The demand for cannabis oils and concentrates has blown up over the last couple of years. With all the hype, it can however be really easy to overlook some of the essential aspects of making your oil. So we’ve compiled this beginners guide to help prevent you from burning your house down.
Before we get into how to make some decadent dab or something that you are possibly hoping to use for medicinal purposes, there are some essential aspects to keep in mind when making your own BHO (Butane Hash Oil).
Safety certainly comes first, so pretty please with a ribbon on top… do NOT cut any corners!
The science of it
In this process you will be using a solvent (butane) to isolate the trichomes (part of the plant with all the oomph) into a new school potent concentrated hash. An average yield is 10%. That means that for every 100g of herb used you should get out around 10g of BHO.
The results will depend mostly on the quality of your herb, but the final results will ultimately be up to how much time and effort you are prepared to invest in making a C grade bland oil or a A+ cannabis concentrate.
You will need:
1 – Private outdoor space.
2 – Stainless steel or glass extraction tube.
3 – Coffee filters .
4 – Cables ties (if you are using an extraction tube that does not have a clamp for the filter).
5 – Low flat bottomed pyrex bowl.
6 – Butane. This can either be in the form of a few cans of good quality lighter gas refill from your local supermarket or a large bottle of pure butane from your local gas retailer.
7 – Flat blade or tool.
8 – Pair of scissors.
9 – Silicon or glass storage and/or parchment paper.
10 – Good quality herb of your choice.
WARNING: SAFETY FIRST
Cleanliness is critical, so keep everything squeaky clean. Even more important though is ensuring that their are no electronics or open flames anywhere near you during the initial part of the extraction process as butane is highly flammable. Even the flick of a light switch could ignite the butane. So no joints, bong hits or phone calls on the job if you value keeping your face.
Pack your extraction tube
Chop your herb into small coin sized chunks or finer. Remove as many of the sticks and pips as possible. Firmly pack the extraction tube with the chopped herb. Don’t pack it too tight though as too much compaction can drastically decrease your final oil yield.
Fit the coffee filter to the open end of the extraction tube. Stainless steel extraction tubes will usually include some form of clamp to hold the filter in place. Glass tubes require a cable tie or other clamp to do this.
Using the butane
Now grab you fully packed extraction tube, clean pyrex bowl and butane; and take them outside. This is the hazardous part of the process and must be done outdoors.
Find a nice level spot to put the pyrex bowl, mount or hold your extraction tube directly above the pyrex bowl. With the filter side pointing down into the bowl, connect your butane to the top of the extraction tube and wait a few seconds for a blonde liquid to start pouring into the pyrex bowl. The beer colour liquid in the pyrex bowl will consist of the trichomes that have been dissolved off of the plant and mostly excess butane.
As soon as the liquid coming from the tube no longer has any colour to it you can disconnect the butane.
Tip: Keep a firm grip on the tube with a dry towel or cloth as the coldness of the butane will often cause a slippery condensation to form on the outside of the tube.
This liquid will fizz as the butane evaporates, eventually leaving behind a syrup like consistency of golden goodness. Large bubbles of butane will form and eventually stop popping as they are unable to break free of the now increased viscosity of the very sticky liquid and need your help to purge them out. Once you are able to see no more butane bubbles fizzing or popping in the oil, you are good to go back indoors. But keep loads of windows open. Still no sparking up!
Placing the pyrex bowl on a luke warm surface (not hot!) will heat the liquid and get it a little bit runnier, making it much easier for the remaming bubbles to pop. Exposure to any high heat will ruin the oil and turn it a Marmite colour.
A popular technique to ensure it never gets too hot is to gently lay the pyrex Bowl of BHO in a second bowl of luke warm water. Take care not to spill any water in the oil though. Replace the warm water bowl if needed to keep the pyrex dish bubbling off the excess butane gas.
Gently scraping the liquid with a flat blade or kitchen tool will help things along nicely, agitating the smaller butane bubbles that can be quite stubborn to get out. The more bubbles that you pop, the better.
Scrape and store your oil
Once purging is complete, scrape together the now warm caramel textured oil and place it in a glass or silicone jar. It should have little to no bubbles in it. Parchment paper also makes an affordable option for easy handling and storage.
Particular care should be taken keep things clean. Some stray dust or cat hair can be near impossible to get out of the oil and can be a truly unpleasant experience if dabbed.
Wait a few days
Place the oil in a clean, warm, dark, dry place for a day or two before partaking in the labour of your efforts. Any extra work and time that you put into ensuring that there is as little butane as possible remaining will go a long way to improving the quality of the now nearly final product. A well purged oil should vaporize on an extremely hot surface without any snap, crackle or pop sounds.
Vacuum purging, optional
The next step, if an option for you, would be place the oil in a luke warm heated vacuum chamber or vacuum oven for a couple of days. Vacuum purging removes any remaining butane from the oil by causing it to swell and pop out. This tool has become a staple of extractors who seek the absolute best possible final product.
Vacuum chambers or ovens are not an essential item by any means as you can still make amazing BHO without it. If you are however producing large amount of oil or want to ensure top shelf results time after time, take a look at getting or making one.
The final results
Results may vary depending on how much vigour you put into the purging process and the quality of the herb used. At the very least you should be left with something with a beer bottle brown colour and a texture anywhere between a toffee to hardy candy.
When a high quality of herb is used and thoroughly purged, you should expect a far more wax, crumbly or honeycomb like texture that is far lighter in colour and often far tastier.
Where to get the equipment?
We stock both stainless steel and glass cannabis oil extraction tubes in our online store, as well as silicone and glass jars specifically designed for storing sticky cannabis oils. As always, delivery is free to your doorstep anywhere in South Africa if you spend R420 or more. Our packaging is so discreet that many of our clients have their parcels delivered to their work. Stay safe and enjoy making your very own cannabis oil!
It’s only a beginners guide
This article is by no means a comprehensive or final word in BHO, but we hope that we have been able to give you some good beginner insight into the simplicity and safety precautions of this increasingly popular cannabis extraction method.
Keep an eye out for our future articles that will go into some finer points and please feel free to share your top tips for making dank BHO dabs in the comments section below.