how do you make cannabis wax

How to Make THC Wax ‘Weed Dabs’ at Home With a Hair Straightener

The latest cannabis craze is a technique for making highly concentrated marijuana extracts, also known as “dabs,” by simply applying measured heat and pressure to a marijuana bud using a common hair straightener.

This DIY method only really began taking off among hashish connoisseurs a few months ago, yet there’s already a commercial market for what aficionados call Rosin Tech—including industrial­-sized production set­ups—and a growing sense among foresighted weedheads that these chemical-­free, explosion­-free, quick-­and-­easy concentrates will soon come to dominate the market.

It started when Instagram extraction guru @soilgrown “squished the bud seen around the world” after accidentally stumbling upon the technique while pressing some hash at home. Now he’s the widely acknowledged founding father of a large and growing movement.

“I was sitting in my garage pressing out some half melt [lower quality] hash to dab, when I accidentally over pressed, separating the oil from the contaminant,” said @soilgrown, who prefers to remain anonymous, but says he’s been involved in the cannabis industry since 2007 and specializes in solventless extraction methods. “Without even thinking about it, I rolled it all back together into a ball and repressed it. Months later, however, that experience inspired me to place a ball of hash inside a hair straightener and press as hard as I could. The oil again separated from the contaminant, but this time I collected the oil and dabbed it, finding it changed from a 3 star melt to a 6 star melt”—based on a standardized measure of the potency and purity of various cannabis concentrates—”so I quickly shared my finding with the world.”

“Rosin Tech has already made an incredible impact on the hash community,” he added, “and will continue to spread as more people discover the incredible ease of producing amazing solventless oil without expensive equipment or dangerous chemicals.”

Everything you need to transform buds or lower quality hash into dabble Rosin in just minutes. Photo by the author

For the time being the vast majority of “dabs,” which can reach 90 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive property in cannabis), are made using the chemical solvent butane, to the extent that many people use the term interchangeably with “BHO,” short for butane hash oil.

In Colorado, state-­licensed manufacturers produce this product safely and efficiently using proper equipment and standard operating procedures, but elsewhere BHO remains mired in the “bath-tub gin” phase—including tainted product occasionally hitting the streets, and a rash of dangerous explosions caused by unskilled, undisciplined, or unlucky “extraction artists” working in the shadows with makeshift equipment and no oversight.

“What makes it dangerous is not so much the extraction process itself,” Alison Halett wrote in a Wired feature on the perils of “blasting,” “but rather the problem of improper butane ventilation. Butane is highly flammable and it tends to sink, meaning that if you use it indoors or don’t ventilate well, you’ll run into serious trouble. Let some butane puddle in your living room, throw in a thoughtless spark from a cigarette, stove, or—dare I suggest—bong hit, and suddenly your apartment is missing a wall.”

A quick search of “BHO explosion” via Google News shows that few days go by in America without another (reported) incident, and according to Buzzfeed the number of BHO-related fires in 2014 was in the hundreds, “up from dozens” the year before. It remains unclear, however, exactly how many people nationwide have been killed or injured in BHO-related incidents.

Use a hair straightener with adjustable heating. Aim for an ideal temp between 230 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and be sure to document your results at each setting until you determine which works best. Photo by the author.

Things could change dramatically, however, if you believe online Rosin Tech communities like The Death of BHO, or ask leading proponent Jeff Church (aka Reverend Cannabis), co-­owner of Washington-­based marijuana extract company Thinc Pure.

“Rosin Tech is already quite disruptive to the small time processing of BHO,” Church told me. “The large producers are heavily invested in BHO, and will therefore continue making it for a while, but the small guys that open blast a quarter ounce of weed in their backyard would much rather press Rosin in a matter of seconds. Meanwhile, most larger BHO makers have at least privately admitted that Rosin is the killer new extraction method, and many have even started making it for their own head stash.”

Rosin remains in its infancy as a commercial product (High Times first reported on it less than a month ago), but is actually rooted in a long tradition.

“Using a hair straightener is new, but the history of Rosin Tech is actually very long,” Church said. “Cannabis researcher Chris Bennett has detailed an ancient technique where buds were packed in a canvas (most likely hemp) bag and held over a fire until rosin began to flow through the bag. The rosin was then scraped from the outside of the canvas and smoked.”

