Bubble hash is a cannabis concentrate made using ice water.
Bubble hash is one of many different extracts of cannabis. It is typically a dark brown, somewhat crumbly solid.
Bubble hash is made by extracting structures that contain the majority of marijuana’s active ingredients. These structures are called trichomes. Resembling tiny hairs, they are packed tightly on cannabis flower buds.
Bubble hash gets its name from the bubbles that form when “full melt” bubble hash is smoked. Full melt is an especially refined type of bubble hash.
The name also refers to the “bubble bags” used in the extraction process. Plastic bubble bags feature progressively smaller sieve-like holes. Hole sizes may range from as large as 220 microns to just 25 microns — the diameter of the finest human hair.
Bubble bags allow manufacturers to use freezing and simple ice water to filter out raw plant materials and contaminants while retaining active ingredients.
Bubble Hash vs. Traditional Hash
Traditional hash is a form of naturally concentrated resin collected from mature plants. It is common in Middle Eastern countries where cannabis is cultivated.
Traditional hash contains up to 50% THC, while whole cannabis typically contains 10-20% THC.
Bubble hash is thought to be more refined than traditional hash, but less refined than popular new extracts such as BHO (shatter or wax). Bubble hash may contain up to 60% THC. Other concentrates, like shatter or wax, may contain up to 90%.
Bubble hash can be consumed with cannabis in a pipe, or rolled with cannabis into a joint. Only small amounts of bubble hash are needed to achieve the desired high.
One-third of a gram is typically enough to generate a substantial high for users. For reference, an ounce consists of 28 grams.
How Is Bubble Hash Made?
Full melt bubble hash is an exceptionally high-grade bubble hash, sometimes called “ice wax,” which melts into a golden puddle when heated.
To make bubble hash, trichome-rich flower buds are typically frozen. They are soaked in ice water, agitated manually, and then filtered through “bubble bags”.
Bubble bags are plastic filtration bags with holes of increasingly smaller size. Freezing serves to separate the THC-rich trichomes from the flowers.
Several extractions, using bags with progressively finer mesh, help remove the ice water while retaining the desired trichomes and active compounds. The process filters out excess plant material, leaving behind the intact resin glands. The resulting product is then air-dried to remove residual water.
Bubble hash is relatively rare and expensive, according to cannabis expert Chris Boudreau. Boudreau owns several cannabis businesses, including one of the top distribution companies in San Diego, California.
“Until the market matures more, we probably won’t see it much,” he says. It seems to be most popular among older users. These folks are probably drawn to what they know. The extraction process is an “older-school method,” Boudreau notes.
Is Bubble Hash Safer Than BHO?
Many people believe that solventless extractions are safer and cleaner than methods using chemical solvents.
Solvents such as butane, used in making BHO, are considered dangerous to inhale. However, experts explain that there are safe ways of removing butane from hash extractions.
“Growers use [bubble hash] for special occasions,” says Christov. Producing this refined product is not simple. “It takes a lot of painstaking work.” Customers seek it out because of a perception that bubble hash is made using “a cleaner form of extraction.”
But Christov rejects the notion that bubble hash is actually safer than solvent-based extractions like BHO.
“There’s a perception that [bubble hash] is a cleaner form of extraction; that it is safer,” Christov says. “It is a misconception, but that’s what people believe.”
Other extraction methods use chemicals like butane to concentrate cannabinoids. The butane is then evaporated, leaving behind a more or less pure product.
“But the public believes there’s some bad association [with this method],” says Christov. “It’s just a bad rap — nothing more than that.”
Bubble hash is made by freezing whole plant material to loosen cannabinoid-rich trichomes. These are then separated from extraneous plant materials using simple ice water and mesh filters called bubble bags.
The end result is a concentrated, THC-rich product suitable for smoking in small amounts. Although some people prefer bubble hash because it’s made without the use of solvents, it remains relatively rare in the marketplace.
Despite this, cannabis expert Chris Boudreau notes that bubble hash has a certain appeal. “If done carefully, it’s a high-quality, high-grade product — like handmade cognac,” he says. “We may see more of it in the future.”