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
- 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.
A spray bottle of soapy water can help quickly identify
Making sure your system is free of leaks is important to ensure that no oxygen is in your system with your solvents and no gaseous solvents are with your oxygen in your workspace. Fire requires three elements to occur: oxygen, fuel and spark. Remove any of these elements, and fire cannot occur. Upon initial assembly, pressurize your entire system to 25 psi to 50 psi overnight to help ensure a leak-free system.
Grind your plant material to about the consistency
How you prepare your cannabis for extraction can greatly influence your end product. If the material is ground too finely, more of the cell walls of the plant material can be damaged—opening undesirables up to exposure to the solvent and extracting them along with your more desirable compounds; not finely enough, and you’re not making efficient use of space in your column.
Consider nitrogen assist
Solvent flows through your closed-loop extraction system as a result of pressure differential. When running under cryogenic conditions, solvents can all condense to a liquid state. This creates equilibrium in the system and no pressure differential to move your solvent through your plant material. Nitrogen, however, stays in its gaseous form at temperatures as low as -200°C and can be used to create the needed pressure to get things moving. You’ll need to ‘burp’ it from your gas storage tanks when you’re finished.
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.