Hash oil is all the rage these days. It’s super-potent, the high lasts for hours, and it costs less over the long run.

But hash oil (aka honey oil, wax, dabs, etc.) can be hard to come by, at least outside of Washington, Colorado, and California, where it’s easy to buy. And making it can be dangerous.

Hash oil extractionThankfully, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Not all methods of making hash oil are equally hazardous.

The most popular approach right now is called butane hash oil (bho) extraction. Compressed butane is used as a solvent to separate THC resin from dried marijuana. The butane is then boiled off.

This process can be life-threatening, since butane is not only highly flammable but explosive. BHO makers have been known to blow their houses up, a problem that has led to several deaths across the country.

There are two dangers with bho. First, making it inside can easily lead to explosion because homes may contain overlooked ignition sources, such as pilot lights and electric fan motors. Plus, there’s little ventilation, so the butane builds up in the air until it escapes through a window or ignites.

But there are safer ways to make hash oil. The key difference is in the solvent – in this case, alcohol instead of butane. This method is known as iso, as it uses isopropyl alcohol.

It isn’t perfectly safe. High-proof alcohol is also very flammable, as are its fumes. Putting it anywhere near an open flame is a very bad idea. Still, it’s much safer than bho.

Hash OilHow does it work? First, dried pot is “washed” in a Mason jar. Use at least a quarter ounce. Give the weed a fine grind, but don’t grind it to powder. Now put it in the jar. Pour isopropyl alcohol into the jar until the cannabis is completely submerged.

Ideally, you should use 99 percent alcohol, though 91 percent will suffice. Find it at your local drug store. It’s possible to make hash oil using weaker stuff, but the end result won’t be very good, and you’ll waste a lot of time trying to boil off the extra water.

It’s also possible to use Everclear or other high-proof drinking alcohol (ethanol), but the stronger it is, the better.

Once the weed is submerged, seal the jar and shake it for 30 seconds or so. Do it more than a minute and you’ll get chlorophyll in your hash oil. You don’t want to smoke that.

Now, pour the marijuana-alcohol mix through a filter attached to the top of a second jar. Simply take a coffee filter or cheese cloth, place it over the mouth of the jar, create a depression in the filter so liquid doesn’t spill over the top, and screw the open lid back in place.

When all the liquid has passed through the filter, wrap the wet weed in the filter and squeeze so the remaining mixture drains into the second jar.

If you like, you can give the weed a second or even third wash. You’ll get more product this way, and you’ll ultimately get more THC, too.

Once you’ve got a green, strained liquid, pour it into the bottom of a square or rectangular Pyrex container. You can use a circular container, but you’ll have a harder time scraping oil.

Next, it’s time to boil off the alcohol. This is the most hazardous part of the process, so be very careful. If you have an electric stove, you can use a double boiler or make one yourself.

Simply boil a pot of water on the electric range (or hot plate). Then put the Pyrex container on top of the boiling pot. Do not do this on a gas range. You shouldn’t bring high-proof alcohol within spitting distance of any open flame (including candles and lighters). The fumes are liable to ignite and set the remaining alcohol aflame.

Alternatively, you could use a hot water bath to boil off the alcohol. Boil water and put it in a larger Pyrex dish. Then float the smaller dish on the water inside the larger one. Replace with boiling water every 10 minutes or so.

Boiling should take about an hour. Make sure you get rid of all liquid so you end up with a gold or dark brown oil on the bottom of the container.

Hash Oil RigNow use a razor blade or credit card to scrape all the oil from the bottom. Put it on parchment paper to cool, and then put it in a small bottle or medicine vial. A non-stick vial from your local head shop will work nicely.

Finally, the best part: Smoke a small dab of oil. You can use a glass hash oil rig to do this, but that’s fairly expensive. For a toking method that’s (almost) as effective, touch a dab to the cherry of your weed while smoking a bowl. Make sure you suck in every last whiff of smoke so you don’t waste any.

Or, if you’re in the mood for something a little more elaborate, you could use the “hot knife” method. First, cut the bottom half off a 2-liter soda bottle. Next, heat up a knife by putting it on top of an electric burner. Put a dab on the blade of another knife and hold that under the bottle. And then press the hot knife against the other knife and inhale the resulting puff of smoke through the top of the bottle.

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