Harvesting for Hash With Ras Kaya Paul
Pacific North West Roots (PNW Roots) was founded back in the 2010 medical market days by Ras Kaya Paul, Tory Madsen, Phil Vandever, and Jason Wilcox. Today, the beloved brand is built on a rare trifecta of regenerative agricultural methods, seed breeding, and high-quality hash. While their award-winning genetics are sought-after nationwide, the hash is really what PNW Roots is known for here around the good ‘ole PNW region. Specifically, their six-star hash.
I recently visited the five-acre farm in Tahuya, Washington—home to a variety of unique growing environments including outdoor fields, primitive and light-assisted greenhouses, and indoor rooms powered by LEDs and living soil beds, plus a hash lab that was actually built in-house—to speak with co-founder Ras Kaya about how the “Roots Crew” harvests for six-star.
The Basics of Six-Star Hash
From bubble hash to rosin carts, full melt, and even THC-infused topicals, there are various products that can be made using solventless extraction methods. Let’s get down to the basics of what six-star is and how it differs from other solventless products on the market.
For those who may not know, what is six-star hash, exactly?
Most people out there are making rosin, which means they’re taking hash at different grades, putting it into another filter, and pressing it. That process is what makes rosin. Six-star hash is pre-rosin, but it’s dabable already. Most hash is not dabable until you rosin it, but we’re making hash that is dabable without being rosin—that’s the difference in what six-star is.
There’s a star rating system for hash. Your one-star is going to be your “No Melt, Nebraska,” two-star is kind of the same thing, three and four-star are good for pressing into rosin. Five-star is going to melt, it’s going to dab, but it’s going to leave a lot or at least some char residue in the banger. When dabbing six-star, it’s going to fully melt like water and there’s going to be only a very slight bit of the waxy residue left in your banger.
Is there a difference in the smoking experience when it comes to a six-star hash vs a rosin vs a non-solventless product?
I find six-star to have a more rounded effect. It’s gonna get you a little more stoned and that stone will last longer. Think of it this way: if you’re dabbing BHO, it’s like a shot of espresso, right? You’re gonna sweat, you get hot, and you’re up and you’re down quickly. Rosin is still like a shot of espresso, but you’re feeling it in a bit more balanced way. It’s a full-body experience rather than that quick jolt to the brain. Six-star hash is just that at its peak level—it’s really the pinnacle of hash and what we’re doing.
You actually just won Melting of the Heads in Bellingham, Washington with your six-star—can you tell me a bit about that win and what it meant to you?
It was actually a really incredible experience. We took first and second place in the Melts category, for Pink Lemonade and Hamma Hamma respectively. When they revealed the scorecards, they were both very close to each other, but head and shoulders above all the other entrants and competitors. In politics, they call that getting a mandate, so I think we have a mandate on our hash and hash-making process!
In addition to those two recent award winners, are there any other strains of six-star hash you would say you’re known for? Do you have a personal favorite?
We’ve actually got quite a few we’re known for. Kaya’s Koffee is a classic we’ve been doing for almost a decade. The Strawberry Yogurt is another strain that makes fantastic six-star, but that one takes a bit of a different process to get there. GMO is also always a super high-yielder of six-star for us. Pretty much all of the hashers that we run, we also make six-star out of.
Right now, my personal favorite is the Hamma Hamma. It’s got this puppy dog breath and lemony gas on the nose that translates into a watermelon flavor on the tongue on the exhale. I just can’t get enough of it. The effects are really sedative and medicating. It calms my nerves, and I love that effect.
Producing Six-Star Hash at PNW Roots
Now that we’ve simplified six-star, let’s take a look at what goes into harvesting for six-star on the farm at PNW Roots.
How do you determine which genetics are best for six-star?
Indoor material seems to create a cleaner six-star than outdoor material. Outdoor material can sometimes collect dust, which will make specs in your hash. I see a lot of people posting six-star these days that’s got specs in it—that’s pretty much dust and contaminants, so I wouldn’t be flexing that.
That being said, if you think of resin on one end of the spectrum being chalk and on the other of the spectrum being grease, you want something that is somewhat in the middle. You need that chalkiness, that structure, but you also want the oil and the grease, or it’s just no good. If it leans more towards grease, it’s not going to make the yields and it’s also probably not going to want to go through a sieve. On the other hand, if it’s too chalky, there’s just no appeal to it because it’s not going to have the terps and the meltiness. Something kind of towards the middle of that spectrum is what we’re really looking for to make six-star.
Is there anything special you do for flower that you know is going to six-star hash during the growing, harvesting, and trimming processes?
