Who invented bubble hash? A secret technique from a UN scientist’s son
Hash has been with human beings for thousands of years, acknowledged in the Ayurvedic tradition. And yet, modern cannabis concentrates revolutionized the idea of hash less than a half-century ago. The former owner of the Holland Seed Bank, the late Nevil Shoenmakers, carved out a historical legacy. Aside from founding the first cannabis seed bank, Nevil also takes credit for sharing a technique he was taught to separate cannabis resin with water. Eventually, a similar method developed into water and bubble hash, as well as ice wax, but who is the elusive pioneer that invented the bubble hash process?
The unknown American – or was he Canadian?
Western civilization first learned about water hash when David Paul Watson – also known as Sadhu Sam or Skunkman Sam – hosted an ad in High Times in 1987. For $10, Sam would send instructions to anyone interested in his secret technique to separate off the oil-filled trichomes that coat cannabis leaves from the plant material. Sources put Nevil as Watson’s mentor of the cold water hash secret — originating from an unknown American. Skunkman thinks his name was Mike. (1)
Although his role in the bubble hash story is entirely unknown, Montreal Michael embarked on cannabis extraction techniques learned from his mother’s books. (2) Michael also travelled between Kathmandu, Nepal and then Afghanistan on The Hippy Trail, according to a new book by the late Jerry Beisler. Could this elusive son of a late UN scientist be the individual who taught Nevil and invented the bubble hash that we dab today? Both men were separately involved in explosions during hash oil’s vague first wave. All hearsay, but how did the unknown North American’s technique pass from Nevil to the rest of the world?
During the time of Skunk, before hash was cold and wet
After being busted by the DEA in 82 for growing the first buds of Skunk #1, you could say Skunkman was dealing with controversy at the time. Afterwards, he appeared with his long hair in a ponytail wearing thick glasses travelling with a box of cannabis seeds to the Netherlands with Ed Rosenthal on the command of Wernard Bruining. Eventually, however, the Dutch Ministry of Justice did launch an investigation against Watson and his company, Hortapharm, due to that DEA bust. A publication by Dutch media platform and radio program Agros cites Watson’s lawyer at the time. Unfortunately, this author received no response from his former attorney, who is no longer active on the Californian Bar. (3-5)
In the end, Hortapharm formed a partnership with GW Pharmaceuticals. And so, water hash extraction after Nevil’s legacy tends to be riddled with as much mystery as Skunkman’s time between the DEA bust and Deutschlands. And that mystery only goes as far back as the elusive American who pioneered the technique before him. But the official inventor of bubble hash formally resided in California’s Emerald Triangle.
The secret of the trichome
Varietals within the cannabaceae family include hops and cannabis, which store modified terpenoids and terpenes inside resinous glands, respectively known as lupulins and trichomes. The modified terpenoids produced by hops include alpha and beta acid isomers. On the other hand, cannabis produces THC and CBD within its trichomes, and both plants contain a bountiful profile of terpenes nestled in their resin glands.
As it turns out, the separation technique used to create hashish from cannabaceae involves lifting these delicate glands off the plant’s surface. The terp-rich resin then settles in the water and is sieved out. The IUPAC standard, EO2302, has a specific definition of extraction that excludes this technique as it requires the formation of a solution.
The Hash Queen, Reinhard, and the efficiency of water
Mila the Hash Queen, a mother and businesswoman, spent many years in the Indian subcontinent after being born in Liverpool, England. In those days, cannabis leaf was not viable for smoking in Amsterdam, so Mila Jansen became accustomed to traditional hash from Lebanon, Turkey, and India starting in 1964. Thirty years later, the mother of four modified a clothes dryer with a screen — heater removed — to separate trichomes. The Hash Queen’s prototype Pollinator worked.
Shortly after, Mila simplified water hash extraction with a man by the name of Eldon, and Mark Rose. The a two-bag system known as the Ice-O-Later was then released during the 1998 Cannabis Cup. But that system was inspired by the official inventor of the process, Reinhard C. Delp, holding a patent filed in 1997. (6) The same year, the German-born inventor showcased his hash machine fitted with a paper filter at the Cannabis Cup.
