Butane-hash oil (BHO) is a type of cannabis concentrate that is made by extracting THC and terpenes from cannabis flowers or trim by using butane, pressure and heat.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the basics of BHO, such as how it’s made, how to use it and how to store it.
We’ll round up the article by explaining how to make shatter safely—the most popular cannabis extract of the highest purity.
What is BHO?
BHO is short for butane-hash oil, which is a cannabis concentrate that is produced through extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flowers and trim by using butane, heat and pressure.
BHO is sometimes also called butane-honey oil due to its color and consistency—after purging the butane from it, the oil turns a yellow-gold color, similar to honey.
BHO comes in various shapes and forms, as its consistency depends on several factors during the extraction process.
What are the different types of BHO?
There are several different types of BHO, and they are all unique when it comes to their THC contents, purging and extraction process. They are also different in consistency.
Depending on the heat, humidity and whipping, BHO has 7 different forms of consistency:
- Pull and Snap
Shatter is the hardest form of BHO. It resembles glass because it is transparent and breaks in a similar manner.
Shatter often has around 80% THC and you will need a dabbing rig to smoke it.
It always comes in solid form, meaning that you won’t just drop your dab and lose it like you would with certain other extracts.
On the downside, shatter can’t be smoked very easily because of its consistency and you’d have to have a dabbing rig or a vaporizer capable of reaching over 600℉.
Pull and Snap
Pull and Snap got its name from the sound it makes when being pulled apart. It is great for dabbing because of its consistency, and it is very easy to handle.
If you were to pull on a piece of shatter it would break in a very glass-like manner and you would have to apply heat to it in order to shape it and dab it.
Pull and Snap is much better suited for molding with your hands, as it won’t break and melt. You can easily shape it and place it on your nail or quartz banger, and just consume it through a dabbing rig.
Crumble is made by purging the oil at a low temperature for about 10-15 hours, depending on the amount—a rule of thumb is to purge 1 hour per gram of BHO. During this process, the oil will crumble up and become firm.
Since it crumbles easily, crumble is not good for manipulating with your hands.
Budder is the purest form of BHO. It usually has around 90% THC and has an average purity of 99%. It gets its name from the fact that its consistency is somewhat similar to dairy butter.
It‘s extremely hard to find good budder, as the extraction, purging and whipping process can take much longer than other BHO extracts. This is why budder tends to be rather expensive and is rarely available on the market.
Somewhat similar to budder, wax is a fan favorite among dabbers. It doesn’t crumble, but don’t hold it in your hands for too long. Wax is very common among cannabis users, and is perhaps the most common type of BHO you can see today.
Wax is more common than other types of extracts (except maybe shatter) because it is easy to work with. Sure, you’ll need a dab tool, but wax is not hard to manipulate when compared to sap or shatter, so it’s perfect when starting to experiment with BHO.
Sap gets its name after the tree sap, and just like it, it’s very sticky and runny. If you happen to drop a piece of sap it will stick to everything it touches, so make sure you don’t drop it on the floor as it will be next to impossible to remove any impurities afterwards.
BHO comes in oil form as well, although this type of extract is mostly seen already packed in cartridges. It is easy to come by and many licensed producers have their own versions of it, as it is easy to use in cartridge form and you also don’t have to worry about having pieces of the extract sticking to your smoking gear.
What is CO2 oil?
Cannabis oil can also be made with carbon-dioxide, which can serve as the extraction catalyst instead of butane. When cannabinoids are extracted and subsequently processed with carbon-dioxide, you get CO2 oil.
Scientific research hasn’t yet confirmed which one of these two types of oil is less harmful to the user, however it is known that they can both be somewhat harmful.
CO2 is cheaper than butane, which is one of the main reasons for using it to extract cannabinoids. And butane is much more dangerous to work with because of its explosive nature. CO2 is also less toxic to the user.
Cannabis community isn’t quite sold on either of these two types of catalysts, so it is possible that if cannabis technology keeps developing at the current pace, we’ll soon see another version of hash oil on the market.