Not really, we pretty much treat it all the same. There’s not necessarily one thing that we do—it’s the culmination of all the little steps we take that makes the hash the quality that it is. I’d say that we’re equally careful in those steps whether we’re making rosin or six-star. The differentiation is really more in the washing process because the prep process for us is kind of one and the same.
So, what is that unique washing process for six-star?
We get everything cleaned and prepped and get our ice made the day before. In the morning, we come in and prep the Hashtek machine…get the water really icy and get the machine cold. Then we introduce the fresh frozen material, give it a good soak to let it get saturated, and it’s time to start the washer!
Generally, and especially when we’re making six-star, we’re going to use a different set of bags. If I’m doing a pheno hunt and I’m washing, I’m going to use all of the bags, especially the first couple of washes, so I can really see where the different rosin heads are coming out. Some cultivars will be heavy on the 120 side, some will be more toward the 40U. The head size is going to be different in the different cultivars, and I really want to see where that is. So I’m gonna look at that, and then once I’ve determined that, then we can adjust the bags from there. For the six-star, we’re using a lot of filters, so a 220 bag, a 190, a 160, a 120…these all upper filters, before we get to the 90U bag, which is where we’re taking that first, sometimes second pull from—that is what we’re using for the six-star.
After it’s washed, how is the product cured, packaged, and stored?
Once the product comes out of the bags, we do a quick little wicking process and scoop that patty into a sieve, which is cold and clean. Then we’re sieving that hash out into a very thin layer onto cookie sheets that have some parchment on them. Those are getting stacked on racks and being left in a climate-controlled room, which is as low as we can get the humidity. It gets down to about 40% relative humidity and we try to keep the temperatures at about 40 degrees. That will sit in there for about 10 days, maybe 14, depending on how quickly it dries. We dont use freeze driers, which is the big difference. Then we do some melt tests, package it up, and get it ready for the market.
As we’re storing it, we keep it in the freezer once it’s packaged. I would always recommend you keep your hash and your rosin in the freezer for long-term storage. Short term, it can go in the refrigerator. Generally, if I take a gram of six-star out, I’m just gonna go ahead and let it melt and enjoy it as quickly as possible. I’m not going to move it in and out or back and forth from the freezer once I’ve got it out.
How has the Hashtek machine transformed your washing process for six-star?
Everybody knows hand washing—there’s a certain beauty and a certain art to it. But it’s also incredibly physically taxing. The Hashtek really marries the machine to the handwashing, in the sense that you’re able to do these real gentle agitations that mimic handwashing. Our production levels have really increased while still keeping the quality there. What more do you want, right? Productivity and quality in one machine. That’s hitting the mark. We’re loading about 12,000 grams in for each wash. It’s also super easy to clean and easy to operate. We’ve actually been able to go from having two people in the lab down to one and increased our efficiencies.
The customer service we’ve gotten from the Hashtek guys has also been spot-on. You can tell we’ve got somebody on our side that’s really invested in and understands what we’re doing. This is a purpose-built machine so you’re going to get that purpose-built support behind it, which is really crucial in our industry.
Kaya’s Six Tips for Producing Stellar Six-Star Hash
Well, there you have it—the ins and outs of harvesting for and washing six-star hash at PNW Roots! I know that was a ton of info, so I’ve taken all of Kaya’s insights and boiled them down to six simple tips for producing stellar six-star:
- Make sure you’re using clean, high-quality starting material free of any dust or contaminants.
- Flash freeze your starting material as soon as it’s harvested.
- Prep your Hashtek to get the water and machine icy cold before washing.
- Be sure to soak your fresh frozen starting material to let it get saturated in the ice water before starting your wash.
- Cure and package the product in a humidity and temperature-controlled room.
- Store the final product in the freezer until it is ready to be stored or consumed.
With experience working in both the Colorado and Washington cannabis industries, PNW Roots is really the only brand I’ve seen consistently dropping six-star hash on the recreational market. This stuff is seriously fire—don’t miss the chance to take a full-melt flag if you ever come across some.
My personal favorite is the Pink Lemonade, with flavors of tart citrus peel and ripe berries on the exhale and an aroma that’ll take you back to walking past the sidewalk lemonade stand as a child. The high comes on almost instantaneously, changing your mindset and culminating with a super spacey effect that makes colors and sounds feel more vibrant. It sure does earn that six-star rating. ★
Article and photos by Katherine Wolf. Katherine is a cannabis writer, branding specialist, and the Chief Marketing & Operations Officer of Malek’s Premium Cannabis, a small-batch Colorado cultivator focused on flavor-first genetics.