I began working in the medical marijuana industry as soon as it went medical in California. I started as a bud tender, then a manager of several memorable dispensaries in California. I learned how to make hash from the master hashmaker that goes by Chalice Errl. Since then I have won numerous awards both for products relating to, and actual hash including:

2009 High Times Cannabis Cup, Amsterdam 1st Place Best Product

2010 Fall Colorado Caregivers Cup, 1st Place Best Earwax

2010 Fall Colorado Caregivers Cup, 1st Place Best Oil

2011 Kush Con II, Full Spectrum Labs Best Concentrate

2011 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup, Denver 2nd Place Best Concentrate

2011 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup, Denver 3rd Place Best Product

2011 Spring Colorado Caregiver's Cup, 1st Place Best Hash

2011 Spring Colorado Caregiver's Cup, 1st Place Best Earwax

2011 Spring Colorado Caregiver's Cup, 1st Place Best Oil

2012 Panelist for "To Dab or Not to Dab: The Pros, Cons, and Possible Dangers of BHO" hosted at the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in Denver.

2012 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup, Denver 1st Place Best Concentrate

2012 The Hemp Connoisseur Championship 3rd Place Concentrate

2012 The Hemp Connoisseur Championship 1st Place Connoisseur's Choice Concentrate

2013 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup, Denver Highest CBD (In collaboration with Natural Mystic Caregivers)

2014 Dab-a-Doo, Spain 1st Place Solvent (In Collaboration with Nerd Extractions)

2014 Named "Best Concentrate Company of Denver 2014" by The Westword

2014 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup, Denver 1st Place Edible (In collaboration with Natural Mystic Caregivers)

Feel free to AMA


Comments: 153 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

DankityChron10 karma

Do you guys use passive or active closed loop systems? Do you have any reasons either way?

topshelfextracts12 karma

I've used both but I prefer passive recovery. Less machinery and moving parts, less chance of oil getting in the oil, no chance of the machinery breaking down or wearing out. I love the SweetLeaf Extractor, out of everything I've used it works the best. However, We had one custom built by a gas specialist and his team of engineers because it has passed all permit requirements and is one of three systems we can use in Colorado.

MrMedicated3 karma

I've heard whispers of Sweet leaf trying to get the system they currently offer to be able to pass all permit requirements. Have you heard anything about this?

topshelfextracts2 karma

Everyone is trying to right now.

j4yt3x2 karma

I like hearing you say you prefer passive recovery. I feel like the recovery pumps are the biggest hurdle for people trying to make the jump to a CLS.
How do you deal with picking up unwanted moisture when you recover passively?

topshelfextracts2 karma

Inline dewaxing solves any moisture problems in the oil with the Sweetleaf unit. Freezing it with dry ice until the waxes and moisture precipitate and then the oil is pulled through a 10 micron filter. But even with the older model it wasn't an issue really. We worked in a lab with drains on the concrete floor and were diligent about wiping off our equipment before we opened it up.

_le_username_6 karma

I'd be interested in hearing anything you might have to say about the future of cannabis and broader drug criminalization in this country. What do you see as the model for expansion of medical and recreational cannabis - do you expect to see a realistic federal proposal at any point or will it continue to be a patchwork of maybe-not-great state actions, and what ultimately becomes of the drug war over the next presidential cycle or two. Also, any comments about your optimism, or any concerns, about how things have been going in Colorado since January. Thanks.

EDIT: Apparently you get auto-deleted if you don't end your comment with a question mark??

topshelfextracts1 karma

The federal government is letting us experiment and I believe we have an effective model that can be implemented elsewhere. I'm about 90% happy with our rules. The last 10% galls me but the regulatory model admittedly is a work in progress and will hopefully be dialed in soon.

From my perspective the wave of legalization isn't stoppable. But legalization doesn't mean willy nilly do whatever you want. It means rules, and standards, and permits. It will get increasingly difficult for an independent entrepreneur to make money, but it'll finally be as available as it should be.

