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Hashish (from Arabic: حشيش ḥashīsh, lit. grass; also hash or many slang terms) is a preparation of Cannabis composed of the compressed trichomes collected from the Cannabis plant. It contains the same active ingredients as Cannabis (but in higher concentrations) and produces the same psychoactive effects[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Laws which apply to Cannabis usually also apply to hashish[How to reference and link to summary or text].
Hashish is solid, of varying hardness and pliability, softening under heat. Its colour can vary from reddish brown to black or it can be golden coloured or greenish if it contains surplus plant material. It is consumed in much the same way as Cannabis buds, often being smoked in joints mixed with tobacco or Cannabis buds, or in smoking pipes, or vapourized. It can also be eaten or used as an ingredient of food (typically cookies, cakes or brownies).
It is believed that hash first originated from Central Asia, as this region was among the first to be populated by the Cannabis plant, which may have originated in the Himalayas[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Traditionally C. sativa subsp. indica has been cultivated for production of hashish[How to reference and link to summary or text].
Hash quickly spread around the world after the Arabs began to gather and trade it[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Production of hash later spread to North Africa (most prominently Morocco) and the Middle East (Lebanon) and then South Asia (mostly in India and Pakistan).
Consumption of hashish saw a dramatic increase in the 20th century, becoming a popular pastime in Europe and America, gaining prominence in the hippie scene[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Hashish levels declined significantly in the United States starting in the 1980s for several reasons, including the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Mostly the decline was due to a huge jump in price and quality of imported marijuana [How to reference and link to summary or text]. This helped increase the popularity of marijuana use in North America, and encouraged new growing methods such as growing marijuana indoors[How to reference and link to summary or text].
Hash is made from tetrahydrocannabinol-rich glandular hairs known as trichomes, as well as varying amounts of Cannabis flower and leaf fragments. The flowers of a mature female plant contain the most trichomes, though trichomes also occur on other parts of the plant. Certain strains of Cannabis are cultivated specifically for their ability to produce large quantities of trichomes, and are thus called hash plants.
The resin reservoirs of the trichomes (sometimes erroneously called pollen) are separated from the plant via various methods. The resulting concentrate is formed into blocks of hashish, which can be easily stored and transported. Alternatively, the powder consisting of uncompressed, dry trichomes is often referred to as kief instead of hashish.
Mechanical separation methods use physical action to remove the trichomes from the plant. Sieving over a fine screen is a vital part of most methods. The plants may be sifted by hand or in motorized tumblers. Hash made in this way is sometimes called dry sift. Finger hash is produced by rolling the ripe trichome-covered flowers of the plant between the fingers and collecting the resin that sticks to the fingers. It is a highly labour intensive process which produces spherical balls of resin. Trichomes and resins can also be collected passively through cleaning of scissors that have been used to cut the plant, or containers like a kief-box used to store it.
Ice water separation is a more modern mechanical separation method which submerges the plant in ice and water and stirs the mixture. Trichomes are broken off the plant as the ice moves, while the low temperature make the trichomes more brittle so they break off easily. The waste plant matter, detached trichomes, and water are separated by filtering through a series of increasingly fine screens. Kits are commercially available which provide a series of filter screens meant to fit inside standard bucket sizes. Hash made in this way is sometimes called ice hash, or bubble hash.
Chemical separation methods generally use a solvent to dissolve the desirable resins in the plant while not dissolving undesirable components. The solid plant material is then filtered out of the solution and discarded. The solvent may then be evaporated, leaving behind the desirable resins. As THC is fat-soluble, it is also possible to dissolve hashish in butter and use it for cooking (see hash cookies and Alice B. Toklas brownies). The product of chemical separations is more commonly referred to as honey oil, hash oil, or just oil.
The main factors affecting quality are potency and purity. Different Cannabis plants will produce resins with unique chemical profiles which vary in potency. The manufacturing process may to some degree introduce less desirable materials such as tiny pieces of leaf matter or even purposefully added adulterants; these reduce the purity of the hash.
Pure, properly stored hashish of premium quality is soft and can be moulded by the heat of the fingers alone[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Old, improperly stored hashish of poor quality is rock-hard and brittle, and has to be heated substantially before it is soft enough for use (although some hashish of considerable potency, usually Moroccan, may also be found in hard form)[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Most hashish falls in between these two extremes, and the tactile qualities also vary according to the methods used in extraction and pressing. There is also hashish of greenish or reddish hue. A green tinge may indicate that the hashish is impure, which has been cut with low-quality leaf or contains high quantities of chlorophyll.