Bubblemen battle in ice
Building on secrets of hash after the Ice-O-Lator system, specifically, Marcus Gary Richardson designed his own silkscreen-bottomed bags in 1999. Richardson — residing in British Columbia, Canada — was earlier was shot down as a potential distribution partner for Ice-O-Lator. (1) Bubblebags were designed to more efficiently separate trichomes from the plant with cold water. Afterwards, Richardson became known as The Bubbleman, and Reinhard launched a property infringement suit that eventually settled out of court. Bubbleman began paying royalties and respects to Reinhard and his family, but sadly, the German-born inventor’s efforts were already written out of the history books.
Robert C. Clark, a friend and former employee of David ‘Skunkman Sam’ Watson, released a book titled Hashish in June of 1998. With knowledge of Reinhard’s Ice Cold-Xtractor from the previous year, Clarke wrote about a PVC-based revision of the device by a man named Baba Bob. Although, this appeared to be Clarke’s fabrication and attempt at writing Reinhard out of the intellectual property. There’s no mention of Ice Cold Xtractor in Clarke’s book, though; it focuses on Sadhu Sam and Baba Bob’s Aqua-X-Tractor. (7)
Skunkman described his water hash as having a bubblegum consistency in his secret manuscript. (7) And then, Robert C. Clark introduced a new quality of hash to Richardson in 1995 by telling him: “If it doesn’t bubble, it isn’t worth the trouble!” (1) And so, the etymological roots of bubble hash are more with David Watson and Robert Clark’s description of good hash than they are with Bubbleman. And Richardson agreed in an email response but also told this author about the work of Eldon, as well as Mark Rose. (8)
Mila’s bags were indeed released in 1998 after Eldon and Mark Rose basically invented them after staring at Reinhard’s Ice Cold Extractor. Eldon came up with the bag idea and Mark named and manufactured them… Mark Rose has been the manufacturer of bubblebags for 20 years.
Marcus ‘Bubbleman’ Richardson
Apparently, though, Eldon built off an idea presented by Mila to use a second cloth screen, eliminating Delp’s paper filter. (9) Afterwards, but before Mark Rose of ACME Nepal began production, Mila embraced the collective idea, even sewing the first bags. Thanks to her experience as a tailor, after an hour, she completed the prototype Ice-O-Lator. (10) Three years later, High Times documented the bag system with Mel Frank and Ken Morrow’s Trichome Technologies. (11)
Separately, Fritz Chess of Eden Labs also actively experimented with various extraction machines for cannabis between 1993 and 1996 in California. (12) In that case, is it a stretch to say an old magazine ad originated cold-water hash in North America a decade before several other pioneers invented similar processes in annual succession? Legend has it, using water to purify cannabis resins originated in the Indian subcontinent long before Nevil founded the Cannabis Seed Bank, but of course, no proof for this exists. Then again, proof of Eldon’s existence — a former resident of Kathmandu — is almost as vague.
Full melt bubblehash and a legacy of stars left in SPACE
Bubbleman modestly admitted that getting his bags from British Columbia, Canada’s western coast across the border, into the United States was his multifunctional system’s novelty. Assisting with international shipping during the prohibition era, Bubblebags are great at cleaning saltwater off diving equipment, for example. (8) But The Cannabis Reverend — Jeff Wilhoit — takes credit as the first hash maker to bravely order wholesale bags into the US off Bubbleman. (1)
To further popularize the new form of cannabis, Richardson claims he and Skunkman coined the term full-melt and clear dome. (1) In a 2018 blog post, Steven Hager reminisced on the first Cannabis Cup, which he founded in 1988. Skunkman was smoking a full-melt with Robert Clarke, as Hager remembers. This hash allegedly turned into liquid under a flame, unlike Nevil’s private Northern Lights dry sift. Whether the men spoke the phrase “full melt” during the first Cup is unknown, though, much like Skunkman’s position after the DEA bust or the truth of Hager’s tales. (3-5, 13)
2004 on Bubbleman’s webpage is the earliest documented use of the phrase full melt that this author can find. After some time, though, water hash and dry sift were each given a concise quality scale. In 2015, Frenchy Cannoli released the paper The Future of Artisanal Hash in California with details of the importance of a star system. (14) But the star system used by the community today was invented by the hash maker, glassblower, and Bizzare Brother SPACE — also known as Justin Benton. (1, 8) The six-star system was a legacy left with us by SPACE. A legacy, considering the hash community lost Benton to the stars in October of 2021.
