Butane Hash Oil: The Future of Pot

Butane Hash Oil: The Future of Pot
Illustration by Peter Bollinger

James runs his hand along a shelf full of expensive, glistening glass water pipes before grabbing a small, clear one. It has a titanium disk where the bowl is supposed to be. The lanky, droopy-eyed lawn service owner sets it on a table next to a small blowtorch and twists the cap off a cylindrical rubber container. Using a pencil-like, stainless-steel utensil, he scoops out a small amount of a crumbly mustard-yellow substance that looks like Play-Doh.

"The explosion almost killed both of them. This butane hash oil is nothing to play with."

He uses the torch to scorch the titanium disk until it's red-hot and then drops the yellow pebble onto it. He quickly hands the pipe to me, and I inhale a stream of white vapor, hold it in for three seconds, and then cough hard. My eyelids flutter, my hands tingle, and my cheeks flush. I feel as if I'm shooting through outer space at warp speed.

I slouch in a chair for the next hour and every few minutes mutter incoherent sentences. Eventually, I'm able to stand, but for about four hours after I leave James' cramped Homestead pad, misfiring neurons muddle my cerebral cortex.

Mario makes wax by shooting butane through an aluminum tube packed with marijuana.
Jacob Katel
Mario makes wax by shooting butane through an aluminum tube packed with marijuana.
The resulting mixture is dripped onto a warm Pyrex dish.
Jacob Katel
The resulting mixture is dripped onto a warm Pyrex dish.

The experience inside James' apartment might sound like the beginning of a public service announcement about huffing household cleaning agents, but in fact I had become part of the hottest trend in good old-fashioned weed culture. I'd inhaled fumes of Blue Dream wax, a strain of butane hash oil, the most potent form of cannabis on the planet.

When manufactured properly, BHO, as it is commonly known, is packed with galactic levels of tetrahydrocannabinol — THC — the chemical compound in marijuana that has the greatest effect on the brain. Nicknamed "dabs" and "wax," the oil has attracted legions of cannabis users. "This gets you as high as the first time you smoked pot even though you have been smoking pot for years," insists James, whose name New Times agreed to change for this story to protect his standing in the arts community. "As far as marketing, this stuff markets itself."

In the past 12 months, BHO use has exploded across Florida and the rest of the nation. Tens of thousands of people are uploading videos to YouTube, Instagram, and Vine of themselves making and smoking the oil. Rap artists such as B-Real, Action Bronson, Wiz Khalifa, and Juicy J are spreading the BHO gospel, and even stodgy mainstream media outlets such as the Atlantic have published basic guides to "dabbing."

Though dabbers believe BHO is the future of cannabis consumption, the movement could get derailed by its own popularity. From Southern California to Florida's west coast, dozens of novices have attempted to manufacture it, with disastrous results. These wannabe cooks have blown themselves up — knocking down walls, terrifying neighbors, and befuddling cops, who have mistaken the glass, steel, and aluminum tubes and explosive materials used in manufacturing BHO for bomb-making paraphernalia.

Just three months ago, two men in their early 20s splintered an efficiency apartment in St. Petersburg, the first such incident reported in the Sunshine State.

"It's no joke," says St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue arson investigator Lt. Joel Granata. "The explosion almost killed both of them. This butane hash oil is nothing to play with."


Marijuana smokers have been making hash oil using solvents such as butane or ethyl alcohol since the 1960s. Back then, the extract was dubbed "red oil," "jelly-butane hash," and "honey oil," the last a slang term also used for modern-day BHO. "Butane extraction has been done for decades by only select, knowledgeable hash makers," says Bobby Black, a senior editor at High Times magazine. "It wasn't widespread or produced on a large scale."

Though using butane might sound hazardous, it is a relatively clean solvent. Food manufacturers have always employed it to make vanilla, orange, mint, coconut, and other extracts.

To produce BHO, the process is simple: An empty tube, usually made of aluminum, stainless steel, or glass, is packed with pot leaves. The tube is capped on one end with a coffee filter, and on the other, there's a rubber stopper through which the butane is injected. The low temperature of the liquid butane crystallizes cannabis resins found in hairlike appendages that contain potent levels of THC called "trichomes." As the butane passes through the marijuana, it strips the resin into the solvent, which exits into a Pyrex dish.

Other solvents commonly used are hexane, isopropyl alcohol, ethanol, and frozen CO2 (dry ice). "Of all the hash techniques, butane is the fastest and produces the most potency," Black says. "You just pack a tube, shoot your butane through it, and a few minutes later, you have your product."

Solvent-based extracts remained on the fringes of pot culture until 2005, when a Vancouver man calling himself "BudderKing" introduced his own brand of concentrate — "Budder" — during a medical marijuana conference. According to a 2005 article in the magazine Cannabis Culture, Vancouver-based chemist and plant analyst Dr. Paul Hornby, who runs a company that tests marijuana, proclaimed, "Budder is the cleanest, most potent cannabis product I've ever tested."