Low quality forms of hash often contain adulterants used as cutting agents added to exaggerate the value of hash through increasing the volume or including other cheaper drugs.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Such forms usually possess a low potency and may have a strangeness in taste and feel. The adulterants in the hash may range from waste material from the Cannabis plant to products such as soap, vaseline, beeswax, boot polish, licorice, henna, ground coffee, milk powder, pine resin, barbiturates, ketamine, aspirin, glues and dyes, as well as carcinogenic solvents such as toluene and benzene.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The low quality may lead one to smoke more to get the same effect.
Because hashish, particularly in Northern Europe, is often adulterated, some people have started boiling their hash in water for a few minutes and then drying it before smoking. This is thought to remove all water-soluble adulterants while the psychoactive cannabinols remain intact as the temperature isn't sufficient to destroy them and they aren't soluble in water.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Hash by Region
Hashish is traditionally produced in desert conditions and is almost never cultivated in the tropics. It is traditionally found in a belt extending from North Africa to North India and into Central Asia [How to reference and link to summary or text]. The primary hash-producing countries are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Morocco, Egypt, and India[How to reference and link to summary or text].
Charas and gardaa are the primary products. Much of the hash available is high quality, although some adulterated product is available, easily identifiable by its relatively low prices. Charas, a substance which is hand-rubbed directly from the Cannabis plant, is generally produced in Nepal and India. Users report that charas generally produces a more trippy, "up" high due to the plants being mostly Sativa[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Pollen or "blonde hash", often from Morocco and the Netherlands, tends to produce both cerebral and narcotic highs, depending on the Cannabis strain used to produce it[How to reference and link to summary or text].
A visitor to the Rif mountains and the town of Ketama in Morocco in Dec 1976 described the production of hashish. Workers rubbed the leaves of the Cannabis plant over fine muslin fabric. When 100 grams of the powder was collected it was then wrapped in more fine muslin, put onto a heated metal plate, and rolled down with a bottle. This process produced a slightly sticky solid brown mass in the form of a square slab, around half the size of a paper-back book and about 1/2 centimetre thick. This block would be wrapped in cellophane. Only genuine top-quality hashish carried the imprint of the muslin on the surface of the block.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
In Afghanistan there is a method of making hash which resembles charas. First, Cannabis resin is placed on a large heated mortar, then the resin is threshed with a heavy object. The result is a very gooey, sticky black hash. This method is mostly used in villages around the Hindu Kush mountain region[How to reference and link to summary or text].
Hash is also produced now in the deserts of Northern Mexico however the demand for it and thus amount produced is insignificant compared to that for fresh Mexican marijuana, especially into the lucrative United States markets[How to reference and link to summary or text].
Hashish is more widely available in Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia than elsewhere. Reasons for its use in Europe include the fact that hashish is much more compact and thus easier to smuggle than marijuana, and also simply that the producing countries are much closer to Europe than to other developed world markets (where the price is much higher than in the developing world) and have a long tradition of making hashish for storage and export.
The market expansion for marijuana in Europe is also happening because dealers in certain countries offer extremely adulterated hash almost exclusively[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Marijuana is more difficult to adulterate, although some dealers attempt to modify it as well, usually with less success than with hash. Some young European consumers have become so accustomed to impure hashish that they erroneously believe it is the only quality available.
Morocco's hash product is exported almost entirely to Europe, Algeria and Tunisia, with only a small fraction seeming to reach the United States . About 80% of the hashish seized in France every year comes from Morocco.
In France and the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland, this is known as Maroc (Maroc meaning Morocco in French). In Spain it is called Costo, and Chocolate. In the United Kingdom, it is variously known as brown (also a name for heroin in some parts of the UK), hash, resin, puff, blow, soap bar, solid, and block. In the Netherlands, this is called Maroc, Lieb (Lebanon) or, from quality zero being best to secundeira being worst: triple zero, zero zero, super primaira, primaira, secundeira. Also, there is a branch of nearly white powder hash (pollen or kief has) that is the result of not stamping the raw material for the more common compressed hashish.
Soft hash that is usually very dark brown to black in colour goes under the name black in France, squidgey or soft black (named due to the colour and properties of the hash) in the UK, or Paki Black in Spain (meaning it originates from Pakistan). Soft, dark hash is in the Netherlands normally referred to as Afghan. Also popular brands are Citral and Fungus in Kashmir.
