Rosin Dabs Extraction: A Guide

The Wonderful World of Rosin Dabs: A Guide to Solventless Extraction

Cannabis concentrates come in various textures, tastes, potencies, and extraction methods, each with its own set of pros and cons. From waxes to budders, crumbles to oils, extracts take on many forms. Rosin is one of the most sought-after concentrate types due to its potency, flavor, and accessibility. As one of the few extracts that can be made at home without the risk of setting the house on fire, rosin doesn’t require a lot of money to create your own dabs.

What is rosin?

Rosin extracts are made by combining pressure and heat to squeeze out the therapeutic resin found on the cannabis flower’s trichomes (cannabinoid and terpene-rich glands). Rosin can also be made from other starting materials, including bubble hash, kief, and trim. While a hair straightener can do the trick, serious extractors often use a rosin press machine or other state-of-the-art rosin tech.

Making rosin is incredibly fast. Concentrate users can go from pressing to consuming in just a matter of minutes. The average cannabis user only needs a hair straightener and a bit of parchment paper to collect their rosin extract. Cannabinoids can also be extracted using temperature-controlled rosin tech, which can be a considerably more expensive investment.

Rosin vs. live rosin

Curious cannabis connoisseurs may have come across the term “live rosin” at their local dispensary, which is very similar to traditional rosin. Instead of using dried flower buds, kief, or hash, extraction technicians use fresh or frozen flower buds to produce live rosin. Fresh and frozen buds, like with live resin, contain a strain’s peak terpene levels, making the final product more flavorful and pungent.

Live rosin manufacturers usually use bubble hash made from frozen or fresh flowers due to the low water content in bubble hash. Pressing live or freshly frozen cannabis buds differs from pressing dried buds. Fresh buds produce steam and boiling water when compressed, resulting in a harsh-tasting and smelling product.

Bubble hash is a solventless extract that uses water and ice to agitate the trichomes on the flower buds. By the end of the agitation process, the separated trichomes are collected and allowed to cure for peak potency and aroma. Live rosin can test up to 85 percent cannabinoid concentration and up to 15 percent terpene content or higher.

Apart from the difference in terpene levels, live rosin tends to have a more opaque hue resembling honey or wax extracts. Some live rosin can also have a grainy texture, which makes it a bit trickier to load onto a dab nail or vape pen. Regardless of extract choice, live rosin and rosin provide a potent and flavorful experience without the need for solvents.

Solventless vs. Solvent-based Extracts: A Personal Exploration

Unlike other cannabis concentrates, solventless rosin doesn’t involve a solvent-based chemical process to extract cannabinoids and terpenes. Instead, we use rosin tech, which relies on heat and pressure to extract the resinous sap from cannabis flower, bubble hash, or kief. Solvent-based extracts use hydrocarbons like butane and propane, which can leave behind harmful residual particulates in the final product if not properly purged.

Visually, rosin looks similar to extracts like shatter, but it doesn’t contain butane, propane, ethanol, or other chemicals. A rosin heat press doesn’t require solvents to strip away cannabinoids from plant material, making rosin dabs an accessible extract. Additionally, rosin tech is a much safer extraction method for hobbyists like us.

How to Make Rosin

We don’t need a science degree to make rosin. Essentially, applying heat and pressure melts the cannabinoids and terpenes into a consumable resin. There may be more plant particulates in the final product, especially when using a hair straightener, but rosin tech makes up for it with ease of use and efficiency.

We can make rosin using various tools. As budding rosin makers, we’ll choose an appropriate rosin pressing tool based on our desired final product quantity. For first-timers, we can start by using household items like a hair straightener. Here’s exactly what we’ll need:

  • A tong-style hair straightener or flat iron with a low setting of 300 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Higher temperatures can burn off terpenes with lower boiling points.
  • Starting material like cannabis flower, kief, bubble hash, or trim
  • Unbleached parchment paper (never use wax paper because the wax will infuse into the final product)
  • Collection tool or dabber
  • (Optional) Heat resistant gloves to avoid burning ourselves with rosin tech
  • (Optional) Bar clamp for higher quantities and to maintain pressure on the rosin press
  • (Optional) Micromesh/silkscreen filter to keep plant matter out of the rosin

Method 1 — Hair straightener

Most of us will try making rosin using a hair straightener. Some well-known models have minimum temperatures that render rosin uncomsumable. For these models, we’ll heat the straightener, turn it off, and use a heat gun to check for the ideal rosin pressing temperature. Other smaller and more budget-friendly hair straighteners have low-enough temperature settings to press rosin. However, these models are made with more brittle material that can be affected by regular usage.