BudderKing spread his technique on cannabis message boards and in High Times. Cultivators in California, Washington, and Colorado — states where voters legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996, 1998, and 2000, respectively — began making Budder to sell to dispensaries.

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36 comments
Mariah345
Mariah345

 <!--I quit working at shoprite and now I make $30h - $72h...how? I'm working online! My work didn't exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job..............Buzz55.com-->

TJohnson
TJohnson

What is happening now is with all these mom and pop Grow "Rooms"  and "closets"

a sucker might add anything to make it strong. Results for some of these additives

wont show up for years, after you thinking and memory is "F"ed Up. Trust me. 

TJohnson
TJohnson

I smoke this bull shit for 50 years.

It's no good in the long run and bad for children in the short run.

for_the_punx415
for_the_punx415

I smoked a lot of kilowatt kush wax with my gardener buddy in the mountains...I must have high tolerance because it never game me those crazy soaring highs or whatever

A_Critic
A_Critic

""They are risking their lives and their property not knowing what the hell they are doing.""

Why not tell them how to do it then?

Do NOT make BHO inside of any building, structure, or vehicle.

Do NOT make BHO in any urban or suburban environment or anywhere people.

Do NOT make BHO while wearing synthetics (can cause static charges which can ignite butane).

Do NOT make BHO while possessing any lighters, cell phones, matches, or other sources of ignition.

Pretty dang simple really. So far every explained explosion has been either 1) inside a building or 2) someone lights a cigarette.

Further:

DO purge, thoroughly and properly.

DO be careful in dosing BHO - a little dab will do you, and the rocketship high described at the start of this article is due to an excessively large dose. Great if that's what you want or need...but in all other cases a tiny dab is sufficient.

lenny14
lenny14

I was one of the people in the recent Florida poll. I like to think doctors know what they are doing, but I can't help but wonder, why is this illegal in the first place? Where does government come off with their tax on a weed. Sounds like, if they wanted, they could tax the air we breathe.

I don't care for the idea of impaired people driving on the road with me. Still, that has nothing to do with government regulations. It seems that a person smoking does much less harm than alcohol. It's just that a drunk will try to smoke, while smokers don't care about drinking. When people are smoking, and drinking, the booze is what makes them try crazy stuff. I it might add, that when polled, I did agree to medical use. I have never tried hash oil or BHO, but maybe once I evaluate it, I might think differently.

kerby.rok
kerby.rok

I love how many people jump on here to voice their ignorance. They based their views off of a movie called refer madness, and try to use it as hard facts. DO THE RESEARCH DO IT FOR REAL. I have and I can shot all you "refer madness crazies" down all day with cold hard facts. Email me the info you have of some one dying from marijuana ill wait...

teachintv
teachintv

It kind of makes me wonder how many people got injured or died turning corn into liquor, potatoes into vodka, poppy sap into opium...

arodomus
arodomus

So we are promoting drug use now huh? Wtf guys?

cq17ave
cq17ave

First the people making this are fucking stupid on the can it says flammable second you have to use refined. Butane..there is also healthier ways to make hash for example using the ice method and if you dont make bho the right way there many toxins that can fuck you up. Instead he should have shined some light on that not to buy that street shit. Francisco Alvarado should have spoke on what medical marijuana can do for the sick and the state and what laws might take place.not talk about all these idiots that dont know what they are doing or making a quick buck on a product that people dont know about and putting in there bodys. There was only one sentence about ligalization of medical marijuana obviously he did not research what he wrote about. What a dick and waste of a read

Steve Germond
Steve Germond

This stuff just became a felony in Michigan, carrying the same penalty as crack. Despite Michigan being a medical marijuana state.

Mikey Dee
Mikey Dee

dab city bitch dab dab city bitch

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

Hmmmm, how to say this without offending anyone ? If you feel the need to try your hand at making this stuff, eventually legalized or not, don't do it around me or anyone I give a damn about. And that includes marketing it, selling it, using it and anything else you can think of. I want nothing to do with the criminal issues that this will eventually create. This also includes any addictions and financial shortcomings where one thinks they have to break and enter my home or car and rob me for their next fix. I'll be perfectly clear, I consider those that do make anything of this nature that ultimately hurts my position and quality of life as making my life that much more difficult than it has to be. I don't want to pay a penny more for insurance because another is under the influence of this crap and somehow a legislated act deems that I have some legal obligation to overcome their poor judgements and impairments. And bring another special needs aka retard into the world from genetic defects caused by this, I don't want to pay more for healthcare over that. Bad enough the human gene pool is polluted as it is that anyone would knowingly do this to themselves. And don't get on a soapbox preaching about alcohol & tobacco being worse. I don't want alcoholics around me either. I may lead a boring life, but I like it that way, there are enough challenges without handicapping one's self with this stupidity.

