It was almost a year ago now that I received a frantic phone call from my partner.
"A house just down the street exploded!" she said, shocked and scared, pulled over on the last stretch of her drive home from work.
A day or so later, the full story came out.
Matthew McCrann, a 42-year-old North Kerby Avenue homeowner, was making butane hash oil in his basement—a process by which cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted from raw flower using butane, a highly volatile solvent—when a mysterious spark ignited the resulting butane cloud and blew off the back of his house, killing him as well as Richard Cisler, a contractor who was working in McCrann's home at the time of the explosion.
It's a too-common story that results from the dangerous and unnecessary use of flammable solvents to strip plant matter of its good stuff. But there are ways to make connoisseur-class rosin cheaply and safely at home.
If you're unfamiliar with it, rosin is the product of applying heat and pressure to either whole or ground flower—or post-harvest trim—for a short period of time. The heat and pressure render the essential oils, cannabinoids and terpenes from the flower, resulting in a thin, sticky extract that, when done right, accurately preserves the flavor of the start material, unadulterated by residual solvents.
While industrious types have MacGyvered hair straighteners to generate the heat and pressure needed to make rosin, purpose-built home solutions have trickled onto the consumer market for a few years now.
Rosin Tech, a company based in Los Angeles, is manufacturing a consumer-focused rosin press called the Rosin Tech Go that produces pro-grade extract for the relatively low introductory price of $295.
In person, Rosin Tech's Go is an impressive little machine that, after a short adjustment period, presents few if any significant operational issues while turning as little as a gram of flower into a dabbable extract.
Aesthetically industrial, the Go prioritizes function over form—the wires that power the twin heat plates are exposed on the left side of the press, while a crude control panel reminiscent of timed explosive devices from the movies is attached to the back. Controlling the temperature and time cycle is a simple four-button operation.
The press itself is manual, capable of applying 700 pounds of pressure that's operated by muscling down a lever that lowers and raises the upper heating plate. Between the heating plates, flower is positioned within folded parchment paper.
Flower can be prepared with an included "puck mold" that compresses a handful of nugs into a neat little square puck. Alternately, mesh sleeves are also included, into which ground herb can be stuffed. The latter is preferred, because the sleeve separates flower particulates from the end product, resulting in a purer rosin. Additionally, these sleeves can be used to press kief—a more potent and therefore higher-yielding starter material.
We found that 3 grams of ground flower pressed in a sleeve for 60 seconds at 220 degrees Fahrenheit was a memorable sweet spot, preserving terpenes while rendering a small but acceptable 0.2 gram puddle of concentrate (our start material tested at 21 percent THC).
To achieve higher yields, using more potent flower or increasing the time and/or temperature are your options forward, but keep in mind that the hotter and longer you go, the more you'll push your cannabinoids and terpenes to their volatility points.
In our experiments, we found higher temperatures to offer negligible increases in yield while producing a less-pure, darker extract whose flavor and enjoyability suffers.
Techniques aside—you'll want to play around to find the settings that are right for you—Rosin Tech's Go is our new favorite hash machine. It's a sturdy, function-first device that turns weed into delicious, solventless extract without complicating the experience by way of fussy design choices, messy cleanup or unnecessary bells and whistles.
BUY IT: The Rosin Tech Go is available at rosintechproducts.com.