Rosin Education Blog
With so many people making rosin or wanting to make rosin, one of the most popular questions we get asked is, “How do I make amazing golden, clear, or even purple colored rosin?”.
Clarity is seen by consumers as one of the most easily distinguishable factors that separates premium quality cannabis extracts from mediocre concentrates, or worse. This perception was first conceived with BHO (butane hash oil) and other solvent-based extraction methods which pre-date rosin pressing. In fact, most of the same factors that determine clarity are constant between both solventless and solvent-based extraction methods.
In order of priority, the factors that predict clarity when pressing rosin are:
Quality Starting Material
The most important factor that affects clarity when producing rosin is the quality of the material that is being pressed, whether it's squishing bubble hash, kief, or flower. For better or worse, what is considered “great” cannabis versus “average” is highly subjective and depends on what someone is looking for - the factors that determine “quality” can be vastly different from person to person, but a few stand out.
Terpene profile, trichome density, material density, and active cannabinoid content are all measures which can be employed to ascertain the quality of the starting material used. With that said, to simplify things, it is a quality in = quality out scenario. The better the genetics are, the more trichomes that are present, and the way the material was dried and cured all play huge factors in the clarity of rosin when it’s being extracted. The better the starting material, the better the resulting rosin will be in all measures (clarity, yield, and effects).
Age of Material
Second to quality, the age of the material used in rosin extraction is critically important in resulting clarity. The fresher and more recently the material was harvested, the better the resulting color of the rosin will be. As cannabis flowers, kief, and hash age, they oxidize, which over time changes the active cannabinoids present. The aging and storage process, which is also affected by light, greatly determines how clear or dark the resulting rosin extracted from it will be.
Based on our experience and anecdotally the experiences from extractors that we’ve spoken with, the best time to press rosin is immediately after the material is dried and cured. This will be when the material has had the least time to oxidize and, when cured well, will have high manifestations of terpenes. Similarly, rosin that is pressed from very high quality material but which is older and has been through an extensive cure (when done correctly) will often come out darker, but will still taste incredible and provide an excellent experience for the consumer.
Finally, the third key factor that contributes to clarity is the temperature at which the starting material is pressed at. Simply put, rosin that is exposed to high temperatures for too long tends to darken considerably and is subject to a loss of terpenes. Poor heat plate design and hot spots on rosin heat plates from cheap heating elements make for frustrating extracting experiences. There is legitimate scientific evidence which supports the notion of terpene loss at high temperatures, although different terpenes are damaged at different temperature levels. Additional tests have been performed on terpene degradation to oregano and basil leaves with similar results.
Many rosin extractors seem find results in the 180°F - 250°F range, however it is our belief that above 250°F the terpene profile of the material tends to degrade significantly, and we have noticed our best results for both yield and clarity in the 200°F - 220°F range. Temperature will also heavily affect yield, and that the tradeoff is typically the lower your temperature, the better the clarity, but a reduction in yield is frequently realized, and vice versa.
What About Purple Rosin or Ghost Rosin?
There has been a lot of discussion and pictures floating around the internet of purple tinted rosin. While multiple articles have been dedicated to discussing how purple cannabis is grown (see here for a quick explanation), purple rosin is less understood. Typically extremely purple, fresh cannabis flower is the only way to achieve purple rosin, and it appears to be largely based on the plant material itself. If you’re looking to produce purple rosin yourself, your best chance is to start with deeply tinted cannabis flowers to begin with. Based on our testing, some purple flower comes out tinted, and some doesn’t, so more investigation there is warranted to come to firmer conclusions.
Some advanced hash makers are pressing rosin with bubble hash that is nearly white, and are occasionally getting transparent or extremely light colored rosin as a result. This kind of rosin is occasionally referred to as “ghost rosin” but there is considerable controversy behind its quality, and whether or not nearly opaque white shades of rosin are any better than golden shades. With so much experimentation going on with rosin, we fully expect to see a full spectrum of rosin making techniques that contribute to different colors emerge over time.
How Do I Get The Best Looking Rosin Possible?
