Interview and Story by Chewberto420
With Phil “Soilgrown” Salazar
Photos by Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson and Chewberto420
Do you remember the days when scoring full-melt solvent-less hash was like finding a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? Unless you made it yourself, acquiring a quality solvent-less product was tough. In the legal cannabis market, if available, you’d have to move quick to rush in and grab the full-melts before they were gone.
Some of the time, the good stuff never made it to the shelf; it was pirated from eager employees of the dispensaries. There was even hash so elusive that some considered it to be a myth, calling it BHO from their keyboards because it looked so good. The reluctant only had photographs on the internet to pique their interest enough to have them salivating worldwide in disbelief. “Scarcity” would be an understatement.
Prior to 2015, most of your average hash smokers had suffered from limited access to a pure full-melt water hash or dry sift, but thanks to a man named Phil Salazar, better known as Soilgrown, the myths, desires and struggles for full-melt solvent-less hash are gone.
Now, anyone can enjoy the benefits of solvent-less hash with a technique called “rosin tech.”
Rosin tech is the process of applying heat and pressure to cannabis, rendering a solvent-less hash oil (SHO). Rosin is created by utilizing steam vapor pressure to extract the terpene-rich, cannabinoid-filled oil from the trichome heads within nugs, water hash and dry sift. This technique allows you to rupture the heads and force out the oil that is stored within to achieve a full melt hash—full-melt, every single time, regardless of the density or waxiness of the membrane surrounding the heads and regardless of the cultivar.
A huge benefit to this technique, is that rosin can be produced in the safety of your home; no more worrying about explosive hydrocarbons to make full-melt concentrates, no more half melts, no more poison soup and no more “melt struggles.” Period. Now, with the ability to turn any bubble, sift, half-melt, scissor hash, sandy dry sift, water hash, flowers and even trim into pure solvent-free oil, we have witnessed a colossal and positive change in the hash game.
Before rosin tech was prevalent in the industry, dispensaries relied on using their trim and food-grade hash for other means. The hash that wouldn’t melt before, suddenly became the shatter and oil that we all desired. This means that yields on better quality solvent-less hash went up, and access for the public became more available.
I was able to chat with Soilgrown about how this technique became the number one means of solvent-less extraction today and what his part was in this amazing surge. Let’s see what he had to say.
Phil “Soilgrown” Salazar
Where do you reside?
I’m from Pasadena, California, where I started my company Soilgrown Solventless.
What is your background, expertise, previous occupation?
I have been growing cannabis for about 11 years now, but I have mostly focused on extraction, specifically solvent-less extraction, mostly water hash and rosin now. I started out with a small grow, selling clones before I worked for and owned a dispensary in LA. Lately, I have just been focusing on cultivation and extraction.
You’re credited with bringing rosin tech to the marijuana community, correct?
Yes, two years ago. I shared everything I had discovered—rosin tech, hash rosin and flower rosin—and since then, I have shared and taught everything that I know and learn about it.
Were you a cannabis grower and hash artisan to begin with, or was this something that you evolved with as the technique was born?
I have been extremely fascinated by concentrates since my first trip to Amsterdam in 2009, where I had seen and experienced different varieties of flowers and hash. The hash is what I fell in love with. I have always had a passion for growing cannabis, but my heart is set on making hash.
Where did the idea for “rosin tech” come from initially?
The initial idea came from an accident. Months before I had discovered making rosin tech, I was all about my melts (ice water hash), so I always had hash to dab on. I would dab all of my 5-6 star melts, and I would try to press (not rosin) my 3-4-star hash out thin so that it would dab better.
To thin out the no-melt hash, I would take a hair straightener to press it out, but just enough pressure to thin it, not rosin it, as I had no idea of rosin at the time. Sometimes I would press it too hard and notice that the oil would separate from the dry matter. I didn’t really think much of it and mixed it together to repress it, thinking that I had made a mistake. Then finally, a few month later, I went to press some no-melt hash so that I could dab and a light bulb went off in my head.
That’s when I decided to press the hash too hard again, separating the shiny oil from the dull plant matter. I collected the shiny oil and tried a dab of it, to my surprise it melted away leaving very little residue behind. That was the day that I discovered a new way to produce oil—rosin tech. A few days later, I ran out of all of my hash, and I tried pressing a bud to see if it would work, and to my surprise, it surely did. That was the birth of flower rosin.
When was the first time you realized, this was a possibility and means of solvent-less cannabis extraction?
It was around January of 2015 when I had started experimenting. Solvent-less was very scarce and popular during this time, so I had a feeling that it was going to make a huge impact on the industry. Dates? I can’t remember the exact dates, but it was early February when I had first shared the technique, and I believe March 12 was the day I shared it on Hash Church. I started experimenting with it January 2015 though.
Was it an accident, or did you put some serious thought into this before attempting it?
I would say it was more of an accident that led to an idea. If it wasn’t for me accidentally pressing hash too hard, I probably would have never made the observation. Running out of melts and having such a passion for solvent-less is also what helped lead me to observe the separation of the oil and dry matter after making a mistake and realizing that this is a possible way to extract oil without the use of any solvents.
What were your initial thoughts after your first successful extraction via rosin tech?
I was absolutely amazed and tripping out, and immediately I knew that this had to be shared with the world.
Did you realize you had created one of the most popular means of extraction and that it would gain so much attention?
