Beyond THC Levels: Understanding the Complexities of Bubble Hash Potency
As the cannabis concentrate market expands steadily, the demand for pure, solventless extracts like bubble hash continues to grow as well.
Created using only cannabis flower, ice, and water, this mixture is gently agitated and filtered through fine mesh bags. The result is one of the purest solventless extracts on the market today. Popular with health-conscious cannabis consumers, seasoned cannabis connoisseurs, and medical marijuana patients, bubble hash is prized for its purity and potency.
The cannabis market is highly competitive. It’s important for cannabis growers, processors, distributors, and retailers to understand that high-potency bubble hash is an extremely desirable product for both medicinal and recreational consumers.
All industry professionals can benefit from a better understanding of the importance of bubble hash potency and its quality. High bubble hash potency can lead to increased sales and revenue. In addition, accurate and consistent potency testing has become increasingly important for compliance and consumer safety.
Here we’ll take a deeper look at bubble hash potency, reviewing why it’s so important and some of the biggest factors that influence it. We’ll also explore how to maximize potency and some different methods for testing the potency of bubble hash and other cannabis products.
Bubble Hash Potency 101
Popularized in the early 2000s, bubble hash is a potent, solventless cannabis extract. It’s made by sifting cannabis flowers through fine mesh bags and icy, cold water to gently remove the delicate trichome heads. The result is a pure, potent extract that’s rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial cannabis compounds. Also known as ice water hash, bubble hash is one of the purest concentrates on the market, and can be used on its own or to create rosin.
Named for how the high-quality concentrate bubbles and melts when heated, bubble hash is in a solventless extract class of its own.
While the effects of bubble hash are stronger than flower, it is not as potent as concentrates made with solvents like butane, ethanol, and carbon dioxide. Instead, bubble hash is a favorite among medical patients and health-conscious cannabis consumers who are looking for pure, potent products that are rich in beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes.
Bubble Hash Potency Explained
When it comes to cannabis, potency typically refers to how strong a strain or product is. With bubble hash, potency is usually considered the amount (or percentage) of THC it contains. The higher the THC level, the more potent bubble hash, and other cannabis products are.
Factors that influence the potency of bubble hash include:
- Strain type
- Flower quality
- How well it’s extracted
- Drying and curing practices
- How it’s stored
Typically, the higher the potency of bubble hash, the higher its quality, which cannabis connoisseurs will pay top dollar for.
Measuring Bubble Hash Potency
Cannabis is a complex plant containing over 500 compounds, including 100+ cannabinoids. Flowers typically contain around 20% THC, while high-quality bubble hash can contain up to 60% THC. Depending on the bubble hash quality, potency typically ranges between about 30-60% THC.
A few different methods can be used to measure cannabinoid potency. Various liquid chromatography techniques are widely considered the most important for cannabinoid testing. The most common ways to measure cannabinoids include:
- Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC). Involves dissolving a sample in a solvent to produce a diluted solution that is introduced to a thin layer of silica gel on a piece of glass. Specific compounds and the number of components a mixture contains can then be determined.
- Gas Chromatography (GC). Involves injecting a sample with a gas (typically helium or nitrogen), which is then vaporized, and compounds can be separated and analyzed.
- Mass-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Involves injecting a liquid sample into a stream of solvent that flows through a column containing a separation medium. Compounds separate from one another as they pass through the column.
- Mass Spectrometry (MS). Involves an ionization source that’s used to determine the mass of different molecules in a sample.
The most commonly used methods to test cannabinoid potency are GC and HPLC, which are considered more accurate than TLC. Each method of potency testing has its pros and cons, and it’s important to determine the best testing for your unique business needs.
Top 5 Factors That Influence Bubble Hash Potency
The potency of bubble hash is largely dependent on the potency of the flower from which it’s extracted. However, there are several factors that influence the product’s potency and quality. Here are the five biggest factors that influence bubble hash potency:
One of the biggest influences on bubble hash potency is the potency of the strain of cannabis plant material from which it is made. Not only are some strains naturally higher in THC, but some strains are also better for making bubble hash specifically.
Strains rich in resinous trichomes with high THC levels are the most ideal for attaining the highest bubble hash potencies. Some of the best, high-potency strains good for bubble hash extraction include White Widow, Ice, NYC Diesel, and OG Kush.