If you’re aiming to produce the highest quality rosin possible that possesses a golden or even lighter colored hue, make sure that you’re using the best quality input material available to you. In sum, a poor flush, dry, cure, or wash reduces the quality of resulting rosin significantly, and especially material that is old will tend to come out much darker. Temperature is also a major factor, so ensuring that your rosin is never burnt or pressed too hot will help your rosin reach the desired color profile.
The material and the equipment you use play a huge role in the temperature applied when pressing your rosin; even heat distribution and accurate heating are critical to reproducibility and making terrific, high-clarity rosin. Ultimately, all of the factors described here interplay in a variety of ways. If your material is fresh and high quality but it’s too hot, it may tint the color darker regardless, whereas if your material is somewhat old and of acceptable quality, lower heat may still yield the desired result. Finally, we recommend that while keeping quality, age, and heat in mind, go ahead and experiment to see where you find your best results.
Rosin is the king of our concentrate mountain and we love, love, did I mention love, to dab it.
Now, let me be clear, other concentrates are also delicious. BHO products: live resin, sauce, wax, shatter, budder, (these names actually refer to texture not extraction method and can be achieved with Rosin by manipulating temperature and terpenes) are good, some are even great. However, all of these concentrates have solvents, and even if you are not worried about solvents, (these things are regulated right?) what you should care about is the plant your concentrate comes from. BHO has the ability to cover up imperfections, to drown out mildew or mold, and to wash over chemicals. Rosin cannot do this. It reveals exactly what is in the plant. If the plant is older and has oxidized the color will be darker. If your plant is dry or less resinous, yields will decrease. If you start with kief that has been over-sifted the extra chlorophyll with result in a darker color. (If you are curious if this is the problem with your kief put it under a hand held microscope. You can examine your trichome heads this way.) Rosin is honest. When made well, it is unadulterated, and it is the best way to maintain the terpenes and cannabinoids that make marijuana not only enjoyable but also healing.
So if rosin is so great why isn’t it more popular?
First of all, it is. Southern California is crazy for rosin right now. Colorado is leaning more and more that way, especially now that the amount of solvents allowed in concentrates has increased. The allowable amount of Butane has gone from 800 ppm to 5,000 ppm, which is a 525% increase. People are becoming more aware of rosin as a legitimate concentrate, not just something you do at home with a hair straightener--although this is cool too! Labs are adding presses to their extraction quiver because it makes financial sense. Why not press your best buds into a product that gets a higher price point while you process everything else in a closed loop system? Why not sell a connoisseur grade concentrate as well as others? One of rosin’s difficulties is that it appears to be a one trick pony. It seems like an investment in rosin is an investment in dabs, which are only enjoyed by a corner of the marijuana market, albeit a very large corner. Dabs appeal mostly to men between the ages of 18-30. In fact, one of the most popular concentrates, CO2 is not dabbed at all. It is smoked through a vape pen, which appeals to many people because it is portable, has very little odor, and requires no maintenance meaning no joint roll, bowl pack, or dab rig.
You can use rosin in a vape pen!
And this is how:
First of all, you are going to need to make the rosin less viscous. You can do this using terpenes or a combination of PG (propylene glycol) and VG (vegetable glycerin). Most ejuices sold are a combination of the two, however the very best rosin-based vape pens are made with single source, re-introduced terpenes to achieve the desired consistency.
For terpene reintroduction vape juice, laboratories will first sift their material to produce the kief they’ll press into rosin. Next, using steam distillation with their left over trim or buds, the terpenes are isolated and siphoned off, which will be constituted as a pure liquid. Then, using a dropper and hand tools, the processing technician will add the liquid terpenes into rosin in order to achieve the desired consistency necessary for a pre-fillable vaporizer cartridge. This is often no more than a couple of measured drops per gram of rosin, but it is material dependent so you’ll have to experiment to find the right ratio. This is seen as the gold standard of solvent-less vapes and is growing in popularity rapidly.
For an easier approach not requiring distillation, two popular mild solvents are utilized, namely PG and VG as mentioned above. PG or Propylene Glycol is a petroleum by-product. It is odorless and colorless and said to carry flavor better than VG. Studies have shown that PG is safe to ingest orally and the FDA deems it “generally recognized as safe” to be used as a food additive. PG is found in shampoo, toothpaste, beauty products, and pet food. On the other hand, VG stands for Vegetable Glycerin. It is derived from vegetable oil and deemed to be the most benign solvent on the market. It does not carry flavor as well as PG. It is more viscous than PG and does not work well by itself to thin down rosin. It does create a smoother hit and since it is a more natural solvent, it is great to use in combination with PG. VG is found in sweetener, beauty products, baked goods, toothpaste, and to make the casing for some capsule pills. The FDA has classified VG as “generally recognized as safe.”