There is literally nothing different about Colorado except now you can't smoke anywhere in Denver.

sENTual5 karma

Do you personally test your own product?

topshelfextracts11 karma

Yes... every single batch is "lung labbed," and several batches a month are tested at a local lab. While operational we were doing 15 tests a month. Now we're going to have to do a whole lot more because of regulations.

Touchlebutt4 karma

Do you give out samples for uh... Scientific Research?

topshelfextracts16 karma

If we had a booth at a cannabis event with a "medicating area" where people had the proper legal qualifications we definitely would be giving out free dabs.

Tiger_Woody4 karma

Are you guys testing for all residual solvents yet? Our lab up here in WA just started testing for 10 residual solvents...it's kinda scary to see what is left in some people's oil. Everybody is really into shatter up here but most of the cleanest samples were from wax.

topshelfextracts5 karma

Residual pentane testing is only available through Analytical 360 in Washington and Steep Hill Labs in NorCal. It will be available in Colorado soon though. I can't wait.

It's true... when you whip BHO or use heat under vacuum to turn it into that wax like consistency residuals are almost always near zero.

ecarte2 karma


topshelfextracts1 karma

Yes with flowers they do but as far as I know no one has ever found pesticide in a concentrate at a lab. Please correct me and post a link if I'm wrong.

Wuffalo4 karma

So as a person fully immersed in the hash industry what are your thoughts on products like the clear concentrate with their fractional distillate process and the up and coming trends with ice wax? I guess specifically do you think these products are going to overshadow bho in the future?

topshelfextracts11 karma

I think they all have their place. As a hashmaker I don't like The Clear though. It looks amazing, and some batches taste really good, but it also tastes artificial because the terpenes/flavor are not from cannabis.

Water hash I don't think is a trend, it's been around forever. I do see the craft getting better and better though. Everyone has their preference in the end, and I love water hash and smoke quite a bit of it. I honestly don't like dabbing it though and would prefer to smoke it in a joint.

You might be surprised to know that I smoke about 80% flower and only 20% concentrates.

Wuffalo1 karma

That is surprising, is that because you don't get as full of an effect from just hash? Or what's your reasoning otherwise

topshelfextracts7 karma

I don't like how even when I have a tasty dab of some dry sift or water hash the last bit of my hit always tastes like char. When done right it's a thing of beauty I just don't like to dab it. Love to smoke it though. I love smoking weed even more though.

Fossafossa3 karma

What is your preferred/recommended way of inhaling oil/wax? Vape pen, on a bud, indirect heat glass, or something else?

topshelfextracts5 karma

I like to dab off of a very small rig with 10mm domeless Highly Educated titanium nail. I heat the nail evenly then let it cool so much that I need to use a carb cap to make sure my full hit vaporizes. This ensures maximum flavor and I love terps.

Popeintraining2 karma

Hi and thanks for hosting this ama! How did you get into the buisness? It feels so specific!

topshelfextracts6 karma

Thanks for checking it out! I've always loved marijuana, started smoking regularly in college, and started budtending at a dispensary in 2006. I saw the tremendous potential cannabis extracts had early on and made it a point to seek out the best I could find when I was a manager. I became friends with one of our vendors and he taught me how to make proper hash. When Colorado became legal I was contracted to consult on the opening of a dispensary and then hired to start their concentrate division. After about a year I broke off and started Top Shelf Extracts.

Popeintraining1 karma

Wow! Sounds like you do something that you love!

topshelfextracts6 karma

I definitely do... love my job and love my scene.

Luckybuddylee2 karma

Washington resident here. How much money are growers and sellers currently making? In Washington marijuana is going to be sold in stores for about 25 a gram to start until production increases.

topshelfextracts1 karma

Where? I can't speak on how much private growers make here because I don't know. Out here dispensaries have to have their own grows and shops can only buy from other licensed shops, no private growers at all.

jdh942 karma

Big fan of your products. As a producer of medicinal concentrates do you see this industry continuously growing in the next 10 years or do you think concentrates such as BHO will peak in popularity and move into the background? Thanks for your time

topshelfextracts4 karma

Using butane as an industrial solvent has been going on for a very long time. My friend Todd McCormick pointed out that they used to use butane to extract caffeine from coffee. They wanted the caffeine, but then realized that there was a market for "decaffeinated coffee." So because it's effective it will continue to be used. However, regulations now demand that if you want to do it legally you have to go through an extensive licensing and certification process. Not everyone making hash can swing the extensive costs that go into making a legal production facility.

