The golden, explodey menace of hash oil

Wired News has a feature on butane hash oil, a highly combustible form of marijuana that is increasingly produced inside the US. Just last week, FEMA posted an odd alert in its emergency services bulletin: “Hash Oil Explosions Increasing Across US,” along with the "more quotidian warnings of cyber terrorism and industrial vapor clouds." Why: more explosions at apartments and hotel rooms involving “a process using butane to extract and concentrate compounds from marijuana."


  1. Headline is inflammatory (ha!), and incorrect to boot. Hash oil is not a “highly combustible form of marijuana.” The process to make it is dangerous and explodey. The finished product, not so much.

        1. Ice-o-lator only extracts the trichomes, a lot of oil is left behind in the plant matter, which can be extracted with butane and then mixed with the trichomes for a “full-melt”-experience. Don’t knock what you now nothing of! :)

        1. Not helpful. I’m aware that there are idiots somewhere on the internet saying just about any stupid thing there is to be said. I’m wondering whether any credible parties in the debate are seriously making this argument.

          Are there?

          1. Here is a balaced summary of the current status of the research:
            I dont think any scientist doing cancer-resarch would say that “hash oil cures cancer, period”, but at the same time nobody would deny the fact that it’s cannabis-research is getting bigger and bigger, especially in regard to cancer. Do you think this would be the case if the substance was completely without merit? Of course more research and double-blind trials are required to make scientific claims, but the initial findings look promising. Also have look here in regard to your question As you can see there is a lot of scientific interest in this, but resarching a controlled substance which normal people regard as just another drug, is going to be very hard. Another example of this is MDMA-resarch which has shown grest results in the treatment of PTSD.

          2. I’m not arguing that there are no therapeutic effects, I was just under the impression that the therapeutic effects of cannabis for cancer patients mostly have to do with increasing appetite, pain relief, and essentially distraction from how terrible chemo is.  I didn’t think there was anyone seriously arguing that cannabis causes remission of tumors.

            Cannabis is already a suspiciously useful plant and “cures cancer” does rather strain credulity.  (Incidentally, the existence of such a useful plant is one of the things that occasionally makes me think there might be such a thing as God after all.)

            I very much support research on clinical uses for any and all controlled substances. Thanks for the links!

    1. You can sell the buds as-is for people to smoke, but nobody wants to buy leaves any more.  Making hash out of them lets you get valuable products out of what would otherwise be leftovers.  If you were growing your own, you could still use them for making brownies and such, but the problem is doing it at commercial scale.

  2. I read about this years ago. The :herbal material is packed into a vertical tube, liquid butane is squirted in a small hole at the top and that liquid and whatever it dissolves drips out the bottom where the butane gets warm enough to evaporate. Whole cylinders (3oz?) of butane which are available for refillable lighters are used (don’t know how many) and I can see how a layer of that heavy gas could build up on the floor of an enclosed space.’

    1. A few years back I was at a hot spring in northern California, and there were a couple of guys making butane hash oil.  After squeezing the butane solution out of their mixer, they put it in metal bowls and floated them in the hot spring to evaporate the butane off.  No flame was involved, the spring water was hot enough to do the job, and it was outside where gas wouldn’t build up.

  3. What’s sad here is that there are a growing number of stoner that know more about super solvents and the chemistry behind it than 90% of college grads

    1. I’m a physics person, and weed (and BHO extracts) have gotten me into the realms of chemistry and biochem. Yes, this is so correct it’s stupid. I’ve researched and developed methods for this and it’s a pretty enjoyable hobby. How much purity can be attained? How efficient can you make batch processing? It’s so much healthier for you if you do it right and it’s very relaxing to engage in the chemistry. As long as you take appropriate precautions, like doing this outside and using a known source of clean butane as well as an ethanol purge. Safety safety safety.

      1. I was watching a DVD yesterday, where the presenter was suggesting we use butane from a cigar store, rather than the type you could purchase at a hardware store, because the former burned cleaner, with fewer impurities and this would keep our torches cleaner.  I hadn’t realized there was much of a difference in butane quality.  Is this the type of butane you’re talking about?

          1. I drive to Brooklyn to get artisanal butane, extracted from the Gowanus Canal by local crafters in hand-built boats.

          2. I was asking as an artist who uses a high BTU micro-torch, and thought the little canisters I bought at Ace Hardware were all that was available.  I’m unaware of the larger market of butane or its uses.

          3. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, a lot of Asian grocery stores sell single-burner cooking stoves that run on cans of butane.  I don’t know how much of the market is for cooking outdoors, or for cooking on woks because electric stoves just aren’t hot enough, but you can buy large quantities of the cans just like you can buy lots of propane for BBQ stoves.

