Let’s Talk About Hash

By Ngaio Bealum
Aug 7, 2020

Let’s talk about Hash. Not shatter, not dabs. not wax. Hashish. Old School. Hand-made. Traditional.

Hash has been around for thousands of years. The Sufis were into it. A bunch of old British dudes liked to eat it. Your grandpa probably smoked it in the 60’s.

When I first went to Europe twenty-odd years ago, hash was pretty much the only cannabis product I could find in London. In the states, hash was a rare treat – except for the Summer of ‘93 when a boat full of hash made its way to the Bay Area – but times have changed.

Legalization and technology (looking at you, vape pens) have combined to make cannabis concentrates readily available and often more popular than cannabis flowers. But sometimes, the old ways are still the best ways. For me, “Temple ball” style hash retains more earthiness and complexity in its flavor -It’s not just terpenes and THC, like what you get from a good wax – but a little more of a “whole plant” experience. And while modern waxes and concentrates are hella strong (some concentrates are up to like 85% THC these days), hand-pressed hash usually registers around 60-70 percent: Still powerful, but not overwhelming.

Quick refresher: Hashish is an old school name for concentrated cannabis. Most of the THC and terpenes on a cannabis plant are contained in the sticky glands and not the leaf. There are a variety of ways to remove the glands. Dry sifting is one way. Using ice water to freeze the glands and separate them from the plant material is another way. After the glands have been collected, you have kief. Using heat and pressure to rupture the collected gland will give you a ball of hash.

Does anyone remember getting a bunch of kief, wrapping it in plastic, placing it in your shoe and walking around all day to make hash? Just me? To make a butane or a carbon dioxide extraction, you blast those chemicals through the plant material, causing the glands to separate from the leaf. Then you have to wait for the butane to evaporate. Don’t make butane hash at home by the way. It’s an easy way to set yourself on fire. But I digress.

So I wondered: Do people still make Old School, hand pressed, temple ball hash anymore? Yes they do.

Allow me to introduce you to The Dank Duchess, world class hash maker. Originally from NewYork (Her Brooklyn accent is slightly diminished but still present), she lived in South Beach for a while before moving to California so she could grow weed. “Not just California, but Oakland specifically, because they let you grow 72 plants indoors.”

Things were going okay, although she was having trouble finding a job until she met legendary hash maker Frenchy Cannoli. “I was at the High Times Cup in Santa Rosa in 2014. I walked into his booth and at first I thought he was selling chocolate and I almost started complaining because I wanted dabs. He told me that he made hash and you could actually dab it. It was so good.”

A few months later, She tracked him down at the Hempcon and invited him to coffee so she could learn more about hashish. They got along very well and Frenchy asked her to write about hash for Weed World magazine. ,But he told her that before she could write about it, she had to learn how to make it.

So, on September 14th, 2014, she learned how to make hash and on September 17th she pressed her first temple ball. “After I pressed my first ball, I knew that I would go to my deathbed pressing hash”.

Our conversation was short but hella informative. Mostly because she talks fast. We discussed Charas, the original hash, made by carefully rubbing ripe cannabis flowers with the fingers until you have removed enough glands to make a ball of hash. We talked about all the different ways of making concentrates, like using a rosin press or even a hair iron.

But her favorite hash is still dry sift pressed in the “temple ball” style. For her, Hashmaking is more than just a way to make a living. “It’s meditative, it’s transformational. You need patience and just the right amount of heat. She says she prefers solventless hash to butane or carbon dioxide cannabis extraction methods.

And before all the science nerds start arguing on some “Water is the Universal Solvent!” type shit (don’t feel bad. I did the same thing), The Dank Duchess says that amongst hash makers, water is used as a “carrier”and not as a “solvent: so we can all stop arguing about it.

She feels that a lot of the butane and carbon dioxide extracts are mostly used to create value from substandard flowers, like how juice companies use ugly oranges to make orange juice concentrate, “You have to start with good plants. For folks with higher standards, you have to start with the best of the best”. I agree.