Cannabis Science

29 July 2022

What is BHO?

Also known as Butane Hash Oil, BHO is a cannabis concentrate that is produced using a butane solvent extraction.

In this process, the butane is used to extract cannabis compounds from the plant, which results in a highly potent concentrated oil. This oil contains all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the marijuana plant while leaving behind the less desirable plant material. This type of oil can range in potency but is known to reach THC levels pushing a remarkable 90%.

BHO varies in both colour and appearance. Typically, it ranges from light goldish colour to a luscious, dark amber. Some types of BHO are hard and translucent, almost glass-like, and these are known as “shatter”. However, BHO can also be softer and waxier or somewhere in between. As a result, there are a fair few different types of BHO which we will explain in greater detail a little later.

These BHO extracts are often given alternative names like “crumble” or “budder” while they are most typically consumed via dabbing. This method of consumption uses flash vaporisation that utilises a specialised water pipe.

In addition, BHO can also be added to both bowls, blunts and joints to enhance both the potency and flavour.

So, let’s take a closer look at cannabis extraction and this increasingly popular cannabis concentrate.

A Brief History of BHO

While they might seem to be all the rage in 2022, Butane Hash oil is by no means the first cannabis extract. Indeed, across the globe, it is said that many civilisations have experimented with the separation of resin glands and trichomes from cannabis plants for thousands of years.

More recently, though, the introduction of an extraction solvent was first documented in D. Gold’s 1971 publication, Cannabis Alchemy: The Art of Modern Hash making.

This publication of this innovative technique was the first time it had been documented for public consumption and provided readers with a guide on how to produce homemade solvent-based extracts. However, the introduction of butane to the process would not occur until twenty years later, in the 1990s.

How is butane hash oil (BHO) made?

As we mentioned earlier, a typical BHO cannabis extract is produced with the use of butane. Professional extractors use what is known as a “closed-loop system”. This allows butane to make its way through the cannabis material contained within, thus preventing the flammable solvent from going into the air. Butane helps to separate the compounds found within the plant like THC and CBD, allowing for the formation of a potent oil.

Given the safety risks associated with the production of BHO, it is absolutely not recommended to attempt to produce BHO at home. Butane is highly flammable and can cause dangerous explosions.

So even for experienced home-growers, we always recommend leaving it to those in the know!

Types of BHO Extracts

Shatter

Shatter is a type of extract that has a smooth, glass-like surface. As the name suggests, it shatters into hard glass-like pieces when broken apart. This concentrate is typically highly potent and should only be consumed by experienced consumers.

Budder

Budder’s unique consistency is achieved by the introduction of agitation during the extraction process. Given its name because of its similarity in consistency to butter, it can easily be scooped and spread. Those who use Wax pens may prefer using budder ahead of shatter or a more sappier extract.

Crumble

You know where we’re going with these names. Crumble, is, as you might have guessed, offers a crumbly consistency similar to that of cheese. When collected, it crumbles easily, and while it is easier to handle compared to other oils, it is not typically as popular as budder or shatter.

Sauce

Sauce (also known as honey oil) is a particularly potent and sticky BHO concentrate that is the loosest consistency of BHO available. It is intensely sticky and only a little thicker than a typical liquid.

How to Consume BHO

There are several methods of consumption that can be used with a BHO extraction; however, the most common and preferred method is dabbing. This involves using a dab rig which can be made from a water pipe or a bong that’s been modified for the purpose. Specialised dab rigs can range in price from $50 to as much as $50,000.

The pieces of BHO that can be used in dab rigs are known as “dabs”. Utilising a metal dab tool, the dab is placed on a hot glass rod that is known as a nail before being vaped with a lighter or portable torch. It is also possible to use e-nails, electric dab rigs or portable pens that make the use of a handheld torch unnecessary.

Beyond the use of a dab rig, BHO can also be consumed by using handheld vape pens and other types of vaping devices.

When using these types of devices, a small quantity of BHO is placed into the heating chamber. Once heated, the BHO can be vaporised.

One final method of consumption known as twaxing involves rolling BHO wax or shatter into a string, then wrapping it around a blunt or joint to create a more intense level of potency. It is also possible to simply break or crumble BHO and add it to your regular bowl, joint or blunt.

A Little More about BHO

When purchasing BHO products, it is, of course, important to know what you’re actually buying. While the product might be advertised as BHO, this is not an indicator of the product’s quality, potency or effects. It only means that it has been produced using butane.

The calibre of the cannabis product used to create BHO is the ultimate determiner of the finished product’s quality. As such, both the quality of the cannabis flower used and the purity of the final product will separate the higher-quality concentrates from the lower end offerings.

Ultimately, the consistency of the finished BHO product is the result of the techniques used during production coupled with the quality of the original cannabis used.

Is Butane Hash Oil Safe?

It’s an oft-asked question as many wonder whether BHO is safe for consumption as it is produced by using chemical solvents.

Where cannabis is regulated, it is required that all marijuana concentrates are tested for any residual traces of butane. As such, all products that are sold legally have been tested for their purity and will not exceed the legal limit for the presence of solvents.

So, while BHO is safe to consume, some of the safety concerns that have arisen are a result of the production methods used in its preparation. Indeed, in some instances, illegal operations in home setups that have insufficient ventilation have resulted in dangerous explosions, which can prove fatal for those involved.

Furthermore, the use of butane torches to heat dab rigs is a process that can prove dangerous if not in the right hands. As such, it is vital to exert caution when operating these tools, even if cannabis consumption is, by its very nature, a recreational activity enjoyed socially and in situations where caution is not necessarily on everyone’s mind.

Finally, BHO is typically a highly potent concentrate and should be approached with caution, even by experienced consumers. Novice cannabis users might be advised to start with a joint before enjoying this experience.BHO is intense and should be respected.

Indeed, the experience of dabbing a cannabis concentrate is more akin to that of psychedelics, and it can lead to intense effects that can prove overwhelming for newcomers. As such, it is a good idea to enjoy BHO in a comfortable and safe environment.

Ultimately, the world of cannabis is ever-evolving, and BHO seems to be finding its place in an ever-expanding and innovative marijuana marketplace.

Just remember, enjoy with caution!

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