Butane-hash oil (BHO) is a type of concentrate made by extracting THC and terpenes from cannabis flowers or trim, using butane, pressure and heat.
In this article we’ll go over some of the basics of BHO, such as how it’s made, how to use it, and how to store it. We also have lots of useful advice if you plan on trying this type of cannabis extract.
We’ll round up the article by explaining how to make shatter safely—the most popular cannabis extract of the highest purity which has been known to cause explosions in the kitchens of many inexperienced users that tried making it.
What is BHO?
BHO is short for butane-hash oil, which is a cannabis concentrate made by extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flowers and trim, using butane, heat and pressure.
BHO is sometimes also called butane-honey oil due to its color and consistency—after purging the butane from it, the oil turns a yellow-gold color similar to honey.
BHO comes in various shapes and forms, as its consistency depends on several factors during the extraction process.
What are the different types of BHO?
There are several different types of BHO, and they are all unique when it comes to their contents, purging and extraction process. They are also different in consistency.
Depending on the heat, humidity and whipping, BHO has 7 different forms of consistency:
- Pull and Snap
Shatter is the hardest form of BHO. It resembles glass because it is transparent and breaks in a similar manner.
Shatter often has around 80% THC and you will need a dabbing rig to smoke it. It is always in solid form, meaning that you won’t just drop your dab and lose it, like you would with certain other extracts.
On the downside, shatter can’t be smoked very easily because of its consistency and you’d have to have a dabbing rig or a vaporizer capable of reaching over 600℉.
Pull and Snap
Pull and Snap got its name from the sound it makes when being pulled apart. It is great for dabbing because of its consistency, and it is very easy to handle.
If you were to pull on a piece of shatter it would break in a very glass-like manner and you would have to apply heat to it in order to shape it and dab it.
Pull and Snap is much better suited for molding with your hands, as it won’t break and melt. You can easily shape it and place it on your nail or quartz banger, and just consume it through a dabbing rig.
Crumble is made by purging the oil at a low temperature for about 10-15 hours, depending on the amount—a rule of thumb is to purge 1 hour per gram of BHO. During this process, the oil will crumble up and become firm.
Since it crumbles easily, crumble is not good for manipulating with your hands.
Budder is the purest form of BHO. It usually has around 90% THC and has an average purity of 99%. It gets its name from the fact that its consistency is somewhat similar to dairy butter.
It‘s extremely hard to find good budder, as the extraction, purging and whipping process can take much longer than other BHO extracts. This is why budder tends to be rather expensive and is rarely available on the market.
Somewhat similar to budder, wax is a fan favorite among dabbers. It doesn’t crumble, but don’t hold it in your hands for too long. Wax is very common among cannabis users, and is perhaps the most common type of BHO you can see today.
Wax is more common than other types of extracts (except maybe shatter) because it is easy to work with. Sure, you’ll need a dab tool, but wax is not hard to manipulate when compared to sap or shatter, so it’s perfect when starting to experiment with BHO.
Sap gets its name after the tree sap, and just like it, it’s very sticky and runny. If you happen to drop a piece of sap it will stick to everything it touches, so make sure you don’t drop it on the floor as it will be next to impossible to remove any impurities afterwards.
BHO comes in oil form as well, although this type of extract is mostly seen already packed in cartridges. It is easy to come by and many licensed producers have their own versions of it, as it is easy to use in cartridge form and you also don’t have to worry about having pieces of the extract sticking to your smoking gear.
What is CO2 oil?
Cannabis oil can also be made with carbon-dioxide, which can serve as the extraction catalyst instead of butane. When cannabinoids are extracted and subsequently processed with carbon-dioxide, you get CO2 oil.
Scientific research hasn’t yet confirmed which one of these two types of oil is less harmful to the user, however it is known that they can both be somewhat harmful.
CO2 is cheaper than butane, which is one of the main reasons for using it to extract cannabinoids. And butane is much more dangerous to work with because of its explosive nature. CO2 is also less toxic to the user.
Cannabis community isn’t quite sold on either of these two types of catalysts, so it is possible that if cannabis technology keeps developing at the current pace, we’ll soon see another version of hash oil on the market.
BHO extraction is a very risky process. If you don’t have a background in chemistry, alchemy then you probably shouldn’t attempt this on your own. And no, binge watching Breaking Bad is not considered a “background in chemistry”.
In all seriousness, extracting butane-hash oil can be very, very dangerous.
Many people that tried to make butane-hash oil on their own ended up in hospital, due to the injuries that resulted from the process. BHO extraction is that serious, and I firmly believe it is a job that should definitely be left to the professionals.
Why is BHO extraction dangerous?
As its name indicates, BHO extraction uses butane as a catalyst to extract all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material.
Since butane is a flammable gas, and since part of the process involves working over a stove, the risk increases with larger amounts of oil as there is more butane to evaporate.
The gas takes liquid form in the tube during the extraction process, and then quickly evaporates over a stove when heat is applied to the mixture.
After it evaporates, butane quickly “falls on the floor” which means that due to its chemical attributes it is heavier than oxygen and sinks below. This is why making BHO indoors is dangerous, even with the use of several fans.
So, even if you were to make BHO on your own, I recommend you make small batches at first, just to mitigate risks.
However, make sure to evaporate butane outside.
The rest of the process can be done indoors.
If you decide to go through with this (I strongly recommend that you don’t), here are some basic things you will need to know before starting the whole extraction process.
How to make BHO
Here is what you will need:
- One 10-oz can of butane per 1-oz of marijuana
- One glass, or even better, stainless steel extraction tube
- One large Pyrex pot
- One medium Pyrex pot
- One electric cooker which you can take outside
- One razor blade or a scraper for cannabis extracts
- One container to hold the extracts
- A purging system (if you want it and can afford it)
The process of making BHO usually goes like this:
- Keep the weed in a fridge for up to a day. This will help with the extraction process as terpenes are easier to extract at lower temperatures.
- Place the electric cooker and your pots outside. Evaporation should be done outside, as butane is heavier than air, and will drop to the floor. One spark, one shorted fuse, or anything of that sort is enough to create havoc and blow the roof of your place.
- Cover the glass tube with a towel while holding it. The pressure within can make it explode in your hand, and harm you while you are blasting the tube with butane.
- Fill the bigger pot with water, and put the smaller one in it. The hot water in the outside pot is what will force the butane in the smaller pot to evaporate.
- Drain the tube over the medium pot. Once you start blasting the tube, liquid butane will start dripping out of the tube in a few seconds.
- Scrape the dish with a razor. This way you won’t miss any of it, and you can spread it on a piece of baking paper and prepare it for purging.
- Purge for as long as you need. Nothing wrong ever came from purging too long, except maybe that it was annoying, loud and power-consuming. If you don’t purge out all the butane you can end up poisoning the users.
- Put the end product in a fridge for up to 2 days. This is called winterization, a process which makes the dabs feel smoother, and removes plant waxes and lipids extracted by the butane which coats your lung, and irritates them.
One way to check if you’ve purged your BHO properly is to run a lighter over it. If you see flames appearing, you need to purge more.
Experienced oil-makers say that the trick is in purging for a long time, flipping the slab only once during the purging process, and winterizing the product afterwards.
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