The rosin technique 

How to extract marijuana concentrate with a hair straightener (sort of)

Dabbing is the word in weed hype, but concentrates are expensive. The most popular method of extraction uses butane, which has an ugly tendency to hang around your poorly ventilated apartment or garage and blow up when you spark up, and which is against the law in the Springs anyway, so don't be an idiot. But according to Motherboard writer David Bienenstock, there's a newish extraction technique getting attention, both in private and in the industry. And all it takes is an electric hair straightener.

Rosin tech, or so it's called, has taken off, both for home extraction and for professional production. According to Nick Tanem, owner of solventless hash producer Essential Extracts, the basic concept was developed in 2006 by a man known as Comphashon, known on forums like overgrow.com. But the recent trend of pressing flower and the advances that came with it started in January of this year. A Seattle-based Instagram user known as @soilgrown demonstrated that dab-ready oil could be extracted directly from the flower. Tanem says the techniques used now bear little similarity to what he was doing with an oven press nine years ago.

The rosin technique is simple: Bring your hair straightener to somewhere between 230 and 300 degrees — think medium-low to medium — place your flower or concentrate in a folded piece of parchment paper, press hard for around five seconds and collect with a titanium-tipped tool. The hotter your hair straightener, the less pressure you'll have to apply, but if you're running too hot, you'll cook off volatile flavor chemicals. When picking a hair straightener, consider your needs: A wider plate lets you press more at once, but an inch-wide press is just fine. Higher-end straighteners have a numerical temperature readout, but good luck finding one for less than $40. Being cheap and heavy-handed, I went with a 2-inch Conair straightener that I found on Amazon for a mere $20.

click to enlarge A golden goat bud, ready to press - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • A golden goat bud, ready to press

My first test was a little over a gram of golden goat from Emerald Fields. What could go wrong?

A lot, as it turns out. What I got was not abundant yellow puddles on parchment paper, but lightly toasted chunks of compressed weed, pressed into a chipboard-like cake. The chunk-weed is dense, it's stronger than the ground flower and it's decarboxylated and ready for edibles. I didn't lose my weed, but I didn't succeed at extracting oil. I did, however, have much more success pressing a gram of Maggie's Farm blue bubblegum wax.

click to enlarge After one press, no oil extracted - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • After one press, no oil extracted

The resulting sticky-shattery rosin hash smelled cleaner, melted cleaner and produced plentiful, potent smoke.

click to enlarge Shatter and the wax it came from - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Shatter and the wax it came from

Still, I'd shamed myself and defiled my goat, so I called Tanem and begged for answers. It turns out the rosin technique depends heavily on the flower's oil-to-wax ratio. Waxier strains don't give up their THC as easily. Worse, Tanem says it's very hard to visually tell how much rosin any given strain will produce. He cites sugar-heavy plant nutrients like House & Garden as contributing to a waxy flower.

"Just like any other form of concentrate, it all starts from the grower," he says. "There are so many variables involved, and the first ones you can control are the ones from the grow."

That said, he recommends gorilla glue #4, the white, mob boss and sour diesel as good rosin-pressing strains. He's gotten high yields from them — over 18 percent of the bud's mass in the case of the gorilla glue.

As for my own mistakes, well, Tanem says the staleness of my bud likely had little to do with my poor yield. More than likely, I was just pressing way too much at once — try chunks between a third and half a gram, or no larger than a spun nickel. At least a mistake with the rosin technique won't blow up in your face.


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