The earliest modern Rosin-­like technique, meanwhile, sprung up in the late­ 1960s or early 70s, when wandering longhairs following the hippie trail from Nepal to Afghanistan began pressing locally made hashish in order to more easily smuggle it back home. Some described a highly­-prized, extremely potent “red oil” that could be scraped from the pressing plates—but only in amounts far too small to bring to market.

Which leads us to the modern Rosin movement started by @soilgrown, which will clearly have major implications for the rapidly growing concentrate scene, both in legal states and underground. So in the name of science, I decided to whip up a batch at home, following a well­-regarded online tutorial.

Allow the Rosin to cool before scraping it off the parchment paper with a razor blade or a dabbing tool. Photo by the author.

First I tried a few rounds of pressing marijuana buds, which involves simply setting a hair straightener on a low temp (Church suggests 230­-300 degrees Fahrenheit) and then pushing down as firmly as possible (try using your foot) on a bud wrapped in parchment paper until a viscous goo literally oozes out of the herb.

Start by applying just 3­-5 seconds of pressure, then wait for the Rosin to cool, carefully collect it off the parchment paper with a razor blade or dabbing tool, and it’s ready to use. After some trial­ and ­error I managed to yield approximately .1 gram of very tasty, high potency concentrate from a 1.4 gram bud (a 7 percent yield by weight).

That’s how much Rosin I got off of that little bud, which can still be used for cooking. Photo by the author.

Church reports that skilled practitioners can yield 15 percent or more when pressing top-­quality buds and 70 percent or more when pressing hash, with an end product that can reach 80 percent cannabinoid content—a potency that’s comparable to BHO, but with a cleaner, fuller flavor profile, since Rosin doesn’t need to be purged of solvents.

My own batch tasted amazing. (For the record, I made the batch in California, where I’m a resident and legal medical marijuana patient.) There was a full representation of the plant’s terpenes—the essential oils that give cannabis (and many other plants) their flavor and aroma—and no residual chemical taste or harsh combustion byproducts.

Church says he’s already seen retrofitted pneumatic, hydraulic, and hand presses (like a t­-shirt press) capable of processing about a pound of starting material per run, and a number of industry innovators have begun developing next­-generation commercial­-sized set-ups specifically designed for making Rosin. It would seem Rosin production just might be poised to scale, but the question remains: how high?

Meanwhile, I’m far from a BHO connoisseur. But I’ve certainly had occasion to sample the best of what’s around, and my very first attempt at making Rosin produced dabs that more than held their own in both potency and purity. I smoke a lot of weed, compared to most people, and one healthy dab of my rookie batch of Rosin pushed me to the edge of actually being too high.

In any case, it’s a wonder why people continue to risk serious bodily harm making this stuff with volatile chemicals, when it just takes a hair straightener.

Top: Wrap the bud in parchment paper, and center it carefully within the hair straightener, then push down with as much force as possible for 3-5 seconds. Try carefully using your foot to step on it.

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I tried my hand at Rosin Tech, a technique for making highly concentrated DIY marijuana wax using just a hair straightener.

How To Make Dabs | Medical Marijuana Wax

So you wanna know how to make dabs, huh? You’ve come to the right place! We here at Honest Marijuana have been doing this so long (and so well, we might add), we’ve forgotten more about cannabis production (in all its forms) than most people will learn in a lifetime.

That makes us uniquely qualified to tell you everything you need to know about making dabs…even if we do say so ourselves. So that’s what we’re going to do.

But jumping right to the “how to” is a bit like going on Dancing With The Stars without any training: the end result isn’t going to be pretty. So before we tell you how to make dabs, we’re going to give you a bit of background on the subject (dabs, not Dancing With The Stars).

Along the way, we’ll answer such questions as:

  • What is dabbing?
  • What exactly are dabs?
  • What is wax?
  • What equipment will you need to dab?
  • Why choose wax over other concentrates?

After that, we’ll explain how dabs are usually made and then give you a DIY recipe for how to make dabs at home (safely, and without exploding). Sound good? Let’s get started.

What Is Dabbing?

