This is what a perfect freeze drying cycle should look like: ___________________________
Unfortunately, we can't get there for hash yet because freeze drying has been so understudied (not by academia, by hash makers). The best we have are SOPs that get passed around behind closed doors, developed purely through trial and error.
We're building a tool that helps log data from your freeze dryers so you can take a data driven approach to drying your resin.
Nowadays freeze drying is an integral step in the production of bubble hash. There are many factors that influence how your product will come out of the freeze dryer from dry time to shelf temp.
In this article we're going to give a crash course on freeze dryer terminology, how to find your ideal parameters, and a few recipes you can try out on your next run.
First, let's take a closer look at the freeze drying process and what's happening to your hash.
What's occurring inside your Harvest Right is a process called lyophilization, where water is sublimated out of your material by going straight from ice to gas.
Wet hash slurry (liquid water) -> frozen hash patty (ice) -> sandy dry hash
This process minimizes the oxidization and terp loss that typically occurs when air drying for long durations of time. It also mitigates risk of microbial formation.
Air drying has always been a huge quality barrier and difficult aspect to perfect. Freeze drying has turned a process that can vary wildly and take up to 3 weeks into something that finishes in ~12hrs with a lot more consistency from batch to batch.
Small scoop but pretty decent/even drying on a small Harvest Right unit
One major factor is the equipment you're using. There are quite a few different options on the market now and we'll cover each offering more in depth in a separate article. Smaller freeze dryers may require different cycle times than larger ones, and their vacuum ramping may also be different.
Another factor that influences freeze drying time is the type of hash you're putting in and how wet it is. There's a common misconception that you want the hash to be as dry as possible before going into the freeze dryer, but a nice wet slurry on the trays leads to a more even dry (due to formation of larger ice crystals).
his means you need to pay special attention when scooping hash onto your trays. Take note of how much water you scoop up with each pull of hash. This will have an impact on the time needed to fully dry out all of your material evenly on the tray, but it's important to dial in the exact parameters that work for you.
Freeze drying is a dark art. Mostly because it's understudied -- it's actually quite a good thing to happen to the hash game.
Like anything else with making hash -- it's all about studying inputs, outputs, and how variables change the outcome of your process.
The length of freezing and drying time has a direct impact on the quality of your dried bubble hash. If it's not dried long enough, you'll have clumpy hash patties that are difficult to deal with (at best) or not dried all the way through.
If you dry too long, you could be unecessarily losing volatile terpenes and in turn, flavor. A lot of air dried enthusiasts cite this as a reason to keep their stuff in pizza boxes, but we think you can maximize the benefits of freeze drying while mimicking the best parts of air drying.
This is why it's so important to keep a hawk's eye on the freeze drying process and monitor as many details as you can. It's all about dialing in your process so you can minmize degredation while maximizing efficiency.
Peep the freeze dryer monitoring tool we're working on and let us know what you think.