What is hash?
First of all, we will have a look at what hash exactly is. For a long time, 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. This 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. 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. Then, they 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. The 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.
General tips for vaporizing hash
1. Pure hash only
I tried to find a way to vape just hash and not ground herb. Some people sandwich ground hash in between two layers of ground herb. I’m not sure what the point of that is? There’s a good chance that nothing happens to the hash but you’ll be so high from the cannabinoids you just vaped you’ll be none the wiser. The only way to measure the effects of such a technique would be using laboratory equipment that is way out of my reach - and maybe does not even exist. So for the purposes of the following advice, we’ll skip this cocktail.
2. Vaporize pollen hash
I would recommend using the best quality pollen hash (or keif) you can get your hands on. You don’t want any contaminants messing up your expensive vaporizer. I would recommend using hash that is more crumbly - this is sometimes referred to as pollen (it is yellow-brown and granular powdery). It's not that sticky hash won't vaporize. It's just much more difficult to chop up - which is very important for evenly vaporizing your hash.
3. Use degummed hemp fibre
You’ve probably never heard of it but “degummed hemp fibre” is the key that unlocks the door to vaping hash. When you vape hash - it will melt. You do not want this molten hash getting into your expensive vaporizer. Some models come with “concentrate” or “liquid pads” so you may be tempted to put your hash on these.
Don’t! - Unless you want to trash your concentrate/liquid pad directly afterwards and buy some new ones. It’s much more cost effective to get hold of some degummed hemp fibre first and use it to protect your vape. It is like hemp cotton wool. Make a layer of it over any part of your vape that will be exposed to the molten hash.
Depending on your model of vaporizer you will need to figure out which way to use the hemp fibre best but please - I beg you - use it. It does not combust or impact the taste in any noticeable way. Keep in mind that your hash will not evaporate like a quality concentrate does. There will be residue left behind, so please make sure your vape is protected with the hemp fibre.
4. Chop, don't fluff
To grind the pollen, use a chopping board and a sharp, heavy knife. It's much better to chop it like that than to "fluff it up" by burning it a little bit before putting it in your vape. Although this might not really impact the cannabinoids, it will still vaporize part of the terpenes off. Terpenes add to the nice taste and smell of cannabis. People say that terpenes add to the final effects too which I’m sure is the case. So vaporizing them all off by burning with a lighter before you have even put it in your device seems a bit of a dumb thing to do - even if it smells nice at the time.
5. Get your dosage right
In the vapes I tested, I found 0.1 grams a good amount to grind and place in the oven. This gave 8-10 nice draws offering dense and tasty clouds. Enough to get 2-3 people high (or one person very high!) Depending on your vape, you may be able to add more. Or you may even want to add less. If you’ll be using your vape again soon for flowers you might not want to have it blocked for a while as you wait to finish your hash.
Another argument against putting more in is that the hash melts quickly and clumps together. The more that is there to start with the bigger this clump will be and therefore the smaller a surface area compared to the mass. A big clump may have cannabinoids locked inside and therefore end up wasted - which, if done correctly, is ultimately what you want to be.
6. Choose the right temperature
The temperature does not have to be on maximum like with other concentrates. Lower temps (<185°C) get results too and give a more cerebral high and higher temperatures (>185°C) give a more typical hash like high. High temperatures (200°C+) are a very good way to induce sleep.
The best vaporizers for vaping hash
Our brave Bill experimented with vaping hash in 4 different vaporizers. Some of them worked really, really well. Others didn't. Here are some of his findings. You can read all the information in this blog article.
Vaping hash with the PAX 3 VAPORIZER
"The PAX 3 comes shipped with a cartridge that you can load up concentrates and oils with. I used that for the ground hash. Loading into this cartridge was by far the most fiddly. I inserted some hemp fibre in the base. Then getting the hash on top was not the easiest - I used the blade of a sharp knife to scoop the ground hash in there.
Initially, I set the temperature to the maximum “concentrates” setting. The first draw was completely cool yet I exhaled a dense cloud - not billowing - but definitely dense. It tasted of the smell of fresh hash - not like the smell of burning hash when smoked in a pipe. I then reduced the temperature to mid setting and wished that I had started low and worked my way up. Again, it had good results. As predicted, I got very high.
