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"Hashish" or "hash" is the name given to an agglomeration of the capitate-stalked glandular trichomes (the resin glands or "crystals") of the cannabis plant. These resin glands contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids to be found anywhere on the plant. Hashish is more potent by weight than marijuana is, and can approach 50% THC by weight. Hashish generally takes the form of a brownish solid, which can range in texture from soft and malleable to hard and brittle or fluffy and crumbly. There is also wide variation in the colour of hashish, from black to gold, red, and yellow. Hash that is green in colour is high in vegetable matter, and is of inferior quality. High quality hash reliance first capital is hard at room temperature, but softens quickly in the heat of the palm of the hand. It has a characteristic sheen, a granular texture when broken, and a sticky texture. Hash that leaves hard cinders or dark coloured ash is adulterated; high quality resin will leave a fluffy, white or off-white ash when burned.

The appearance and physical properties of hashish are largely determined by the manner in which it is produced.

Types of hashish

Hand-rubbed hashish This is probably the oldest method of hashish manufacture. It is most commonly performed in South Asia- Indian charas and Nepalese hash are possibly the best known examples of hashish produced in this manner. Hand-rubbed hash, as the name suggests, is produced by rubbing living cannabis plants with the bare hands. The sticky resin glands collects on the hands, and can then be scraped off to produce hashish. Hand rubbing is a low-yielding and labour intensive process. Hash produced by hand rubbing is characteristically soft in texture and dark in colour- the type of hash that is often known by the term "squidgy black". This is due to the high proportion of resin glands that are burst in the collection process, and this property, along with a relatively high moisture content, causes hand-rubbed hash to degrade in potency faster than most other kinds of hashish. Hand rubbed hash is commonly distributed as balls or fingers. Charas tends to have a peppery flavour and a dense smoke. The vast majority of hand-rubbed hash available in Europe is quite heavily adulterated, with substances such as ghee (clarified butter), turpentine and candle wax, as well as agents to bind the hashish and give it a sticky texture, and thus the illusion of high quality. Imported hand-rubbed hash often spoils in transit, resulting in telltale streaks of white mould in the piece. Smoking mould is potentially dangerous, and spoiled hashish should not be purchased.

Sieved hashish This style of hashish manufacture is typical of Lebanon and Afghanistan. It is also the method used to produce Moroccan hash, as hippies introduced a version of the Lebanese process to North Africa. In order to produce sieved hash, the mature cannabis plants are first harvested and dried. They are then threshed over a sieve, which causes the resin glands to detach and collect beneath. The raw resin powder is then pressed. The resin powder can be pressed by hand, but a mechanical press is more commonly used. Some hash is very lightly pressed, giving the finished product a crumbly texture and a pale appearance. Lebanese hashishes are characteristically pressed lightly. The powder can also be exerted to greater pressure, resulting in a harder, denser piece that is a darker shade of brown. Traditional Afghani hash was quite pale in colour, but the modern commercial product is very dark, almost black, soft, and adulterated. Confusingly, this kind of hash is also known as "squidgy black". Most Afghani hash, when smoked, leaves the hard cinders that are typical of diluted hashish. Lebanese hash has become very scarce since the 2006 conflict with Israel, and Afghan hash is also increasingly rare. The majority of sieved hash on the market comes from Morocco, the world's largest producer of hashish. There is some very high quality Moroccan hash on the market; the best imported hash available in Dutch coffeeshops is generally from Morocco. However, much of the Moroccan hash available in Europe has been heavily adulterated to produce the product known in the United Kingdom as “soapbar”. It is often possible to observe visible pieces of plastic in a piece of hash of this kind.“Soapbar” is very hard, and will not soften with the application of body heat. In fact, “soapbar” can generally not be broken up for consumption without being subjected to direct flame. Hashish of this grade is dangerously impure and should not be consumed.

Water-extracted/ice hashish Water extracted hashish is a modern Western invention. The process involves first harvesting and drying the cannabis, then adding it to ice-cold water and agitating it. The light plant matter floats, while the dense resin glands sink. The process can be achieved with nothing but a container of water, but screens of various pore sizes are generally used for convenience and efficiency. Western produced ice hash is generally very strong. The process is also very efficient, and yields can reach double those possible with dry sieving. The highest quality ice hash bubbles and melts under the heat of a flame. This grade of hashish is known as “full melt”, and the tendency to bubble has given rise to the term “bubble hash” to denote not only full melt, but any ice hash. The high from ice hash is generally very clear, cerebral and lucid. The water extraction process strips the cannabis of many of the aromatic terpenoids that contribute to the taste and smell of the final product. As a result, a relative poverty of flavour in comparison to traditionally produced hashish is typical of ice hash. Ice hash can exhibit a range of appearances; however, it will always be shiny, granular when broken, and sticky. Water-extracted hash is rarely adulterated. However, it will spoil if the resin powder is not dried properly after extraction.

Hash Oil Extracts of cannabis produced using solvents, rather than mechanically, are not hashish, despite their common name. These extracts can be extremely potent, up to 70% THC. Hash oil reached the peak of its popularity in the 1970s; since that time, the inconvenience and messiness of use, and the increasing trend for domestic production rather than importation of cannabis, has resulted in a relative scarcity of hash oil. In the 1970s, most hash oil was produced by persons with some experience of chemistry using relatively sophisticated set-ups to reflux the cannabis for an extended period of time. However, hash oil is now more commonly made by simple processes, involving little more than immersing the cannabis in a solvent briefly, and then letting the solvent evaporate.


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