Wondering the right type of bubble bag you need for washing your ice water hash?
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you make the right decision when it comes to buying the right set of bubble bags for you. This includes why you need bubble bags to make ice water hash, what to look for in a quality set of bubble bags, and ultimately how to make the right choice for your ice water hash extractions.
Choosing the best bubble bags for your ice water hash requirements
What exactly are bubble bags?
Put simply, they are an essential part of washing bubble hash, also known as ice water extraction. Bubble bags are a set of filters that sieve cannabis flowers or trim leaves as it’s mixed together with ice water. The goal of mixing ice water together with cannabis is to separate the trichomes that cover the cannabis plant material. Trichomes are tiny, hair-like appendages that contain high concentrations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that the cannabis plant produces.
The most desirable trichomes are called stalked capitate trichomes, composed of a long, slender stalk that supports a bulbous head. Trichomes contain higher amounts of therapeutic compounds than the rest of the cannabis plant. And trichome heads contain the best of the best, so the heads are really the primary object of pursuit.
Bubble bag filters contain a variety of pore sizes, measured in microns, that allow different sizes of material to pass through. Extractors capture trichome heads that most closely match the pore size in specific bubble bags, while letting everything else drain through the bags. Bubble bags allow extractors to separate trichome heads from everything else.
These trichome heads are collected and form the substance of bubble hash, a highly valued solventless cannabis concentrate. Bubble hash is great to enjoy on its own. Alternatively, bubble hash makes a great starting material for pressing hash rosin.
Bubble bags are typically made with food grade nylon and resemble the shape of a bucket, complete with side walls and an open top. Bubble bags come in 1, 5, 20, or even 40-gallon sizes to fit different sizes of wash buckets used for mixing together cannabis and ice water.
Traditionally, bubble bags were made with waterproof sidewalls and mesh filters at the bottom. While this style is still commonly used, many extractors have shifted to using bubble bags that are made entirely of mesh filter material. These offer the advantage of draining much more quickly than the traditional bags made with impermeable, waterproof nylon sidewalls.
Not only do bubble bags come in a variety of sizes made to fit a variety of sizes of mixing buckets, bubble bags are made with filters in a variety of pore sizes. The filters are measured in microns, which indicate the size of holes in the filter. Lower microns indicate a screen with smaller holes, while larger microns indicate filters with larger holes. Larger microns let larger pieces of material pass through, while smaller microns only let tiny, sometimes microscopic pieces pass through.
Bubble bags manufacturers typically include full sets of 8 bubble bags, including filters with 8 different micron sizes. The full spread of microns include 220, 190, 160, 120, 90, 75, 50, and 25. While the full set of 8 bags will offer 8 different grades of bubble hash, extractors can still pull premium bubble hash using just 4 bags.
The highest grades of hash are collected from the bubble bags with filter sizes that most closely match trichome head sizes. These are generally the 50, 75, and 90 micron bubble bags.
Making bubble hash with the ice water extraction method is a straightforward process, however it does require a unique set of knowledge, skills, and attention to detail. The main ingredients needed include trichome-rich cannabis material, clean ice and water, a mixing vessel, and a set of bubble bags. Extractors mix together cannabis, ice, and water which causes trichomes to break free from the cannabis material. This cannabis and ice water slurry is then poured through a series of bubble bags stacked one inside of the other, with the largest micron filter on top and the smallest micron filter at the bottom.
As the cannabis and ice water drains through the filters, the mixture becomes more and more refined. As it passes through the “keeper” bags which are primarily the 90, 75, and 50 micron sizes, the material remaining on the filters is almost entirely composed of full mature trichome heads. The more pure the composition of trichome heads, the higher the quality of hash collected from any given filter.
None of this is possible without a quality set of bubble bags.
Factors to Consider When Buying Bubble Bags
- Size of the bubble bag: You’ll want to make sure you buy a size that matches the size of mixing vessel, or wash bucket that you’re using. The amount of cannabis material you’re processing generally determines the size of wash bucket you’ll need. For example, for most extractors that have up to a half pound of cannabis to wash for bubble hash, a 5-gallon bucket is the ideal size of mixing vessel. In this case, a set of 5-gallon bubble bags is the right choice.
- Material: Premium, food grade nylon is the best material for bubble bags. This material promotes both safety and overall quality, reducing the likelihood that tiny pieces of fiber will get into your bubble hash during the extraction process. High quality nylon is flexible, durable, and can perform consistently throughout the rigors of ice water extraction. While some low quality nylon material can break apart and actually release tiny pieces of plastic into your hash over time, high quality nylon withstands the abuse. Premium nylon bags also contain mesh filters that maintain a consistent pore size even after dozens of uses. Lower quality bags contain filters that will actually change in pore size as the material stretches and loses its shape. This inconsistency has a direct impact on the quality of hash the bubble bags will produce. What’s worse, some low quality nylon bags will actually start to release plastic fibers after multiple uses. This is the last type of contamination that you would want in your ice water hash.