Dabbing is the process of heating a special form of cannabis and then inhaling the vapor. Dabbing gets its name from the tiny dabs of wax that are used with a special rig (a dab rig) to get high (THC dabs) or get your medicine (CBD dabs).

Let’s take a moment to clarify those two sentences by talking about dabs, wax, and equipment specifically.

What Are Dabs?

Think of dabs as “bite-sized,” single-serving hits that are usually no bigger than your pinky nail (though that’s actually a lot!). You scoop a dab onto the nail using a dabbing tool and then apply a flame to turn the solid into vapor. Finally, you inhale as much of the vapor as possible. That’s dabbing in a nutshell.

What Is Wax?

Wax is a type of dab (the other being shatter). And if you’re wondering why wax is called wax, the answer is really very simple: the stuff looks like earwax. Sounds gross, we know, but you’ll get over it after you’ve tried your first hit.

What Equipment Will You Need To Dab?

Dabbing requires some specialized equipment, so you can’t just decide one morning that you’re going to try it without first going shopping. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Dab rig — A specialized bong used with dabs.
  2. Nail — This isn’t the type of nail you buy at the hardware store.
  3. Dome — Fits over the nail and helps contain the vaporized wax.
  4. Carb cap — Creates a mini oven that helps vaporize the wax at lower temperatures.

And then, of course, you need your dabs.

So What’s The Big Deal?

Dabbing is a big deal because the wax or shatter that you use is a concentrated form of the buds you buy at your local dispensary. And by concentrated, we mean really high in THC or CBD. How high exactly? Anywhere from two to four times over regular bud.

Depending on the strain used to start, wax can clock in at 50-90% THC (or CBD). Even the strongest strain only hits around 25%. So you can see why dabbing is such a big deal: You can get seriously high with just one or two hits.

Why Choose Wax Over Other Concentrates?

We’ve mentioned that there are several types of concentrates you can use when dabbing. We like wax over shatter for several reasons:

  1. Wax is easier to produce.
  2. Wax is easier to handle.
  3. Wax is easier to measure.
  4. Wax is easier to use.

We’re not saying we wouldn’t dab with shatter. We’re just saying that if we had the choice, we’d go with wax first because of the reasons mentioned above.

So now that you know everything there is to know about dabbing, dabs, and wax, let’s talk a bit about how wax is made. Then we’ll show you a simple recipe for how to make dabs in your own kitchen.

How Is Wax Usually Made?

If you were a weed wax pro, you’d make your product through butane extraction. “What is butane extraction?” you ask. Here’s the skinny.

Butane extraction involves forcing butane (duh!) through a container full of marijuana bud. The butane acts as a solvent and separates the essential oils (made up of cannabinoids, terpenes, trichomes, and flavonoids) from the cannabis plant.

Those oils held in solution along with the butane are called butane hash oil (or BHO for short). But you wouldn’t want to dab with this stuff because butane is toxic. That’s why the next step is so important.

Once you’ve soaked your plants in butane and dissolved all the canna-goodness, you allow the butane to evaporate out of the solution. That leaves behind a highly-concentrated oil that, when it dries, hardens into either shatter or wax.

Sounds simple enough, right? It’s not. Butane is highly flammable and can explode (yes, explode!) with the smallest spark. That’s why we don’t recommend using butane extraction at home to make your own wax.

There are much safer ways to produce some dab goo than to risk life, limb, and residence trying to emulate the pros and their fancy equipment. Don’t do it! Instead, try this non-toxic, non-explosive method for making your own wax.

How To Make Dabs At Home

Below, we’ll give you several options and step-by-step guides on how to make dabs on your own…without the risk of death or loss of property.

Alcohol Extraction

Those in the know (like you are now) call this the QWISO process. QWISO stands for “Quick Wash Of Isopropyl Alcohol.” So, as you can probably guess, we’re going to use alcohol to make this work. But we’re not going to use just any alcohol. We’re going to 99-100% pure alcohol.

That’s a lot different than the vodka you may have stashed in your cupboard. It’s even different than the Everclear you’ve seen at the liquor store. Isopropyl alcohol is not meant for human consumption, so don’t, by any means, put it in your mouth.

