If you’ve just been introduced to the world of cannabis concentrates then you might be wondering “what is rosin?” Violin players are the original rosin experts — coating their bows with a converted form of tree resin known as “violin rosin” to ease the friction applied to violin strings to optimize the sound. 

However, we’re not here to talk about violin care. We’re here to talk about rosin, how to make rosin, and the steps you can do at home to make rosin yourself.  You may have heard stories of overzealous tokers producing shatter at home only to have disastrous results but rosin uses an entirely different production process which, to the average toker, will seem easy in comparison. 

Rosin Explained

rosin explained

Unlike instrumental rosin, cannabis connoisseurs know rosin as a type of concentrate that is a distilled form of marijuana resin; using heat and pressure. It does this by heating and pressing cannabis buds to extract the plant’s desirable compounds from the starting bud.

Unlike other concentrates like butane hash oil, wax, shatter, and live resin — rosin doesn’t use solvents like ethanol, CO2, or butane to extract the terpenes and cannabinoids from the plant. The main differences between concentrates like rosin vs shatter lie in the extraction process: one uses solvents, the other uses pressure and heat. 

This can be desirable because low-quality or poorly made concentrates don’t flush out all of the solvents, so if you’re looking for a more pure product, solventless is the way to go. That said, well-made concentrates that use solvents will be free from any residues left behind. 

Supplies Needed

The overall rosin making process is relatively inexpensive and straightforward in terms of materials needed, what it is, and how to make it. This means you don’t need to be a botanical extractor or chemistry expert to reap the rewards of making rosin at home. 

  • Parchment paper
  • Hair straightener
  • Safety/oven glove
  • Metal dabber 

As you can see, the required tools for rosin making are surprisingly affordable and easy to get your hands on.

Final Considerations

Depending on how much plant material you have will determine how long it will take, but before we get started, you must consider the following:

  • Hair straighteners with a digital temperature display are best because they can ensure they’re at the optimal 200-300℉ range. 
  • Using a straightener with plates that are two inches wide works best; much better than straighteners with smaller hot plates. 
  • Making batches of rosin of 7 grams or less offers the best return on quality, so doing this in bulk isn’t recommended. 

How to Make Rosin 

With all of our necessary tools gathered, here’s how to make rosin at home! 

  1. Pre-heat a hair straightener between 200-300℉. This is going to serve as your “rosin press“.
  2. Make sure buds are moist, not wet. 
  3. Put on safety gloves while handling your hair straightener because your fingers will be lingering near the hot plates. 
  4. Using the hair straightener like a stapler (one paddle resting on your work surface, the other in the air) offers the best angle for the tightest press. Hard presses usually return better results. 
  5. Cut a piece of parchment paper that is larger than the width of your hair straightener
  6. Take your bud and press and mold it into a dense nug using your fingers  
  7. Take your pressed nug, and place it in the middle of the parchment paper.
  8. Take parchment paper with the nug, and place it in between the plates of the hair straightener. 
  9. Using safety gloves or an oven mitt, press the top plate of the hair straightener down onto the parchment paper, nug, and the other hot plate, using your body weight and muscle power to increase pressure — holding it down for 5-10 seconds. (Depending on the freshness and strain, different times may be needed.)
  10.  Remove your freshly pressed nugget from the parchment paper, taking note of how much rosin is left behind. It may require you to fold the pressed flower in half and repress it. Don’t get discouraged as it’s normal to have to fold and re-press your flower a good 2-3 times. 
  11. Once you get all the oil extracted out onto the parchment paper, get a dabber to scrape up all the rosin. 

And there you have it! A solvent-free concentrate that can be used in a dab rig, vaporize, hash pipe, or on top of flower for an extra kick. As with anything, it may take a little trial and error, but this rosin extraction process will all be worth it in the end. 

Is Rosin Better Than Shatter?

rosin vs shatter

That depends. Rosin is a form of cannabis concentrate that is solventless — retaining the terpenes, aroma, and flavor of the original bud.

This can be better than solvent extracts that risk containing alcohol, propane, or butane residue if not created properly. However, high-quality shatter will not leave behind any solvents and is considered to be just as good as solventless concentrates. 

What is The Difference Between Rosin and Resin?

The main difference between these two concentrated forms of cannabis is rosin is made using heat and pressure without solvents, and live resin is made using cryogenically frozen marijuana and solvents like butane, CO2 or alcohol which are also used in shatter.  Live rosin is made much the same way – with frozen marijuana buds – but without the use of solvents.

Resin also has another meaning that old school stoners and many tokers still use, which is referring to a “reclaimed”  tar-like goop that is left behind in heavily used glass bowls and pipes. This definition is fading among cannabis enthusiasts as you have to be incredibly desperate to want to smoke it, and since dispensaries came on the scene, people don’t get that desperate anymore. 

Concluding Thoughts on Rosin

If the thought of leftover solvents scares you, rosin could potentially be your next cannabis concentrate of choice. Made without the use of solvents,  rosin is an aromatic, tasty and arguably the more “natural” choice when it comes to cannabis concentrates.

Available at most head shops and dispensaries, if you have the means of purchasing rosin in a retail space, be sure to request a smell of the product so you can see for yourself just how fresh and aromatic this cannabis product is.  You can also take the initiative yourself and make it at home!

All you’ve need is a hair straightener, some parchment paper, some bud and of course a little bit of patience. Within minutes, you’ll have perfectly good rosin that’s good for your dab rig, for your joints, for your bong or for whatever smoking device of your choice!

Meerkus is a writer, photographer and cannabis enthusiast. Exploring the medicinal benefits of cannabis from a young age, Meerkus has had plenty of exposure to the marijuana industry.