Making ice wax is a meticulous process that can lead to some of the most potent, best tasting concentrates on the market. Ice wax is one of the most flavorful, potent forms of cannabis concentrates that you can make without solvents. You won’t need the assistance of any explosive solvents like butane. Instead, to make this wax hashmakers use washing machines or buckets filled with ice and water to agitate trichomes. Then, the material is sifted through mesh bubble bags to separate essential oils from less desirable plant materials to make ice wax or bubble hash.
Making quality ice wax
From the individual hashmaker to the cannabis used, a lot factors into the quality and price of the end product when making ice wax.
To make quality ice wax, material from cannabis plants with sufficient trichome production is required. If you put garbage in, that’s all you’ll get in the end. So first you’ll need to hunt down some quality trim, popcorn nugs or whole plants for extraction.
Nikka T told High Times in 2013 that material that was immediately frozen after being hand-trimmed makes the finest hash. Even if you don’t have freshly-frozen, dried material can be used. You just need to make sure the material is properly remoistened by soaking up some of the water during agitation.
On top of the quality of your starting material, you also need to have control over a few other factors. The amount of agitation and the way you do it contribute to the quality of your end product. The water, temperatures, and sequence of different sized micron bags used all factor into the quality.
Another factor that contributes to the quality of ice wax is the amount of time material spends between bags. The faster the process is completed, the fewer terpenes and flavenoids lost. Nikka T believes that the outside layers containing all the flavor and aroma can be quickly washed away if agitated too much or soaked for too long. A hashmaker that has gotten their technique down can do things faster, leading to a more quality product in the end.
To get a full melt extract with the ice wax method of extraction, you’ll have to use several different micron-sized bubble bags. At-home starters should begin with 5-gallon bubble bags with 160, 120, 90 and 70-micron screens. The more screens you use, the purer the material will be when you get to passed the 120-micron bag. From there to the 70-micron bag is the sweet spot where you’ll get trichome heads with all of the properties of a full melt extract.
The final step to ensuring the quality of an ice-wax is drying. The way the final product is cured and stored will contribute to the color and aroma of the final product. There shouldn’t be any water left in the end material. You can chop the hash up and spread it out to help pieces dry faster. Any trapped water will mess with the smell and taste of the ice wax. Putting wet hash in a jar can lead to mold.
Final Hit: What are ice wax extracts?
After hashmakers complete the ice wax process, what they’re left with won’t look like oil at all. Instead, it looks like a fine, brown to light-yellow powder and smells like heaven. You’ll have to apply heat and some pressure to get it into a consistency that looks more like the typical BHO dab. A lot goes into making a full melt ice wax, so it is much less common and way more expensive than BHO.
Hashmakers are artists constantly finding new techniques to make products like ice wax even better. Most recently, many hashmakers started to use rosin presses at low temperatures to turn their ice waxes into lighter colored “live rosin” which looks more like a BHO or live resin extracts. Certain names are so trusted that you can expect to pay $100 a gram or more for anything they’ve had a hand in.
What Is Ice Wax and How Do You Make It?ADNever heard of ice wax? We beg to differ. Here’s the scoop on this luscious concentrate, and how to make it at home.
If you’ve visited a cannabis dispensary any time in the last several years, you’ve probably noticed that marijuana flower is sharing shelf space with an increasing number of concentrates. The selection can be overwhelming for some, with dozens of products to choose from: rosin, shatter, oil, budder, sauce, and myriad others waiting to be dabbed or vaped. Another cannabis concentrate that is growing in popularity is ice wax, which is also known by several other names including water hash, bubble hash, and ice water hash. But what exactly is ice wax, and how is it made?
Ice wax is made from the glandular trichomes of cannabis that have been separated from the plant material by agitation in ice water. These potent weed crystals are then collected through a sieving process. Since ice wax can be made with a small investment in materials, and without the use of volatile solvents such as ethanol or hydrocarbons (like butane and propane), it is popular with many home gardeners. Properly made, ice wax can be a potent concentrate that is both high in THC and rich in flavorful terpenes. With the application of heat, high-quality ice wax will bubble and melt instead of burning, a characteristic responsible for the nicknames full melt (because of what it looks like) and bubble hash.
How to Make Ice Wax: Supplies Needed
To make your own ice wax at home, you’ll need to acquire a few inexpensive supplies from a local grow shop or online retailer. First, you’ll need a set of sieving bags, commonly sold as bubble bags under several brand names. Bubble bags are available in 1- and 5-gallon sizes, or even bigger for large-scale operations. They’re available in sets of three, four, five, or even more bags, each having a differently sized filter screen (measured in microns, or one-millionth of a meter). More bags allow you to separate the ice hash into different grades based on trichome size.
You’ll also need several towels and a 25-micron screen for drying the ice wax, and a couple of dull butter knives for collecting it from the screens. And don’t forget to pick up three clean plastic buckets the same size as your bubble bags. You’ll also need plenty of ice, a hose with a spray nozzle, and a large wooden spoon or length of doweling for stirring.
Of course, cannabis is also required for this process. It doesn’t matter if you use fresh-frozen flowers or dried and cured buds. You can use top-quality flowers if that’s all you can get, but sugar leaf trim and larfy popcorn buds can make great ice hash, too, giving the grower a productive option for their less-than-primo weed.
Regardless, the herb you use should be glistening with trichomes — if you don’t see any with the naked eye, it’s probably not worth your time and effort to process into ice wax. The quality of the bubble hash you make depends on the quality of the cannabis you use. Mediocre weed will produce ice wax of the same ilk. You’ll want up to about 200 grams or so for 5-gallon bags and less than 50 grams for the 1-gallon size.
How to Make Ice Wax: Washing the Hash
Set up your bubble bags by placing them in one of the buckets, starting with the bag that has the smallest micron size and working your way up to the largest, one bag inside the next. Alternate the layers of ice and cannabis until the bucket is almost full, and then top off with cool water.
Allow the ice, water, and cannabis to sit for at least five minutes to give the trichomes a chance to get cold and brittle. Then, begin agitating the mixture by stirring. As you agitate, the trichome heads will break away from the plant material and become suspended in the water. The more you stir, the more you’ll break up the plant matter. Many ice wax makers will start with an agitation time of only a minute or two to produce an initial wash of the highest quality ice wax.
After agitation, pull the first bag with the plant material and ice out of the rest, allowing the water to flow through the filter screen and back into the bucket and remaining bags. Set the first bag aside in a separate bucket to be washed again, if desired. One at a time, pull the bubble bags out of the bucket, allowing the water to flow back into the container. Once the water has drained away, a layer of golden-hued trichomes will remain on the filter screen. Rinse the trichomes with the hose for a couple of minutes to wash away any impurities.