It’s also important to understand that 99-100% alcohol is flammable. It’s nowhere near as bad as butane, but you don’t want to handle it around an open flame. Needless to say, it’s not a good idea to try this recipe if all you have is a gas stove.

Okay, so enough with the warnings. Here’s what you’ll need to make dabs at home.

  • 2.5 grams of your favorite ganja
  • Containers that pour well and are freezer- and heat-safe
  • 99-100% isopropyl alcohol
  • Metal mesh screen
  • Unbleached coffee filters
  • Pan
  • Hot water

1) Break up your bud just a bit (not too small).

2) Put it in an oven-safe container and dry the cannabis at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Please note, this is not decarboxylation.

3) Once the cannabis is sufficiently dry, put it and the bottle of alcohol in the freezer for three to five hours.

4) Wait (we know this is the hardest part).

5) Pour enough cold alcohol over the cannabis to cover it by at least one inch.

6) Gently swish the mix for 20 seconds.

7) Separate the bud from the alcohol by pouring through a mesh screen.

8) Set the plant matter aside for now (from here on out, we’re going to focus on the alcohol).

9) Pour the alcohol through an unbleached coffee filter into another container.

10) Squeeze the coffee filter to get as much of the alcohol out as possible.

11) Allow the alcohol to evaporate. You can do this in one of three ways:

  1. Place a coffee filter over the top of the container and just give it time.
  2. You can also use a warm water bath to speed the process.
  3. If you’re really impatient (like we are), you can put the water bath on the stove at low to medium heat until you see liquid start to evaporate. Be sure not to boil the alcohol.

12) When all the alcohol is gone, scrape the wax out of the container and store in a glass container or on some parchment paper.

13) Enjoy your dabs! (See, 13 isn’t always an unlucky number.)

You can also run the original buds through a second wash (this time for one minute), to get every single drop of the remaining good stuff. Then proceed from step seven as outlined above. That’s all there is to it!

Ice Water Extraction

Ice water extraction is similar to alcohol extraction, but it uses an even less-combustible solvent: ice and ice water.

Ice water extraction is ideal for those who don’t want to worry about explosions or fires but still want to learn how to make dabs and experience the rush of a cannabis concentrate.

The dabs you make with ice water extraction are also called bubble hash because of the sieve-like screens (bubble bags) you use to separate the trichomes from the plant matter.

Learning how to make dabs in this way is easy to do but requires a bit more time, patience, and elbow grease than other extraction methods. Keep at it and you’ll soon be dabbing your way into recreational or medicinal bliss.

Tips To Make Ice Water Extraction Easier

1) Keep Your Cannabis Chilled

Obviously, the ice you’re going to use is really cold (frozen even). But to make the process work a lot better, we recommend getting the water — and even the air around you — as cold as possible.

The finished product will be so much better. You can thank us later.

2) Preserve The Purity

No, we’re not talking about THAT purity. We’re talking about the water you use during ice water extraction.

The stuff that comes out of the tap in your kitchen is full of chlorine and fluoride (among other things). Even if you have well water — a “privilege” that only country folk will appreciate — you’re still getting extra chemicals (like iron and sulfur) that don’t mix well with the trichomes you’re trying to extract.

We recommend always using purified water — which you can buy at your local market — to preserve the purity of your dabs.

3) Quality In Equals Quality Out

Sure, you can use regs like shake and trim to make your dabs, but that’s going to result in a product that might not produce the effects you’re looking for.

Imagine dabbing without the THC high or the CBD pain relief. What would be the point of that?

Instead, always use the best quality bud you can get your hands on. We recommend beasters or headies — the strain doesn’t matter — so that the dabs don’t leave you disappointed.

4) Find A Comfy Spot To Perch

As you’ll see in the directions below, you’re going to be stirring or agitating in your 5-gallon bucket for a hefty stretch of time.

There are few things worse than crouching in your kitchen staring at your sauce-splashed cabinet doors for upwards of a half-hour.

Instead, throw down a tarp in front of your TV, cue up a movie, and Netflix and chill while making dabs so you aren’t bored out of your gourd.