I checked inside the oven. The fine powder that had once been there had been obliterated and was now a solidified mass that looked more like resin than pollen. I heated it again and took three more hash tasting draws that seemed of nearly as high quality as the first. It was clear the PAX 3 had passed the test with flying colours. Finally, it just seemed to stop producing clouds."
Vaping hash with STORZ & BICKEL's MIGHTY
"To load the Mighty I inserted the “liquid pad”. I put a layer of hemp fibre over the liquid pad followed by 0.1 g of the ground hash. As the opening is big, I easily put the ground hash on top of this. I added another layer of hemp fibre - to protect the upper gauze from getting clogged up with molten hash.
I skipped the lower temperature and set the device to 200℃. I took three large draws. As expected the result was nothing short of spectacular. All three were heavily dense with a rich hash like taste in my mouth - not dissimilar to the taste of nibbling hash. The draws after that were all pleasant, though after the third the taste was turning slightly sourer than those previous.
I got a few more draws from it at 210°C (max temp) before sleep. The taste changed quite a bit and it was clear that I had depleted the good stuff. I stopped as it did not taste pleasant anymore. Opening it up it was apparent that the hash had been pretty much nuked. The hemp fibre kept everything clean. Compared to the PAX, the Mighty pretty much out trumps everything."
Vaping hash with the FIREFLY 2 vaporizer
"I put some hash on top of a liquid pad and some degummed hemp fibre. I didn’t see the need to add another layer of fibre over the hash as I did in the Mighty. Of all the vapes I tried, this was the easiest to set up. It also looks incredibly cool through the window on the top of the Firefly 2. The Firefly 2 certainly looks cool, but is it any good for vaping hash? I’m afraid not.
I set my Firefly to 200°C, but I didn’t seem to be able to draw anything that resembled a cloud. Eventually, I had to stop as the buttons were getting so hot it was uncomfortable to hold. I held off a while then attempted again using the same technique I use for herb and concentrates - a slow long “slong” draw. I was finding it difficult to get good airflow. I did feel a bit high, so I must’ve been getting something from it. I reduced the heat to 180°C and sucked away like crazy. Still barely anything.
I tried it without the liquid pad at 180°C with no result and then again at 210°C. Still nothing. I opened it up again to check what was going on. The hash had melted but I didn’t seem to be gaining any of the delicious cannabinoids that should be released. Actually, the hash and fibre had risen within the oven and was stuck to the glass on the top window. Which is when I realised that the combination of the hash on the fibre must be blocking the airflow somehow. It seems that vaping hash in a Firefly using this technique is not working."
Vaping hash with the DYNAVAP VAPCAP “M”
"The DynaVap VapCap “M” is a great little budget vape that you heat with a lighter rather than relying on battery power. It performs great with dried buds and has a lot of fans. Loading the ground hash was tricky due to the small size of the opening of the vape. I used the DynaStash - a wooden case accessory which is sold separately - to hold it upright and scooped the hash in with the sharp end of a knife. First, I inserted some degummed hemp fibre and then added 0.1 gram of ground hash on top. It just about fitted.
I knew this was going to work as I’ve already used it in the past to vape hash. For all the fanciness of the other vapes - with their temp controls and Bluetooth connections - it’s refreshing to get back to basics, whip out my trusty torch flame lighter and get to work. In principle, vaping hash in the VapCap is not too far removed from inhaling hash that has been held between two hot knives, which was a method I’ve experienced. The results are similar too, although the process is a lot less seedy looking.
With dried herb, I normally get two good tasty clouds from my VapCap followed by two ok but not as pleasant draws before having to refill. With hash it’s different and I managed to squeeze out at least six (maybe more, I was not in the best state to count at this point) good hash tasting clouds before the taste started to change and become unpleasant enough to make me want to stop.
Once I removed the spent hash and hemp fibre I noticed that there was a fair bit of molten hash in the inside of the bowl/oven that would need cleaning up. The hemp fibre stopped this from clogging up the small vents below."
And there concludes the hash vaping encyclopaedia article. What a trip. The main takeaway here is that vaping hash is possible and “heavy”. If you are deprived of sleep maybe this is something you want to try to get yourself into the Land of Nod.
If you follow the general tips I imagine you could squeeze out some clouds from your hash with most vapes. Of the four tested for this article, there are only two serious contenders. The Mighty and VapCap.