CBD chemical formula over cannabis leaves

Butane Hash Oil or BHO extraction: Things you need to know Pt. 1

Hash oils, short for hashish oils, are a type of cannabis concentrate. They’re becoming more and more popular among marijuana and medical marijuana users.

That’s because, firstly, they contain a guaranteed amount of the beneficial medical compounds found within the raw marijuana plant. The concentrations of these compounds – CBD and THC most importantly – can these days reach as high as 90-99% in hash oils if the product is created under laboratory conditions.

Secondly, oils remove many of the contaminants found inside the raw plant.

This means you get more of the positive effects and fewer of the negatives.

What is Butane Hash Oil?

Butane hash oil (BHO) is a type of hash oil created using the chemical butane to concentrate and extract THC (TetraHydroCannabinol) from the raw cannabis plant. Butane is used because it is easily and cheaply available. Plus, in the tiny quantities which should exist in the oil after the extraction process is complete, it isn’t harmful to humans.

BHO goes by many names (Butane Hash Oil, ‘Tane, Budder, Shatter, Dabs, Wax, Glass, Whip, Honey/ honeycomb/ comb/ honey toast, Liquid THC). Some of these are slang terms, while others refer to the percentage concentration of THC found in or the consistency of the final product. If you are in any doubt, you should always ask the person behind the counter of your local licensed dispensary.

It’s their job to know the difference.

How to make Butane hash oil – the BHO extraction process

Many people think about making hash oil at home. But make no mistake – This is not a process for a novice.

It is in fact extremely dangerous. Butane is highly flammable and even seasoned experts will keep fire extinguishers nearby and wear property safety equipment while they work. The fact that the process sounds relatively easy inspires untrained people to try it. This often results in serious burns, other injuries and a not-insignificant number of deaths.

It also damages the reputation of the professional cannabis industry, members of which are currently trying to extract themselves from cannabis’s past history as a purely recreational substance.

With that warning clear, here is a little more information about how to make butane hash oil:

1) Acquire ingredients

The place to start when making hash oil is gathering the correct ingredients:

cannabis plant indoor growing

Marijuana – the quality of the cannabis which is chosen will greatly affect the quality of the final product.

Butane – N-butane is the type of butane which is generally considered the best for this process. Isobutane is also often suggested but, while it is generally cheaper than N-butane, it also considered more toxic. Other types of butane exist but may include propane and so are not recommended.

-An extraction tube

-Two Pyrex dishes (one of which should fit with space to spare inside the other)

-An electric heating pad or purging system

-One scraper

-A concentrate container

2) Marijuana extraction

For this part of the process, the extraction tube is required. This is filled with the raw plant material, which is pressed down until it is very tightly packed and free of air pockets.

Once the screen is in place at the bottom of the tube, the tube is held over a Pyrex dish and the butane is connected to the tube. The butane is then allowed to pass through the packed plant matter.

A golden liquid will drip from the end of the tube into the dish. This may take up to a minute to begin and is usually allowed to continue for several minutes once it does.

3) Evaporation process and purging

Once the extraction is complete, it is time to remove the butane in the mixture via a process of evaporation. The Pyrex dish of golden liquid is placed in the larger dish, which contains hot water. The heat of the water causes the butane to evaporate away, meaning that the process should be allowed plenty of ventilation. Around twenty minutes later, the process should be completed.

The heat pad or purging system now comes into use. If a heat pad is being used, the dish will be placed on top of it until the oil stops bubbling.

How to test BHO for butane

The part of the BHO extraction process which is responsible for making the oil safe for people to imbibe is the evaporation phase. If this is not done correctly, quantities of butane may remain in the final product.

There are two easy ways to test BHO for butane:

  1. To a careful inspection, oil which still contains butane during the evaporation process will appear cloudy.
  2. If you have any concerns that there is butane left inside, place a flame in contact with it. If it lights, there is still any butane present.

Changes to the legally-permitted amount of butane in BHO

If you use a lighter when you smoke, you may inhale the smell of butane accidentally while you do. If so, you will already have inhaled more than you will find in any professionally-made BHO. Butane poisoning from dabs will only occur from improperly-made BHO. However, despite popular wisdom – and despite butane being an industrial solvent – a small amount of butane isn’t dangerous to the human body.

In fact, the legal amount of butane that it is permissible to have in a product will soon increase to 5000 parts per million. Strangely, unlike a lot of other relaxing regulations in the US, this change isn’t been driven by the cannabis industry itself. Instead, many responsible manufacturers of cannabis-derived products like BHO want to see greater regulation. They want to make cleaner, better products. They also want to say goodbye to the bad reputation caused by amateurs dabbling in BHO extraction.

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