What is Hash?

What is Hash?

What is Hash? 

Hash, or hashish, is a concentrated form of cannabis with a long history. Charas, an early form of hash, was made by manually rubbing plants to extract the sticky resin from the trichomes, which contains high levels of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Charas was used for centuries in northern India and central Asia and was valued for its medicinal properties. From there it gradually spread westwards. In the middle ages hash was used by a militant cult in Egypt who became known as “assassins,” a word derived from the Persian for “hash smokers.” 

Eventually, hash started to make its way to Europe, where doctors became interested in its potential for medical applications. In the 1830’s, an Irish physician called William Brooks O'Shaughnessy began testing hash as a treatment for cramps and pain relief. Soon he, and researchers like Jacques-Joseph Moreau began to explore its effects on the central nervous system to treat ailments like migraines, depression and insomnia. While the results of this research are not conclusive by modern standards, by the end of the 19th century the use of hashish as an ingredient in medications—as well as dubious patent medicines—was widespread across Europe and North America. 

Today, with renewed interest in the benefits of medical cannabis, we’re seeing a renaissance of research in the field. 

How is Hashish Made? 

Traditional charas is still made the old way—by hand—in some parts of the world, and simply compressing the plants is still the most straightforward way to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes that naturally occur in cannabis. Most modern producers use other methods to extract the active ingredients from cannabis. 


Dry-sifting uses mechanical means, such as a tumbler or a fine sieve, to separate the kief (the dust that falls through the sieve) from the plant material. The kief is then heated and compressed into blocks of hashish. This remains one of the most common ways of making hash. 

Ice-Water Extraction 

Bubble hash is made in ice water. The colder temperatures are especially effective in extracting the aromatic terpenes from cannabis, especially from flowers. The resulting material is more like a powder or paste than traditional hash. It’s more versatile, too, and can be consumed with a dab rig, as well as vaporizers, smoked in a bowl, or blended with other cannabis products. 

Dry-Ice Extraction 

Dry-ice extraction works by freezing the cannabis plant using dry ice. Just as with ice-water, freezing separates the resin from the cannabis buds. This technique is more typically used by people who want to make their own hash and therefore may not always match the quality of other methods. 

Solvent-Based Extraction 

Solvent-based extraction is a more advanced technique that dissolves the resin in a solvent to separate it from the plant material. Solvent-based extraction is known to be very efficient, often resulting in higher yields than other techniques. The resulting liquid concentrate is not technically hash, but is usually referred to as hash oil, honey oil, shatter or wax. 

Many solvents are used for this type of extraction, including ethanol and butane. Butane extraction is dangerous because it is flammable and explosive. Because solvent-based extraction may leave solvent residues, most medical cannabis products are made using solventless methods or supercritical CO2 extraction. 

Supercritical CO2 Extraction 

Carbon dioxide extraction is used in the food industry and has proven to be an effective method for making high-quality hash oil, especially for medical uses. When carbon dioxide is heated and pressurized, it becomes supercritical, with properties of both a gas and a liquid. This allows it to pass through the plant material and dissolve the compounds cannabis contains. Since the extraction properties of C02 can be precisely tuned, it’s an ideal solvent and is safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the alternatives mentioned above. It also results in a more consistent and palatable product. 

Quality and Colour 

With hash, smell can be a good guide to quality. Good hash should be fragrant and aromatic and have a smooth taste. The colour of the hash depends on the technique used to extract it and is not an indicator of quality. Bubble hash usually has a light yellow or golden colour. Other types of hash may be more brown or green and traditionally hand-rubbed hash (like Charas) may be almost black. 

How to Consume Hash 

While hash can be smoked, vaporizing is the preferred method for consumption. 


For people who smoke joints, simply crumble a small amount of hash into the plant material before rolling the joint. Pipe smokers have been known to add some hash to their pipe bowl and smoke it directly. 

Cooling the Smoke with a Bong 

While a bong (or bubbler) involves smoke, these devices use water to cool the smoke and add moisture before it reaches your mouth, making it easier to inhale.  


A dab rig takes this principle further: it uses the same water cooling function as a bong, but instead of burning the hash (like a pipe) it uses heat to vaporize the hash. Dab rigs require hash of a thicker consistency and, while the process is more involved—and may seem intimidating for beginners—they have become popular because they are more cost-effective, do not create smoke and deliver much fuller flavour and greater potency. See [this post] to learn more about dab rigs. 

Spectrum has a number of dab rigs in the shop, including Dr Dabber Stella Wax Pen, Focus V Saber and Boundless Terp Wax Pen. 

A vape pen has a built-in battery to heat cartridges containing hash. Like dab rigs, vape pens also use heat to vaporize hash (or cannabis flower), but at a lower temperature. Vape pens are compact and easy to use. 

Visit our Shop for a full line of hash products.   


There are risks associated with cannabis use. For information, search online “Health Canada - cannabis health effects.” This communication is intended for adults only and should not be shared with minors.