        1. “the presenter was suggesting we use butane from a cigar store, rather than the type you could purchase at a hardware store, because the former burned cleaner, with fewer impurities and this would keep our torches cleaner”

          I would imagine welding shops have much more interest in a clean, adulterant-free burn than anything intended for cigarette lighters and consumer use.

          1. I use a high BTU micro torch in jewelry-making, both for the economy of price, and portablility.  Didn’t want to work with gas tanks down in the basement. 

      2. I expect you are like the hobbyist moonshiners nowadays, who attempt to produce the purest and/or tastiest whiskey.  Unfortunately, the explosions are produced by ignorant manufacturers who are simply trying to create a high-value product from low-value brick weed.  These are the people who don’t understand that butane is explosive even at 1.9% concentration in air.  It is (yet another) argument for legalization.  If there were no profit incentive, the ignorant money-grubbers would stay out of it, and the connoisseurs, who also understand the safety requirements, would be the only ones left making BHO. And the world would be a better place.

        1. “It is (yet another) argument for legalization.  If there were no profit incentive, the ignorant money-grubbers would stay out of it..”

          Doubt it.  The ignorant money grubbers would soon be large scale industrial-ag companies instead of the small scale family farmers they are now.

    2. “there are a growing number of stoner that know more”

      I find this a specious claim. Not that people who use cannabis can’t know more, but ~stoners~.

      Have you ever come across one of those “getting high tweaks” forums? Unghhhh.

  4. I actually smoked hash oil today for the first time.  It’s way too much trouble, and the guy that smoked me out has the worst smoker’s cough I’ve ever heard.  Give me a vaporizer any day.  The fact that you’re basically free-basing pot makes the act a little embarrassing.  

    1. It is literally the same thing as vaporizing. It’s not worth dicking with in small quantities but you can do larger batches and break it up into small vials for dosing. It’s definitely something for the regular user. But the results will be the same as vaporizing, you just end up being more efficient with BHO. Vaporizing never gets everything on your weed and it becomes tedious always trying to judge when you consider it to be spent.

  5. Hash Oil is Awesome!  Its something you can do with the trimmings and leaves after harvest.  Make sure to do it outdoors and downwind of anything flammable.  

  6. Just great… 
    First, I have to jump through hoops to purchase decent decongestants – thanks to meth-heads. 
    Now, I will probably have to go through the same process to purchase butane for my soldering iron once knee-jerk politicians “take action” to protect ‘merica’s youth.

  7. There’s little advantage to this from regular smoking except that you can dose harder and faster (which is still doable with smoking, just harsher) and it’s ultimately healthier for you. I really doubt you’re going to have to worry about this as BHO extracts have been a thing since at least the 90s.

  8. What kind of idiot would use butane for this when refluxing in isopropyl alcohol should work perfectly well without the explosion risk? 

    Not that I would know anything about that subject, of course.

    1. Agreed. Alcohol extraction works. It takes a little more time, but is a safe method (provided you use precautions when evaporating). Couple that with a water extraction, and you have a complete product, as some of the components are water-soluble, and the second extraction is not truly needed to make a safe, usable product, and without will leave a material that is still smoke-able and has some potency to it, but more like “red bud” (used to be).

      (Kept in layman’s terms, for all to understand)

      (Not necessarily to quote) – Not that I would know anything about the subject…

  9. Aw, fuck!  This is why tonight when I went to fucking Walmart to get a fucking butane refill canister for my fucking butane lighter that I use to light my fucking scented candles and I had to stand and wait for the fucking Walmart clerk to approve my fucking purchase that I was over 18.  Fuck you stoners.

    1. One of the many reasons I don’t shop at Walmart is that they refused to sell me any Nyquil two days BEFORE that stupid license check went into effect. They had already moved things behind the counter, and had begun processing driver’s licenses for purchase. I tried using Military ID, they said no way. So I gave them my driver’s license, and they refused because it was out of state. I asked them what they would do if someone without a license at all wanted some. They wouldn’t sell it. So yeah, FY,RPI!

  10. I wonder if this “extraction” was the real reason behind the explosion in Wichita this last week?

    Have fun with the sidebar links to past articles. You may remember the time we were briefly famous for the couple having sex in a dumpster in 2009.

  11. it was only done by a few people and it was very underground.

    Wow, I had no idea how “cutting edge” my stoner friend was in high school when he accidentally set his parent’s kitchen table on fire.  I remember he hid the burn mark from the hash oil by moving a napkin holder or something over it.  It was like a Leave It To Beaver episode… on weed.

    Last I heard, he’s now a teacher. ^_^

  12. smoking chess: take a toke for each point your lost piece is worth when it is taken. (a’la drinking chess)

    after much research: smoking chess becomes consistently unplayable early into the middle game when using bho as opposed to hash, or just a bowl of grass.

