The Oil Subculture
Many medical marijuana patients have tried, or regularly use, concentrates. Butane hash oil has started to bring about its own subculture within the marijuana community, with everything from its own subsection of smoking devices (oil rigs, domes, etc.), music (groups like “Task and Linus”), times of the day and year (as 420 is to buds, 710 is to oil), processing tools, and smoking etiquette.
The world of oil is a vast and rapidly growing one I’m peronsally proud to be a part of.
With different purging methods leading to different textures, and the ability to apply any purging method to any strain of cannabis, many varieties of BHO are often available to patients in states with safe medical access. The different types of oil are shatter (hard, transparent, amber), budder (light colored, opaque, stable, granular solid), and wax (ranges from light to dark, opaque, pliable).
Generally speaking, if you have a viscous material, the oil has either been over or under purged, and should be avoided. There is one step that is often overlooked however, and that step takes regular “oil” and makes it an “absolute.”
An “absolute” is the raw, concentrated, remains that exist after a fully purged butane extract is put through a winterization process. The winterization process retains the more polar cannabinoid molecules while ridding the oil of most other waxes.This process has both its benefits and its drawbacks. The most notable benefit is that the excess waxes don’t make their way into the smoke, and therefore never make it into the lungs. There has been some evidence that the habitual smoking of non-winterized hash oil can coat the alveoli with these extra waxes, leading to acute breathing problems, until the smoker takes an extended break from oil.
Although these theories haven’t been heavily researched or substantiated, it is easy to tell that winterized hash oil is easier on the lungs after taking one rip. While regular hash oil can bring even the most experienced smoker to tears coughing, there is absolutely no discomfort or coughing with properly made winterized hash oil.
The oil is also, often, a touch stronger than your average BHO.
Winterization does have some drawbacks. First, during the winterization process, about 10 to 20 percent of the hash oil’s original weight will be lost. Also, the oil tends to be slightly less aromatic and flavorful, though the potency has gone up.
There is also some theory that these extra waxes contain terpenes that bring their own variety of medical benefits, that are exceptionally benefical when ingested in concert with cannabinoids. Due to this, winterization could theoretically reduce the medical effectiveness of some strains, for some patients.
I Want To Winterize
Winterizing hash oil is a relatively simple process. One would need a high proof grain alcohol (the closer to 195 proof the better), a borosilicate (“Pyrex”, “Mason”) jar, a borosilicate bowl or second borosilicate jar, and a coffee filter.After getting a fully purged BHO (like one would donate for at an access point), one mixes it with a small amount of alcohol (usually about an ounce of alcohol for every 2.5 grams of BHO) in a borosilicate jar.
Then one would take that jar with the alcohol and BHO mixture, and put it in the freezer for 24-48 hours. This allows the less polar molecules to clump together while the larger and heavier, more polar, cannabis Di-Terpenes stay dissolved in the alcohol.
After the jar has sat in the freezer for 24-48 hours it is removed. The coffee filter, in some manner, must be suspended above the second borosilicate bowl or jar.
Now looking cloudy, the BHO and alcohol mixture is poured through the coffee filter into the second borosilicate container. A strange, almost gray or tan toned, substance will appear in the coffee filter, these are the less polar waxes that have been removed, dispose of them.
The “absolute” concentrate, which is in the remaining liquid, then must be purged of all the alcohol before it can be smoked. This can be accomplished by a variety of ways, but one must remember at all times that this alcohol mixture is highly flammable and shouldn’t be near electrical sparks or open flames.
The easiest purging method, though the longest, is to pour the mixture out in a large borosilicate dish and allow it to evaporate over the course of a couple weeks in an area with good ventilation. There are also methods of purging that involve vacuum pumps and heat, or combinations thereof, that can be easily found with a quick search online. These methods are often much quicker then just waiting for evaporation, but can also be much more dangerous.