This is the first of a trilogy that investigates the vaping of hash.
What is hash?
This first part discusses the very basic question of what is hash? The second will cover generic information on vaping hash whilst the third looks in more detail at the results of vaping in four popular portable vapes.
Like many Europeans, I have a soft spot for hash or hashish. Growing up in the North East of the UK (70s baby) hash used to be the predominant form of cannabis available on the streets. This was due to hash - which dates back thousands of years - being the best form for storing and most importantly smuggling cannabis.
In countries such as Morocco and India hash was (and still is) how the majority of cannabis plants end up. Sun grown cannabis flowers being the raw ingredient. Whereas flowers have a shelf life measured in months, hash can last years and still maintain its potency.
Rise of the dried flowers and concentrates
Developments in growing technology enable us to enjoy quality dried cannabis flowering buds - aka marijuana - grown locally and avoids the need for condensing them into such a compact form as hash. Another trend are the various techniques people found for creating purer forms of concentrates - for dabbing or vaping - such as rosin, shatter, honey or wax.
Although technically a concentrated form of cannabis; hash differs from modern concentrates in that it contains more plant matter thus giving it a different taste, look and feel - or some might say character. The fact that source material is most probably grown under the sun in mountainous regions is also going to spice things up a bit too.
When cannabis flowers it produces trichomes on the buds and small leaves surrounding the flowers. These trichomes contain essential oils and cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are what gives the medicinal effect. Whether it’s the psychotropic (trippy) THC or psychoactive but non-psychotropic CBD. People wrongly state CBD is not psychoactive. It is, in that it changes your perception - through giving a sense of wellbeing - however, it is not psychotropic which means that it’ll distort your perception of reality (get high). When we grow cannabis we are actually doing it to harvest the trichomes over everything else.
Hash - the low tech concentrate
Hash is just a low tech way of harvesting these trichomes and storing it so they do not degrade. Over time THC will oxidise and transform into CBN - which also has medicinal effects - but does not get you as high.
In basic terms a farmer would separate the trichomes from the plant material as best they can (which is not very efficient compared to modern techniques) - there are multiple ways to do this and different cultures have their own methods - hand rubbing in South Asia or sieving in the Middle East, Central Asia and Mediterranean. They then process them to compact into hash - either by hand or with presses.
There are different grades of hash - the lower grades containing more plant material and possible contaminants.
There are also different styles. The two main types are resin (dark and pliable) or pollen (yellow-brown and granular powder). It will depend on the grade and processing technique used which category the hash will belong to.
Crusty protective shell
Think about a loaf of bread. The outer shell hardens and this protects the inside which stays fresh for longer. Same thing happens with hash, the outer layer which is exposed to air, heat and light will oxidise faster than the interior which is protected from the elements. Next time you have some hash cut it in half and you’ll see the difference in the outer layer and the inside.
The effects of hashish could be best described as a narcotic-like stone. With some of the high-end connoisseur hashes - such as Indian charas - putting you in a sublime dream-like state; perfect for disconnecting from the stresses of life and floating off to your favourite chilled out album before retiring for a deep sleep.
Blue Bird Coffeeshop
If you are ever in Amsterdam I would recommend dropping by Blue Bird coffeeshop. Established in the mid-seventies - around the time I was born - Blue Bird has the best menu of hashes I have come across.
I strictly gave up smoking tobacco around 10 years ago. Which left me smoking my herb and hash from a pipe. I did this for many years until portable vapes were advanced enough to give the results of their plugged-in brothers and sisters.
But can you vape hash?
Now, I’m lucky enough to have amassed a collection of portable vaporisers which I use pretty much exclusively for buds and occasionally for concentrates (other than hash). However, along my cannabis journey I seem to be picking up various interesting nuggets of hash that are stashed in my hash pot and not getting the love they deserve. I suppose I could burn them pure in a small pipe - but this gets so messy I’m too lazy to bother and usually reach for my clean alternative in the form of a portable vape. An abundant supply of weed and occasional top-ups of concentrates ensures that my hash stays in that pot and never emerges.
So, what’s a man to do - who has a nice collection of connoisseur hashes, doesn’t consume tobacco and has a fine collection of portable vapes? He gets researching and experimenting on how to best vape hash, that’s what he does (and I did).
I discovered you can vape hash.
After research, trial and error, experiments and many fuzzy headed mornings I’d like to tease you about the next part of this vaping hash trilogy which covers the basics of vaping hash. It will be coming live to the Azarius blog within the next few days.
Written by Bill Griffin, Author of Easy Organic Weed
Image: Miran Rijavec under Creative Commons license