A much purer form of cannabinoids are seen with CBD crystals and pure THC distillate becoming a more frequent sight in the Marijuana Market, Previous to this the vast majority of resin extracts have had an unknown cannabinoid content.
When we isolate a cannabinoid, users can be confident that they have a product with a purity approaching 100%, which make dosages for things like edibles or labeling much simpler.
Anyone with a rosin press and some good quality starting material can make their own isolated THCA, which is the un-decarboxylated, acid form of THC. It is a very simple mechanical separation process whereby rosin is re-pressed at low pressure and low temperature, through a fine mesh filter, extruding the terpenes, waxes, lipids and secondary cannabinoids, and leaving behind a very pure THCA inside the filter.
What you’ll need:
- Rosin with a wax or stiff budder texture (for best results freeze your fresh trim/buds and use this to make water hash and use that water hash to make your Rosin)
- Rosin filter bags – 25 or 37 micron
- Parchment paper
- Manual rosin press with temperature control (air-assisted presses rarely have the delicacy needed to press at low pressure)
The importance of texture of rosin and starting material
To carry out this process successfully, the rosin we use as starting material must be in “budder” or “wax” form, a phenomenon which occurs as a product of THCA nucleation. Basically, the THCA molecule is a pseudo-polymorphic, meaning it is able to change and crystallize into different forms under certain conditions of pressure, temperatures, and depending on the interactions between the solvents (in this case the various terpenes), the solutes, (the cannabinoids) and any impurities present (for example plant fats, waxes and lipids). This can cause the THCA within the concentrate to crystallize and form a stiff, hard wax or budder texture and, in some examples, “crash out”, or separate itself from the other elements in the extraction, such as in the case of sugar wax, which takes on the consistency of wet granulated sugar as the THCA crystallizes and separates from the terpenes, secondary cannabinoids, fats and lipids.
These textures are more often experienced with high purity extractions of varieties with high terpene content, as well as with fresh-frozen bubble hash extractions, also due to the high levels of volatile terpenes, which not only offer a much more intense flavor and aroma, but when the bubble hash is pressed into rosin can often cause the rosin to nucleate and become budder almost as soon as it oozes out of the filter bag.
In the right conditions, stubborn rosin can be persuaded to nucleate to some extent and form a loose budder via heat and agitation, for example stirring with a dabber over a heating mat or hot plate set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less. While this method has works, degradation of some terpenes is inevitable when the extracts are exposed to this type temperature.
Preparing the starting material and press for separation
Once we’ve got our wax/budder rosin in the right state, it’s time to start preparing it for the separation process. Switch your press on and set temp to 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended to keep plates pressed together while heating to help in attaining a consistent even temperature.
Preparing the rosin
For separation to work properly, we need to enclose the rosin in a tight mesh screen, ideally this will be a 25 micron rosin bag, Pack the bag with the rosin, fold the opening over and cut off any remaining material.
Next we place the rosin, now in a tightly wrapped rosin bag into a folded sheet of parchment paper, and we’re ready to begin pressing.
Open the pressing plates enough to insert the folded parchment with the rosin parcel, so that it is centered with the open end facing outwards, towards you, so you’ll be able to see as the terpene rich sauce oozes out.
Now slowly close the plates until they just make contact with the parchment and its contents, Do Not exert any pressure, wait for 20-30 seconds for the rosin to warm up and start to melt. Begin to apply pressure very slowly and gently, very soon you should see liquid resin dripping from the plates on to the collection paper. Once you’ve reached maximum pressure, hold it there for up to a minute, or until the sauce stops dripping out.
Open the plates, take everything out of the press and put the parchment carefully to one side, keeping the rosin parcel for the second pressing.
Now repeat this process with the temperature raised to 175-195 degrees Fahrenheit, using a fresh piece of parchment to collect the sauce (there will be less this time, and it will be thicker). After this second press, remove everything from the plates, allow to cool and carefully open the filter parcel that held the rosin.
You should have a white, or very pale yellow substance with a chalky texture.
You can press it again at a slightly higher temperature if you’d really like your THCA to be more pure and lighter colored.
If you’re separating the THCA for the purpose of accurate dosing for edibles, topicals and other applications requiring precise measurements, it is now ready to use in this state.
Recombine The diamonds with some sauce
If, however, the plan is to make some “diamonds and sauce” to dab then a little more work will need done to get the finished product you are seeking.
The final stage is to place the chalky, raw THCA on the plates on some parchment and melt it without applying pressure, so it liquefies and forms a pool (this can require temperatures upwards of 245 degrees Fahrenheit) . Carefully remove from the heat and allow to cool, so it can stabilize, it will become a much more visually attractive crystal-like texture once broken into smaller pieces.
Now, using a little heat to reduce viscosity and facilitate mixing, we can re-combine some of the THCA crystals with a little of the terpene-rich sauce that we separated earlier to create the famous Solvent-less “diamonds and sauce” extract that everyone is talking about.