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BHO (Butane hash oil)

Butane is burned off of raw, unprocessed Purple Dream hash oil (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

Butane hash oil, or BHO for short, is a specific type of cannabis concentrate made using the chemical solvent butane. BHO extracts can be either hard and glass-like, soft and waxy, or a sticky, stretchy in-between. Because BHO can vary so widely in appearance and texture, they may go by other names such as “honeycomb,” “crumble,” “icing,” and other descriptive monikers. BHO is most commonly consumed via dabbing.

“This BHO tested at 90% THC.”

“I used to dab a lot of BHO, but now I prefer rosin.”

What is butane hash oil (BHO)?

BHO, or butane hash oil, is a cannabis concentrate produced using butane solvent extraction. The butane separates cannabis compounds from the plant, resulting in a concentrated oil containing THC, CBD, and other chemical constituents, and leaving undesirable plant material behind. The resulting hash oil can range in potency, but may reach heights of 80-90% THC.

Butane hash oil can vary widely in color and appearance. Typically, it ranges between a light gold to a dark amber color. Some BHO is hard and translucent, called “shatter,” but it may also be soft and wax-like, hence the term “wax.” BHO can also fall somewhere in between, in a sticky, stretchy form sometimes called “pull-n-snap.” 

Most consumers buying BHO intend to enjoy it by dabbing, a consumption method that involves flash vaporization using a specialized water pipe. However, BHO may also be added to bowls of cannabis flower or used to enhance the potency of joints and blunts.

How is butane hash oil (BHO) made?

BHO cannabis extracts are made using butane, a chemical solvent. Professional extractors use what is called a “closed-loop system” that allows the butane to travel through cannabis plant material in contained chambers, preventing the flammable solvent from entering the air. The butane separates marijuana’s essential compounds like THC and CBD and forms a potent oil that may be further refined.

Producing BHO at home is incredibly dangerous and not recommended because butane is highly flammable and can cause explosions. 

Is butane hash oil safe?

Because BHO is made using chemical solvents, some question whether it is safe to consume. Regulated cannabis markets require all cannabis concentrates to be tested for traces of butane to ensure that every product on legal shelves has been adequately refined for purity and does not exceed the legal limit of residual solvent levels.

The most serious risk associated with BHO is not related to consumption, but rather, production; clandestine home setups that lack proper ventilation and closed-loop systems have been the cause of several explosions, some of which have been lethal. 

Another danger associated with BHO is the use of butane torches used to heat dab rig nails. These torches should be used with caution, or alternatively, you may consider investing in torch-free dabbing setups like e-nails (electric nails). 

BHO is a potent concentrate that should be approached with caution by cannabis novices. When dabbed, BHO can bring on intense effects that can lead to dizziness, anxiety, or other psychological distress. It’s a good idea to only dab when seated and to have a comforting environment to retire to in case the high becomes psychologically challenging.