What Is Hashish? Kief, Trichomes, & More

Published August 01, 2023
What Is Hashish? Kief, Trichomes, & More - Secret Nature

Everyone has heard of hash, but it’s much rarer to come across someone who has a thorough and deep understanding of what it is, where it comes from, and how to use it. In this guide, we will serve as your expert friend who knows everything about weed. Find out everything you need to know about hash below — whether you’re an ardent student of history or you just like to smoke herb.

What is hash?

Hash is short for “hashish,” an Arabic term that directly translates into “powdered cannabis leaves.” Rather than simply consisting of dried leaves from the cannabis plant crushed into powder, though, hashish generally consists only of the resins of cannabis flower, which are often rolled into balls.

Today hashish has a very different meaning and cultural context than it once did in ancient Morocco, India, or Afghanistan. We’ll look at both sides of the hash story from here on out — both the practical and the historical.

History of hashish

The practice of rolling cannabis resin into balls or otherwise concentrating it by hand is as old as the history of cannabis itself. To this day in India and Pakistan, it is commonplace to see small children rolling cannabis nugs between their hands, which eventually leads to enough resin buildup to make balls.

Cannabis use is normalized in many parts of Arabia and the Far East with everyone from old men to housewives to small children partaking regularly. Low-grade cannabis plants are abundant, but the overall undesirable quality of the buds makes formulation of hash something of a necessity.

It is very likely that use of hashish historically began in India and gradually made its way westward, reaching as far as the ancestral north African country of Morocco. That, at least, is the dispersion of culturally normative hashish use today, but it’s entirely possible that preparation of cannabis concentrates was an integral part of the culture of the Indo Aryans*, who originally brought culture eastward from a lost epicenter somewhere in the vicinity of the North Atlantic Ocean.

At a certain point, it appears cannabis use became more centralized in the Arabic regions, which is where hashish received its name. These days, it may be true that hashish simply means “cannabis powder,” but the name truly originates from hashishin, the legendary order from which we also receive the word “assassin.”

According to either legend that has become history or history that has been legend, initiates into this brutal order were led to the top of a mountain, where a sumptuous feast attended by temple prostitutes was laid under the stars. Great censers would be burning, exuding a strange, sickly sweet perfume throughout the environs. Inhaling the smoke, the initiate would be caught in a daze — a profound, mystical nightmare from which he would never emerge until either death or glory took him.

Today, hash has all but lost its association with mystical orders of permafried, mind-controlled serial killers. Smoke too much hash, though, and you’ll see just why those young initiates once lost hold of their senses.

* Some scholars, such as the author of the linked article, hold to a position that was once nearly unanimous in Western history and archaeology — namely, that the Indo Aryans originated in the east and migrated west. Both the oldest works of history and modern historical inquiry, however, portray a much different story of Indo Aryan migration.

What is hash made from?

Hash is composed of the trichomes that form on the outer extremities of cannabis flower surfaces during the flowering or maturation cycle. It is these trichomes that contain most of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids expressed by the plant, making them the key targets for both aroma and psychoactivity.

Most of the trichomes in hash have been burst during the rolling process, so rather than consisting of tiny, mushroom-shaped oil sacs, hash is a sticky jumble of assorted cannabis compounds. It takes on a brownish, resinous appearance and smells very strongly of weed.

What does hash look like?

Hash generally looks like a light-brown to almost-black viscous tar. Some forms of hash might be dustier, but this type of concentrate is usually quite resinous and could easily be mistaken for some other type of plant resin if it weren’t for the smell.

Even for those who aren’t all that familiar with the plant, a single whiff of a ball of hash will immediately reveal the sticky substance’s origin. While not quite as odoriferous as the flowers themselves, the hash made from cannabis nugs smells just like the plant from whence it came.

What types of hash are there?

Hash comes in a variety of different forms. There are also kinds of cannabis concentrate commonly called hash that aren’t hash at all. Let’s examine a few examples below:


Kief isn’t hash. It’s the precursor substance from which hash is often made.

In a nutshell, kief is what comes off of cannabis when you grind it. Most grinders have “kief collectors:” bottom chambers that are designed to collect and store kief.

You can take kief in your fingers and roll it together to make a rudimentary kind of hash. Depending on the grade of kief, though, there might still be a lot of plant material mixed in with the trichomes, resulting in a dry substance that doesn’t stick together well.

