Caras (hand rubbed)
Another preparation is caras (charas), made by carefully rubbing mature, female buds with the palms of the hands to extract the psychoactive resin. This technique is used in some areas of the Indian and Nepalese Himalayas, and since the 1980s in a minor way in other cannabis producing countries, including Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia and Bolivia; and in Africa, in Senegal, Durban, Transkei, Lesotho and Swaziland, but it is rarely exported. During the 1980s high-quality caras was also made in the Indian state of Kerala.
Each stick, patty or ball of resinous caras is somewhat distinct as it derives from either just one or, usually, only a few neighbouring plants. An experienced caras rubber may produce between 10 and 25 gms in a day. More can be made by vigorous rubbing, but then the quality is lower as the caras consists not only of resin but also other leaf and plant matter. The inclusion of leaf matter results in a certain amount of water in the caras, which quickly leads to white mould appearing; smoking this is harsh and injurious to the lungs. Making caras requires no equipment and can be made from just a few scattered local plants. In Nepal it is not uncommon to find weak caras, which has been mixed with a lot of leaf.
A much more common, global technique is to make hashish, which is done using sieves of various kinds to separate out the resin of the mature female buds from the other plant material, comprising the leaves, flowers and stalks. Hashish has many names in different cultures and languages and is also confusingly called caras in some hashish-producing countries, notably Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In North America it is far more common to use the term ‘hashish’ to refer to both sieved resin and also to caras, whereas in Europe consumers usually distinguish sieved hashish from hand-rubbed caras, which derives almost exclusively from the Indian and Nepalese Himalayas. For convenience, in this article the term ‘hashish’ is used to refer to sieved resin, while the term ‘caras’ is used to refer to hand rubbed resin.
Another difference between hashish and caras is that caras is hand rubbed from individual plants, while hashish is sieved resin derived from a collection of many plants. Up to a kilo of hashish can be made by one person in a day by sieving methods, which is far more than can be produced by hand rubbing. Sieving and pressing hashish requires some equipment and is used for making much larger quantities of resin. Hashish production is and has always been confined almost exclusively to Muslim countries.
Before smoking cannabis became popular, after the introduction of tobacco to many countries by the Portuguese in the late 16th century, hashish was eaten and not smoked.
A great aid to understanding the details of the production of hashish is to explore the magnificent photographic compendia by Laurence Cherniak (1979; 1982; 2007) and Suomi La Valle (1984). The book Hashish! by Robert Clarke (1998), contains the most detailed description of hashish production published to date. Sumach (2016) also has useful information on hashish manufacture and various preparations for curing gāñjā.
Historical hashish cultures
Historically, cannabis as an inebriant—in distinction from use as a medicine—first appears in the Muslim world in the 11th century, when the Seljuks conquered Baghdad (Nahas 1982:815). For several centuries, the main hashish producing regions in the world have all been in Muslim countries: in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Eastern Turkestan (in Yarkand, Shinjiang Province, China), and also Morocco, but only since the 1960s.
However, it remains unclear whether or not the early references to cannabis being used as an inebriant in those countries refer to herbal cannabis or to the resin (as ‘hashish’), as historically the term ‘hashish’ also referred in the Muslim world to herbal cannabis in general. No one knows when hashish was first made with sieving techniques. There are claims in both Lebanon and Afghanistan that the technique was invented there (Clarke 1998:72).
Since the 1960s high-quality hashish has been renowned in the mountainous places Mazar-i-Sharif and Balkh (Afghanistan), Chitral (Pakistan), Maalbek in the Bekaa Valley (Lebanon) and Ketama (Morocco). A small amount of very high-quality hashish has for many centuries been made also in northern Iran, in the area bordering Turkmenistan. Egypt has a long, documented history of cannabis culture dating back to the 13th century, when it was introduced there by Qalandar and Haidarī Sūfīs. However, very little hashish has ever been made in Egypt (a small amount is still made in Sinai); the bulk of it was always imported, mostly from either Turkey, or Lebanon/Syria, a huge trade that continued at least until the mid-1980s (Ram 2020:20–24; 118).