At first I, didn’t think it was going to become as popular as it has, only because of all the hate I got in the beginning. As the days went on and more and more people showed me love for sharing rosin tech, I realized that it had the potential to become a common extraction method for the average person. Once I was able to process a decent amount in a day is when I knew that it would make its place as a standard method of extraction.
How did that feel to see it explode like it did?
It feels amazing knowing that I have made an impact, not only in the cannabis industry, but in many people’s lives around the world. It’s really cool to see rosin everywhere and on everything now.
Did you base any of your theories or thoughts off of standard extraction processes to evolve this method?
I would have to say no. Everything used for the evolution of this method has been completely improvised from the hair iron to the hydraulic Sasquash Rosin Press—as well as lots of trial and error and taking notes.
Where do you think the rosin industry is headed with the tech?
I think that it will continue to evolve as quickly as it has been; more and more people are becoming health conscious and are becoming more interested in solvent-less concentrates. I think rosin tech is going to be, if not already, the most popular method of extraction due to the fact that it is one of the easiest and safest methods of extraction with equipment that cost a fraction of other methods.
Evolution of Equipment
What equipment did you first use?
So, I actually started with a piece of parchment paper and the tip of my e-nail, then used a hair curler and a flat surface. Then my wife saw I was using her expensive curler, so she brought me out her old hair iron. The hair iron was when I had shared it online.
After thinking of lots of different ideas, I ended up picking up an old T-shirt press from a friend in Arizona. The T-shirt press didn’t work when I first tried it, so it sat in my garage for a few weeks. Once I found some time, I took it apart and figured out what I needed to do to modify it—that’s what I use for most of 2015. Eventually a T-shirt press was not enough, so I found a press that put out the pressure that I needed, but it was not reliable enough to handle the amount of work that I had. That’s when I hit my cousin Matt up, and sure enough a few months later him and my Cousin Joel had designed the most bad ass press I had ever seen.
How well did it perform?
Hair irons work but it is the last thing I’d want to use for making rosin, it comes in handy for on-the-go though.
What equipment do you use now?
I’m currently using the Pneumatic 15ton Sasquash Rosin Press 2.0.
How has the progression made things easier, or better for the end product?
Big blocks and full control over the temps and the speed of the blocks has allowed me to speed up my production time, as well as improve my quality.
Were there any challenges along the way?
The biggest challenge, at first,was learning what works and doesn’t work for rosin as far as strains, figuring out average yields, finding proper material for quality rosin.
Hair straighteners, T-shirt press, hydraulic/pneumatic press, etc. Thoughts of each, benefits and downsides of each?
Hair straighteners are cool if you need something that can make you oil on-the-go or in times of need. T-shirt press is great for pressing perfect circle coins and making perfect thickness slabs, but not the best for pressing flowers or hash. Hydraulic/pneumatic is the way to go, giving the ability to maximize pressure and lower temps in order to preserve as many terps as possible.
Screens for pressing?
Yes, screens are great for pressing flowers, and mandatory for pressing any kind of hash. Stainless, silk mesh, tea bags, etc.
What are the best screens in your opinion and why?
I prefer Nylon food grade screens. I have never had a problem with having pieces of screen or strings in my rosin, and they handle very well under 15 tons.
Where do you think the rosin industry is headed with presses and equipment?
It’s definitely on its way to commercial as well as fine tuning the machinery for the boutique hash makers. Soon enough, we will see machines squashing full pounds at once and producing good quality product with decent returns.
Favorite growers to work with and why?
My favorite grower to work with is OMFarmers, they always provide me some of the cleanest and best quality flowers in Southern Cali.
What is your Favorite? Rosin hash, sift, flower, bubble?
My favorites go in this order: 5 – 6 star ice wax rosin, ice wax, flower rosin.
Tips for the Reader from Soilgrown
What are your preferred temps and pressure for various products: water hash, dry sift, flowers, etc.?
I feel there is a happy medium between pressing time and temp for all material; it’s up to the extractor to observe how the material reacts and adjust accordingly. A good range to press flowers is 200-230f for 10-30 seconds, depending on variables like stability and terpene loss.
I also feel there is a happy medium between yield and quality. There is a head and tail to rosin, for instance, if I have a strain that produces 25 percent max when pressed at 220f for 15 seconds, I would drop my pressing time or temp so that I am only pulling 22 – 23 percent. In my opinion, the last 2 – 3 percent of oil remaining is not as desirable as the rest of the oil, therefore I find it better to keep the head and tail end separate.
The impact rosin tech has had on the marijuana industry in such little time is truly incredible.
I admit, the first time I tried to make rosin, after Soilgrown offered this technique to the public, I was skeptical. I didn’t believe it was possible to make a flavorful product using heat. Everything in my caveman brain was saying, “Heat Bad, Heat Kill Terps.” I had to let go of all the previous knowledge that I had in regards to making extracts to be open to this new method.
In rapid pace, and after scrupulous dedication from the marijuana community’s efforts, we soon discovered ways to get the temps lower, terpene levels up, how to make butter and batter, beautiful rosin coins, fresh frozen rosin, ways to extract color from the plants and dye rosin with anthocyanins and most importantly, a new and safe method to provide a solvent-less and full-melt hash to the people.
I want to extend a huge thanks to Soilgrown and Sasquash for leading the way in the rosin movement and for taking the time to talk with me. Many folks have become the victim of poor decision making, blowing up homes, themselves and others, selling butane soaked un-purged oil and poisoning people. A real safety epidemic was on the rise, and I can speak for the community when I say “thank you.”
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