But BHO isn't just what you dab. It goes into edibles, topicals, pills, vape cartridges, etc. There will always be a demand for all of those products. We haven't reached a point where supply has exceeded demand yet anywhere for anything so it's hard for me to speculate beyond that.

Almox2 karma

I guess this is more of a question that any experienced smoker could ask, but hey why not ask you? Anyway, whats the high like from concentrates compared to smoking straight bud? Does it give you a different kind of high, or is it more of an equivalent to smoking a lot>

topshelfextracts9 karma

It's essentially the same high, you just smoke a whole lot less to get there. And because you're inhaling less smoke it's more of a clear headed, and usually more of a "buzzy" high. But it is somewhat strain dependent too. An extract made from Haze would be an extremely energizing to the point of inducing panic in some people. A high CBD strain would be felt more in the body. A strain high in the terpene mercene like Afghan Kush would be more sedative.

If you're going to try dabbing don't let some asshole give you a huge one. Try one very small, like half the size of a teardrop. No need to hold it in for more than a second. Also know what you're smoking and listen to your senses. If it looks bad, smells, bad, tastes bad, or feels bad it's not good hash. Not any worse than a vicodin but not as effective and enjoyable as well made hash.

Quality of course comes into play here too.

2wo_chins2 karma

Where can I look to find your drops consistently? You guys stopped producing for my current caregivers a little bit ago.

topshelfextracts3 karma

We haven't processed anything for the last two months because we will be making hash for medical as well as for recreational dispensaries. We had two months of waiting for plans and permits but we're through that process now and are finishing up construction on our "catastrophe proof room." We'll be back on the shelves hopefully in two weeks, but worst case scenario by the end of the month.

the_catacombs2 karma

Do you supply any of the pre made vape cartridges? Can you name the brand? I would love to try your stuff.

topshelfextracts1 karma

We'll have our own brand coming out as soon as our workshape gets the final sign off.

itseasyas1231 karma

I'm looking into purchasing my first vac oven, do you have any recommendations? I've been looking into across intl

topshelfextracts4 karma

Don't get the old style, get the new one where you can control the temperature on each shelf. Or look into CascadeTec

rpantherlion1 karma

How did you get into the business? Who taught you how to make such awesome BHO? Thanks!

topshelfextracts1 karma

I developed a passion for concentrates in 2008 while managing socal dispensaries, and I became friends with Chalice Errl who taught me.

vagisorousrex1 karma

Need a chemE degree in your staff?

topshelfextracts2 karma

We're always taking resumes

MrMedicated1 karma

Above all my questions below id like this answered the most, what was the process like getting your legitimate business license to produce concentrates?

What is the ideal purging time on heat in a vacuum in your opinion. some say 6 hours some say 200+

Also, whats your opinion on the recent "nugrunconcentrates" study linked here http://www.medicaljane.com/2014/05/01/cannabis-concentrates-experiment-the-effects-of-whipping-by-nugrun-concentrates/

Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA

topshelfextracts6 karma

In Colorado you absolutely have to be a resident to own an mmj business so I couldn't for the first two years. I was able to develop a brand and partner with people that do own MIPs licenses. Making the switch from medical to doing both medical and recreational was a horrendous process that took forever, but now with the end in sight it's awesome. You have to have inspections from seven different agencies and submit plans to be reviewed by the city engineers. It takes months.

If you're making shatter the rule a lot of hash makers use is "95 hours at 95 degrees." However, as a few testing companies are now able to detect pentane which is especially high in canned butane, many people start as high as 120 for a few hours, then drop the heat to 100 for a few days.