Hashish was also made in quantity around Bukhara and Samarkand in Uzbekistan before production largely shifted from there to Yarkand (in East Turkestan/Shinjiang, in south-west China) and Kashmir in the late 1800s (Clarke 1998:45). Several travellers have told me that excellent hashish is still being made in the former Soviet republic of Georgia; it is apparently the best available in Russia.
There is also a history of hashish production in Bangla Desh and, until the advent of communism in Eastern Europe in the 20th century, in the Balkans: in Macedonia and (former) Yugoslavia. This seems to be almost certainly due (again!) to Qalandar Sūfīs, who had a significant presence in the Balkans from the 14th–15th centuries onwards.
From the early 20th century until the 1960s Lebanon and Afghanistan were the world’s largest manufactures of hashish. Production in Lebanon increased greatly around 1905 to supply Egypt, a trade that amounted to fifty or sixty tons annually by the 1930s (Ram 2020:38). Since the late 1970s Morocco has been the world’s largest producer. Very recently, production and exports have slightly increased in Algeria. Since the 1970s, entrepreneurs have made sieved hashish in countries that had no prior history of production.
Hashish in India
From the 1800s until 1934, when the Chinese government outlawed hashish production, Yarkand (in China) was the main supplier of hashish to India; it was considered to be the best quality. In 1923, nearly fifty-four tons of hashish passed through the government warehouse in Leh, in the Indian, Himalayan state of Ladakh; and that does not include smuggled hashish or hashish entering India via the other main trade route, which passed through Chitral in the northern mountains of Pakistan.
In India, hashish is made in the Muslim regions of the states of Kashmir (where it is called gard, ‘dust’; a small amount of caras is also made in Kashmir), in Bihar, in the lower hills of eastern Uttar Pradesh (bordering Nepal), and in Rajasthan. (There may be other states in India where hashish is produced, but I have never encountered it.) Production is only significant in Kashmir. The hashish produced in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan is only for local consumption.
Hashish manufacturing processes
The aim in both sieving and rubbing is to separate mature resin glands from the small leaves in the female buds. Whether by sieving or rubbing, only around half of the THC-filled glands are actually collected from the plant (Clarke 1998:62–76). In general, the higher the altitude that cannabis plants grow, the more resin is produced (though this is not true for all strains), because one of the reasons that the plant produces the resin is to protect it from ultra-violet light. A rule of thumb is that the benchmark altitude above which plants produce greater and more potent resin is 2,700 metres.
Several varying techniques are used for sieving. Mature female plants are first harvested and then taken to a barn (or similar) to dry out, often hung upside down. The dried tops and flower heads are then shaken lightly over a silk cloth pulled taught over a tub of some kind. The finest, grey/yellow/red dust (the mature resin glands), which are between 60 and 120 microns in size, falls and may pass through the pores of the cloth. This separates out all plant material from the resinous dust and is the highest quality. Alternatively, a larger metal mesh may be used first, and then a finer silk or cloth mesh is used again on the same material after the first sieving.
Several metal sieves of progressively coarser mesh may be used to produce lower quality hashish, containing proportionally more plant material. This usually results in at least three grades of hashish. In Lebanon, up to eight grades used to be produced. The highest grade in Morocco is known as ‘Zero Zero’/‘OO’; lower grades are referred to as 01, 02, etc. In the 1970s the grading system went up to 09. Sieving is best done in cold, dry weather, in the autumn.
Plants may first be threshed or beaten between sheets to detach the resin. Clarke (1998:129) describes how in the past in Afghanistan dried plants were first put between carpets; then the family would jump around on the carpets to release the resin powder. The resultant mix of plant material and resin would then be filtered through a fine cloth to separate out the resin powder.
The final stage of production is pressing. A small amount of resin powder is often hand-pressed; this is usually reserved for the farmer. The bulk of the powder is then placed either in plastic bags (in Morocco) or cloth or linen sacks (in Lebanon) and then pressed into slabs in devices that often use car jacks. The resin powder is sometimes mixed with a little water in Afghanistan before pressing. In Yarkand it was first steamed in cloth sacks. The resin powder is sometimes heated before pressing. Heating, usually over coals, turns the yellow/brown resin powder black.