Ingredients And Supplies
  1. Your favorite high-quality high-CBD or high-THC strain
  2. 10-15 pounds of ice
  3. 5-gallon buckets (at least one for mixing and one for wet screens)
  4. Purified water
  5. Cheesecloth
  6. Stir sticks
  7. Bubble bags (check online for this item)
  1. Layer your bubble bag or screen (three or four of them) in the bucket from smallest to largest. The smaller the number, the smaller the screen.
  2. Add 3-4 ounces of high-quality cannabis.
  3. Pour half a bag of ice on top of the cannabis.
  4. Add enough purified water (about eight cups) to cover the cannabis under the ice.
  5. Mix the ice, water, and buds together.
  6. Continue to agitate the mixture for 15 or 20 minutes.
  7. Let the mix settle for another 20 or 30 minutes.
  8. Lift the first bubble bag part-way out and let it drain back into the bucket. You can even shake and squeeze the bag to get all the water out.
  9. Set that bag aside.
  10. Remove the next bubble bag and scrape out the material at the bottom of the screen (a spoon works great here). Deposit the dab material onto your cheesecloth. This is the least pure form of bubble hash (but it’s still good).
  11. Remove the next bubble bag and let it drain into the bucket. Don’t squeeze this bag to remove the water. Just let it drain.
  12. Scrape out the goo at the bottom of the bag and deposit it onto your cheesecloth. There should be more material in this bag compared to the first one. And it will be lighter in color and contain less plant matter.
  13. Continue removing bubble bags from the bucket and scraping out the dab material until you’ve reached the last one.
  14. Fold the cheesecloth on top of the goo and press gently to remove the leftover water.
  15. You’re left with three or four different grades of dab material depending on how many screens you used. Keep in mind that you can mix all the concentrate together. You don’t have to keep it separate. We just wanted to highlight the different qualities so you understand what you’re getting.
  16. Repeat this process one or two more times to get as many of the trichomes off the bud as possible.

That’s it! You’ve learned how to make dabs. Congratulations!

So now that you’ve made your own DIY dabs, you might be wondering what to do with them? We’ve got your back, Jack.

How To Use Dabs

1) Dab Rig

The most common way to use dabs is in — wait for it — a dab rig! Whether you’ve got wax, shatter, budder, or some other form of concentrate, you can smoke it in a special bong designed specifically for extracts.

For more info on dabbing and dab rigs, check out these awesome articles from your pals at Honest Marijuana:

2) Blunt, Joint, Spliff

If your dabs are more hash-like than wax-like (it’s ok, don’t develop wax envy, it’s all just concentrated cannabis anyway), you can crumble a bit into your blunt, joint, or spliff before you close.

Paired with a tried-and-true strain like Blue Dream, Chemdawg, Sour Diesel, or Fruity Pebbles, the high THC or CBD content in your dabs will add an extra kick to an already enjoyable experience.

You can also use dab crumbles to hit the Turbo Boost button on your joint-, blunt-, or spliff-smoking experience when rolling with low-quality bud.

The mids you found stuffed in the back of your drawer from who-knows-when take on new life — and new potency — when you mix it with your DIY dabs.

3) Edibles

When we DIY a batch of dabs that is more hash than wax or shatter, we love to mix it in our favorite edibles recipes.

We’ve added it to everything from butter and honey to tea and candy. We’ve even sprinkled it on top of our lunch salad to get our afternoon started off right.

Just remember that dabs are concentrated cannabis, have a high THC or CBD count, and can really knock you on your back if you’re not careful.

There really are few things worse than being couch locked at work or trying to write a report while your desk and computer dance the Lambada in front of you.

If you’re new to the world of weed edibles — or even if you’ve been gnoshing on them for years — check out these informative articles from the experts at Honest Marijuana:

Start Small And Take It Slow

As with any new marijuana endeavor, it’s always a good idea to start small and take it slow. If you’re dabbing for the first time, try one hit and wait a few minutes to see how your body reacts. You can always hit the rig again if you need more, but you can’t return those hits if you take one too many.

The same goes for making your own wax to dab. Start with a small batch, get the hang of the process, and then increase your production when you’ve got a bit of experience. If nothing else, you won’t waste any of your precious bud in a failed attempt to try something new.

Curious about how to make dabs? The experts at Honest Marijuana tell you everything you need to know about dabbing, dabs, and marijuana wax. ]]>