One of the best uses of kief is topping off bowls of flower in bongs or pipes. One of the worst uses is substituting kief for hash.

Hand-rolled hash

Hand-rolled hash is the most common form of hashish the world over, and it’s also the oldest. These days, most hash producers in the first world won’t use the hand-rolled method for obvious contamination reasons, but it’s a fact that much of the hash smoked in India and the Middle East is infused with hand oils as well as cannabis oils.

Bubble hash

Since the cannabis renaissance of the 1960s and ‘70s, newer forms of hash creation have reigned supreme — methods that don’t involve holding cannabis buds in your hands and rolling them around. Bubble hash is one of the most popular DIY methods, and even in commercial cannabis productions, it’s one of the main ways of making hash.

How do you make bubble hash?

Bubble hash involves removing cannabis trichomes through filtered bags. Cannabis is placed inside of a filter bag, and then it is combined with ice and cold water. The chilled cannabis buds are then agitated, and the trichomes fall through the filter bag.

Other, undesirable components of cannabis are left behind. The bag is then removed from the water, and the resulting concentrate is further filtered and then dried. What is left behind is a highly purified form of cannabis concentrate consisting almost solely of relatively undamaged trichomes — AKA bubble hash.

Hash rosin

Hash rosin has become the new gold standard, dethroning the reigning champion, bubble hash. The apparatus used to make hash rosin can be complex, but the concept is exceedingly simple — cannabis buds are heated and subjected to pressure, causing a highly purified form of concentrate oil to accumulate.

How do you make hash rosin?

In most cases, heated presses are used to make hash rosin. Waste plant material is discarded in a separate chamber while rosin is collected on a silicone or parchment paper mat. It’s possible to make hash rosin at home with simple household tools, but most hobbyists invest in rosin machines, which cost around $1,000 to $3,000 for non-commercial devices.

What is the difference between hash and dabs?

The term “dabs” usually refers to a type of cannabis concentrate made by removing trichomes from cannabis using a solvent such as butane or CO2. Compared to hash, dabs are usually far more purified, making it possible to vaporize dabs without leaving behind any residual crud or blackening.

Some forms of hash, though, including hash rosin, rival dabs in regards to texture and purity. You can usually dab hash rosin using a normal dab rig without any harsh throat hit or residue.

How do you use hashish?

There are quite a few ways to use hash, ranging from the highly primitive and rudimentary to the extremely high-tech and modern. We’ll detail a few options below:

Smoking hash pipes

Some dry pipes are specifically designed for smoking hash. They’re smaller than cannabis flower pipes, and they’re generally equipped with screens to prevent melted hash from escaping inside the pipe. Just ask for a hash pipe at your local smoke shop, or buy a hash pipe online.

Smoking hash with water pipes or hookahs

One of the most traditional ways to smoke hash is in a hookah. To do so, you’ll need quite a lot of hashish along with a coal and everything else involved in a traditional hookah setup. Alternatively, you can mix hash with shisha, but remember that hookah shisha contains nicotine.

Adding hash to bowls

You can easily add hash to the top of a bong or pipe bowl. Simply top the flower in your bowl with hash, and smoke the bowl as you usually would. The result is a tastier and more-potent high.

Hash on joints

If your hash is sticky and viscous enough, you can slather it on the outside of a joint. Some users simply lay hash down in a line with a dab pick or similar substance, but others will coat the entire joint with hash. How far you go is up to you with this ingenious hash use method.

Can you dab hash?

Yes, it is technically possible to dab hash, but dabbing low-grade hash will result in a smoky hit and may make your rig dirty. High grades of hash, like hash rosin, are basically indistinguishable from CO2 or BHO dabs. Just make sure your hash is high-grade and ultra-purified before you try putting it on your dab pick.

Can hashish contain other cannabinoids?

Yes, hashish can contain other dominant cannabinoids aside from THC. CBD hash and even CBG hash have become very popular online in the last few years, and some companies even offer delta 8 or THCA hash online.

Just remember that when it comes to synthesized cannabinoids like delta 8, there’s no genuine way to make hash. So, if you want an all-natural yet intoxicating experience, stick to real hash made with cannabis buds that naturally contain high concentrations of THCA.

Summary: Should I try hash?

If you are a cannabis user who has never tried hash, it’s something you should sample at least once. There’s something unique about the hash experience, and these days, certain types of hashish rival even the best dabs in terms of purity and potency.

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