Yes I did. It proved what we suspected. It was believed at first the budder or waxy consistency of whipped BHO trapped solvents but testing showed that isn't the case. Whether you whip, use heat, or it does it on its own, when it becomes budder the residuals are close to zero every time. Shatter is much more difficult to purge properly.

MrMedicated2 karma

thank you for the informative response, and once again thanks for taking the time to do this AMA.

topshelfextracts4 karma

My pleasure, and thanks for checking it out and adding to the discussion. You seem to be part of the community striving to put a positive face forward for the 710 scene and I appreciate that. Stoked you quoted my friend Nugrun Concentrates, he's one of the most passionate and dedicated people I know.

Untedletepbum1 karma

I read that as HBO at first. Is there any home extraction method requiring minimal/standard household equipment you would recommend? I just bought bulk and am thinking of doing something more than just smoking it.

topshelfextracts7 karma

There are a bunch of methods online, but PLEASE DO NOT BLAST INSIDE. When butane is within a closed in area it is explosive. Outside... not so much. It's not worth your freedom, your health, or your life. Idiots blowing up motels and apartments and garages all made the singular mistake of doing this inside. It's practically suicide to do it inside.

On the other hand there are a bunch of methods online for making water hash too. Worst thing that has ever happened with making water hash is someone throwing out their back.

If you insist on making BHO still check out Bret Maverick's youtube channel: http://tinyurl.com/kemo8ag

And really, please, never blast inside. Ever. For any reason at all no matter what you do.

LeprechronicChris0 karma

Qwiso. There's a sub reddit for it whose name currently escapes me

topshelfextracts3 karma

Don't use isopropyl alcohol though please. Use grain alcohol.

The_Duke_of_Dabs1 karma

can you see about doing a Midwest secret cup? Everyone here in Michigan, ohio, and Indiana would be all about it.

topshelfextracts6 karma

We're trying to make it happen and are in talks with a venue in Michigan now.

The_Duke_of_Dabs1 karma

Thank god, also, think you could tell everyone about what's going on for the 7/10 Cup? What can we look forward to?

topshelfextracts2 karma

"The 710 Cup full schedule is being released on Monday. Are you ready? Live music and DJs, The Break Room preview, radio remote broadcasts, safety seminars, glass blowing, joint rolling contest, industry experts, swimsuit/bikini competition (hosted by Cas Sativa), edibles competition, live hat painting, vendor village, art gallery open house, world premiere of The 710 Cup movie, pool party, and more. Enjoy your shatter day!"

This is from their facebook page... I'm doing a safety panel at 3 at The Break Room Saturday.

AsexualWeirdo1 karma

Is the cannabis industry in Colorado over saturated? Because uhhh...I have this friend who's always wanted to grow weed legally

topshelfextracts3 karma

It depends for which job. People generally start as trimmers, bud tenders, or garden helpers. But the cream rises to the top and the best positions go to the people that work the best, or in some cases play politics the best.

sneakywill1 karma

So what are you entering in the 710 cup? I'd like to know what my competition looks like ;)

topshelfextracts2 karma

We're not! I'm doing a safety panel with advice from local experts for consumers/patients, for open loop, and for closed loop blasting. Basically a check list to ensure you don't hurt yourself or blow the roof off your garage, signs to spot your friend is putting everyone's life at risk, etc. We won't be talking tech, just safety.

MardukSlayerOfTiamat1 karma

What do you see the future holding for butane usage? Right now it seems as if there is a free-for-all, I cant imagine butane regulation staying this lenient. There will be a point in the future where getting lab grade butane will be much harder. Do you see the industry adapting to that?

Furthermore: How do you feel about LHO? Seeing Horatio's work with limonene is very exciting. Do you think alternative extraction methods will one day become the norm?

topshelfextracts3 karma

The future is tight regulation and only licensed permitted facilities with a huge amount of backing and a team of lawyers. But like I said in another answer, BHO isn't only dabs... it's also edibles, pills, tinctures, topicals, and vape cartridges. Even if dabbing fell out of fashion (which it shows no sign of doing) there would still be a demand for it.

