When it comes to shatter, wax, and other cannabis concentrates, there is a lot of hype around rosin, and also a lot of confusion. Extracted cannabis products fall into two major categories, either solvent-based extraction, or solventless. Many concentrates are produced with harsh solvents, such as butane or propane (BHO and PHO respectively) and then are purged afterwards to make them able to be dabbed or vaporized. Rosin, on the other hand, is extracted using only heat and pressure without any solvents on a rosin press, hence the category “solventless” extraction. Pressing rosin has caught like wildfire and many cannabis and marijuana connoisseurs are starting to prefer rosin over BHO for its extremely smooth, tasty smoke. When rosin is made, it’s done by coaxing out the essential cannabinoids and oils from cannabis flower, trim, kief, dry sift, or ice water hash – you can make solventless shatter out of pretty much anything, just with heat and pressure! Before we get into the specifics of how to press rosin and what kind of equipment you need, it’s worth talking about what shatter, budder, wax, sugar, and all of these other concentrates really are. Cannabis concentrates are either extracted with or without solvents, as noted above, and then the resulting products are broken down into textures or consistencies as a result. Those resulting consistencies are where the term “shatter” came from, because shatter is technically a very stable and brittle form of cannabis concentrates, but can be rosin (solventless) or BHO (solvent-based). The same goes for all of the other consistencies, which really just then come down to personal preference. The list of possible textures is quite long, and rosin can be manipulated and made into virtually any of them either by whipping, re-heating, freezing, and a number of other techniques.
Rosin was originally discovered by squishing cannabis flowers in hair straighteners, circa 2013 or 2014. While many people are still using and perfecting this technique at home, suffice to say it isn’t very efficient or reproducible in a larger production environment. Rosin extraction is by far the simplest of the extraction methods, although there is quite a bit of variability within pressure and heat. Nowadays, most people use rosin presses to make rosin, which are machines specifically designed for the purpose. A lot of people are engineering their own rosin presses as well, and an entire at-home heat plate plus shop press market has opened up as a result. There are a plethora of rosin press companies have joined the fray, and unfortunately, not many of them are offering high quality rosin presses. Many are simply re-labeled t-shirt presses that are made in China, or are shop presses that have been repurposed to squish rosin. If you want to make the best rosin possible, it’s worth investing in a high quality machine, such as PurePressure’s flagship Pikes Peak rosin press which is manufactured in Denver, Colorado. It features fully automated custom software, in-house machined 100% aluminum heat plates each with their own thermocoupler, and an oil-less, maintenance-free 5 ton pneumatic cylinder that is custom fabricated in Florida. Designed from the ground up specifically to press rosin, the Pikes Peak is an industry leading piece of equipment that helps you get the best yield, quality, and control with your rosin extraction. Virtually all of the components in the Pikes Peak rosin press are sourced from the USA and are top notch, which sets it apart from the cheap Chinese-made competitors currently flooding the rosin market. Its heat plates are custom designed to be long and narrow so that your rosin oil escapes the heat, thus preserving terpene profile and clarity.
To make rosin, you can use a rosin press to extract rosin out of virtually any starting cannabis material, including buds (flower), kief or dry sift, trim, or ice water hash. Some people are even making live rosin, but generally speaking using freshly dried and cured high quality starting material makes a significant difference. It all starts by loading your material into a mesh bag to filter out any residual plant material, which come in a variety of sizes and micron mesh types. The smaller the micron mesh (25 micron, 36 micron or 72 micron), the better it is for kief, dry sift, and hash, whereas bigger micron mesh sizes (90 micron, 115 micron, 220 micron) are better for flower and trim. Some people are using coffee filters, but that isn’t recommended and using a pre-sewn mesh bag will almost always give you better results. Once your rosin bag is packed and loaded, put it into your press between a piece of parchment paper so it’s easy to collect afterwards. Rosin can be extremely sticky, so parchment or non-stick material is a must!
Typically on a rosin press you will want to set your heat to between 200 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit, although it’s worth experimenting lower and higher to see where you get the best results. 220 is a great sweet spot for pressing rosin because it will help you get the maximum yield as well as preserving terpenes (flavor and aroma). The lower the temperature, the less likely you are to degrade your terpenes, and vice versa, the higher the temperature, the more likely that becomes. Pressure is also critical – you want to make sure you have enough force at your actual heat plates to ensure you get the maximum yield. You will always want to apply at least 550 lb of force to get the maximum yield. For example, on the Pikes Peak rosin press, which utilizes a 5 ton pneumatic cylinder, that equates out to 10,000 total lb of force, which is then divided by the size of your rosin bag. So if you’re pressing rosin in a 2” x 9” bag (18 square inches), that would be 555 lb of force at the bag, which is perfect. While there is a lot of hype surrounding rosin presses that offer 10 ton, 20 ton, and even higher pressure, adding too much pressure often results in lower quality rosin because of extra plant material and other organic particles being pressed into the rosin itself from extreme pressure.
Once you get the hang of it, using a rosin press is very easy, especially if it’s a turnkey machine like the Pikes Peak rosin press. You never have to worry about any flammable solvents or using a vacuum oven to purge your concentrates, because with rosin, there aren’t any solvents to begin with. Squishing high quality rosin is a simple and safe way to make extracted cannabis products that can be dabbed, vaporized, or enjoyed in any manner of other ways. If you’re looking for a premium cannabis experience, rosin is absolutely the way to go, and using a rosin press makes the process significantly simpler.