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Splitting the Trichome: Solventless Diamonds Present A Theoretical Block in Hash Evolution

Updated: May 10

So, I had to write an article about rosin diamonds to answer many of the questions I received, so here goes:


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We have hit a place in the evolution of solventless refinement, as the style matures and more products are discovered, that begs to ask the terribly redundant question:


"Isn't all THC the same?"

We are aware, I hope, that the THC molecule alone produces a meager high and lacks the majority of therapeutic elements from cannabis. We know through the Entourage Effect that terpenes and cannabinoids work in unison with THC and fail to provide a quality effect when these aspects are missing. This includes CBD, which is especially ineffective alone, but powerfully beneficial when consumed with THC and other cannabinoids. The question becomes, are solventless diamonds (pure THC) different from THC diamonds or isolates achieved through distillation and splitting the trichome? And if not, why would I want it?



macro cannabis
Some Gnarly Trichomes Still on the Plant.

A Flawed Understanding

We were correct that THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, but only recently learned that there are hundreds of additional cannabinoids and just as many terpenes contributing to the high. They all originate in the same trichome glands as THC and CBD cannabinoids. It's become evident that these trichomes were meant to remain as one and be ingested simultaneously, just like smoking whole cannabis flower (or ice water hash).


BHO/Co2 Splits The Trichome

It wasn't until the introduction of chemical solvents for extraction, just a little over a decade and a half ago that the trichome gland was originally split. The idea was to retain the plant's THC, without much regard for the rest of the trichome gland, largely unaware of our destruction. Solvents were able to dissolve the trichomes, while latching onto and extracting single cannabinoids.


The creation of solventless diamonds, as explained by Gutenberg's Dank Pressing, requires a similar split and separation of terpenes from cannabinoids that has left me skeptical about these types of solventless products. Guttenberg Pressing does a good job at detailing the process of making solventless THCA here.


Cannabis plant growing a big bud
Fresh Greens

Back to Solventless Diamonds (Splitting the trichome)

Having washed the bulk cannabis into bubble hash, its packaged in mesh envelopes and put through the rosin press. While the rosin press breaks down trichome glands, it keeps their contents together. At this point we have already overlooked the two most unadulterated products in cannabis: Ice Water Hash and Fresh Press Rosin. Choosing not to sell the water hash or the fresh press rosin, the rosin is left in a jar to cure and is stirred by hand to create rosin badder a.k.a. cold cure. I'll go out on a limb and say something's wrong if the rosin goes beyond here (usually). To manipulate the rosin any further requires additional heat sources and steps potentially detrimental to the terpenes and overall effect. This is about as far down the order of operations as I usually choose to go with my money.

macro cannabis trichomes
Macro of @humboldtkinefarms Trichomes Galore

Mini Diamonds

The next option is called Jar-Tech, and while it keeps the refined terpenes and cannabinoids together in one jar, additional heat is needed to create this wet-sugar consistency. Post-processing methods of heat, pressure, and patience cause the THC diamonds to separate from the terpenes, although they remain mixed together in one jar. Rosin Jam, Rosin Sauce, Lava, and more describe this sugary-wet texture that forms after the whole jar of rosin is heated in the oven and then left to separate. While I consider these styles a step down from the first three, I would certainly prefer this over the next option.





Mechanical Separations

Up until now, solventless refinement keeps the terpenes and cannabinoids together in the rosin. This initial chunk of rosin must be put through the rosin press again at low temperatures causing the terpenes to liquefy and separate, while the THC remains. Patient slow presses at low temp will result in a pure THC powder leftover in the rosin bag. This THC powder must be heated again (3rd time) in the oven to liquefy what will quickly harden into a kind of THC "diamond". The diamonds can be shaped and formed with a mold, or snaked out and rolled. It's then chopped up into smaller pieces.


Alone, the hardened THC is a close equivalent to THC distillate. Whatever terpenes were pressed off initially, can then be added back into the final product, making me wonder why we ever separated them to begin with. It's a novel idea for the rosin market and certainly something to try, but I'm sticking to that first, fresh press rosin or better yet, Ice Water Hash.



Cannabis  Flowers  Growing
@humboldtkinefarms Absolutely Killing the Game

Conclusion

Does it matter how we get there when the final product is identical? Speaking theoretically, if pure THC is achieved with ice, water, and pressure, it won't differ from THC isolates achieved through distillation. It's never been about how we get to a final product, but more about what is present in the final product. However, the method of extraction or refinement will determine what remains in the final product, helping informed consumers to see between the lines.


While I prefer not to dab residual butane in trim-run BHO extracts, the main reason for my solventless consumption is to the "Headie Community," the function, otherwise known as the effect. Knowing that the full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids remain intact and identical to the living plant, makes ice water hash, fresh press rosin, and rosin badders the pinnacle of my consumption aims. And so it goes...


 

Afterword: A Note on Distillates

Distillate/Isolate

Distillation is a secondary post-processing technique, turning crude cannabis extracts into a purified form of THCV. The distillation works to remove everything else, much of which is highly desirable for the Entourage Effect, while activating the psychoactive effects of THC for edible consumption. This pure THCV or "distillate" is used to infuse all of the industry's edibles and vaporizer cartridges. It is quite honestly, the least effective product in cannabis. However, it can achieve the same results regardless of the quality of cannabis and can process crude at an unstoppable rate. Distillates are corporate cannabis' best friend.

 



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