- RIP to Justin Benton, Cami Frenchy Cannoli, Morgan Horatio Delbert Saybian, Nevil Shoenmaker, Marijuana Man, Jerry Beisler, and the other cannabis and hash legends we’ve lost in the last three short years.
- Sadly, Reinhard passed away in October of 2017. This author reached out to his son, who has been listed as en employee of Reinhard’s companies, but did not receive a detailed response. Ruhe in Frieden, Reinhard.
Let us know in the comments if you think Montreal Michael could possibly be the Unkown American. And do you agree with Reinhard’s patent battle in the cannabis space?
- 1971 — Montreal Michael heads to Afghanistan planning on establishing a cannabis extraction operation.
- 198? — Nevil Shoenmakers learned of a technique to use water to separate resin from cannabis plants from an unknown American possibly named Mike.
- 1985 — David ‘Skunkman Sam’ Watson travels to the Netherlands with Ed Rosenthal one month after a DEA bust.
- 1987 — John Gallardin invented the Master Sifter, a mechanical sieve that made dry sift using vibration according, strictly, to Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Growing Tips Second Edition.
- 1987 — Skunkman, preferring dry sift himself, commissions High Times Magazine to release an ad selling Nevil’s technique to make water hash with a chewed bubblegum consistency.
- 1994 — Mila Jansen invents the Pollinator dry sift machine, the first tumble seive for cannabis.
- 1995 — Marcus ‘Bubbleman’ Richardson travels to his first Cannabis Cup and smokes melty hash with Robert Clark, who told Richardson, “If it doesn’t bubble it’s not worth the trouble.”
- 1997 — Reinhard Delp showcases his water hash machine, the Ice Cold-Xtractor at the Cannabis Cup after filing a patent for the device which describes a process using fine air bubbles under high pressure in the water. CA2321815.
- 1998 — Robert C. Clark writes about an alleged man named Baba Bob (a possible alias for himself) in the book Hashish, who supposedly made the Aqua-X-Tractor. (11)
- 1998 – The Ice-O-Lator bag system was born based on Reinhard Delp’s machine.
- 1999 to 2001 — After Mila rejected Richardson as a Canadian distributor, ACME Nepal begins producing Bubblebags, designed and imported into Canada by Richardson through Fresh Headies Internet Products.
- 2000 to 2001 — Jeff Wilhoit begins ordering wholesale Bubblebags and distributing them among friends in California.
- 2001 — Reinhard files an Intellectual Property infringement claim against Fresh Headies and Crystal Mountain. This was moved to trial over a viability dispute due to temperature range issues and allegedly settled out of court according to a blog post by Richardson.
- 2015 — Frenchy Cannoli writes about the importance of a grading system, possibly using a number of stars and descriptive text.
- 2015 — Soilgrown makes flower rosin.
- 2016 — SPACE (Justin Benton) coins the star system used today.
- 2016 — Whistler Technologies is incorporated, founded by Daniel Lantela, employing Richardson.
- 2017 — Reinhard Delp passes away
- 2018 — A worldwide family litigation is filed on Reinhard’s global patent for collecting cannabis resins with water.
- 2019 — Bubble hash is legalized in Canada.
Bubble hash in the cover photo features an Orange Sorbet Full Melt, 90u Temple Ball, courtesy of @spicer2442.
- SamuraiSam. December 26, 2016. Forum post. SPW. Fuck Combustion. 1b. Hash Church. 2015. Episode LXXIII. 73. BMWRLD.
- Shamani Joshi. 2021. I Found Out My Father Smuggled Cannabis From Afghanistan to Amsterdam. Vice. Drugs.
- Agros. 1998. Hortapharm II. NL. Human Vpro.
- Vanessa Thorpe. 1998. Cannabis: a year that changed minds. Independent UK.
- Bill Breen. 2004. Dr. Dope’s Connection. Fast Company.
- Robert C. Clarke. 1998. Hashish. Red Eye.
- Personal communications with Marcus Richardson.
- Jason King. 2001. Cannabible 2.
