Expert Guide to Rosin Press Temperatures
Finding the right temperature is key when using a rosin press. The ideal temperature depends on a number of factors, from the type of starting material you’re working with to the type of consistency/texture you want to achieve. If your extractions aren’t meeting your expectations, there’s a good chance that you need to adjust your rosin press temperatures.
Hot Pressing vs Cold Pressing
When determining the optimal rosin press temperatures, there are two primary approaches to be aware of: hot pressing and cold pressing. Cold pressing typically falls between 130°F and 170°F while hot pressing generally falls between 170°F and 220°F. For the vast majority of extractions, you’re going to remain within that 130°F-220°F temperature range.
- Cold pressing is ideal for achieving a butter or batter consistency. Because terpene degradation occurs at higher temperatures, cold pressing is great for preserving the maximum number of terpenes. These cooler temperatures may result in a significant sacrifice in yield, though, especially when you’re working with flower rosin. And this approach generally requires an extremely high-quality starting material like ice water hash or premium dry sift. In addition, cold presses are typically completed at longer intervals, often between 1 and 5 minutes.
Rosin butter (cold press)
- Hot pressing is ideal for achieving an oily or shatter-like consistency. You can also achieve a smooth, creamy texture at temperatures between 180°F and 200°F. Terpene preservation is slightly lower but still good as long as you stay below 220°F. Hot pressing is generally recommended for flower rosin and dry sift rosin, and it’s typically done in shorter intervals — often between 45 seconds and 3 minutes. This approach can also result in higher yields.
Fresh pressed rosin (hot press)
It’s important to note that these temperature ranges are just general guidelines. When working with flower in particular, some of our customers swear by temperatures as high as 250°F (although we would never suggest anything above 220°F). While there are pros and cons to using this approach for raw cannabis plant material, it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Experiment with different temperatures for each material type, and find out what works best for you.
Remember also that, when it comes to maximizing your quality, there are more factors to consider than just temperature. You have to consider the source material, too: Is it a trichome-rich strain? Is it fresh? Does it have the right moisture content? Great moisture content for dried flower is between 55-62% relative humidity, and moisture in general is the enemy.
Remember that quality output requires quality input.
When to Use Higher Temperatures on a Rosin Press
Most conventional rosin presses will reach temperatures as high as 300°F. While such high temps are seldom warranted, there are certain instances when you’ll need to push the machine to its temperature limit. Case in point: late-stage THCA separations.
THCA is the acid form of THC, and it’s being researched for its own therapeutic benefits including inflammation and pain relief as well as epilepsy support. A high-quality rosin press machine is an excellent tool for creating solventless THCA diamonds, but you’ll typically need much higher temperatures in order to achieve this type of extraction. In addition, this type of extract is typically only achieved with hash or sift, and not with flower.
For THCA separations, multiple presses are usually required. The initial pressing is done at a lower temperature, often below 200°F, but subsequent presses may require temperatures north of 250°F (and often close to 300°F). The extreme heat serves the purpose of “cleaning” and nucleating the material as the THCA is released from the bag.
How Temperature Affects Clarity
If clarity is a major factor for you, you’ll want to keep your temperatures on the lower end of the spectrum. When rosin is exposed to high temperatures for extended periods of time, the material tends to darken in color in addition to losing terpenes.
90µm LemonCake live rosin pressed at 170°F | Image by Collin Palmer from Instagram @vessellifescience
Many discerning consumers are looking for that golden, translucent hue that’s common in high-quality extractions. In order to achieve this shade, you’ll need to use fresh, high-quality material (especially hash or premium sift if available) and press it at a temperature below 220ºF—the lower the better (within reason).
In addition, you’ll want to ensure that your plates offer even heat distribution (more on that later), as poor heat distribution can result in a much lower-quality product with less visible clarity and less consistent quality.
At What Temperatures Do Terpenes Degrade?