Hash is far less popular in the United States than in Europe. Though hashish use is experiencing a resurgence in parts of North America (especially the Pacific Northwest) with the popularity and commercial availability of ice-water extraction kits[How to reference and link to summary or text].
Preparation and methods of use
Like ordinary Cannabis preparations, hashish is usually smoked, though it can also be eaten or vapourized.
Hash is often crumbled into tiny pieces or formed into shapes to obtain maximum surface area when burning. Hash can be smoked in most implements used for cannabis smoking, sometimes a pipe screen is used. Often hash is mixed with tobacco, Cannabis, or another herb. Heat may be used to bond the hash to the other smokeable substance. This mixture can be rolled up into a cigarette or smoked in a pipe.
A piece of hash may be ignited by cigarette coals or other means and placed inside a container. The smoke that collects inside can then be inhaled. Dabous or Khabour (stick in Arabic) is a North African technique. Bottle tokes is a similar method found in Canada and also in Russia.
Hash can be placed on very hot pieces of metal and the resulting smoke inhaled. Hot knives is a method that involves heating up knives on a stove and then crushing a little ball of the hash between them and inhaling the released smoke with a straw. Hash cones is a method where a piece of hash is attached to metal wire and then heated.
Honey oil (often shortened to oil, and sometimes referred to as BHO, or butane hash oil, which is particular to the method by which it is made) is an essential oil that has a viscosity ranging from thick to runny, extracted from the cannabis plant. It is commonly smoked using hot metal blades or plates, inhaled using specially designed vaporizers, or smoked from a bed of ashes. Honey oil is considerably more potent than cannabis itself, due to its extreme purity and lack of other vegetative matter.
Honey oil is a psychoactive drug in the same class as cannabis, from which it is derived, and contains a similar blend of THC, cannabidinoids, and cannibidinols (in the UK, cannabis and hashish are class C while cannabis oil is class A). The THC content of honey oil is variable based on the particular strain of cannabis from which it was derived, and is similar to that of hashish. The name honey refers to the colour and consistency of the oil, there is not actual honey involved.
Honey oil is made by separating the resins of a cannabis plant from the plant material, using one of a number of industrial solvents, such as butane, hexane, grain alcohol and denatured alcohol, naphtha, and various mixtures of these chemicals. Solvents are selected based on their ability to evaporate completely and cleanly, leaving no chemical residue, as well as which substances they more readily dissolve.
The purest, most potent grades of honey oil are made using only the flowers and leaves of the female cannabis plant which contain trichomes. This material is placed in a metal or plastic sleeve and washed in chemical solvents to separate the resin from the plant material. The solvent slurry is optionally filtered, then reduced by evaporation, resulting in paste that varies in colour from amber to dark green. This paste if filtered will be translucent and runny. If the paste is not filtered, it may by very thick, and opaque.
The most common solvent used in the preparation of honey oil is high-grade butane, sold in sporting goods stores and used in camping stoves and cigarette lighters. Due to the low boiling point and extreme combustibility of butane, extreme care is needed in the handling and preparation of these materials.
Honey oil made using isopropyl alcohol is referred to as ISO Oil or as QWISO for Quick Wash ISO and is quickly replacing butane as the most common solvent for making Honey Oil. Isopropyl alcohol  is safer than butane .
Honey oil is generally considered the province of amateur growers[How to reference and link to summary or text], who make it from collected trim leaves and immature "buds" from harvests as a by-product. Honey oil is generally not sold on the street as commonly as other cannabis products[How to reference and link to summary or text], but is highly prized among connoisseurs and those who use cannabis products medicinally.
Honey is most often found in rural areas where fresh marijuana is not available all year round[How to reference and link to summary or text]. A high prevalence of 'outdoor' marijuana growers will make oil to use or sell through the winter months when there is no crop.
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- A recent publication on hashish production and trafficking in the Rif area of Morocco
- How to make bubble hash
- How to judge hashish quality
- Analysis of adulterated hashish
- A Collection of Hashish Photography
- Hashish by Robert Connell Clarke, ISBN 0-929349-05-9
- Artificial Paradises by Charles Baudelaire; first edition 1860
- The Hasheesh Eater by Fitz Hugh Ludlow; first edition 1857
- Indoor Marijuana Horticulture, by Jorge Cervantes, ISBN 1-878823-29-9 ; 2001, reprinted 2005
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