- Personal communications with Mila Jansen.
- Trichome Technologies and Mel Frank. 2001. Trichome Technologies’ Guide To Making Hash. HT.
- JD Ellis. 2020. 188.8.131.52 The History of BHO. GrayWolf’s Lair.
- Steven Hager. 2018. Blog Post: The Mysterious Mr. Watson. Steven Hager.
- Frenchy Cannoli and Kim Sallaway. The Future of Artisanal Hash in California. 2015.
- Ed Rosenthal. 2014. Beyond Buds: Marijuana Extracts Hash, Vaping, Dabbing, Edibles and Medicines.
- de Meijer, E. P., Bagatta, M., Carboni, A., Crucitti, P., Moliterni, V. M., Ranalli, P., & Mandolino, G. (2003). The inheritance of chemical phenotype in Cannabis sativa L. Genetics, 163(1), 335–346. https://doi.org/10.1093/genetics/163.1.335
- Lexicology. Reinhard Delp v. Fresh Headies Internet Sales Ltd. , 2011 FC 1228,
Sadhu Sams’ Resin Separation Technique
The following is copytext from Skunkman Sadhu Sam’s manuscript as it is photographed in Joseph R. Pietri’s controversial book, 15 Ounce Pound, Big Pharma’s Plan to Patent Pot. The copytext has been crossreferenced with a version that appeared in Clarke’s 1998 publication. (7)
Greetings from Sadhu Sam, cannabis aficionado extraordinaire, explorer at the mysterious Universe of herbs across South Africa, the middle east India, and the Americas, has collected ancient secrets from growers, outlaws, and mystic wanderers. This particular technique was discovered by Nevil.
The higher the quality of starting material, the better quality and higher the yield. There must be resin present for the resin to be collected. Water collects more resin than dry sieving.
- A clean, coarse screen such as a window screen or strainer.
- Several large, wide mouth jars with a screw-on lid such as one or two-quart peanut butter jars.
- Spoon and coffee filters.
How it works
- The material is dried over very low heat. No higher than 90 degrees Celcius so that it is crisp and dry.
- The material is ground through a coarse screen or strainer. All dust and debris are collected and not lost.
- Each jar is filled ¼ of the way with ground grass.
- The jar is filled to the top with cold water.
- The lid is screwed on tight.
- The jar is shaken for thirty seconds (a blender works well.)
- The jar is left to settle for 15 minutes.
- The lid is removed, floating material is scooped out. This material is placed in a second jar and the washing process is repeated to separate any remaining resin from the material.
- All but one inch of water from jar number one is poured off so that the bottom layer is not disturbed.
- The jar is refilled with clean water and left to settle for another ten minutes.
- All but one inch and of water is poured off again, leaving the bottom layer undisturbed.
- The water and resin remaining on the bottom are poured into a coffee filter. Any resin remaining in the jar is washed into the filter using additional water.
- After all the water has drained through the filter, a spoon is used to scrape all the resin into a corner of the coffee filter. At this point, the resin has the consistency of wet sand. The water is squeezed out of the coffee filter forming the wet resin into a lump.
- The filter is placed inside a kitchen cloth towel to prevent it from tearing and to absorb moisture. The towel is twisted until all the moisture is squeezed out.
- The resin is removed from the filter and flattened with the palm of one hand and the thumb of the other using great pressure. The resin is placed on the heel of the palm and rolled towards the index finger. The piece is folded and the pressing is repeated over and over. The warm resin has the consistency of chewed bubblegum.
- Mould contaminated material is cleaned during this technique. The mould neither floats nor sinks but stays in the suspension in the water. To make sure the mould is removed, growers make several other rinses until the water is clear. [This is unfortunately not entirely true for certain mycotoxins.]
The water cleaning method removes virtually all debris from the glands. They are very pure. They have only the finest taste, just an essence. The mono and diturpenes (SIC) which usually lend odour or taste have been washed away.
Smoking the material is an unusual experience. An oil pipe is used. There is virtually no smoke, just the evaporated oil. It has only the most subtle taste, no smoke, so one hardly realizes they got a hit until he feels its effects.
The resin heads harden into a brittle ball when cold. However, when heated it melts and does not resolidify.