Ice wax is one of the most flavorful, potent forms of cannabis concentrates that you can make without solvents. You won’t need the assistance of any explosive solvents like butane. Instead, to make this wax hashmakers use washing machines or buckets filled with ice and water to agitate trichomes. Then, the material is sifted through mesh bubble bags to separate essential oils from less desirable plant materials.
Making Quality Ice Wax
From the individual hashmaker to the cannabis used, a lot factors into how quality and the price of the end product when making ice wax.
To make quality ice wax, material from cannabis plants with sufficient trichome production is required. If you put garbage in, that’s all you’ll get in the end. So first you’ll need to hunt down some quality trim, popcorn nugs or whole plants for extraction.
Nikka T told High Times in 2013 that material that was immediately frozen after being hand-trimmed makes the finest hash. Even if you don’t have freshly-frozen, dried material can be used. You just need to make sure the material is properly remoistened by soaking up some of the water during agitation.
On top of the quality of your starting material, you also need to have control over a few other factors. The amount of agitation and the way you do it contribute to the quality of your end product. The water, temperatures, and sequence of different sized micron bags used all factor into the quality.
Another factor that contributes to the quality of ice wax is the amount of time material spends between bags. The faster the process is completed, the fewer terpenes and flavenoids lost. Nikka T believes that the outside layers containing all the flavor and aroma can be quickly washed away if agitated too much or soaked for too long. A hashmaker that has gotten their technique down can do things faster, leading to a more quality product in the end.
To get a full melt extract with the ice wax method of extraction, you’ll have to use several different micron-sized bubble bags. At-home starters should begin with 5-gallon bubble bags with 160, 120, 90 and 70-micron screens. The more screens you use, the purer the material will be when you get to passed the 120-micron bag. From there to the 70-micron bag is the sweet spot where you’ll get straight trichome heads with all of the properties of a full melt extract.
The final step to ensuring the quality of an ice-wax is drying. The way the final product is cured and stored will contribute to the color and aroma of the final product. There shouldn’t be any water left in the end material. You can chop the hash up and spread it out to help pieces dry faster. Any trapped water will mess with the smell and taste of the ice wax. Putting wet hash in a jar can lead to mold.
Final Hit: What Are Ice Wax Extracts?
After hashmakers complete the ice wax process, what they’re left with won’t look like oil at all. Instead, it looks like a fine, brown to light-yellow powder and smells like heaven. You’ll have to apply heat and some pressure to get it into a consistency that looks more like the typical BHO dab. A lot goes into making a full melt ice wax, so it is much less common and way more expensive than BHO.
Hashmakers are artists constantly finding new techniques to make products like ice wax even better. In fact, in 2017 many hashmakers started to use rosin presses at low temperatures to turn their ice waxes into lighter colored “live rosin” which looks more like a BHO or live resin extract. Certain names are so trusted that you can expect to pay $100 a gram or more for anything they’ve had a hand in.