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Hashish, often known as hash, is a cannabis product composed of compressed or purified preparations of stalked resin glands, called trichomes. It contains the same active ingredients—such as THC and other cannabinoids—but in higher concentrations than unsifted buds or leaves.
Hashish may be solid or resinous depending on the preparation; pressed hashish is usually solid, whereas water-purified hashish—often called "bubble melt hash"—is often a paste-like substance with varying hardness and pliability, its color most commonly light to dark brown but varying toward yellow/tan, black or red. It is consumed by being heated in a pipe, hookah, bong, bubbler, vaporizer, hot knife (placed between the tips of two heated knife blades), smoked in joints, mixed with cannabis buds or tobacco, cooked in foods or smoked as bottle tokes ("brewing bots").
The name hashish comes from the Arabic word ( حشيش ) which means grass. It is believed that hashish originated in Morocco where the cannabis plant was widely available. However, hemp has been reported from a cultural setting on Taiwan as long ago as 10,000 BP., and "[t]he earliest human use of Cannabis appears to have occurred in the steppe regions of Central Asia or in China." Northern India has a long social tradition in the production of hashish, known locally as Charas, which is believed to be the same plant resin as was burned in the ceremonial "booz rooz" of ancient Persia. Cannabis indica grows wild almost everywhere on the Indian sub-continent, and special strains have been particularly cultivated for production of "ganja" and "hashish" particularly in West Bengal, Rajasthan and the Himalayas.
In 1596, Dutchman Jan Huyghen van Linschoten spent three pages on "Bangue" (Bhang) in his historic work documenting his journeys in the East, particularly mentioning the Egyptian Hashish. He said, "Bangue is likewise much used in Turkie and Egypt, and is made in three sorts, having also three severall names. The first by the Egyptians is called Assis (Hashish (Arab.)), which is the poulder of Hemp, or of Hemp leaves, which water made in paste or dough, wherof they eate five peeces, (each) as bigge as a Chesnut (and some more); such as eate it, for an hower after, are as if they were drunk, without sence, and as it were besides themselves, thinking they see many strange sights, wherein they are much pleased. This is used by the common people, because it is of a small price, and it is no wonder, that such vertue proceedeth from the Hempe, for that according to Galens opinion, Hempe execssively filleth the head."
Hashish is made from cannabinoid-rich glandular hairs known as trichomes, as well as varying amounts of cannabis flower and leaf fragments. The flowers of a mature female plant contain the most trichomes, though trichomes are also found on other parts of the plant. Certain strains of cannabis are cultivated specifically for their ability to produce large amounts of trichomes. The resin reservoirs of the trichomes, sometimes erroneously called pollen (vendors often use the euphemism "pollen catchers" to describe screened kief-grinders in order to skirt paraphernalia selling laws), are separated from the plant through various methods.
Mechanical separation methods use physical action to remove the trichomes from the plant, such as sieving through a screen by hand or in motorized tumblers. The resulting powder, referred to as "kief", is compressed with the aid of heat into blocks of hashish. Ice-water separation is another mechanical method of isolating trichomes.
Chemical separation methods generally use a solvent such as ethanol or hexane to dissolve the lipophilic desirable resin. Remaining plant materials are filtered out of the solution and sent to the compost. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving behind the desirable resins, called honey oil, "hash oil", or just "oil". Honey oil still contains waxes and essential oils and can be further purified by vacuum distillation to yield "red oil". The product of chemical separations is more commonly referred to as "honey oil." This oil is not really hashish, as the latter name covers trichomes that are extracted by sieving. This leaves most of the glands intact. Hash oil is a fluid as the containing trichomes have been broken.
Tiny pieces of leaf matter may be accidentally or even purposefully added; adulterants introduced when the hash is being produced will reduce the purity of the material and often resulting in green finished product. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of hashish comes in wide ranges from almost none to 70%, and that of hash oil from 30–90%.
Fresh hashish considered to be good quality is soft and pliable and becomes progressively harder and less potent over weeks and months as its THC content oxidizes to other cannabinoids and as essential oils evaporate. Hashish color usually reflects the methods of harvesting, manufacturing, and storage. Hash ranges from very light beige and tan to dark brown and black, usually depending on production methods. A green tinge indicates that the hashish contains a large amount of leaf material, but this is only relevant to improper production.
Another test of quality hashish, at least of the cold water screened hash and dry screened, is that the higher purity hash bubbles when it is heated and smoked. Hence the term 'bubble hash'. In water hash, the different micron screens separate different grades, and those of the highest purity bubble when held near heat.
A hash store in Kathmandu
- Charles Baudelaire, French author who wrote the 1860 book, Les paradis artificiels, about the state of being under the influence of opium and hashish
- Club des Hashischins, 1840s Parisian group dedicated to the exploration of drug-induced experiences, notably with hashish
- Fitz Hugh Ludlow, American author best known for his autobiographical book, The Hasheesh Eater (1857)
- Guide To The Different Types Of Hash From Around The World
- Merlin, M. D. 2003 "Archaeological evidence for the tradition of psychoactive plant use in the Old World," Economic Botany 57 (3): 295-323. Table 1 (re Taiwan) and p. 312 (quotation). http://link.springer.com/article/10.1663/0013-0001%282003%29057%5B0295:AEFTTO%5D2.0.CO%3B2. Rtvd 2014.02.22.
- Usaybia, Abu; Notes on Uyunu al-Anba fi Tabaquat al-Atibba, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965.
- Burnell, Arthur Coke & Tiele, P.A (1885). The voyage of John Huyghen van Linschoten to the East Indies. from the old English translation of 1598: the first book, containing his description of the East. London: The Hakluyt Society. pp. 115–117. Full text at Internet Archive. Chapter on Bangue.
- Inciardi, James A. (1992). The War on Drugs II. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company. p. 19. ISBN 1-55934-016-9.
- Hashish! by Robert Connell Clarke, ISBN 0-929349-05-9
- The Hasheesh Eater by Fitz Hugh Ludlow; first edition 1857
- Starkes, Michael. Marijuana Potency. Berkeley, California: And/Or Press, 1977. Chapter 6 "Extraction of THC and Preparation of Hash Oil" pp. 111–122. ISBN 0-915904-27-6.
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