November 04, 2020 6 min read

By George Mouratidis

Rosin is one of the most exciting extracts for cannaseurs and one of the most misunderstood concentrates for newbies to the cannabis scene.

Seasoned herb-lovers know that smoking or vaping rosin is among the most delicious ways to enjoy cannabis. However, novices often confuse rosin with resin, live resin, or even hash.

What is Rosin?

Rosin is quite the opposite of resin, the black tarry substance you find at the bottom of a dirty pipe or bong.

Rosin is a solventless cannabis concentrate that uses heat and pressure to extract cannabinoids and terpenes. Live resin is fresh and tasty like rosin, but it’s made by flash-freezing freshly-cut cannabis buds and extracting the cannabinoids and terpenes under temperatures lower than -300°F.

Live resin can only be extracted by experts with special equipment and solvents like butane, propane, ethanol, or carbon dioxide.

Rosin, on the other hand, is a solventless extract you can safely make at home using rosin presses with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to many thousands.

How Do Rosin Presses Work?

Rosin presses work by squeezing raw cannabis material between two heated metal plates. Rosin presses apply force in one of three ways:

  • Manual rosin presses create pressure through levers or hand cranks.
  • Pneumatic rosin presses use air to create force, usually with the aid of external pumps or air compressors.
  • Hydraulic rosin presses, sometimes called H-frame presses, use pressurized fluids to generate force. They can deliver more pressure than the other two types and are typically more suited for commercial use.
  • Electric rosin presses are relatively new on the cannabis scene. These types of presses plug right into an AC outlet and don’t require external pumps or compressors.

Rosin-makers also employ non-stick papers, filter bags, and other accessories to make collecting the extract easier.

Factors that Affect the Quality of Rosin

If you’re already excited to start pressing rosin and want to know more about the process, you’re probably wondering how to produce the kind of pure, mouth-watering rosin you’ve found in your local dispensary. Several factors affect the quality of rosin, including:

  • Quality of your starting material:Your rosin can only be as good as the cannabis product you start with. You can’t expect to extract dispensary-grade rosin from dried out, old schwag.
  • Humidity: Rosin-pressing works best under relative humidity levels ranging from 55-62%.
  • Pressing time: Pressing time will depend upon all of the other factors. You may want to increase pressing time before you turn up the heat or pressure. Pressing times typically range between 15-60 seconds.
  • Pressure: While commercial rosin presses can go up to 100,000 psi, the home rosin-maker won’t need nearly as much force to press quality rosin. Home rosin presses typically don’t go past 1,000 pounds of pressure, which is way more than you’ll need for smaller batches of rosin. Rosin manufacturers press small batches of flower at between 600-1000 psi, kief around 400-800 psi, and hash at 300-700 psi. Higher pressures aren’t necessarily better for pressing rosin. In fact, excessively high pressures may allow unwanted lipids and other particle matter to contaminate your rosin.
  • Temperature: Determining pressing temperatures is one of the trickiest aspects of pressing rosin. If you use temperatures that are too high, you risk evaporating terpenes from your rosin. It’s always best to start with lower pressure and dial up if needed.

Best Temperatures for Pressing Rosin

Choosing the ideal temperature to press rosin takes some experimenting. You may want to begin by following the manufacturer’s directions for your particular model of rosin press.

However, there are some general guidelines you can follow for determining the temperatures to press different raw materials.

Pressing Rosin from Raw Cannabis or Hemp Flower

The temperature you use to press raw flower depends on how much humidity the plant matter contains. Most terpenes start to evaporate once they get above 230°F.

You’ll want to keep your pressing temperatures well below this threshold, especially if you want to preserve terpenes that evaporate under even lower temperatures.

Most rosin press manufacturers recommend that you keep your flower pressing temperatures between 160-180°F with an average pressing time between 60-180 seconds.

You may need to use more pressure or slightly higher temperatures if your cannabis is older and drier.

Some rosin-makers rehydrate older buds by storing them with humidity packs overnight. Just remember that the quality of your rosin depends upon the quality of your starting material. 

Keep in mind that various strains of cannabis will require unique temperatures and produce different results.

Typical rosin yields from pressing raw flower range around 15-30%. It’s also possible to press rosin using trim or shake, but these materials tend to produce lower yields of between 5-15%.