BHO extraction is a very risky process. If you don’t have a background in chemistry, alchemy then you probably shouldn’t attempt this on your own. And no, binge watching Breaking Bad is not considered a “background in chemistry”.
In all seriousness, extracting butane-hash oil can be very, very dangerous.
Many people that tried to make butane-hash oil on their own ended up in hospital, due to the injuries that resulted from the process. BHO extraction is that serious, and I firmly believe it is a job that should definitely be left to the professionals.
Why is BHO extraction dangerous?
As its name indicates, BHO extraction uses butane as a catalyst to extract all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material.
Since butane is a flammable gas, and since part of the process involves working over a stove, the risk increases with larger amounts of oil as there is more butane to evaporate.
The gas takes liquid form in the tube during the extraction process, and then quickly evaporates over a stove when heat is applied to the mixture.
After it evaporates, butane quickly “falls on the floor” which means that due to its chemical attributes it is heavier than oxygen and sinks below. This is why making BHO indoors is dangerous, even with the use of several fans.
So, even if you were to make BHO on your own, I recommend you make small batches at first, just to mitigate risks.
However, make sure to evaporate butane outside.
The rest of the process can be done indoors.
If you decide to go through with this (I strongly recommend that you don’t), here are some basic things you will need to know before starting the whole extraction process.
How to make BHO
Before you go ahead and start making BHO on your own, please keep in mind that making BHO is illegal in Canada under the Cannabis Act, unless you are licensed by the government to do so.
That being said, here is what you will need:
- One 10-oz can of butane per 1-oz of marijuana
- One glass, or even better, stainless steel extraction tube
- One large Pyrex pot
- One medium Pyrex pot
- One electric cooker which you can take outside
- One razor blade or a scraper for cannabis extracts
- One container to hold the extracts
- A purging system (if you want it and can afford it)
The process of making BHO usually goes like this:
- Keep the weed in a fridge for up to a day. This will help with the extraction process as terpenes are easier to extract at lower temperatures.
- Place the electric cooker and your pots outside. Evaporation should be done outside, as butane is heavier than air, and will drop to the floor. One spark, one shorted fuse, or anything of that sort is enough to create havoc and blow the roof of your place.
- Cover the glass tube with a towel while holding it. The pressure within can make it explode in your hand, and harm you while you are blasting the tube with butane.
- Fill the bigger pot with water, and put the smaller one in it. The hot water in the outside pot is what will force the butane in the smaller pot to evaporate.
- Drain the tube over the medium pot. Once you start blasting the tube, liquid butane will start dripping out of the tube in a few seconds.
- Scrape the dish with a razor. This way you won’t miss any of it, and you can spread it on a piece of baking paper and prepare it for purging.
- Purge for as long as you need. Nothing wrong ever came from purging too long, except maybe that it was annoying, loud and power-consuming. If you don’t purge out all the butane you can end up poisoning the users.
- Put the end product in a fridge for up to 2 days. This is called winterization, a process which makes the dabs feel smoother, and removes plant waxes and lipids extracted by the butane which coats your lung, and irritates them.
One way to check if you’ve purged your BHO properly is to run a lighter over it. If you see flames appearing, you need to purge more.
Experienced oil-makers say that the trick is in purging for a long time, flipping the slab only once during the purging process, and winterizing the product afterwards.
23 things you need to know about BHO
Before you rush any decisions and shell out hundreds of dollars for a glass rig, a couple of nails and some butane-hash oil, you should know the following.
Why is BHO so strong?
BHO is an extract, also known as a cannabis concentrate. During extraction, cannabinoids and terpenes get concentrated in the oil, making the end product extremely potent. Most BHO products have THC contents of 50-90%.
Which is better—BHO or CO2?
The scientific community is divided on this question, although the general experience indicates that butane might be more toxic.
Can you vape BHO?
Some types of BHO can be vaped. Others, such as shatter are quite hard to vape.
Can you use BHO for edibles?
