Dabs: A Short History of Cannabis Extracts - Sweedsy Dabs: A Short History of Cannabis Extracts - Sweedsy
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Dabs: A Short History of Cannabis Extracts


We’ve already covered differences between cannabis extracts. Now it’s time to find out where they come from.

Hash oil and dab are common names for solvent-based cannabis extracts. New technologies made a reinvention of extraction methods possible. Budders and shatters got new additions, such as flavour-enhanced distillates and high terpene full spectrum extracts.

From the first sight, cannabis extraction seems a recent invention. However, the process itself has roots in the old practice of botanical extraction. The first mentions of extraction technologies date back to 1800s when cannabis make its appearance on U.S. Pharmacopeia. In their known form, cannabis concentrates came in sight in the early 40s. Today’s revival of extraction practices is recent indeed, and it continues to take shape and improve.


The Beginning

Cannabis extractions in some form have been used for ages. Gradually, these recipes were polished and had evolved into the oral medicinals. Cannabis-based drugs poured onto the shelves of U.S. pharmacies in the early XIX century. Unfortunately, cannabis prohibition ended medical use, but foundations for modern extraction techniques have been laid.

The first solvent-based cannabis extraction for vaporization has surfaced in the 40s. Declassified World War II intelligence files reveal that the U.S. Office of Strategic Services used a THC acetate ‘serum’ for it questionable biochemical interrogation practices. Along with other tools, agents used hash oil-laced tobacco cigarettes to interrogate unsuspecting persons. Later, in the 50s and 60s, the same techniques were used in well-known CIA’s program ‘MK Ultra’.


Good Ol’ Hash 70s

In 70s people started to experiment with extraction. D.Gold, in his 1973 book ‘Cannabis Alchemy: The Art of Modern Hashmaking’ briefly described a preparation of a translucent cannabis ‘honey’ oil. Evaporating cannabis with pure alcohol and activated charcoal as solvents, one could get an amber oil that looked like a dark honey.

Later, in 1977, Michael Starks introduced more sophisticated technology. In his book ‘Marijuana Chemistry: Genetics Processing and Potency’, he described hash oil extraction in more depth. He presented an analysis of different solvents, including ethanol, isopropanol, and chloroform. Starks also described apparatus and purification procedures. It makes the book one of the earliest accounts of modern hash oil extraction.


Closed Loop System

In the 90s, the first description of butane hash oil extraction surfaced online. Erowid, a popular online library of psychoactive substances, published an article named ‘Hash Honey Oil Technique.’ It presented a controversial method later called ‘open blasting’ for exposing highly flammable butane.

Later, the process of distillation that drove butane through a vertical tube packed with cannabis led to the invention of closed loop systems. They utilize highly flammable hydrocarbon solvents but instead of ‘open blasting’ recycle it back through the system.

Dab Rigs

Invention of Dab Rigs

In 2005, a journal ‘Cannabis Culture’ published an online article named ‘Beautiful Budder.’ It was an interview with a man under nickname ‘BudderKing.’ He described his proprietary formula of ’budder,’ an amber glass substance that was developed in the early 90s in British Columbia.

Working with a colleague, they developed a process that allowed to extract the substance and, after left on a windowsill for a prolonged period, it ‘buttered up.’ Once BudderKing tweaked the process, the product appeared on the shelves at Da Kine dispensary in 2003.

For convenience, BudderKind also introduced a small unit that made vaporizing of the concentrate easier. It was an early prototype of today’s dab rigs. The unit was available only for a brief period but became popular and made its way to Colorado and Southern California.

In 2009, information about high-quality hash oils filled forums. In 2010, hash oil products appeared at the High Times Cannabis Cup. After that, dispensaries around the country picked up the ideas and started selling early versions of wax, sap, and budder.

Dabs Now

As we may see, the exact history of hash oils and invention of extraction remains a subject of anecdotes. However, a growth of cannabis use for medical purposes and legalization efforts initiate research on extraction technologies. The ongoing process has already led to advanced CLS systems and CO2 supercritical extractors. Now, some companies aim to create safer and cleaner products.

Hash oil extraction is heavily based on science and engineering. It allows bringing the best qualities of cannabis for safe and convenient use. We hope that the technology will continue to evolve and bring more joy to cannabis users around the world.

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