What is Propane Hash Oil, also called PHO?

propane hash oil in a pen

Though sharing its name with the Vietnamese soup, PHO means something entirely different to the cannabis community. Propane hash oil (PHO) is another quality form of cannabis, making waves as a different way to consume marijuana, in concentrate form.

What is propane hash oil? From the basics to production to uses, continue reading to find out.

World of Concentrates

When you think of the word "concentrate," dabs or wax probably come to mind. Concentrates are a holy grail within the cannabis world, as they are essentially a pure vessel of THC. You start with the plant and go through a process of extraction. This extracts the essentials from the plant matter, creating a recycled solution of epic proportions.

Normally, marijuana flower can contain anywhere between 15-20 percent THC. Concentrates, on the other hand, can contain more around 90-100 percent of THC – a beautiful combination of what makes weed so tantalizing. This is because concentrates contain only the necessary pieces of the cannabis plant: cannabinoids and terpenes.

Because of this level of purity, you can take much smaller amounts of concentrates compared to cannabis flower to get the same – if not way more extreme – results. Get it? It is a concentrated amount of weed, packing a full punch. Less volume, but the same effects.

Propane Hash Oil is a Kind of Concentrate.

Concentrate Categories

There are two main categories for cannabis concentrates, based on how they are made. This process of production is called extraction. The two categories are solvent and non-solvent.

Solvents, in layman terms, are chemicals that dissolve a solid, which then result in a liquid solution. In cannabis terms, solvent extractions produce oils. They start as a solid and then are dissolved into an oil-based liquid. When they are smoked, the oils will melt and vaporize completely, leaving nothing behind. At least, that is the goal.

The consistency of solvent-based concentrates is diverse and varies depending on several factors. Often, concentrates are named based on them, such as budder, shatter, or wax. These consistencies and names are not an indication of which extraction technique was used. It isn't glossy because of the absence of solvent; instead, consistency is determined by many factors.

These factors, some of which can be controlled by the extraction-ist and some of which cannot be, include the type of solvent used, the strain of cannabis, its growing conditions and curing environment, extraction method and equipment, and the purging process. Any of these can determine the final outcome of the concentrate. In fact, the same extraction method can lead to way different results in terms of consistency.

Propane hash oil is a solvent extraction, which uses propane as the solvent. Other popular solvents used with cannabis include butane (more popularly used than propane), alcohol, and CO2.

Non-solvent extraction, then, means that no foreign substances – other than water – are introduced during the extraction process. So, rather than using a chemical like butane, a non-solvent would use something like water instead, if anything at all.

Dangers of Solvent-Based Concentrates

The main dangers of solvent-made concentrates are pretty straightforward. First, chemicals can explode. Working with chemicals is dangerous in any scenario, especially when it comes to creating products for smoking and consumption. Next, it is possible for the residual solvent to appear in the final product cannabis extract.

Residuals – having traces of solvent floating around the concentrate – is not safe to consume. Buyer beware: It is important to verify quality when buying solvent-based concentrates and can be done by asking your budtender for certificates. You can also ask about starting materials and the type of extraction process (solvent or non-solvent) used.

What Is Propane Hash Oil?

Cannabis concentrate made from a propane-based extraction is called propane hash oil. Though butane hash oil (BHO) is the most popular concentrate, propane hash oil is extremely similar: the big difference is that propane is used rather than butane. The oil can be consumed many ways, such as adding it to a joint or your dab pen.

It can also be noted that butane hash oil can result in several different consistencies, like shatter, sugar, budder, sap, and snap n'pull, while propane hash oil is known for producing mainly budder. More is likely possible, but propane is a new trend compared to the more established BHO.

How Propane Hash Oil is Made

Both butane hash oil and propane hash oil are made the same way, just as both should be produced by a professional since they are dangerous to make at home and require sophisticated machinery for safe and effective extraction. Some extraction companies use a blend of propane and butane, though that is not recommended for at home use.

The propane hash oil process can be best visualized with an espresso machine analogy. With espresso, water passes through the beans and strips them of their oils. These oils contain all of the good stuff, like flavor, aroma, and caffeine. The oils are then filtered into an extremely concentrated solution, ready for consumption.

With cannabis, the extraction machine uses the cannabis plant instead of beans. And instead of water, propane passes through the plant materials. This leads to the plant being stripped of its good stuff, mainly the THC-rich terpenes and cannabinoids. These, like the oils in the espresso beans, are also responsible for flavor, aroma, and psychoactive effects.

Next, the concentrated oil solution that contains the propane and cannabis compounds are put in a vacuum oven. From here, the oven bakes the solution until the propane bakes out completely, via evaporation. This step is also known as purging and releases any other foreign contaminants that might be mixed into the solution. Purging is an incredibly important step and very dangerous if not done correctly. Even though the name is "propane" hash oil, it pertains to how the concentrate is made, not to the main ingredient.

Other Differences

Another difference between butane hash oil and propane hash oil is that propane extractions run at higher pressures. This means that in some cases, depending on the strain, more terpenes can be preserved, leading to a more potent and flavorful concentrate.

Propane hash oil is also credited with less residuals in the finished product. Less residual solvent is a big deal. This means that there is less of a risk that some of the oil – propane – did not completely bake out. This is safer, though not a total guarantee of complete safety.

Additionally, propane has a lower boiling point than its butane counterpart. This makes things a little different; you do not need as much heat to purge. Since less heat is required, the result is a buddery consistency, compared to a shatter. Propane hash oil is usually wax-like, with a 70-90 percent THC potency range.

Do you know?

So, can you answer: What is propane hash oil?

Remember these key facts:

    1. It is a cannabis concentrate.
    2. It is a solvent-based cannabis concentrate.
    3. Solvent-based = uses chemicals.
    4. It is almost the same as BHO but uses propane instead of butane.
    5. It works like an espresso machine: stripping oils into a concentrated solution.
    6. It is best made by professional extractors, who can ensure a 100 percent safe purge.
    7. It has a buddery consistency.
    8. It preserves more terpenes and reduces residuals.

What is propane hash oil? Is it the wave of the future? Maybe. Here is what we do know: It is a potent way to enjoy concentrated cannabis.