Hash isn’t about getting high—it’s an art

I can still remember my early days of cannabis extracts. Back then, my friends would spend evenings in the kitchen hovered around the stove, taking turns pressing small pieces of dark greenish-brown hashish between red-hot butter knives and inhaling the fumes via the top of a pop bottle. Hot knives were a rudimentary form of dabbing, a practice now ubiquitous in cannabis culture. 

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A little over a decade later, I tried my first modern dab in Colorado. Shatter had become the cool new thing. I visited a house where a gigantic slab of golden-yellow glass was proudly displayed on the dining table. But instead of hot knives burning my throat, it was a glass rig outfitted with an electric heating element known as an e-nail. Other people in the house had their own rigs they would heat with blow torches. The hit was cooled by water in the pipe, but the cough was just as severe as I had experienced back home. While dabbing didn’t seem that different from the extract seshes of my youth, something about it felt a tad more refined. 

At that point in my life, cannabis extracts were just a way to get higher than flower. After all, they’re concentrated, offering far more THC than regular bud. However, it would still be some time before my journey led me to recognize the true artistry and beauty of hash.

Discovering the art of the hashinin

I had the fortune of interviewing master hash maker Frenchy Cannoli several times in my career. He taught me about the “art of the hashinin” and how extracts were an expression. I realized that, much like the cannabis plant itself, the concentrates were a reflection of the inputs—both literally and figuratively. 

For someone to create quality hash, whether it’s an old-school temple ball or premium live rosin, it has to start with quality bud thickly coated with resin. But that’s not the only key ingredient. The extraction process requires the utmost care and precision. It’s here that concentrates truly differentiate themselves.

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After all, eating an edible made from distillate will result in effects far different than those containing ice water hash. The distillate is created under almost clinical conditions, resulting in an oil lacking many of the compounds that make weed what it is. Ice water hash, on the other hand, is a true concentrate that mimics the plant’s dynamic makeup. It’s the chemical composition and, arguably, the passion for the craft that guides the user experience of hash.

That’s not to say I don’t believe every extract has its place. We exist in an emerging industry where an increasingly wide range of consumers seek products perfect for their specific needs. Personal preference, budget, and availability will all factor in—and that’s okay. But for me, it all comes back to the art of the hashinin.

The essence of extracts

When I encounter extracts nowadays, I look at them in a different light than I once had. I think about the plant they were derived from and ponder, does the hash smell and taste similar? I explore how the oil was produced, if the flower was washed and the concentrate cured, or if a solvent-based process was deployed.

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Frenchy used to say that smoking hash is like being wrapped in a blanket next to a cozy fireplace. You’re enveloped in the weed plant’s warmth and, by proxy, the hash master’s as well. That’s where I want to be: swaddled by the soothing, Zen-like energy Cannabis sativa L provides. I want to honor the gifts it provides and celebrate the craftspeople who brought it to life.

I sometimes wonder if the teenage me standing in the kitchen in small-town Wisconsin could have comprehended the real beauty of extracts; how the essence of the plant could be captured in such a complex and creative fashion. It’s something I believe many consumers take for granted. But as I fill my futuristic Puffco Peak Pro with a glob of cold-cured rosin, I realize how far we’ve come in the cannabis culture—and how grateful I am for the people who got us here.

rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter