No matter what you call it, this is one of the most potent forms of marijuana concentrate out there. While ice-waterextraction hash can reach up to 50 to 70 percent THC levels, butane extracts push that level into the high 80s and even 90s in overall THC by weight. This can be accomplished because THC (and other cannabinoids) are soluble by alcohol. Back in the day, did you ever have a friend put his stems in an overproof clear grain alcohol like Everclear for a few weeks and then dab that on your bowls? This is essentially the same thing. (If you answered "no," then you need cooler friends.) With butane, however, the idea isn't so much to soak the herb in the solvent, but to spray the butane over the hash and then process what remains.
It sounds easy -- and in a way, it is -- but the process can also be infinitely more dangerous than making ice-water hash.For starters, you're dealing with a highly volatile liquid that boils and turns into an even more volatile gas at room temperature. Mix any sort of flame source with it, and you've just put yourself in the burn unit of your local hospital for an extended stay that most likely won't be covered by your insurance. Indoors, combustible solvents and idiocy have often mixed to create explosions, resulting in fires like the one that tore through the home of a Breckenridge caregiver in 2009.
The second danger comes from improperly purging what you make. Leaving the wax wet with butane means that you are inhaling that butane when you light it on fire and smoke it on top of your bowl or in your hash pipe. Granted, it's probably no more than you consume every month by lighting your bowl with a Bic lighter, but this is all supposed to be about medicine -- which means it's about being healthy, too. And this is also where things get a bit sensitive, depending on whom you talk to. The overall idea is to use heat to remove any small bubbles of remaining extract, but how to go about that has evolved and changed over the last few years.
We caught up with local BHO hashmaker and founder of Top Shelf Extracts Daniel de Sailles -- or Big D, as his friends call him and his hashmaking crew of Tom Zolezzi and Madison Smith He and his team of Tom Zolezzi. Working with Broadway Wellness, Top Shelf Extracts won second place at the 2011 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup. Since then, Big D and his team have moved on and are working with several shops around town.
If you ask Big D and his team about the dangers of BHO, they'll admit that a few idiots have given the process a bad name. DeSalles is also critical of most of the wax he sees around town, saying much of it has been poorly purged. "If it's crackling or popping when [you smoke it] in any way, then it's not clean," he explains. "If it stings your nose like a chemical fume, it's not clean. If it's soupy or oily, it hasn't been purged right. It should burn smooth and smell clean, like the flowers."
Page down for tips from Big D and crew.