Shelf Stability: Rosin, Ice Water Hash, and Solventless Products
Solventless concentrates are quickly gaining popularity as one of the fastest-growing segment of today's cannabis concentrate market. Its positive perception as one of the purest forms of cannabis and its unique extraction methods are becoming a trend among customers. That said, a pure product doesn't mean that it can last forever on the shelf.
We all have heard the story of the old gram of product forgotten somewhere in a drawer or hidden in a closet. When found, some might try to rationalize consuming it because, like wine, it gets better with age.
As sweet as this story sounds to our ears, the truth is that most solventless concentrates, from rosin to ice water hash and beyond, all start to degrade quickly. It's not that other cannabis products don’t perish, but solventless extracts can go wrong in just days if not correctly stored. Some would argue that certain kinds of hashes however improve with age, and that curing them improves their quality. Frenchy Canoli is famous for extolling this, however most consumers these days find modern styles of fresh solventless live rosins and hashes to be a superior product.
Rosin, for example, has become one of the priciest cannabis products being sold and wanted by cannabis connoisseurs. However, as attractive as the gold-colored concentrates are, in comparison to other products, they can be quickly affected by several factors, including environmental changes, exposure, or poor storage practices.
Rosin, bubble hash, and ice water hash, like many extremely high-quality goods such as food or supplements, can have short shelf-life if improperly packaged or stored. In this article, we will discuss how solventless concentrates can be affected through various factors and how it ultimately impacts their shelf stability.
To keep your concentrates at their freshest, we'll also highlight the best storage methods and how to maintain freshness as long and as steady as possible. In doing so, we hope you get a better comprehension of how to avoid product spoilage while appreciating the immense value in solventless concentrates.
Full melt six star Coal Creek Kush trichome heads, which requires constant refrigeration or being in a freezer to be stored properly. Source: Nikka T, photo credit to Dave Tee.
The Science Behind Solventless Cannabis Extracts Shelf Stability
As previously mentioned, solventless concentrates are considered by many to be the purest form of cannabis. This is due to its completely chemical-free extraction process. However, its potency is part of the consideration. Compared to flower, which typically contains up to 15% CBD and over 30% of THC, concentrates can reach up to 99% potency.
Solventless products are free of additives, which are used to maintain a product's freshness. As such, chemical-free products can be quickly affected by natural causes like oxidation, light exposure, and heat. Manufacturers need to make sure their products withstand time on store shelves and in customers' homes in today's market.
Different from the urban legend that cannabis doesn’t have an expiration date, all marijuana goods are affected by the passage of time. Any producer should understand how a product’s chemical, physical and microbial stability can change over the full duration of the product’s shelf-life.
According to Scott Riefler, shelf stability refers to the period that a product is at its best and the direct measure of goods safety before they get spoiled. What spoiled means however varies widely by location and from person to person because rosin doesn't rot like food does. In extremely arid environments, it is typically too dry to develop mold or microbial growth. In extremely humid environments, that may be possible as that kind of growth can happen on virtually any surface (our friends in the PNW know that this is a constant battle).
Every aspect of the extraction process, from your raw materials to the pressure and temperature used to your storage method, determines the yield and purity of your product.
It is essential to note the following terms when attempting to understand shelf stability in any product, cannabis or not:
- Best-by-date: Best-by-date means the time frame during which all ingredients and profile characteristics are its best. This, like many things with concentrates, is extremely subjective.
- Expiration date: Expiration date means when it is no longer safe to consume the product. Few cannabis products that are non-edibles carry a hard expiration date.
- Sale by date: Sale-by-date indicates the last day a product should be purchased by the consumer.
All terpene-rich products start to deteriorate in open-air quickly; thus, air exposure is your number one enemy. That's why your storage needs to have the optimal terpene retention and texture stability needed.
Typically high-quality rosins, ice water hashes, and sifts melt or change consistency at room temperature. Full melt ice water hashes and sifts, in particular, grease up nearly instantly. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Full melt ice water hashes can occasionally leave a residue after consuming, which means that there are microscopic plant particles in the rosin. A pure 6-star rating would not leave any noticeable grease or residue after. If there is a little grease left, it could mean that the hash is of a lesser quality.
LA Kush hash rosin being made more stable utilizing jar tech, made by Rosin Ryan. When done properly, jar tech and jam-type consistencies can be extremely shelf stable even at room temperature for long periods of time.
When storing a cannabis concentrate, your ultimate goal is to preserve its cannabinoids and terpenes for as long as possible. This is often best accomplished in an air-tight, light-free, refrigerated or frozen environment.