The PG to VG ratio will depend on your desired results. Based on our customers' advice, the most popular suggestion for rosin is making an e-juice that is 2:1 PG to VG. If you don’t want to make your own juice there are many products on the market pre-mixed and ready to use such as Wax Liquidizers.
Once you have your e-juice, you will add it to your Rosin. A 1:1 ratio should work well. However, if your e-juice is more VG than PG you might need to use more of it. Sometimes adding a little water is helpful. Heat the liquid for 10-15 seconds. Then stir. If the liquid is still very viscous you may need to add a bit more of the thinner. This is the experiment phase and it will probably take a few runs to get it right. You can use a syringe it get the liquid into your cartridge.
What you might be thinking is: this is great, but I don’t have a distillation rig nor do I want to use even benign solvents with my rosin because it kind of defeats the purpose of solvent-less. Very valid point.
So why not decarboxylate your Rosin and make super high-end edibles?
If you do not like the idea of PG, VG, or liquid terpenes being introduced into your rosin, you are still not limited to just dabs. You can also decarboxylate rosin and make it into super premium edibles. Decarboxylation is the process of releasing an extra carboxyl group from a cannabinoid. You cannot get high or receive the palliative effects of cannabis until this carboxyl group is released. For example, Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the most active ingredient in live bud. THCA does not have psychoactive effects. As the plant dries and is exposed to heat some of the THCA turns to THC. You will notice that when you get your flower from a dispensary, the highest ingredient is usually THCA. When you light your cannabis to smoke, you are really releasing a carboxyl group, decarbing as you smoke. For edibles you have to complete this process before the edible is ingested. You do this by applying heat over time. This is the same for rosin. Rosin too, needs to be decarbed. Unfortunately (or fortunately for terpenes) the heat applied in the pressing process is not nearly enough. It takes 30-40 minutes at 220 degrees to complete the decarboxylation process for edibles, and the sign of a terrific rosin press is when the activation levels of rosin that it produces are very low.
Don’t forget tinctures.
Tinctures and salves are a great way to get a little extra out of the bag once it has been squished. As with edibles, if you are going to make tinctures or salves out of rosin you will need to decarboxylate first. You can do this in a crock pot, sous vide machine, or just by baking. We’ve heard of people grinding the used puck, boiling, and then straining. We’ve also heard that many people decarb their spent rosin bags in coconut oil and then use the end product as a salve. That way, it doesn’t just have to be sweets that you can use!
Could rosin get any better?
Yes! Rosin is getting better because people are learning more about how to extract it and incorporate it in processes like vaporizing and decarboxylation. Also, there are presses like the Pikes Peak that are made specifically for rosin as opposed to the hair straighteners and T-shirt presses of old. The Pikes Peak and presses of the same caliber cater to terpene and cannabinoid preservation and remain faithful to the plant.
Hash rosin is becoming more and more popular and people are learning how to manipulate it to get textures originally reserved for BHO. A solvent-less sauce can often be created by sealing a good hash rosin and putting it on low heat (think 100 - 120°F) for a few hours. If the hash is terpene rich, the liquid terpenes will separate naturally.
Also, it would be amiss not to mention THCA separation. This process leaves you with an off white material that is testing in the high 90%s of THCA. Essential Extracts recently dropped a Lemon Koolaid HCS (High Cannabinoid Solventless) that tested 98.34% for THCA. The labs doing THCA separation are taking rosin they have pressed from hash and repressing it at a lower temp. What is left in the bag is almost entirely THCA.
What is becoming very clear from advancements like this is that rosin has the potential to do anything other concentrates can do but without the use of solvents and at a fraction of the cost. We love rosin because it’s pure, honest, and it is less removed from the plant. We don’t want to forget that all the benefits and pleasure derived from cannabis products begin in a garden.
Friendly note: all brands featured in this article use PurePressure's Pikes Peak rosin press.