02 Quality of the Starting Material
The potency of any cannabis product will be reflected in its quality. Cannabis plants cultivated and harvested to the highest quality standards will produce flowers rich in trichomes. Higher-quality cannabis flowers have more cannabinoids and terpenes that contribute to the effects of bubble hash.
Knowing when and how to harvest plants for the best trichome retention is key to getting optimal potency in the final product. For processing the flower and preparing it for extraction, consider using a commercial cannabis trimmer for optimized results. Whether using fresh-frozen or dry, cured cannabis to create bubble hash, a bud sorter can also help streamline the process when preparing the flower for ice water extraction. These processes can increase flower quality and trichome preservation in the final extracted product.
03 Extraction Method
Cannabis extraction methods largely influence the potency of concentrates, including bubble hash.
To extract bubble hash, agitate the flower in ice and water. Then filter it through a series of micron screen bags, known as bubble bags or bubble wash bags to separate the resinous trichomes from the plant material. Trichome heads are usually between 20-120 microns, and wash bags are typically sold in micron sizes ranging between 25-220. These filter bags are available in different micron sizes to accommodate different processing methods and the extractors’ needs depending on the end product.
The ice water temperature, length of agitation, and the micron size of the filter bags will all affect the potency of the final product. Micron bags size 73 are typically the industry standard, as it’s roughly the same size as most trichome heads.
04 Drying and Curing Techniques
Much like cannabis flower, how bubble hash is dried and cured will also affect its overall potency. Freeze-drying bubble hash is ideal; it preserves cannabinoids and terpenes in the product, leaves zero moisture (preventing mold and mildew), and dries the hash in as little as 24 hours. Freeze-drying fresh flowers is also an ideal method to preserve cannabinoids and terpenes.
Bubble hash can also be air-dried. Ideal conditions are usually about 55°F and 35% humidity and must be maintained to ensure cannabinoid preservation and quality. After it’s dry, bubble hash should be sealed in an airtight container and stored in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks to cure.
05 Storage Conditions
To preserve bubble hash potency, it must be properly stored. Cold and dark conditions are ideal for preserving potency and overall quality. Dark, airtight glass containers are ideal, which should be stored out of direct and indirect light.
Bubble hash should be refrigerated at temperatures between 32-40°F. At temperatures higher than 40°F, bubble hash potency and quality will begin to degrade. When stored in the ideal conditions, bubble hash will maintain its quality and potency for up to six months or longer. When stored in the freezer, it may last even longer.
Top 5 Factors That Influence Bubble Hash Potency
For cannabis businesses, the potency of bubble hash directly affects the quality and value of the products they’re selling. Potent, high-quality, full-melt bubble hash is more profitable because it’s more desirable.
Cannabis consumers are willing to pay higher prices for higher-quality products, and bubble hash is no exception to that. Not only is high-potency bubble hash richer in cannabinoids and aromatic terpenes but its effects last significantly stronger than flower. High terpene and cannabinoid levels could contribute to more pronounced therapeutic effects for those using bubble hash for medicinal purposes.
Many consumers are looking for pure products that are stronger than flower, but not as strong as other concentrates like wax, shatter, and butane hash oil (BHO). The potency of bubble hash is perfect for novice cannabis consumers interested in elevating their experience because the effects aren’t as powerful as other concentrates.
While bubble hash can be consumed on its own, it can also be used to make live rosin. Live rosin from potent, full-melt bubble hash is one of the most sought-after (and still somewhat rare) products on the cannabis retail market. Ultimately, this could be a very profitable endeavor for commercial operations interested in expanding or improving their current product line.
Last Thoughts On Bubble Hash Potency
Bubble hash potency directly affects its quality and value, and as the cannabis concentrate market is projected to grow through 2030, there’s never been a better time for cannabis industry professionals to break into this category and better understand how beneficial bubble hash can be for business.
Bubble hash offers a lucrative opportunity to increase sales, revenue, and brand reputation. As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, accurate testing of products is also becoming the industry standard. Bubble hash potency testing is becoming increasingly important for both compliance and consumer safety. Businesses with proper testing protocols in place will ultimately succeed as regulations continue to develop and expand.
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