Making Rosin from Kief (Dry Sift)

Well-sifted kief is made up of almost pure trichomes. You’ll want to choose a much lower pressing temperature to avoid destroying delicate terpenes.

Start with a temperature of around 160°F for approximately 60 seconds. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome, lengthen the pressing time by 10 seconds before deciding to increase the heat.

Pressing kief at temperatures over 190°F is not recommended and can destroy terpenes. Typical rosin yields from kief average between 30-60%.

Pressing Rosin from Hash

Like kief, hash contains significantly less plant matter than raw flower and needs to be pressed at lower temperatures.

If you’re handling ultra-high quality hash, you may wish to start pressing at as low as 120°F for one minute. Adjust other factors like pressure and pressing time before increasing the temperature.

Pressing hash above 180°F is not recommended. Rosin yields from hash range from 30-70% depending on the type of hash you’re using.

DIY Rosin Presses

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you may be wondering if you can rig a rosin press at home.

The technology seems simple enough, but homemade rosin presses tend to be extremely inefficient. Professional rosin presses have parts that were made specifically for the purpose of pressing rosin. It’s nearly impossible to find components that have the same qualities to use in a homemade rosin press. 

Moreover, DIY rosin presses are often a safety hazard. Frames bend, hydraulics leak, and plates may have unsafe coatings.

Homemade rosin presses also lack the carefully-engineered automatic safety features of professionally-made models. In most cases, manufacturing a rosin press is better left to the experts.

What to Look for in a Rosin Press’s Temperature Controls

One of the most important features of a high-quality rosin press is an even distribution of heat throughout the pressing plates.

Hair straighteners and cheaper rosin presses often have uneven heat distribution. Uneven heat can mean leaving cannabinoids in unprocessed bits of raw material and evaporating the terpenes out of others. You’ll be left with less potent rosin and a lot of wasted material.

Precise temperature control is also crucial for a rosin press.

The closer you can dial in rosin-pressing temperatures, the better rosin you’ll be able to produce. Some of the best rosin presses have digital readouts that allow for controlling pressing temperatures within 10 degrees. More precise temperatures will help you to preserve terpenes and create rosin with different textures.

Other Features to Consider When Shopping for a Rosin Press

Now that you have a better idea of what rosin is, how rosin presses work, and how to get the best results when pressing rosin, you may be ready to shop around for your first rosin press. Before you lay down your hard-earned cash, you’ll want to consider some factors, such as:

  • The material and shape of the plates: In general, rectangular plates are more efficient than square or horseshoe-shaped plates. Aluminum plates tend to distribute the heat more evenly than stainless steel versions. Extra-large plates are only needed for pressing enormous amounts of rosin. If you use oversized plates to press average amounts of rosin, you’ll risk burning the rosin.
  • The pressure available: Even if you have money to burn, you won’t need a 10-ton rosin press when you’re just starting out. A model that goes up to 700-1000 psi will be plenty for home use. If you’re planning to press your entire home harvest, you may choose a rosin press with bigger plates that can deliver 3000 psi. You can always upgrade if you decide to become a commercial rosin manufacturer.
  • The mechanism: Manual or pneumatic rosin presses are usually the best choices for the home rosin-maker. Manual presses cost less because you don’t need to invest in an external pump or air compressor to use them. Hydraulic presses, while excellent for commercial purposes, are generally considered overkill for beginning rosin-makers. If you do choose to go hydraulic, make sure that you buy from a reputable brand. Cheap rosin presses tend to have hydraulics that may leak or otherwise malfunction.
  • Your workspace: If you live in a small apartment, you’ll probably be better off with a lightweight model with a quieter mechanism, such as a semi-portable manual or electric rosin press.
  • The safety features:Pressing rosin is a lot safer than making extractions using solvents, but accidents still may happen with rosin presses. Look for rosin presses with built-in shut-off functions and other safety features.
  • The warranty: A rosin press is a piece of equipment that should last for years. Make sure the length and terms of the warranty cover any possible factory defects.
  • Customer reviews: Check out what previous buyers have to say about the company’s products and customer service.

Are you shopping for a rosin press? Our friendly customer support staff would be delighted to help. Please contact us through our website or call us at 814-422-5544. We offer free U.S. shipping and guaranteed low prices.

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