What is BHO and how is it made?
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Cannabis extracts are a popular way to experience the psychoactive effects of the herb. They offer more of a condensed dose of cannabinoids compared to smoking or vaping flowers, which gives them great appeal to recreational and medicinal users in search of potency. There are many different types of extracts that exist, all of which use different methods to achieve a similar end point: highly concentrated forms of cannabis. Butane hash oil (BHO) is one such type of extract.
WHAT EXACTLY IS BHO?
BHO is a cannabis extract that uses the solvent butane to pull the desired constituents from cannabis flowers. The solvent is eventually purged, usually leaving behind a translucent, glass-like substance that can be dabbed and smoked. But this isn’t the only type of BHO. The extract can be crafted into many different consistencies, including budder and wax. BHO provides a clear and clean high, provided it is created properly and with high-quality plant material.
HOW IS BHO MADE?
Making BHO isn’t a complex process, but it does come with some potential dangers that make it unsuitable for home extraction. Butane is a flammable solvent, thus posing a risk of fire and explosion unless the correct procedures are followed with care. There are several different methods used to extract cannabinoids and terpenes for BHO.
OPEN LOOP EXTRACTION
One of these methods is known as open loop extraction. A tube is loaded with dried cannabis flowers, with a filter attached to one end. Butane is sprayed through the opposing end, and slowly makes its way down the tube, extracting the desired constituents as it goes, until it passes through the filter. Although simple and easy, this method poses the dangers mentioned above, and the basic filtration system may not be sufficient in removing all contaminants from the end product.
The extraction is then heated in what is the most risky part of the procedure. Heating the mixture purges the butane, leaving behind the extracted molecules. This oil is then poured into a tray and left to solidify into a thin, golden, translucent sheet.
This glass-like substance is referred to as “shatter” due to its consistency. However, other BHO makers prefer to whip the mixture up to remove the butane, resulting in a creamier and thicker substance referred to as budder or wax.
This method can also be used to create live resin, using fresh buds that have been snap-frozen after harvest instead of dried flowers. The buds remain frozen during the process using specialized extractors with multiple chambers. One chamber contains the butane, which is chilled and then pushed into the second chamber with the frozen flowers. The butane and extracted constituents are then forced into a third chamber and purified of all lipids and waxes. The mixture is then passed on to a fourth and final chamber, where it is purged of its solvent content.
CLOSED LOOP EXTRACTION
Another method of making BHO uses a closed loop extraction. This technique is used primarily by commercial producers, and is reported to be safer than open loop extraction. This system uses two vessels secured to either side of a tube loaded with cannabis. The tube is sealed and pressurized as the butane travels through it and extracts the cannabinoids and terpenes. The enriched butane reaches the vessel at the opposing end of the tube, and is then forced back to the first vessel. The butane is then purged, and pure BHO is left behind.
TYPES OF BHO
BHO has many different appearances and consistencies. Its forms are a result of intentional manipulation during/after the extraction process. This sticky and viscous substance can be frustrating to move in and out of storage containers, yet some users prefer it due to its versatility.
• Budder is a form of BHO that shares a similar consistency to butter, hence the name. This is created by crystallizing the oil via agitation during the extraction process.
• Crumble is a type of BHO named after its crumbly, cheddar-like texture. This is crafted by using pre-purged oils with a higher moisture content. Crumble is delicate to the touch and should be handled with care until smoked or vaped.
• Shatter is the primary type of BHO discussed above. It looks and behaves like glass, and chunks can literally be snapped off. These can then be placed into joints or blazed in dabbing rigs.
• Finally, live resin is a type of BHO that has a sugar-like consistency and is created using freshly harvested nuggets.
A QUICK NOTE ON WINTERIZATION
Winterization is a process of bathing BHO in ethanol and freezing it. This process is a great backup to fix batches that appear to be less than worthy. If a fresh batch of BHO is obviously contaminated with excess butane, waxes, and lipids, winterization can be used to save the product.
First, the extract is added to a bath of 95% ethanol solution to purge excess butane and separate other contaminants. This mixture is then lightly heated on a hot plate and away from naked flames to purge the butane. Both butane and ethanol are highly flammable, so this procedure should only be carried out by professionals.
Once the butane has been completely purged, the mixture then needs to be poured into mason jars and placed in the freezer for 48 hours. Next, the mixture is passed through filter papers or unbleached coffee filters to remove further contaminants. The filtered mixture then needs to be purged once more over low heat to remove the ethanol. The final result is cleaned and purified BHO.
HOW TO CONSUME BHO
BHO in all its forms is a versatile extract that can be consumed in many ways, with the following being the most popular.
• Dabbing is an extremely popular way to consume BHO. A dabbing rig is required to inhale BHO in this way. The nail is the equivalent of a bong bowl, and is heated to a high temperature using a blow torch. A dabbing tool is then used to place any form of BHO onto the hot nail, and the vapor/smoke is inhaled.
• Vaping is a super-easy way to use BHO. Simply choose a concentrate-friendly vape pen and load it up with any form of BHO.
• Blunts and joints loaded with BHO and flower make for a high-flying experience. BHO can also be “painted” around the outside of rolling papers to add some serious aesthetics and potency.
IS BHO SAFE?
Clean and pure BHO is definitely safe to consume. It’s just a highly concentrated form of cannabis, so beginners should proceed with caution. The only way BHO can pose any danger to the consumer is if an inferior quality product is smoked. Badly made BHO can contain residues such as butane and pesticides. This is why you should always seek BHO from a reputable source. As mentioned above, the BHO extraction process can also be very dangerous if not done correctly, so we do not advocate for home extraction.