- Stitching/Seams: Bubble bags undergo a lot of stress during ice water extraction, especially during the draining process as they raised out of the vessel while holding several gallons of water. This weight puts a lot of pressure on the seams and stitching of the bubble bags. Therefore, it’s critical that the bubble bags are made with a quality craftsmanship including reinforced seams and consistent, meticulous stitching. Sloppy stitch work and/or slipshod seams present a risk of wasting hash during extraction, as the trichomes can slip through the seams. The seams are one of the most vulnerable aspects of the bubble bags, so be sure to use a brand that has high quality, durable seams and stitch work.
- Micron units: Most complete bubble bag sets include 8 bubble bags with a total of 8 different filter sizes, measured in microns. These sizes generally include 220, 190, 160, 120, 90, 75, 50, and 25 micron filters. While washing hash with a full set of 8 bags provides the maximum level of refinement and control for the extractor, high quality bubble hash can still be made using just 4 bags. Remember, the bags which produce the highest grades of hash are those that contain filters that most closely resemble the size of full, complete trichome heads. These are often referred to as the “keeper” bags and many extractors consider these to be the 90, 75, and 50 micron bags. The other bags will still yield usable hash, so they shouldn’t be totally ignored. Also, larger micron filters are needed to strain out the bulk of the cannabis material during the extraction process.
- Traditional vs All Mesh: All mesh bubble bags are becoming more popular among extractors, due in large part to their ability to drain water more quickly than traditional bubble bags with waterproof side walls. While traditional bubble bags do provide extra rigidity that some extractors prefer, many like to optimize for the faster draining time that all mesh bags offer.
Products – My Favourite Bubble Bags for Ice Water Extraction
My overall favourite based on quality and price:
The Press Club
The Press Club bubble bags offer the industry’s leading combination of high quality materials and consistent, long-lasting performance at an accessible price point. Made with premium food grade nylon and sewn together with meticulous stitch work, The Press Club bubble bags are designed for solventless extractors that don’t want to settle for less in their wash rooms. These bags offer incredible value, especially considering their reasonable price. They make a high quality product available for almost any budget.
Made with a full spectrum of pore sizes ranging from 220 to 25 microns, The Press Club bubble bags are available in a full set of 8 bags, or you can choose any combination of microns in a set of 4 bags. You can also choose between the traditional version with waterproof sidewalls, or the all mesh variety. While some companies charge more for the all mesh variety, The Press Club offers both styles of bag for the same price.
Every bubble bag is sewn with The Press Club’s proprietary stitching, giving you confidence that they can withstand the rigors of ice water extraction. Plus, every bag comes with a Lifetime Warranty. If you have any manufacturer issues, they will replace the bag for you!
That said, The Press Club bubble bags give you consistent extractions whether it’s your 1st or 1000th wash, offering some of the best value in the industry.
- Available in both full mesh or all-mesh
- Premium-grade nylon that’s sewn together with The Press Club’s proprietary stiching
- Reinforced seams for extra durability
- Includes drawstring to secure the bags inside of the wash bucket plus grommets for hang drying
- Available in traditional or all mesh varieties, without the upcharge for all mesh like other manufacturers
- Small business and made in the USA, offering superior solventless accessories at a competitive price.
- Includes meshed carrying case for 2-Way drying & storage
- Ultra durable and backed with a lifetime guarantee
- Not the lowest price point in the market, but still offering massive value for the level of quality you receive
- Only available in the USA
Bubble Bag Dude
Bubble Bag Dude makes bubble bags that you can get at some of the lowest prices in the industry. While they are often the starting point for extractors who are new to making ice water hash, most extractors tend to upgrade to other brands after these wear out. They are a good choice for the most budget-conscious buyers, but are not optimized for overall quality.
- Free shipping in the USA
- Worldwide shipping
- 30 days money back guarantee
- Available in traditional and all mesh styles
- With the traditional, waterproof design there’s the possibility that the nylon sidewalls will quickly degrade, releasing tiny plastic fibers into your hash. This is due to the mediocre quality of the nylon
- Inconsistent, sloppy stitching. The seams are not as strong or as consistent as other manufacturers
- Lower lifetime value as the performance of the bubble bags has been known to drastically decrease over the course of dozens of extractions
- No lifetime guarantee
Bubble Bags (Bubbleman)
One of the first developers of bubble bags for Ice Water Extraction, Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson learned from the Hash Queen, Mila, about the ice water extraction process. He took his knowledge and expertise in hash and developed his own bags using high quality materials and solid construction techniques. Bubbleman’s bubble bags represent one of the most well-known brands in the industry, but are they the best option?
No doubt that these bags are premium quality, but the price point is sometimes hard to justify for many extractors. Also, there are other excellent options out there that won’t break the bank.
- Very high quality mesh used in the filters, maintaining consistent pore size over many uses
- Available in a variety of styles (traditional and all mesh), plus a “lite” variation that includes a lighter fabric for the budget conscious home user
- Standard quality bubble bags come with lifetime guarantee
- Long-standing reputation as a reliable product for ice water extractions, from a pioneer in the industry
- One of the highest price points in the industry, which is prohibitive to many extractors
- The “lite” variety of bubble bags only come with a 1-year warranty
- Ships from Canada which can cause some logistical issues for US customers
There you have it – a concise guide to buying the best bubble bags for your requirements!