Butane hash oil, or BHO for short, is a specific type of cannabis concentrate made using the chemical solvent butane. BHO extracts can be either hard and glass-like, soft and waxy, or a sticky, stretchy in-between. Because BHO can vary so widely in appearance and texture, they may go by other names such as “honeycomb,” “crumble,” “icing,” and other descriptive monikers. BHO is most commonly consumed via dabbing.
What is butane hash oil (BHO)?
BHO, or butane hash oil, is a cannabis concentrate produced using butane solvent extraction. The butane separates cannabis compounds from the plant, resulting in a concentrated oil containing THC, CBD, and other chemical constituents, and leaving undesirable plant material behind. The resulting hash oil can range in potency, but may reach heights of 80-90% THC.
Butane hash oil can vary widely in color and appearance. Typically, it ranges between a light gold to a dark amber color. Some BHO is hard and translucent, called “shatter,” but it may also be soft and wax-like, hence the term “wax.” BHO can also fall somewhere in between, in a sticky, stretchy form sometimes called “pull-n-snap.”
Most consumers buying BHO intend to enjoy it by dabbing, a consumption method that involves flash vaporization using a specialized water pipe. However, BHO may also be added to bowls of cannabis flower or used to enhance the potency of joints and blunts.
How is butane hash oil (BHO) made?
BHO cannabis extracts are made using butane, a chemical solvent. Professional extractors use what is called a “closed-loop system” that allows the butane to travel through cannabis plant material in contained chambers, preventing the flammable solvent from entering the air. The butane separates marijuana’s essential compounds like THC and CBD and forms a potent oil that may be further refined.
Producing BHO at home is incredibly dangerous and not recommended because butane is highly flammable and can cause explosions.
Is butane hash oil safe?
Because BHO is made using chemical solvents, some question whether it is safe to consume. Regulated cannabis markets require all cannabis concentrates to be tested for traces of butane to ensure that every product on legal shelves has been adequately refined for purity and does not exceed the legal limit of residual solvent levels.
The most serious risk associated with BHO is not related to consumption, but rather, production; clandestine home setups that lack proper ventilation and closed-loop systems have been the cause of several explosions, some of which have been lethal.
Another danger associated with BHO is the use of butane torches used to heat dab rig nails. These torches should be used with caution, or alternatively, you may consider investing in torch-free dabbing setups like e-nails (electric nails).
BHO is a potent concentrate that should be approached with caution by cannabis novices. When dabbed, BHO can bring on intense effects that can lead to dizziness, anxiety, or other psychological distress. It’s a good idea to only dab when seated and to have a comforting environment to retire to in case the high becomes psychologically challenging.
BHO extraction: step-by-step guide
- First, gather your supplies: at least a quarter ounce of pot, a grinder, at least two canisters of liquid butane, a Pyrex glass dish, a double boiler, razor blades, parchment paper, and a “BHO extractor” (a length of PVC piping, capped at both ends, with a single hole at the top and several holes at the bottom). A paper filter is placed inside the bottom cap.
- Grind up the desired amount of weed. Use a fine grind, but don’t turn your pot into powder. If you’ve never done a BHO extraction, you might want to start with a quarter ounce.
- Next, put the weed inside your butane extraction tube. Shake the extractor lightly to settle the pot but don’t pack it. You want the butane to saturate every bit of marijuana, so it needs to be fairly loose inside the tube.
- Now insert the nozzle of a butane canister into the single hole at the top of the BHO extractor. Spray butane into the canister. A greenish-brown resin will ooze through the filter at the bottom of the extractor. Let this drop into the glass dish.
- Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water and bring it to a boil. Then place the Pyrex dish on the top part of the boiler. Leave the water at a boil for at least an hour until all the liquid butane has boiled off. You’ll know this part of the BHO extraction process is done when there are no more bubbles in the remaining resin.
- Next, scrape the sticky resin from the dish using razor blades. Transfer the oil to small pieces of parchment paper, then fold those pieces with the oil inside. This is your final product, butane hash oil.
- Lastly, let the oil cool and then, when it’s hard, move it to a non-stick storage container.
And there you have it: Those are the steps to THC extraction. Done right, you can produce hash oil that delivers a powerful, long-lasting high. Enjoy, but above all – be safe!
How to maximize BHO yield
Everyone who uses butane as a solvent is already a leg-up over other solvents, which can produce smaller and lower-quality yields. Butane is one of the highest-yielding solvents, but there are some factors to consider when trying to maximize your yield.
Homemade BHO extracts won’t be nearly as refined as commercially-available products that have been rigorously tested for purity and potency. However, despite the limitations, home-based BHO extraction can produce a decent yield.
The size and quality of your BHO tools (Pyrex glass dish, butane canister, double boiler, PVC piping) will determine how much and how fast you produce your concentrates. Small-batch production, however, is ideal for home projects, as it allows you to reduce the amount of explosive gas used.
While more BHO is certainly better, you want to start off using the best quality cannabis flower or trim, where the majority of the cannabis resin is concentrated. Some extractors tout the benefits of using flowers frozen at their peak ripeness to reap more of its aroma and flavor.
Lastly, experience is crucial in producing dank and sticky extracts. Lab-grade equipment is built with safety in mind. Amateur extraction requires focus and precision to avoid a deadly consequence.
Extractors must be knowledgeable about purging the residual solvent from the BHO extract. Managing temperatures throughout the process can ensure you hold onto as many cannabinoids and terpenes as you can while removing all of the harmful butane.