What Is Rosin? The DIY Concentrate

by Rachelle Gordon

The variety of cannabis concentrates continues to increase as research and development in the sector continues. One segment of the category exploding in popularity is rosin, a solventless extract gaining a significant amount of market share. What is rosin made of, how is it made, and why is it in such high demand? This Green Flower guide will set the record straight.

Rosin Extraction — The Basics

Rosin is a form of concentrate — also commonly referred to as dabs — made by applying heat and pressure to cannabis plants, and more specifically, the trichomes. Trichomes are the oblong “crystals” coating cannabis. They also happen to be where the active ingredients in the plant are located, called cannabinoids. Manufacturers place bud in a special rosin bag or between two sheets of parchment paper, which is then set inside a hydraulic press outfitted with heating elements. 

The strength of the pressure removes the trichomes from any residual plant material while the heat creates the consistency. Temperatures are usually set between 250 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit — warmer temperatures will result in a sap-like substance while the cooler temperatures create a more solid form of the concentrate.

What Sets Rosin Apart?

The main difference between rosin and other alluring concentrates, such as hydrocarbon extracts like butane hash oil, is the fact that the entire process is solventless. Some argue bubble hash is also in this category but the use of water as a wash technically makes it a solvent-based extraction. Rosin only uses heat and pressure in the manufacturing process, meaning it is truly a solventless extract.

The quality of rosin is also what makes it attractive to consumers, offering a flavorful and powerful experience. Pressed rosin is essentially all active ingredients, making it extremely potent. It can be easy to “overdo it” with concentrates, so novices should always follow the old adage of “start low, and go slow.” Expert users on the other hand appreciate the robust and impactful effects associated with high-quality, concentrated cannabis products.

rosin extract on parchment paper with dab tool

What Does Pressed Rosin Look Like?

The appearance and texture of rosin may vary slightly depending on the equipment used in the production process as well as the starting material, as mentioned in the previous paragraph. Typically, rosin will have a light yellow or cream color. It can have a sticky syrup or a soft yet firm frosting-esque consistency, mimicking refrigerated buttercream. Extractors recommend keeping their products cold until the time of consumption to maintain quality and reduce the chances of the product becoming overly sticky and difficult to manipulate.

Why IS It So Sought-After?

Rosin dabs have become a hot commodity for a number of reasons. The production process is a big selling point versus concentrates made using solvent-based extraction methods, as consumers wish to partake in a product considered more natural. The high quality of rosin on the market also plays an important role as more and more people are seeking a top-shelf experience. The relative ease of production is also attractive as it means even the casual smoker can make their own dabs from the comfort of their homes.

What Is Live Rosin & How Does It Differ From Live Resin?

Despite similar-sounding names, live resin is different than rosin due to the extraction method used. Live resin is made using a closed-loop machine with supercritical fluids as opposed to heat and pressure. The word “live” means the plant material used is freshly harvested, skipping the drying and curing process typically associated with smokable cannabis. If a rosin is made with the same type of source material, it is considered live rosin. This should be noted when purchasing cannabis concentrates since it may affect both price and consistency. 

making rosin between parchment paper

How To Make Rosin At Home

DIY rosin extraction is a great option for thrifty consumers and home-growers alike as it does not require the large and complicated machinery associated with the production of shatter wax. The only supplies needed are parchment paper, a hair straightener, a concentrate container, and a dab tool. Using heat-resistant gloves is also advised to protect against burns from the hair straightener. Frosty buds make the best cannabis concentrates as they have more trichomes — go for especially sticky source material whenever possible. Always use fresh parchment in each pressing.

Items Needed:

  • Hair straightener
  • Parchment paper
  • Scissors
  • Dab tool
  • Storage container for extract
  • Heat-resistant gloves 

Steps: 

  1. Set the hair straightener temperature to the lowest setting and turn on
  2. Secure a 4” piece of parchment paper and fold in half
  3. Place small buds in a line inside the parchment paper
  4. Ensuring the source material is secure, place the parchment between the hair straightener’s irons
  5. Press firmly on the straightener for a few seconds or until you hear a sizzle
  6. Repeat two more times
  7. Remove the parchment and discard the flattened buds
  8. Scrape the resulting rosin with the dab tool into the container, carefully removing any leftover plant material
dabbing rosin

How To Consume Rosin

The majority of consumers opt to vaporize rosin, although it can also be spread on a joint, blunt, spliff, or bowl. Dabbing is done with a device called a rig resembling a bong which either uses an electronic element or blowtorch to heat the product within a designated chamber, commonly referred to as a banger. Many rosin fans prefer a “cold start” where the dab is placed in the bowl prior to heating, offering a more gradual release of vapor and active ingredients which in turn leads to a smoother hit.

Final Thoughts

Rosin offers a rich terpene profile and high cannabinoid content in a soft and sticky package unlike any other concentrate available today. The demand for high-quality solventless extracts is certain to remain robust especially as the market continues to skew more toward high-quality, all-natural offerings. Solventless extraction is simple to do on both large and small scales since it only requires heat and pressure, something achievable with as little as a hair straightener and parchment paper. With all this in mind, rosin will surely maintain its prominent place in the cannabis culture for years to come.

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