What Affects Clarity When Making Rosin?
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.