The form of hashish people are most likely to encounter in North America is called “bubble hash,” but older forms also are available.

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Hashish (or hash) is the original cannabis concentrate, and humans have been producing, using and consuming it for centuries. According to “Cannabis: A History” (written by Martin Booth and first published in 2003), the earliest published mention of the term “hashish” is found in an Egyptian pamphlet from around 1123 — that’s nearly a millennium ago!

While the history of hashish ranges from places like Morocco and Egypt to the Persian Empire and the whole of Europe, “historic hash” is most famously produced in India, where it is called charas. Charas is made during the harvest of cannabis plants/flowers; the workers’ hands become coated in the sticky resins from the freshly harvested plants, and by rubbing their hands together, the workers create “temple balls” of unactivated hash. In the past, this substance was either eaten or burned as incense — it was not until the introduction of tobacco to India in the 1600s that charas was recorded as being smoked using a pipe.

But how did hash get from its origins to the refined products people are able to access today? According to a study done by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in the early 2000’s, hashish first began crossing cultural borders when Europeans returned to their home nations after colonizing places like India, Egypt and Morocco. The first mention we see of hash in European texts is from German botanist Johann Gmelin in 1777.

Hashish gained traction and popularity fairly quickly, becoming a common presence in several European cultures over the course of the 18th century, with interest in its medical benefits in the U.S. toward the close of the 19th century. The most common uses for it during that period were to treat ailments such as depression, nausea, diarrhea and appetite loss — all of which are still common reasons that people seek the aid of medical cannabis today.

Bubble hash is most often made using the ice-water extraction method. (Seattle Bubble Works)
Bubble hash is most often made using the ice-water extraction method. (Seattle Bubble Works)

Today, the form of hashish people are most likely to encounter in North America is called “bubble hash,” and it is most often made using the ice-water extraction method. Unwanted plant materials are separated from the trichomes — crystal-like glands on the surface of the flowers — by freezing them in bags submerged in ice water. The temporary shock created by the decrease in temperature causes the oil-filled trichomes to become brittle. Agitating the mixture encourages the trichomes, which secrete the precious cannabinoids and aromatic oils that provide a strain’s flavor and effect profile, to break away from the plant material. Once this process is complete, the trichomes are collected and forced through a series of sieves to remove any residual plant matter.

While bubble hash may be the form that is most prevalent these days, residents of and visitors to Seattle and all of Washington state who are 21 and older are fortunate enough to have access to high-quality hash of several types, including its old-school glory forms (pressed hash and temple balls), extracted by some truly knowledgeable and passionate artists.

Although access to hash in Washington may be easy, some people shy away from trying it because they aren’t quite sure how to use it. Here are a few of the most common ways people consume hash.

  1. Crumbling it over a bowl of cannabis flower or mixing it into a joint.
  2. Mixing it with tobacco to create an infused cigarette or “spliff.”
  3. Vaporizing it on its own, or with cannabis flower.
  4. Creating homemade edibles after decarboxylating, or activating, the hash.

There’s no one “right way” to incorporate hashish into your cannabis consumption routine — all methods are worth exploring to see which works best for you, and it’s always an enriching experience to try new things. If you are unsure what to look for, that’s okay! Sara Fletcher, hash expert and one of the buyers for Dockside Cannabis, suggests that it may be helpful to ask your budtender some of the following questions to determine the best kind of hash for you:

  1. What is the most effective way to consume this particular kind of hash?
  2. Can I run this hash through a grinder, or do I need to break it up by hand?
  3. What type of effect/experience should I expect from this strain?

So what are you waiting for? Stop by your favorite cannabis retailer today to pick up some hash!

 Dockside Cannabis is Washington state’s longest-running medically endorsed cannabis retailer. Four locations serve the greater Seattle area: SoDo, Ballard, 85th & Aurora, and Shoreline. Monthly Elevated Education classes (including Cannabis 101) are free and open to the public.

DISCLAIMER: This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit-forming. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgement. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. For use by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of reach of children.