The most common adulterant—amongst many—to hashish is vegetable oil, which is indicated by an acrid taste and a blue flame when heated. Some sand and dirt may also be found in low-quality hashish. The highest grades are particularly potent and full of flavours.
How to make Hash
You’ve probably tried hash and liked it and must be wondering if you can make hash at home.
If that’s the case, we’ve got good news for you.
By following some simple rules and staying patient, you can make a hash at home.
There are plenty of methods to make homemade hash. We’ve gathered top ways to make the drug but before starting, let’s take a look at what hash is.
Also known as Hashish, the hash is a pretty popular drug that’s prepared by compressing trichomes. Trichomes are tiny transparent particles that live all over the plant. These crystal-like particles are largely found in the flowers of the cannabis plant. The thing that makes these little crystals extremely special is that they are full of THC and CBD. In simple words, these are responsible for the ‘high’ that we feel after we smoke hash as well as the recognizable aroma of this amazing plant.
To further explain the process, the hash is made by picking out the crystals from all over the plant including the stems, leaves, and buds. After processes like heating and pressing form the ever-powerful concentrate of the plant. The colors of the hash vary as its quality varies. The perfect quality hash looks something like a mixture of golden and brown. While not-so-quality hash has a greenish color which indicates that the stuff is “more of the plant” than what’s needed to make hash.
Here is a list of top methods that will answer all your questions regarding how to make a hash.
Traditional Hand Rolling Method
The first method to make a hash is the traditional hand rolling method. It’s considered one of the simplest and the most effective ways of making a hash as it doesn’t require any tools or equipment. This method to date remains the most widely used back in places like Nepal and India.
On the other hand, this is kind of a hard day’s work as this process is pretty time-consuming. But if you’re looking to hash for your personal use, it would suit you the best as this method is ideal for having a small number of yields.
The couple of things you’re going to need for this hand-rolling method are:
Start by washing your hands with a non-scented soap. You can repeatedly wash them for the most organic results and make sure not to dry them using your usual towel. Let them air dry them out for you.
Grab a bud and make sure to get rid of all the leaves and stems. We would just need the buds.
Place the buds between your hands in such a way that it’s placed right in the center of your two palms.
Now, making sure you’re not applying too much pressure on the little buds and start rolling them in a circular motion.
Soon you’ll be able to notice a dark, thick resin appearing on the insides of your hands and even your fingers. That blackish substance is what you’ll later refer to as a hash. Carefully gather all that hash, first between your hands and then onto some clean surface or parchment paper.
Let it dry for a while before you cut or create your balls of hash. How easy was that?
The second method involves a mechanical drum and is considered the most professional way of making hashish. The mechanical drum consists of a huge silkscreen. When the machine is turned on, the screen starts spinning which causes the crystals (trichomes) to get separated from the rest of the plant and its materials.
This method has a downside to it though. The pollinator drum that’s used for making hash, can cost you a fortune. A normal pollinator drum can cost between $350-400.
If you’re up for buying the drum, we should continue telling you the process. While using this method, here is what you’ll need:
According to the people who use this technique, it’s preferred that the trimmed cannabis is put to freeze first. The frozen plant works well with the process.
You start with placing the plant inside the drum and turn on the switch, the drum will take care of the rest. It will spin around to make to plant rub against the screen (silkscreen) that’s placed at the bottom. This process is known to provide highly potent results.
Flat Iron Method
The final method is relatively simpler and less expensive. You’ll be happy to know that your flat iron is not just about straightening your hair. You use it, you can also prepare your hash. How about that?
We’ll start by promising we will not burn our hands or the material we’re planning to create. After that here is a shortlist of supplies we will need:
One flat iron
Separate the flowers from the plant in small amounts.
Cut the paper in 3×6 inches.
Place a bud in the paper and fold it before you iron the paper for a few seconds, or a few times.
Let it sit for a few seconds before you make contact with it since it might be hot. Open the paper to notice a few dark-colored drops. Those drops would be resin and they appear as a result of squeezing and applying heat to the paper containing the buds.
You can use tweezers and to take the resin away and continue the process for each bud.