Samuel Solis
Samuel Solis

Colorado does it better than Cali...just sayin.

Leslie Hudler
Leslie Hudler

cuz its awesome strong as fuk but awesome- one time i broke out in a sweat!

Mike Montero
Mike Montero

Galactic's a pretty accurate description.

Sam Heywood
Sam Heywood

Butane treatment is not the future. It's the past.

James Robertson
James Robertson

Welcome to what California has been doing for years.

Alex Anico
Alex Anico

Please dont go home and try and make this...don't be a fucking idiot. The process is similar to cooking meth and it extremely volatile...

WishfulThinking
WishfulThinking

@lenny14 if you're driving in S. Florida (probably n. florida too but idk) you are already driving surrounded by impaired people. at any given time there are 5 drivers around you on oxycodone if you're driving in southeast florida.

kerby.rok
kerby.rok

Butane hash is the purist form and its safe if you follow directions. Do you store octane in your living room??

GeeBee
GeeBee

@James G. Camp The only criminal issues that arise due to drugs are prohibition: ask the 1930's about how that worked out with alcohol. Marijuana is not physically addictive so no addict is going to break into anything over it. Marijuana's price is also hyperinflated, like all prohibited recreational drugs, which is why addicts resort to robbing people in the first place. Heroin can be created for 12 cents a dose that now cost $20. Do you think people would be robbing people at gun point for 12 cents? Let's use a little logic here.

If some one is on prescription pain killers it's okay to pay a penny more for insurance? What makes marijuana, cocaine, heroin or anything else any different? As long as they weren't at the level of inebriation it should have no bearing.

None of the commonly used illegal drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, psychedelics such as LSD or psilocybe mushrooms ect) are teratogenic so you can assuage your fears about malformed "retard" babies. Well not entirely since the following legal drugs are teratogenic: 
alcohol (ethanol), isotretinoin (13-cis-retinoic acid, Roaccutane), temazepam (Restoril; Normisson), nitrazepam (Mogadon), nimetazepam (Ermin), aminopterin or methotrexate, androgenic hormones, busulfan, captopril, enalapril, coumarin, cyclophosphamide, diethylstilbestrol, phenytoin (diphenylhydantoin, Dilantin, Epanutin), Dexamethasone, etretinate, lithium, methimazole, penicillamine, tetracyclines, thalidomide, trimethadione, methoxyethyl ethers, Flusilazole, valproic acid ect. and even possibly nicotine.

As an aside: I think the one polluting the human gene pool are vapid breeders such as yourself spreading your sub-genius IQ DNA like it was gold. This suffusion of low intelligence DNA is lowering world IQ, so please for the sake of the world stop breeding and stop any of your children if applicable. Have a nice day.

kerby.rok
kerby.rok

Ur an idiot and got no clue what ur talking about so the little old lady dabbing so she can remember her grand kids names is a criminal really so the Lil old man dabbing because he crushed his spin is a criminal??? Or better yet that vet that dabs cause he lost both legs and has PTSD to help cope is a criminal. Next time b4 u sound like a freakin retard do some research

kerby.rok
kerby.rok

So you've been cooking meth?? How do u know how to make meth? How do u know bho is like meth? Have you been blasting bho??

cq17ave
cq17ave

It is safe..if its made in a lab. By a prprofessional, not some kid in his backyard many think they know what they are doing. Those are the ones that make medical marijuana look bad.

arodomus
arodomus

Great job trying to rationalize drug use. What injury does the writer here have? Give me a freaking break.

kerby.rok
kerby.rok

Exactly if they sold cheap oil no one would be blowing shit up

arodomus
arodomus

Lol at get the sand out of your vagina. Though challenging, I managed to get through your post. I'm not attacking weed, that's another topic, I'm talking about this concentrated crap.

I don't drink caffeine by the way.

kerby.rok
kerby.rok

Marijuana isn't a drug. You are programmed to think that. It is as safe as breathing air. I can get cataracts, glaucoma, Alzheimer's, god knows how many cancers I can no longer get due to the fact I smoke weed. There for I see it as preventative medicine. That caffein you drink every day is more addicting and more dangerous. Do some research cause you just sound like an ignorant person. How is god wrong explane that to me???? Genisis 1:12 I have give you all the seed bearing plants and herbs to use... It cures chrons disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis. Oh whatch out now that dangerous I might not ever get any serous illness in my life... Meaning I might NEVER give big PHARMA a penny. No do u see why it's illegal. You probably take all kinds of pills and because the doctor gave them to you that a ok huh??? That's why every day they have comercials if you've experiences these symptoms call us so we can sue the shit out of some one. More people die every year from chocking on pen caps then marijuana. DO THE RESEARCH!!! NO ONE HAS EVER DIED FROM MARIJUANA. Marijuana has been used by man since 3000b.c. You lord witch ever one you believe in smoked weed because back then every one smoked weed. So get the sand out of you vagina.

 
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