LHO (Limonene Hash Oil) might just be the future. I'm a true believer. I've tried Horatio's work and know first hand that it's the real deal. It's clean, tasty, clear, and stable, and was made without leaving a carbon footprint. I think it's time to invest in Limonene.

Icabezudo1 karma

Why do you use butane and not hexane? I've been told by many people that Hexane is the way to go because it doesn't contain the artificial smells that butane does, so disruption of taste.

topshelfextracts3 karma

I have never in my life smoked anything made with Hexane. Ever. I don't think it's available to people. We use instrument grade n-butane that we distill to remove any contaminants before we run anything.

j4yt3x1 karma

What are your thoughts on the whole inline dewaxing deal? And dewaxing in general.

topshelfextracts2 karma

If you can do it safely, do it. Run things as cold as possible. Inline dewaxing is DEFINITELY the way to go. SweetLeaf Extractors has a great system that does just that.

StoneyBuddz4200 karma

Daniel, first and foremost, you are the man. I went to the Secret Cup PNW last year and been following the progress youve been making in the industry ever since. Thanks for being positive and speaking wisdom. Its helped alot. I just have one, two-part question:

For someone that doesnt have a ton of experience making hash at home, whats a good way to get my foot in the door in the medicinal and recreactional industry with a company and potentially become an extract artist?

topshelfextracts5 karma

Your best bet would be to learn to grow weed first. You can only make hash legally in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. Get a job trimming and work hard and work well. Move up to working in the grow. Same as any other job really. I always hire people who are active in the community and have shown me that they have a passion for the work. Become friends with an established hashmaker that is willing to teach you in exchange for labor.

But really, if you can grow it grow it because that's the surest way to get some material to run and to learn what variables go into producing good material.

bobbycans0 karma

Have you had hassle form the federal government?

Has it been more hassle since Obama came to power or much of a muchness?

topshelfextracts2 karma

No we haven't, and neither has anyone else making hash for dispensaries in Colorado. Every single thing we do at work is on camera and available to law enforcement, every movement of bud or trim is kept track of by a central system and the state here knows what all of our yields are for every single batch we make. Federal government said that it would leave state's mmj programs alone if they regulated them, and we are very regulated.

bobbycans1 karma

I was on about California.....

2wo_chins1 karma

I guess he never said, he moved to Colorado to go on to create his own extract company.

bobbycans1 karma

Yeah, I get that but I read that the federal government shut down a lot of places in California. I'm just wondering if he got any hassle.

topshelfextracts3 karma

No, never have thank goodness.

GDmofo0 karma

Could you use straight napalene instead of butane?

topshelfextracts4 karma

Do you mean naptha? That was a solvent used by rick Simpson to make a whole plant edible and/or topical oil. What I make is smokeable by itself, in vape cartridges, or it can be "activated" (heated until all the thc-a turns into THC) and it can be used in a pill or edible format. There is way too much chlorophyll in something extracted with naptha to smoke.

On the other hand if you're going for an edible oil naptha being camping stove fuel, it would be a much better idea to use grain alcohol instead. It does the same job without all the nasty stuff that would be left behind from a lazy purge.

RachelMaddog-1 karma

why are hashtags so popular on twitter? did you see an increase in business as twitter got bigger??

topshelfextracts7 karma

No, but instagram on the other hand...

thedudedabs-1 karma


topshelfextracts3 karma

look up Bret Maverick on youtube and watch everything before you do a single run. If you start at the beginning you can participate in the learning process with him. Are you in a legal state?

BRUTAL_ANAL_RAPE8888-13 karma

Why dont pot users ever shut up about their habbit?

topshelfextracts2 karma

Because it is not crack. Look, talk to a cigar aficionado or wine enthusiast and you'll pretty much have the same conversation that you would with someone that's into pot or concentrates. And then there are the thousands and thousands of people that see it as a miracle alternative to the medications they and their loved ones were using to try to treat whatever they were suffering from. They talk about it a lot too.