Hash oil is a concentrated cannabis extract that can be smoked, vaped, eaten, or rubbed onto the skin. The use of hash oil is sometimes called “dabbing” or “burning.”
Hash oil comes from cannabis plants and contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the same active ingredient as other marijuana products.
But hash oil is more potent, containing up to 90 percentTrusted Source THC. By contrast, in other cannabis plant products, the average THC level is approximately 12 percentTrusted Source.
Read on to find out more about hash oil and other marijuana concentrates, including uses, benefits, and risks.
About marijuana concentrates
Marijuana concentrates, including hash oil, are potent extracts from cannabis plants. The products available vary in form. The table below outlines some common forms of hash oil.
Most of the items listed above range in color from golden to amber to dark brown. They may be translucent or opaque.
Due to their potency, concentrates are often sold in small quantities, and may cost more relative to other marijuana products.
The potential benefits of hash oil are similar to those associated with marijuana. Hash oil may trigger a sense of euphoria and help to treat nausea, pain, and inflammation.
Since hash oil is more potent than other forms of marijuana, its effects tend to be stronger as well. As a result, it may provide greater symptom relief for people who use marijuana to treat medical conditions, such as chronic pain or cancer.
More research is needed to understand the unique benefits of hash oil and related products.
The side effects of hash oil are similar to those associated with marijuana. However, since hash oil is more potent than marijuana plant products, the side effects may be more severe.
Short-term side effects may include:
- altered perception
- changes in mood
- impaired movement
- impaired cognition
- impaired memory
- dizziness and fainting
- anxiety and paranoia
- cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS)
More research is needed to understand both the short- and long-term side effects of hash oil use.
There are a variety of ways people use hash oil.
Dabbing refers to the use of a special pipe to heat and vaporize hash oil. Sometimes called an “oil rig” or a “rig,” this apparatus consists of a water pipe with a hollow “nail” that fits into the pipe’s gauge. Alternatively, some people use a small metal plate called a “swing.”
The nail or swing is typically heated with a small blowtorch before a small amount of hash oil is applied to its surface with a dabber. With the heat, the hash oil vaporizes and is inhaled through the pipe, and it’s usually inhaled in a single breath.
This method is more dangerous than other methods because of the blowtorch, which poses a risk of burns.
Hash oil can also be smoked, vaporized, ingested, or applied to the skin.
Hash oil, and especially illegal hash oil, poses unique risks. Some of these include:
Safety. There are few studies available documenting the risks of hash oil. As a result, we don’t know for sure whether it’s actually safe to use, and if so, how often and at what dose.
Potency. Hash oil is four to five times more potent than regular marijuana. As a result, it may be more likely to cause a strong high and undesirable side effects, especially among first-time users.
Tolerance. Since hash oil contains so much THC, it could increase your tolerance to regular marijuana.
Burn risk. Dabbing involves the use of a small blowtorch. Using a blowtorch, especially when you are high, could result in burns.
Chemical impurities. Illegal hash oil is unregulated, and may contain dangerous levels of butane or other chemicals.
Lung injuries. A 2019 case studyTrusted Source suggested a potential link between the use of a dabbing apparatus and lung symptoms similar to those of pneumonia.
Cancer risk. A 2017 study reported that the vapors produced by dabbing contain carcinogenic substances.
What Is Hash Oil Exactly?
Given it has almost as many nicknames as ‘420’ has origin stories, it’s easy to get confused when it comes what hash oil actually means.
Historically speaking, hashish use stretches back centuries, though the precise origin is unknown. Many believe it was first created in Central Asia, as ancient Persians, Arabs, and Indians all consumed hashish for generations. In that sense, hash oil isn’t new at all, but current developments in solvent-based cannabis extraction have changed the game completely.
Terms like shatter, wax, and BHO are not interchangeable, but they all refer to a form of marijuana concentrate. Shatter is brittle and can literally be broken apart into small pieces. Wax (sometimes also known as butter) is much softer and malleable. BHO — which stands for either butane honey oil or butane hash oil — has almost a syrup-like consistency.
Think of it this way: All cannabis “extracts” are considered concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. BHO is both an extract and a concentrate, whereas old school hashish (in brick form) is a concentrate, but not an extract. For the sake of this article, when we refer to “hash oil,” we’re describing any concentrate or extract that’s in liquid/semi-viscous form.
How Is Hash Oil Made?
When it comes to hash oil extraction, there are several established methods available. Each one results in the trichomes of the cannabis plant (where the terpenes and cannabinoids are stored) being separated from the rest of the material and then consumed. As far as which extraction processes are most commonly utilized, there are a few that are considered the most tried-and-true approaches.
This process involves soaking cannabis in alcohol (many use ethanol). The alcohol strips the trichomes from the plant before the liquid is then filtered. Once the alcohol is removed (usually through evaporation), the resulting formula can be consumed as a tincture or rendered into oil.
With CO² extraction, carbon dioxide is used in place of a solvent. Heat and high pressure combine to turn the CO² “supercritical,” which in turn allows for extraction to occur. CO² extraction is a far more elaborate and costly method than using solvents, but it is generally regarded as a superior option for being less wasteful and producing purer results. This is also the only method where technicians can efficiently separate THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes from one another.
The genesis of BHO is created by pressurizing cannabis and liquid butane in a heated, sealed environment. The resulting vacuum that’s created will evaporate the butane etc. This is the method used to produce shatter, which again is simply hash oil in a different state.
Of course, there are also far more practical extraction options available, too. By simply using a grinder with a kief catcher, you’ll eventually collect a sizeable amount of kief (which is essentially powdered trichomes). This can be rolled into a ball of hash, often called charas. When it comes to hash oil, however, the alcohol process is about as simple as it gets.
Given the nature of the processes described above, it’s also important to emphasize that hash is often a far more potent substance than cannabis flower, and should thus be enjoyed with appropriate caution. With the understanding that hash oil is not for beginners, let’s cover the basics of consumption.