It’s pretty hard for a dyed-in-the-wool stoner to get tired of smoking bud. But sometimes you want to expand your horizons and try something new. That’s where butane extraction comes in.
Butane hash oil, also known as BHO, is a form of concentrated marijuana with super-potent THC levels. It’s made via a process called “BHO extraction.” But what is this, and how could you use it to make BHO?
First, you should know that BHO is made by stripping resin from marijuana bud. This resin, rich in THC, is smoked using a so-called “oil rig” (a special glass pipe) or dabbed on a joint or smouldering bowl. This experience is known as “dabbing.”
THC extraction is a relatively simple process, but it needs to be said that it can also be very dangerous. The process involves butane, a highly explosive gas. News stories about potheads exploding their homes while making BHO have grown increasingly common in recent years.
BHO extraction: step-by-step guide
- First, gather your supplies: at least a quarter ounce of pot, a grinder, at least two canisters of liquid butane, a Pyrex glass dish, a double boiler, razor blades, parchment paper, and a “BHO extractor” (a length of PVC piping, capped at both ends, with a single hole at the top and several holes at the bottom). A paper filter is placed inside the bottom cap.
- Grind up the desired amount of weed. Use a fine grind, but don’t turn your pot into powder. If you’ve never done a BHO extraction, you might want to start with a quarter ounce.
- Next, put the weed inside your butane extraction tube. Shake the extractor lightly to settle the pot but don’t pack it. You want the butane to saturate every bit of marijuana, so it needs to be fairly loose inside the tube.
- Now insert the nozzle of a butane canister into the single hole at the top of the BHO extractor. Spray butane into the canister. A greenish-brown resin will ooze through the filter at the bottom of the extractor. Let this drop into the glass dish.
- Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water and bring it to a boil. Then place the Pyrex dish on the top part of the boiler. Leave the water at a boil for at least an hour until all the liquid butane has boiled off. You’ll know this part of the BHO extraction process is done when there are no more bubbles in the remaining resin.
- Next, scrape the sticky resin from the dish using razor blades. Transfer the oil to small pieces of parchment paper, then fold those pieces with the oil inside. This is your final product, butane hash oil.
- Lastly, let the oil cool and then, when it’s hard, move it to a non-stick storage container.
And there you have it: Those are the steps to THC extraction. Done right, you can produce hash oil that delivers a powerful, long-lasting high. Enjoy, but above all – be safe!
How to maximize BHO yield
Everyone who uses butane as a solvent is already a leg-up over other solvents, which can produce smaller and lower-quality yields. Butane is one of the highest-yielding solvents, but there are some factors to consider when trying to maximize your yield.
Homemade BHO extracts won’t be nearly as refined as commercially-available products that have been rigorously tested for purity and potency. However, despite the limitations, home-based BHO extraction can produce a decent yield.
The size and quality of your BHO tools (Pyrex glass dish, butane canister, double boiler, PVC piping) will determine how much and how fast you produce your concentrates. Small-batch production, however, is ideal for home projects, as it allows you to reduce the amount of explosive gas used.
While more BHO is certainly better, you want to start off using the best quality cannabis flower or trim, where the majority of the cannabis resin is concentrated. Some extractors tout the benefits of using flowers frozen at their peak ripeness to reap more of its aroma and flavor.
Lastly, experience is crucial in producing dank and sticky extracts. Lab-grade equipment is built with safety in mind. Amateur extraction requires focus and precision to avoid a deadly consequence.
Extractors must be knowledgeable about purging the residual solvent from the BHO extract. Managing temperatures throughout the process can ensure you hold onto as many cannabinoids and terpenes as you can while removing all of the harmful butane.
Butane extraction tips
1: Grind your weed wisely.
You don’t want your weed too finely ground to the point that you can taste a harsh, bitter and grassy flavor in the end product. Master extractors recommend grinding your weed the same consistency you would grind it for a joint to take the right amount of space in your pipe.
2: Don’t overpack your bud
Cramming your weed into your column or packing it too loosely can lead to an uneven soak of the product. Instead, pack your pipe until you feel a bit of resistance and the material springs back up at you.
3: Check for leaks
Leaks are bad. Real bad. An easy way to check for leaks inside your column is by using a solution of water and soap instead of butane. Spray the water directly into your column and check for bubbles where they’re not supposed to be. It could save your life.
4: Color is everything
Cannabis resin can run through the end filter as a translucent yellow color in the beginning. When the material passing through has a clear hue, it’s time to stop pumping the solvent into the column.
5: Use cold temperatures to your advantage
Trap the bud’s moisture by freezing it to prevent the water acting as a solvent for water-soluble substances, which can pull out more of the undesirable chlorophyll compounds that can make your extract taste bad.
Why you should vacuum purge your BHO
Extract manufacturers and home concentrate enthusiasts work tirelessly to make the perfect batch of BHO. The BHO method is fraught with flammable materials and hazardous processes, but the single most dangerous part about crafting pure BHO has to be the BHO vacuum purging process.
Once the raw cannabis material has been blasted with butane, extractors do as much as they can to evaporate off the butane gas still trapped in the BHO extract. Excessive butane can ruin a batch’s flavor and potency, not to mention the harm is can cause to your lungs.
What is a vacuum purge?
Ancient and solventless extraction methods of removing trichomes from the cannabis plant don’t require an extensive vacuum purge. Hashish often contained some leftover organic plant matter because trichomes were manually shaken off the plant without the need for chemical solvents.
Modern extraction systems blast chemical solvents through fresh cannabis buds. A vacuum purge removes impurities and solvents from the extract. BHO vacuum purging requires a vacuum purge chamber and a vacuum to heat the extract at less than atmospheric pressure. Under these conditions, butane gas trapped in the product is released into the air.
When atmospheric pressure is lowered, compounds can boil at a lower temperature. Lower temp vacuum purges are crucial when you need to boil off butane without degrading the cannabinoids and terpenes.
What are the benefits of vacuum purging?
We’ve all heard about the dangers of home butane extraction, but one hidden danger that isn’t discussed as sensationally is the impurities left behind by butane solvents. Butane can leave behind olfactory agents like mercaptans or sulfur dioxide used for the detection of gas leaks.
Each BHO manufacturer employs its own process and workflow. Not all extracts undergo proper vacuum purging, however. While it’s nearly impossible to completely remove a solvent from a concentrate, exhaustive vacuum purging can produce a pure and flavorful BHO extract.