Like other cannabis counterparts, concentrates can result in the loss of its potency, the possibility of THC converting into CBN, and ultimately the noticeable change of its profile. The same can be said of its aromas and flavors. One of the only studies on the degradation of THC into CBN concerning long term frozen storage indicates that at around -4°F is the around the optimal temperature to minimize this chemical conversion.
Keep in mind that every product ages and shifts differently. Each item must be handled and stored in an ideal manner to get the best results. An imperfect but apt comparison of a similar mainstream known quality product that can be spoiled by different factors and defined by time is a true Japanese Wagyu A5 beef, wherein the fat melts at room temperature. This doesn’t mean that the product is terrible; in fact it means the opposite. It means that you need extra care to guarantee its quality and best profile at the time to be consumed.
Rosin Shelf Stability
Storage methods can help concentrates preserve their freshness, effects, and characteristics. However, it is far from the only factor in determining how long your product will last. Ultimately, your freshness depends on its formulation, process, and packaging, too. If any aspect fails to live up to standards, then the product's quality is likely to plummet fast.
For businesses, it's crucial that hash rosin and full melt be stored in air tight containers, out of light, and in a refrigerator or freezer. When possible, it can be a great idea as a processing company to have custom branded or logo'd mini fridges for key dispensary locations to further extend their brand reach. Whatever the case is, these types of premium solventless concentrates must be stored in cold environments to preserve them for as long as possible.
For consumers, a way to address shelf life expectancy is to bring an insulated lunch box or small cooler to the dispensary if they intend to buy full melt or hash rosin. Include an ice pack to preserve your products if they need to be transported from the dispensary or anywhere else that might warm your products during the journey. By keeping the product in a cool, dark place, it is likely to experience little to no degradation changes other than what it would typically experience in a safe storage environment. This is a particularly critical point to keep in mind when handling rosin.
Rosin can be produced, among other things, into ice water hash rosin, dry sift, vape cartridges, flower rosin, and a cornucopia of textures from each. Their qualities, such as consistency, viscosity, and clarity, are all byproducts of the material itself and how it was processed solventlessly. After rosin is freshly pressed, it has roughly an hour at room temperature or often less before its texture begins to change noticeably. Each rosin swiftly oxidizes if not stored correctly. High moisture and heat environments are post-pressed rosin's worst enemies.
Solventless extracts, like hash rosin, need to be kept cold, to be frozen, or refrigerated to preserve as many terpenes as possible. When rosin starts to deteriorate, its appearance will transform and significantly increase its aroma and taste.
To be able to ensure the longest-term storage, avoiding heat, light, and air exposure are vital to maintaining the profile of your product. Ultimately, concentrates are better off used while fresh.
A glass container used to store Kush Master's hash rosin, which is the most advisable storage container.
Solventless Concentrates Packaging and Storage
Packaging and storage have a fundamental role in the shelf stability of a product. Packaging provides a barrier to the environment, keeping your product almost free of contaminants and as sanitary as possible. To be able to maintain your solventless concentrates fresh, implement a clear SOP with your team so that all hash and rosin is being handled properly.
Many containers are sold and often used, but glass is going to be your best bet for long term shelf stability. Silicone is not a great option, nor is parchment paper, because of porosity.
A great solution to prolong your solventless concentrates shelf-life by implementing use of ultra-advanced freeze dryers like the Labconco freeze dryer or the more commonly used Harvest Right freeze dryer when run for longer periods of time to ensure that your hash is especially dry.
It’s advised to keep full melt or any premium ice water hash frozen if possible. If left in the refrigerator, it will begin to grease up, and its shelf-life can fall to around a week.
Understanding your product properties is necessary, whether you are a producer of any size or a consumer. Knowing the difference between expiration dates, best by date and sell-by date is a must for the experience and safety of yourself and others. Testing for shelf-stability will allow you to create a consistent product experience and brand reputation.
And no matter what methods you implement, products will naturally break down with time. The only thing you can do is guarantee its quality by a proper storage strategy methods along the way. Ultimately, your packaging and its storage environment will play a key role in ensuring a barrier to the product and the surrounding elements.
Avoid leaving your product in a humid environment to avoid unwanted mold or microbial possibilities. Air and other contaminants can ruin your concentrate, turning it into a substandard experience compared to when it was fresh. Lastly, make sure your solventless concentrate is out of any light exposure and in a cold, air-tight environment for optimal storage.
Want to know more about shelf stability or need better equipment for your operation? Contact the PurePressure team for help with any sized rosin, sift, or ice water hash processing outfit!