Dry ice hash and bubble hash are both made using cold temperatures and agitation; however, there are some major differences that are important to understand when choosing an extraction process for your facility.
The most important thing to know upfront is that, for serious extraction businesses, only bubble hash delivers the required product quality for B2B or retail sale. Dry ice hash was mostly used as a “quick and dirty” method in legacy markets before modern techniques were developed, and is too full of plant debris (and too low in quality) to be commercially useful.
Dry Ice Hash vs Bubble Hash: The Main Difference
The main difference between bubble hash and dry ice hash is that the bubble hash process separates the trichome heads gently and cleanly (but in smaller amounts) whereas the dry ice hash process breaks apart both the plant material and trichome heads to create an abundant, low-quality kief. In addition, bubble hash can be made with fresh frozen cannabis whereas dry ice hash is really more like unrefined sift—it’s typically made from dried buds or trim.
Beyond those central differences, there are also differences in the extraction process, the ease of clean-up, and the total time each method takes to complete.
The Bubble Hash Process
Making bubble hash (AKA ice water hash) can be as simple as moving buds in a bucket of ice water with a paddle or as refined as using an industrial hash washing machine. The main elements in the process, however, are the same:
- Freezing cold water and ice in a bucket or hash washing machine
- Cannabis plant material (buds or trim), which can be wet, fresh frozen, or dried and cured
- Mesh collection bags (“bubble bags”) in various sizes, generally 4 to 8 bags in the 45µm to 220µm range, with 72µm, 90µm, and 120µm bags to collect the top-quality bubble in each batch
- An agitation device
Once the necessary materials have been gathered, the process is as follows:
- Submerge the plant matter in the freezing cold water for around 20 minutes to freeze the trichome heads.
- Agitate the plant material gently using a commercial hash washing machine or a hand paddle (if making bubble hash for personal use). The trichome heads will fall off cleanly and sink to the bottom of the vessel where they’re drained and collected in a graduated series of bubble bags.
- After the first pass through your stack of bubble bags, you can repeat the wash-and-collect process several times to collect lower grades of bubble hash.
The entire process can take around an hour if making bubble hash by hand or 30 to 45 minutes using a bubble hash machine
such as The Original Resinator
. While the time using a machine isn’t that much faster than making bubble hash by hand, it’s much easier and more efficient for commercial production because the throughput is higher and you won’t break your back bending over a bucket all day!
The Dry Ice Hash Process
For dry ice extraction, the extractor (usually a hobbyist) will typically use:
- 2-3 pounds of dry ice
- 1 oz of dried cannabis buds or trim
- A 5-gallon bucket
- Bubble bags (73 µm, 160 µm, and 220 µm)
- A clean, flat surface like a table or sheet of glass or metal
- A collection tool such as a credit card
- Safety goggles
- Heavy-duty gloves (snow gloves or BBQ gloves work fine)
The steps are as follows:
- Put the buds or trim in the bucket.
- Put on the safety goggles and gloves.
- Add the dry ice pellets to the bucket, cover the top of the bucket with the 73µm mesh bag, and swirl the bucket gently for 3 to 4 minutes to freeze the plant material.
- Tip the bucket upside down so that the plant material and dry ice pellets fall into the bag.
- Shake the bubble bag over the clean, flat surface. The resin glands (trichome heads or pollen) will fall onto the surface as you shake.
- Use the collection tool to scrape the pollen into an airtight container.
- Repeat with the 160µm bag and then with the 220µm bag to collect the lower grades of hash.
Once it’s collected, the dry ice hash can be pressed into a ball or brick or stored as a powder. It’s typically smoked or sprinkled on bowls and joints and can also be used to make edibles and topicals. From start to end, dry ice hash takes around 15 minutes to make.
If you try this at home, be sure to let the dry ice pellets evaporate into the air in a well-ventilated area (preferably outside) once you’re done. In an enclosed area, they could cause an explosion or lead to carbon dioxide poisoning. If you pour them down a drain, they will freeze the pipes.
Main Considerations for Business Owners When Deciding Between Bubble Hash and Dry Ice Hash
As a grower, processor, or extraction technician, there is more to take into account than speed and ease of clean-up: You also need to think about the quality of the final product, shelf appeal, the versatility of the concentrate for making a range of SKUs, and scalability.
