’re finding out in general is they pretty much all seem to have some purpose).
    Interesting article.

  • Ron

    Yes. I find most wax, a basic BHO extract, to be harsh on my throat and upper respiratory track. Last time I bought some Gorilla Glue BHO extract sold as wax from one of the dispensaries with a top reputation for quality. Well at first I was disappointed as it was not what I was used to seeing as it was like super thick molasses. If you tuned its container over overnight it would flow due to gravity. It was also very dark, a chocolate brown.

    It turned out to be the best concentrate I ever smoked (don’t do rosin yet). It was very smooth and super mellow. I just called the dispensary I bought it from and they said it was actually shatter (minor difference on how the proceed with the final stage of solidification that with wax). It was also relatively easy to load a small bit in a globe atomizer. Your dab tool would grab a small bit and as you moved it away a long string would come along. No problem. Just tear it off and roll into a tiny ball.

    It should not be water soluble. In fact they use water to create bubble hash. I would say your main concern are contaminates so just keep everything clean and carefully evaporate the alcohol at the last stage. Alcohol is a bit tricky to work with as it has a higher boiling point than CO2 or Butane. Hopefully you slowly boiled off the alcohol using a pot in a pot filled with boiling water. The temperature of boiling water can never exceed 212F. The lowest boiling point of any of the main components is

    Boiling point: 119*C / 246.2 degree Fahrenheit

    For the main one THC its
    Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
    Boiling point:157*C / 314.6 degree Fahrenheit

    The boiling point of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is 180.5 F

    As long as you evaporate the alcohol off in a water bath as I described you won’t evaporate off the good stuff. Whatever you do do not boil away with direct heat. That will surely degrade the product. The water bath guarantees you’ll never exceed 212 degrees F.

  • Tanya Lee

    I c all the step by step on how to make the butter and oils. Where can I get the step by step and list of ingredients for shatter, wax, dab etc?? Please and thank u👍🏼🎯