There is still some debate about the temperatures at which specific terpenes degrade, but we do have hard scientific data that affirms the loss of terpenes at higher temperatures.
The most volatile terpenes will start to degrade at temperatures as low as 70°F. This is part of the reason why cannabis smells pungent even at room temperature, and it’s also the reason why many savvy extractors are using fresh frozen cannabis to make live rosin with ice water hash. Up to 95% of terpenes are lost during the drying and curing process, but the fresh frozen process preserves those terpenes and thereby preserves the living essence of the plant.
The majority of terpenes will start to degrade at temperatures closer to 200°F.
Consider the following:
- Caryophyllene has a boiling point of 246 °F
- Pinene has a boiling point of 313 °F
- Myrcene has a boiling point of 330 °F
- Limonene has a boiling point of 350 °F
- Linalool has a boiling point of 389 °F
These boiling points might seem high for the most part, but the problem is that most terpenes can start to degrade at temperatures well below their boiling point. That’s why you have to be extremely mindful about your pressing temperatures if preservation of terpene content is a top priority.
Note also that each strain of cannabis has a vastly different terpene profile, so different strains will undergo different effects at high temperatures. Some may see only minimal terpene loss while others may experience a more dramatic loss.
The Role of Heat Distribution When Pressing Rosin
Even if your temperature settings are ideal, you may end up with a low-quality rosin extraction if your rosin press has poor heat distribution. High temperatures melt the trichome heads, thereby reducing the viscosity of your rosin. The pressure from the heated plates then mobilizes the cannabinoids and pushes them out of the filter bag.
If you have even slightly inconsistent temperatures along the surface of your plates, you’re going to end up with multiple textures. This will inhibit the movement of your rosin between the plates and compromise the quality of your product.
Even heat distribution allows rosin to flow through the filter bag on the Longs Peak rosin press
It’s all about rosin flow. A consistent temperature ensures a consistent texture for unobstructed flow, but cold spots will cause the movement to slow. This means longer pressing times and greater terpene degradation. In extreme cases, some of the rosin may get stuck in those smaller-micron filter bags, leaving you with much lower yields. In the worst cases, the pressure in the rosin bags may become so great that you experience bag blowouts. Instead of a solventless extract, you’re just left with a bunch of messy parchment paper.
For this reason, it’s absolutely critical to use a rosin press with even heat distribution. Ideally you want aluminum heat plates (and not stainless steel) with independent thermocouples and targeted heat coil placement to minimize temperature variance. These are some of the features that set PurePressure rosin presses apart in the industry.
The Ideal Temperature for Pressing Rosin
With so many variables to consider, it can be difficult to find the sweet spot in terms of temperature. If you’re just seeking a general guideline, we’ve found the greatest success within the 210°F - 220°F range for flower rosin and the 170°F - 190°F range for ice water hash and sift.
In this range, you can usually achieve the ideal balance of quality and yield. Terpene loss is fairly minimal, and you can still achieve the maximum yield. Plus, this range can work with all types of starting material, from basic plant matter to highly refined bubble hash.
Of course, if rich terpene preservation is your top concern, you might want to start a little colder and gauge your results, refining the extraction process with each subsequent press.
Adjusting the heat plate temperature on the Longs Peak rosin press
As long as your rosin press has even heat distribution and precise, programmable temperature controls, you can easily experiment with different temperature and pressure settings until you find your perfect rosin. With a premium pneumatic model like the Longs Peak or Pikes Peak V2 (or a professional-grade manual press like the Helix or Helix Pro), you can program your favorite recipes and ensure that you’re able to duplicate your best results with every finished product. In other words, rosin pressing has come a long way since the days of your old-school T-shirt presses and hair straighteners.
Contrary to what you may have heard, there is no perfect temperature for pressing the maximum-quality rosin. But when you find your perfect temperature, you’re one step closer to creating the kinds of extractions that people will pay top-dollar for.