When it comes to quality, bubble hash is in an entirely different class to dry ice hash for several reasons:
- Bubble hash or ice water hash is made via a more gentle extraction process that keeps the trichome heads intact. The dry ice hash extraction process bruises the trichomes and breaks them apart with extremely cold temperatures of around -109 ºF. With ice water extraction, the water stays at around 34 °F.
- The bubble hash process produces more potent results because the compounds in the trichomes aren’t “watered down” by volume with plant debris.
- Bubble hash is very clean and isn’t typically contaminated with plant material. Dry ice hash contains a mixture of pollen and plant material.
- You can sometimes achieve a 6-star full-melt concentrate with bubble hash whereas dry ice hash is never full-melt and rarely reaches anything above a 3-star grade.
While dry ice hash is easy and quick to make, it’s very poor quality and something that no connoisseur would want to smoke or consume. If you’re serious about creating commercial extracts, bubble hash is the way to go.
If made properly, bubble hash is much prettier than dry ice hash once it’s dried. Dry ice hash is usually greenish because of the plant material, whereas top-quality bubble hash is generally a sandy color with a grainy or sandy texture.
Making bubble hash with 1 oz of cannabis bud produces around a 4-24% yield with the water weight removed, compared to a yield of 30-40% using dry ice. While the yield with dry ice sounds impressive, the additional weight is mostly composed of plant matter, which should be enough to scare you away if you’re a serious cannabusiness.
Both bubble hash and dry ice hash can be used to make a range of products. They can both be sprinkled over joints and bowls and can both be used to make edibles and topicals. However, there’s one area in which bubble hash really shines, and that’s in the area of inhalables like dabs and vapes.
All in all, bubble hash is the most versatile of the two concentrate types in terms of the number of potential SKUs.
While both kinds of concentrates can be made on a larger scale with the right equipment, only bubble hash is commercially viable. You can scale up your bubble hash production using a machine like The Original Resinator, which rotates your cannabis plant material in ice water automatically and is extremely easy to clean at the end.
Liquid CO2: The Commercial-Grade Alternative to Dry Ice Hash
If you appreciate the simplicity of dry ice hash making but want a high-quality concentrate, you can make dry sift hash with liquid CO2 in the Original Resinator OG
or the Original Resinator XL
. When using a Resinator as a kief dry sift tumbler
- Liquid CO2 chills the wet, fresh frozen, or dry plant matter to ice cream temperatures without physically crushing or bruising the trichome heads.
- 2 to 5 minutes of gentle rotation causes the trichomes to snap off and fall through a 120µm mesh screen into the chamber below, where the pollen can be brushed into a recipient using a collection tool.
- Once it’s collected, you can press the dry sift to make rosin or use it in pre-rolls, edibles, or topicals. You can also refine it using static electricity to create full-melt dry sift.
Making Live Concentrates With The Original Resinator
If you start with fresh frozen cannabis flowers, you can make live dry sift and live rosin using the Resinator, a freeze dryer, and a rosin press. Live extracts retain the terpene and cannabinoid profiles of the original plant at the point of harvest.
Our live rosin bundle
includes everything you need to make premium live extracts—whether you go with bubble hash or dry sift as the intermediary stage between flower and rosin. You can even tumble your sugar leaves for a couple of minutes to collect high-grade dry sift, then sell the post-tumble leaves for ethanol or butane extraction. For suggestions on micron sizes and processing times, please refer to our micron chart
With The Original Resinator, You Can Have It All
Both bubble hash and dry ice hash have their advantages and disadvantages, but for serious cannabis businesses, it’s essential to create extracts that don’t damage the trichomes (bubble hash and dry sift) using professional-grade equipment such as an Original Resinator.
For large operations, you can use multiple Resinators to save time with transitions or to quickly pass from one stage of refinement to the next. And whether you opt for ice water (bubble hash) or liquid CO2 separation (dry sift), the result will be second to none.
Interested in talking with an expert about your solventless processing goals? Make sure to contact us today
so we can help you find the perfect hash SKUs for your market!