One of the latest trends in bubble hash extraction is washing cannabis without the use of ice. This movement is being pioneered by hashmakers in Oregon, California and up in Canada.
The idea is that you don’t need ice – you just need ice cold water. Some will go further and claim that ice actually causes unnecessary friction and shearing forces that can lead to contamination of your hash rosin or melt. We have done a number of experiments making bubble hash without ice which have led to the following conclusions.
- Chillers are not always required– if you employ continous recirculation you can just put all your ice in the collection vessel rather than in the agitation tank. Our systems are designed to facilitate this, in particular with the false bottom we use in our collection vessels and the bag adapters used on the collection vessels.
- Cleanup is much easier – as you may have guessed dealing with biomass that isn’t 70% ice by weight makes thing much easier. Especially when operating in a regulatory environment with strict destruction procedures.
- Yields are similar – we did not notice a difference in yield when running iceless agitation, and in some instances yield went up.
- Quality appears to be similar – although not a true scientific study, we have not noticed a difference in quality of hash rosin extracted from iceless vs ice washing. We used a 1200x microscope to compare samples.
Keep the Ice in the Collection Tank
The easiest way to run an iceless setup is to simply put all the ice in your collection vessel (underneath the collection bags. And then continually recirculate you water while agitating. This is comparable to a river stream running a bed of ice. Within 5 minutes the water will reach freezing levels and will stay there until you run out of ice.
Continuous recirculation also brings the benefit of removing trichome heads from the agitation tank as soon as they are removed from the stalk. See our dedicated article on this topic for more information.
Economics of Bubble Hash Without Ice (Chiller vs Buying ICE)
When you think about it running a chiller is always going to be more efficient VS buying ice. When buying ice you are paying for someone to run a compressor, generate that ice and then deliver it to you. The cost of producing your own ice or cold glycol will always be lower in the long run (unless your ice supplier has a much lower cost for power).
The question becomes – what is the breakeven for buying a chiller VS purchasing ice. Or in other words how much do you have to process to justify the purchase of a chiller. There is also the risk of microbial contamination from 3rd party ice. Ice makers are notoriously unregulated and we have personally seen very dirty ice production facilities. Know where your ice comes from! Our friend Scott Walters at BIG concentrates gets a COA with every batch of ice he has delivered.
We have consultants that can help you answer this question. If you are interested in the economics of chillers please contact us for more info.