Step 1

Turn the hair straightener to its lowest setting, generally between 280 and 330 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut out a small piece of parchment paper (enough to hold the starting material) and fold it in half. Put the cannabis material in the middle of the folded paper and lightly press it closed.

Step 2

Place the paper and bud between the hair straightener, ensuring that the starting material is making indirect contact with it. Apply hard pressure on the cannabis material for about 3 to 8 seconds until we hear a sizzle. That’s an indicator that the resin has melted.

Step 3

Remove the parchment paper and rosin from the hair straightener and unfold it. Separate the compressed bud and remove the sticky rosin with a collection tool. The collection tool can also remove any plant particles left. We can place the resulting rosin on a cold surface or non-stick silicone container to make it more manageable.

Method 2: Use a rosin press for larger quantities

For those of us wanting to extract rosin in larger quantities, rosin heat press machines enable us to place the starting material between two heated plates. The plates press together, leaving behind amber-colored rosin. Some rosin tech press models come with temperature and pressure controls and LCD interfaces.

In just a few easy steps, we can transform our favorite, trichome-encrusted flower buds into potent and flavorful rosin dabs. The only disadvantage with rosin is that it can degrade quicker than other concentrates. The best way to store rosin is in an airtight and UV-protected container stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. All the efforts are worth it to make cannabinoid-rich rosin dabs.

How to Make Live Rosin

The process for making live rosin is exactly the same as the method for making rosin mentioned above. The only difference is that live rosin starts with freshly harvested buds, rather than cannabis that’s been dried and cured. So, when we’re ready to take our rosin-making skills to the next level, we can experiment with live rosin and enjoy the unique flavor and potency it offers.

By using fresh buds, we can preserve the full terpene profile of the strain, resulting in a more flavorful and aromatic end product.

  1. Prepare the Fresh or Frozen Buds: Begin by carefully handling the fresh or frozen buds to avoid damaging the trichomes. If you’re using frozen buds, make sure to let them thaw slightly before starting the process.
  2. Make Bubble Hash: The next step is to make bubble hash using the fresh or frozen buds. Follow the usual bubble hash-making process, using ice, water, and bubble bags to separate the trichomes from the plant material. Collect the bubble hash and allow it to dry for a short period. The bubble hash should have a low water content to ensure the best results when making live rosin.
  3. Press the Bubble Hash: Once the bubble hash is prepared, it’s time to press it into live rosin. Set up your rosin press or hair straightener with temperature controls between 160°F and 220°F. Place the bubble hash inside a piece of folded parchment paper or a mesh/silkscreen filter to keep plant matter out of the final product.
  4. Apply Heat and Pressure: Position the parchment paper or filter with the bubble hash between the heated plates. Slowly apply pressure and maintain it for about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on the consistency and quality of the bubble hash. The heat and pressure will cause the bubble hash to release its resin, creating live rosin.
  5. Collect the Live Rosin: Carefully remove the parchment paper or filter from the press and let it cool for a moment. Use a collection tool to gather the live rosin, which should have a slightly different texture and color compared to regular rosin due to the higher terpene content.
  6. Store and Enjoy: Live rosin should be stored in an airtight, UV-protected container in a cool, dark place to preserve its flavor and potency. Enjoy your live rosin by dabbing, vaping, or adding it to joints, bowls, or edibles.
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Harriett S. Miller

Meet Harriett S. Miller, the guy who never met a CBD strain he didn't like! He's been researching and experimenting with CBD for years, and it's safe to say he's a bit of an enthusiast. When he's not busy trying out new strains, you can find him scoping out the latest cannabis accessories and gadgets. Harriett is dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of CBD and helping people discover the perfect products to enhance their cannabis experience. He may be serious about his research, but he's always up for a good laugh (or a good puff).

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