Thanks to a potency far greater than the weed you smoked out of a Mountain Dew can in high school (or was that just me?), the popularity of hash oil has exploded over the past few years. Sometimes, unfortunately, the explosions have been literal.
As KIRO TV’s Linzi Shelton noted last week, there have been no fewer than six “hash oil–related” explosions in the Puget Sound area over the past year. And DIY hash-oil makers—who use flammable solvents like butane to extract the THC-gorged goo—are mostly to blame. The incentive is simple: There’s a market for the potent, smokable sludge. Seattle Police spokesperson Sean Whitcomb told KIRO, “It’s almost like the next meth-lab phenomenon.”
Here are three things to know:
It’s strong. While the black-market pot of yesteryear contained—maybe—eight to 10 percent THC, hash oil can pack as much as 70 or 80 percent. A 50 percent THC level in hash oil is fairly commonplace. Suffice it to say: The stuff gets you hiiiiiiiiiigh. Dabbing, as the act of smoking hash oil is often called, involves heating and smoking the sticky extract, usually on a nail with some sort of torch—which looks a lot more sinister than sparking a doob.
It’s all over the Internet. The process of making hash oil on the fly—demonstrated by many online videos and tutorials—involves packing dried pot into a glass or steel canister and then flooding the weed with butane to extract the potent (and valuable) oil. Unfortunately, butane is odorless and colorless, and has a tendency to collect at floor level. One ill-timed spark can lead to bad outcomes.
It’s best left to pros. While it’s possible to make hash oil in your garage for fun and profit, the smart money leaves it to pros. Carbon dioxide extraction, which is used by a number of big-time hash-oil suppliers, is often cited as the cleanest and safest method. The process uses a closed loop, preventing any flammable gases from escaping. Letting someone in a lab coat make it also ensures you won’t burn your face off.