  13. Supercritical fluid extraction is perfectly safe as long as you don’t expose the evaporate to a flame, spark, or any temp above 550 F.
    The resulting product burns clean, does not contain the carbon compounds from burning leaf debris associated normal smoking methods, and is even cleaner than iceolator methods.In other words, do it outside and away from an open flame…. 

  14. Why is it becoming a fad?

    Hash oil has been around for a long, long time, but the recent spike in hash oil use is related to the e-cigarette and similar vapor smoking equipment designed for tobacco use in common and public areas.

    It becomes sheik again because a person can light up an e-cig in clubs or virtually anywhere and no one can tell without an invasive inspection that the person is getting high or just smoking tobacco oil.

    The extraction process for the oil is simple and not dangerous, despite what some “officials” might tell you.

    Place herb in a metal grinder that has a screened storage area, grind up the herb and then place that grinder in the freezer for a few hours, remove from freezer and shake it up, occasionally tapping the grinder to collect the resin in the screened storage area of the grinder. Add the resin to your tobacco oil and smoke the vapor anywhere you wish.

    There are plenty of videos online that demonstrate this very process far better than I could explain it, but you should now have a better idea of what is involved. Oh, yeah, that resin is solvent in butane, alcohol, gum spirits, mineral oil, etc.

    The only reason why a story that suggests the oil is explosive or dangerous to make, is because somebody wants to scarev people into thinking this stuff is super deadly.

    It is just weed, boys and girls, just weed. Our grannys used to smoke weed, her granny used to smoke weed, etc.

      1. Yes, yes, chic would have been the proper word, but most readers try to pronounce that as chick, I went with phonetics instead, my bad. As for your granny, she or her granny may not have smoked weed as far as you KNOW, but weed was there and you weren’t. What is your granny’s name, maybe I know her.

        1. My grandmothers were both born in the mid-1890s.  And I doubt that they would have been in your social circle.

    1. What’s dangerous is using solvents in enclosed places that can lead to pooling of vapors that then find an ignition source (like a pilot light). BOOM!

      1. Solvents are not needed to extract the resin, nor are they needed to add the resin to any vapor oils commonly used in those devices.

        What is dangerous is trying to suggest that there are chemical dangers when there are none, you lose credibility. Much like when they bring out the hazmat suits when they discover some sad sack using the single step meth production in a soda bottle. We all kind of laugh at that one in chemistry class.

        1. There are other ways to extract resin, but the Butane Hash Oil method uses (surprise!) butane as a solvent to do it.  It may not be your thing, but it’s a thing. 

          And the dangers aren’t because of the specific chemistry, they’re because some people are too dumb to be allowed near fire.  And some of those dumb people are using butane, which evaporates and spreads around the room even though the aforementioned dumb people didn’t know that it was happening or that there was fire around.  The explosions aren’t a risk with the finished product, just the manufacturing process.

          Please don’t go saying things about losing credibility when you’re wrong about a safety risk.  Houses blow up often enough from meth production that cops always blame it (even if the real cause was a gas leak.)  People used to set themselves on fire freebasing.  People do flammable and explodey things with butane trying to make hash oil.  Doesn’t happen often, but it happens.

        2. Well maybe you and your chemistry lab partner could (when you are done kinda laughing) volunteer to clean up meth-maker’s houses for the police/fire HazMat teams? Since, you know, meth heads never leave their old meth making crap around from when they made it before they learned the single step method. And they never make meth in squats where other meth heads are doing who knows what with FSM only knows. And they never do stupid things with chemicals even though they probably didn’t hang out in chemistry class with you and your classmates. And they are all about safety. As for hash oil, my post only pointed out that people using solvents without safeguards can blow themselves up. Doesn’t matter if that solvent is needed or not, it is still getting used. Never said that hash was dangerous due to an explosion hazard.

  15. We responded to one of these calls last year. Guy was doing this in the bathroom of his apartment. Third degree burns and he blew the windows and doors out. Thankfully it was mostly “just” an explosion and no resulting fire.

  16. Hash is what stopped me from believing in scientific reductionism.   The prevailing “logic” is:

    1. THC is what gets you high,
    2. Making hash is about refining (processing) the THC out of the inactive organic material in the leaves.
    3. Because you smoke less inactive material, you save your lungs.
    4. Hash is better for you, right?

    Well all you have to do is try smoking hash, and the harsh chemical taste cuts through all that “logic”.  It’s clear this is much worse for the lungs than smoking leaves.

    After much recent research, it’s becoming clear that it’s not a single substance (THC) that gets you high but a whole spectrum of substances in the leaves that contribute to the drug’s effect.  But more importantly it’s becoming clear to me that most any processing to refine active ingredients is going to cause more harm than it helps.  Brown rice is healthier than white. 

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