If you’re unfamiliar with rosin, get ready for a DIY experience like no other. Rosin is a concentrate made by exposing cannabis to heat and pressure to squeeze the terpenes and cannabinoids found in the plant’s trichome glands. Rosin can be made out of flower, dry sift, or hash with a few tools you likely have around your house.
Since rosin is created without the use of solvents, which for many alter the flavor and resulting product, it’s preferred by consumers who want flavor and effects more like that of the source flower. Some also consider it a safer concentrate because there is zero chance of residual solvents making it into the final product.
This extraction technique is not new and has been used by other industries for decades. Imagine squeezing the oil out of an olive, or juice from grapes. The rosin process transforms the starting material into a potent, solventless concentrate. It can even turn hash that won’t melt into a dabbable product.
Rosin technology has been around for decades, but it didn’t really take off until Phil “Soilgrown” Salazar, @soilgrown_solventless, began sharing photos of his rosin on social media and discussing his technique with the cannabis community. While Salazar didn’t invent the process, he did play a huge role in creating the hype that has spurred many solventless enthusiasts to begin experimenting on their own.
Before you make your first rosin, you’ll need a hair straightener, parchment paper, cannabis, a rosin bag (optional), and a dabber to collect the rosin when you’re done.
A straightener with 2-inch plates and customizable temperature controls work best, but the process will still work with a straightener that has low, medium, and high settings. It may just take more trial and error.
Temperature plays a big role in determining the quality and overall yield and the ideal temperature is heavily dependent on the chemical makeup of the cannabis used. If your flower or hash is terpene-rich, a lower temperature is needed. This is because the terpenes squeezed out of the trichome glands during the initial press act as a natural solvent to facilitate the rosin process. With fewer terpenes to play that role, you’ll need more pressure and heat to coax the cannabinoids out of the glands.
As a general rule of thumb, temperatures between 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit, or 121-149 degrees Celsius, will yield a more stable product, like shatter. Temperatures between 300-335 degrees Fahrenheit, or 149-168 degrees Celsius, tend to result in a sappier texture.
You can make rosin by pressing a cured nug directly in between two pieces of parchment paper, or by placing dry sift, also known as kief, into a rosin screen or mesh bag and placing the bag in between the parchment paper. While typically used by more experienced hash makers, these screens and bags are used to filter out plant particulates that can make their way into your rosin. The smaller the screen size, the more particulates it will hold back, but it will also restrict the flow of your rosin and possibly reduce your overall yield.
Choosing the correct screen size is a delicate balance. Finer mesh screens (25-45 microns) are ideal for any form of dry sift or hash. Larger mesh screens (70-120 microns) can be used for either whole nugs or trim.
We recommend using heat resistant gloves to avoid burning your fingertips. If you are using a hair straightener, you will need to use your hands to apply the pressure by squeezing the bottom of the flat iron. Do this at your own risk and with caution.
Remember, while screens and bags can hold up to nearly any amount of pressure and heat, it’s important not to overfill them or apply too much pressure too fast. A rosin bag that’s too full could break open and screens with too much material in them can overflow. Start with low pressure and increase slowly for the best results.
STEPS FOR MAKING ROSIN
1. Break down the plant material and try and mold them into a small rectangle. This is done to reduce any plant particulates that may end up in your rosin. Also, make sure to use buds that are properly cured and not wet or too dry.
2. If using a rosin bag, place the plant material into the filter. We recommend nylon food-grade screens or a mesh bag. (This step is optional for flower, but required for hash.)
3. Set the temperature on your hair straightener or press. Our advice: Start with low temperatures and work your way up.
4. Place your bag or loose flower between two pieces of parchment paper. Use only as much material that will fit under the heating element. It is important that you leave a couple of inches of extra parchment paper on all sides to catch the rosin that is produced. You don’t want rosin to spill over onto the plates.
5. Press the parchment paper with the preheated straightener or plates for four to 30 seconds. The time you need to press depends on the quality of your flower. Pressing firmly with the straightener laying flat like a stapler will generally yield better results. This may take a few times experimenting to get the hang of it.
6. After removing the flower from the parchment paper, check the amount of oil.
If you’ve got a low yield, you may need to place the parchment back under the straightener and repeat the process one or two more times.
7. Once you have pressed your product, use a dabber to collect the rosin.
8. Package or store the rosin for later use, or turn it into rosin taffy by stretching and pulling it, resulting in a taffy-like consistency.
WHAT’S A ‘GOOD’ YIELD?
The goal of pressing rosin is to get all the cannabinoids and terpenes out of the trichome glands. Theoretically, if your cannabis has 18% cannabinoids and 2% terpenes, the yield you’d get from pressing 1 gram of flower would be 0.2 grams of rosin. Of course, a lot of factors contribute to the overall output and quality of your rosin.
If you don’t feel like you got everything out of your first run, you can always grab two new sheets of parchment paper and press the cannabis again. Increasing the temperature or pressure on your second run will ensure you get every last bit of oil out of your product.
Keep in mind that when you’re pressing nugs to make rosin, you’re squeezing the plant matter. Under imperfect conditions, that plant matter can make its way into your final product, but that doesn’t mean your product is bad.
Rosin is commonly judged by a 6-star rating system used to judge all solventless concentrates. Your rosin should bubble when exposed to heat. Any plant particulates or impurities will reduce the amount of bubbling, which correlates to the star rating: 1-2 being the lowest and 6 being the highest — and the most difficult to produce. While it’s true that the higher the star, the better the dab, a little plant material in your rosin isn’t likely to be a problem.
Practice makes perfect, and the more you get your set up and filtering process down, the higher quality rosin you’ll be able to produce.
HOW DO THE PROS PRESS ROSIN?
Professional rosin manufacturers and at-home enthusiasts may opt to purchase press kits that contain hydraulic presses, heater controllers, and more in order to process larger quantities of rosin and have better control over all the parameters involved. Rosin press prices range from $300 to more than $4,000, with an array of accessories to customize your set up.
Whether you’re interested in trying your hand at rosin with a hair straightener or looking to invest in a more high-tech setup, pressing rosin is a tinkerer’s playground, with a plethora of temperature and pressure options to yield nearly limitless results.