So, you want to make dabs. But, you don’t want to turn yourself into brisket and violate the Geneva Convention by committing an act of chemical warfare. Well, that does limit your options significantly, but you do still have a few. Namely, rosin presses.
For an in-depth look at all the different ways you can make dabs, check out our guide. To sum it up, there are many different methods, but they can be grouped into two main categories. Solvent-based, and solvent-less.
Solvent-based methods of making dabs use a solvent like butane or propane to strip away everything but the trichomes, leaving behind what we know as a dab. As butane and propane are highly volatile substances, flammable, heavier than air, and require expensive industrial equipment to work with on a large scale by professionally licensed facilities, trying to do this in your home is worst case scenario a suicide attempt. Best case scenario, it is “sketch as hell” and very complicated.
Solvent-less methods, by comparison, are a no-brainer. The most popular solvent-less method with the highest quality yield is pressing rosin. The way you do this is with a rosin press.
What is rosin?
Dry herb contains trichomes, or resinous glands, which you can see with your naked eye. They’re what make the herb appear “dank,” or moist, and they contain all of the plant matter’s cannabinoids. When compressed under heat and pressure, they loosen and ooze out of the herb in the form of a concentrate, becoming rosin.
“Rosin” is a pretty general term that can really be used to describe a sap that is squeezed from any starting material using heat and pressure. If you play the cello or violin, you might recognize this term as what you rubbed on your bow to create friction.
In the dab world, “rosin” is is essentially what oozes out when you “juice” dry herb from compressing it with a significant amount of heat and pressure. The cool thing about it is that it can be manipulated into any sub-texture of dab— like shatter, budder, or wax.
What is a rosin press?
The first rosin press can likely be traced back to 1970s Jamaica and included nothing more than pantyhose, a hydraulic press, and some ganja. Since then, people have used anything from hair straighteners, tortilla presses, and everything in between to try and find the perfect smush.
Which makes sense, given that the perfect storm for extracting rosin is crushing it between hundreds or thousands of pounds of pressure evenly distributed on two sandwiching plates at 180-220 degrees Fahrenheit for anywhere between 30 seconds to 3+ minutes.
These parameters can vary depending on the material you’re pressing. If you’ve got a terpene-rich strain of flower, you’ll want to start with a lower temp, because the terpenes themselves act as a natural solvent. If there are fewer terpenes, a higher temp and pressure can help accelerate the process of extraction.
This does not necessarily mean that higher temps lead to larger yields. Oftentimes, it is actually more advantageous to err on the lower end of the temperature spectrum, as a higher temp can burn off the nuanced terpene flavor shelves— much the same way higher temps can do when burning finished dabs in a nail.
Types of Rosin Presses
Unfortunately, because of how physics works, you can’t just pull thousands of pounds of pressure out of thin air. If you can, the aliens haven’t told us how yet. So, the different types of rosin presses differ mainly based on how they are powered.
Manual - Manual rosin presses typically have a hand crank or twist, which you operate with your hands continuously. They used to be primarily advantageous for their portability and size, but given that compact desktop units have gotten smaller and more affordable without such cumbersome operation, such advantages aren’t as much of a factor anymore.
Hydraulic - Hydraulic presses are very common and utilize hydraulic ram pressure via a fluid hand or foot pump. This generates and incredible amount of force— such that these are some of the most powerful types of presses. It does still require you exert yourself, which is not ideal.
Pneumatic - Once you get to a pneumatic press, you’ve finally broken free from presses that have to be physically operated by a human being. These can be operated by simply pressing a button, but they require an air compressor. Thus, they are incredibly noisy and loud. Pneumatic presses are usually reserved for commercial application.
Electric - The electric rosin press is the perfect innovation of rosin press technology that finally took all of these elements and brought them to the consumer market perfectly. Without the need for manual operation, it functions with the simple press of a button, all while stripping away noisy compressors and boiling the components down to a relatively lightweight desktop size.
Here is a run down of some of our most popular rosin presses.
Gorilla Press 420 Rosin Extraction Press
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “This is a hair straightener.” Well, no it’s not. This is the Gorilla Press 420 Rosin Extraction Press.
The Gorilla Press 420 Hair Str— I mean Rosin Extraction Press, is great if you want to try your hand, literally and figuratively, at pressing your own rosin, before you commit to a larger press.
With this press, you get four temperature settings, a variable temperature selector, handlebar designed for a heavy grip, and large plates that maximize surface area specifically for pressing dry herb. Do you get all that with a $20 flat iron on Amazon? Yeah, I saw you looking that up.
Galaxy 1.5 Ton Rosin Press
Leveling up into the world of desktop presses, we begin with Galaxy Enails. Galaxy Enails initially became known for their Galaxy Enails, but branched out into the world of rosin presses with this affordable and space-saving unit— taking with them their reputation of solid craftsmanship without any moon-man hoopla.
At $499.99, the Galaxy Rosin Press is as affordable as you’re going to get for a desktop press. But, that certainly doesn’t mean you’re cutting corners. This ain’t no hair straightener. It delivers 1.5 tons (3,000 pounds) of pressure between two evenly heated 3” and 3.5” plates at a temperature of your choosing.
And, that’s about it. But that’s a good thing. The best part of the rosin press is its simplicity. Just plug it in, dial in your temperature, prep your dry herb, press the button, and wait. Collect your yield, and you’re all set. You could do this all day.
It is 26 pounds and 18” tall. So, it is portable, but not if you’re my mother.
RosinBomb Rocket Rosin Press
Go up in price $100 and down in weight 10 pounds, and you’ve got my ex! Just joking, it’s the RosinBomb Rocket Rosin Press.
At $599.99, the RosinBomb Rocket is small. It’s only 10 inches, 13 pounds, and can fit in a backpack— all while still delivering 1,500 pounds of pressure. You’ve still got precise temperature control and a fairly simple control interface.
The RosinBomb Rocket and the Galaxy Rosin Press are fairly comparable, the main difference is that the RosinBomb is lighter and smaller. Both options are fairly portable, the RosinBomb Rocket just has a slight edge in terms of its size and weight.
We’ve saved the best for last. The RosinBomb M60 is one of the best consumer desktop rosin presses you can get for your hard-earned dollar.
What most makes this unit worth the leap is its ability to mass produce multiple rounds of rosin without stopping to collect the yield thanks to their Flow Channel Technology. Instead of collecting rosin onto parchment paper between the plates, it flows down into a separate receptacle— allowing you to press continuously.
It presses with 6,000 pounds of pressure, allowing for up to 15 grams at once. Even so, it’s still fairly compact at only 17 inches and 60 pounds.
When looking for a rosin press, you really mainly want to think about why you want to make dabs in the first place. Are you just d*cking around, so you'll probably only press 3.5 grams here and there, maybe take it over a friend's house, whip it out at a bar mitzvah? Or, are you going to turn this into a wholesale operation? Whatever end of the spectrum you fall on, there is a concentrate press for you.