Originally posted on 5th October 2017, Updated on 10th March 2020
BHO is one of the important acronyms in the cannabis world to get familiar with. Especially as it increases in popularity. BHO or Butane Hash Oil is great because its highly effective transformation as an accessible and potent cannabis product. From dabbing to using in vape pens, BHO goods are increasing in use across the industry. In fact, sales of concentrates doubled from 2015 - 2016 in just one state’s legal market. So, what is BHO, what is it used for, is BHO safe or how do you use it? We’ll answer those questions and more in this in-depth guide to Butane Hash Oiland its rise to fame.
What is BHO?
Butane Hash Oil is commonly referred to as BHO. BHO is cannabis extract that use butane as a solvent to isolate beneficial cannabinoids at concentrated levels. The oil that’s extracted is purged of the butane and can be used in a variety of ways. Like dabbing, vaping, or adding to traditional flower joints, blunts or bowls. But BHO goes beyond with its ability to transform into a number of other popular products. Shatter, wax, crumble and other concentrates are all examples of BHO.
So, what is BHO extraction and how is it unique? To extract oils using butane, an open or closed loop process is used by commercial processors. In an open loop system, cannabis flower is put into a tube and essentially ‘blasted’ with butane. The oil separates from the flower material and is filtered out the other end of the tube. The filtered product is then heated to purge the remaining butane and solidifies on a tray to become shatter...or manipulated into other versions, which will talk more about next.
Closed loop extraction has become popular due to the rise of safety concerns with the open loop method. The tube similarly used in the open loop process is put between two vessels and sealed properly. As the butane is pressurized throughout the system, the same oil is produced and purges itself too.
When we’re talking about extracting beneficial cannabinoids and compounds from cannabis, we’re referencing THC, CBD and terpenes that add to your high. So, at concentrated levels BHO products end up being quite more potent than you may be used to with traditional flower. Most BHO extracts and concentrates boost levels of up to 90% THC. To put that into comparison, standard buds typically range anywhere from 10 - 30%.
That means with BHO products, a little bit can go a long way. Which has added to its’ popularity among medical and recreational users alike. If you’re wondering what type of concentrate products are considered as BHO, we’ll cover that next.
BHO On The Shelves
There are a number of BHO’s that you see on the shelves of dispensaries and legal retailers, today. Here are the top types of BHO concentrates and what makes each different or unique.
When BHO is left to solidify on a tray after processing and purging, it turns into a brittle, glass-like and translucent product. When broken down to individual pieces for sale, the product is called ‘shatter’. Shatter is pliable and less sticky or gooey than other extract products.
Wax is one of the most popular BHO products as it’s versatile for use. The consistency is that of ear or candle wax and can be easily dabbed or put into a portable dab rig or vape pen.
Pull and snap
Pull and snap is similar to shatter but doesn’t ‘break’ the same way. Instead, the texture lends to a ‘pull and snap’, almost like taffy. Pull and snap is preferred by many consumers due to its ability to be like wax and shatter, in one.
Sap is another appropriately named BHO extract. The consistency is a sticky liquid like syrup or sap, and is easily added to joints, bowls or blunts to increase potency.
Crumble has a consistency similar to honeycombs and can ‘crumble’ to the touch. Its unique texture comes from purging the butane at low temperatures over an extended period of time.
Budder or badders have a creamy consistency, similar to that of butter. The smooth texture comes from BHO being whipped during the extraction and purging process.
Consuming BHO Products
With the rise of concentrates and extracts on the market has come a rise in popularity of ‘dabbing’ and vaping them too. These are the most common ways to consume BHO products but many can be added to bowls, joints or blunts packed with cannabis as a way to boost potency.
Dabbing consists of a dab rig, a dabbing tool and a torch. A dab rig is basically a water bong that has a specialized ‘nail’ where the bowl would typically be placed. The nail is heated with the torch, and your concentrate is dropped into the device for the flash vaporization of the BHO. From there, you inhale the vapor from the mouthpiece. E-nails are also gaining traction on the market which are electronic versions of a dab rig, and won’t require a torch as the nail automatically heats.
BHO products are also readily available in pre-packaged vape carts or pens, or can be added to portable dab rig or vape pens too. These devices use a coil that heats to turn the BHO extracts into vapor for inhaling.
Before you venture into making your own BHO products do be aware that the process can be dangerous due to the use of Butane. With that said, there are DIY methods to do so at home.
To DIY your BHO extracts, you’ll need N-Butane first. This type of butane is not readily available at retail stores but can be purchased from gas supply companies. You’ll also need marijuana buds for extraction, where you’ll use 10 oz of butane to 1 oz of flower material. Other materials to collect are an extraction tube, two Pyrex dishes (one medium, one large), a heating pad, razor blade for scraping, a container for your oil and a purging system if you prefer. With these supplies you can follow the next steps -
- Fill your tube with your flower that is properly dried. Pack down the material fully to prevent any air pockets from forming. Attach a mesh screen to the bottom of the tube and place it over the medium sized Pyrex dish. Put your butane over the top and begin blowing into the tube for up to a minute, you will see liquid oil drip into the pan below. Continue with as many butane cans as needed and let the oil drip until complete.
- Now you’ll remove the harmful butane from the liquid oil. Put your medium dish containing the oil into the larger Pyrex. Add hot water to the larger dish surrounding the medium dish. The butane will begin to evaporate over a span of 15-20 minutes. Continue adding hot water as necessary and be sure that your area is well-ventilated during this process.
- To purge your end-product you’ll need a heating pad on high heat that will be placed under the dish of oil for about an hour. You’ll watch as the butane bubbles to the top and evaporates from there. Continue this process until all bubbles are removed and your oil is clear of cloudiness.
- You can then scrape your material from the dish with your razor blade into the concentrate container of your choice. Store your BHO in a cool, dark place to retain potency and quality.
Is BHO safe?
When made properly, BHO is safe to consume. Of course when making BHO, the process can be quite unsafe itself. Butane is highly flammable and should be used cautiously in controlled conditions.
Do be aware that not all BHO is made the same way. You may want to steer clear of black market or underground BHO retailers as you won’t know the process that was used to purge the butane from the end-product. Consuming butane is consuming a harmful chemical and is overall deemed unsafe.
Lastly, in regards to safety keep in mind that BHO extracts and concentrates are highly potent. So limit or be cautious with your use as not to over-do your buzz.
So now that you know the answers. You can better apply the knowledge to your cannabis consumption or craft. With safety concerns being addressed with ample testing, popularity for the potent products will continue to increase. Whether you’re using BHO extracts, making them or cultivating crops for processing, you can now decipher what is what in the growing world of BHO.
Disclaimer: This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by externals sources. Be extremely careful about how you handle the butane and make your own butane hash oil.