Butane is very unhealthy to consume orally, which means that there is a serious risk of poisoning from making edibles from BHO. Stick to dabbing.
Can you eat BHO raw?
No, if the butane hasn’t been completely and properly extracted you may end up poisoned if you eat it.
How tight should I pack BHO?
You don’t have to pack BHO extremely tight, especially when dabbing at higher temperatures. Keeping your nail at a lower temp. Lightly spreading the dab around your nail or banger is the best way to pack it.
Why does BHO taste like rubber?
BHO can taste like rubber if your dabbing temperature is too high. To avoid this, just turn the heat down a bit.
Can BHO cause cancer?
If you dab BHO at very high temperatures, you risk exposure to carcinogens—scientists from the Portland State University recently found that terpenes (when exposed to extreme heats of the dabbing rig) can release carcinogens such as benzene and methacrolein. To prevent this, stick to dabbing with temperatures lower than 300˚C—this may be hard to achieve with a conventional dabbing rig so try finding an electronic one which will allow you to control the temperature manually.
Can BHO cause seizures?
If it hasn’t been extracted properly, BHO can cause seizures. This is a particular risk for people with an existing seizure disorder who try fake BHO or spinoff versions of BHO sold in illegal stores.
Can BHO cause lung problems?
Just like inhaling any other combustible substance, smoking and dabbing cannabis extracts can cause lung problems. Winterizing your BHO can reduce coughing and lung issues. The higher the temperature you are dabbing with the more toxic substances are released.
Can BHO make you sick?
You can puke and feel extremely unwell after taking a dab of BHO, however there are no recorded cases of anyone getting seriously sick from it.
How does BHO extraction work?
BHO extraction works by applying heat and pressure to the plant material. The process involves packing the weed in a glass tube, blasting it with butane, boiling out the solvent and then purging and whipping the remainder of the product.
Why is BHO dangerous?
The process of extracting BHO from cannabis can be dangerous if not performed under the right conditions and without proper gear and supervision. Also, there are indications that the butane can cause health issues if not purged completely.
How much butane per oz of weed?
There is no exact number on how much cannabis you will need, as trim and flowers require different amounts of butane. In general, you will want to keep spraying butane in the glass tube until the liquid becomes clear enough that you can see through it.
What is BHO purging?
Purging BHO is the process of extracting remains of BHO from the oil by using a vacuum pump. If your BHO seems cloudy purge it some more. Test the slab on the paper with open flame to see if any butane remains.
When is my BHO done purging?
There is no way to know the exact time when your BHO is done purging. The best you can do is wait to completely remove all butane.
Basically, if its appearance doesn’t change a while and it stays in the form of a crystallized sponge then you’re done. Purging usually takes hours and sometimes even days.
There is a general formula on how long you should purge: 1 to 1.5 hours per gram of BHO.
So, if you plan on making 10 grams, you’ll need to purge for 10 to 15 hours.
How many coffee filters do I need for BHO?
Depending on how much solvent and materials you need to strain, you may need several coffee filters. It is always better to use several filters instead of just one as they will strain the remaining plant parts significantly better.
What is BHO whipping?
Whipping BHO, or mixing it by hand and nail makes it turn from a see-through oil to a more of a wax substance.
What is winterization?
Winterization is the process of separating the BHO from the plant waxes and lipids extracted by the butane by storing the BHO in a fridge. Winterized dabs feel a lot smoother and the cooling process helps with cough reduction.
Why is my BHO gooey?
Some types of BHO are gooey. If you want to change the consistency of your BHO you will need to do additional purging or winterize it for a while.
Why does BHO sugar up?
This is normal and it can happen sometimes depending on the temperature and humidity. To avoid your BHO sugaring up, keep it in a cold area such as a freezer.
Why does BHO turn to wax?
The same reason it sugars up—the humidity level may be playing a part in your oil turning to wax if the room is very arid.
Where should I store BHO?
The best place to store BHO is in your refrigerator or in a glass container. If it’s a slab you can keep it on a piece of unbleached parchment paper.