Rosin—More Than Just Dabs.
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.