Marijuana flower is becoming ever more potent, with some strains testing at 30% THC. Nonetheless, experienced users sometimes crave even stronger products, such as cannabis concentrates like wax and shatter.
In fact, concentrates have developed into a booming field with an incredible array of options. However, there is an old-school version of high-potency cannabis called charas, that very few people have heard of. This article outlines everything you need to know – including how to make it.
What Is Charas?
Charas has been around for millennia; it is a form of marijuana concentrate similar to hashish. It is best described as a homogenous mass of trichomes and resin that’s formed by simply rubbing fresh marijuana flower between the palms. Today, you can find this handmade concentrate in Jamaica, Nepal, Pakistan, and India.
Charas is hailed as one of the best and purest methods of creating cannabis concentrate. The process doesn’t involve expensive extraction equipment or solvents. Instead, you place the buds between your hands and rub them together. The friction causes THC-rich oils to secrete from the flower, and collect into balls on the roller’s hand. The best charas comes from landrace Indian and Pakistani strains that grow in Kashmir, Malana, and the Parvati Valley.
Charas is hailed as one of the best and purest methods of creating cannabis concentrate.
Traditionally, charas is smoked using a chillum, which is a pipe used by Hindu monks. Even today, charas plays a significant role in religious and spiritual practices. For example, the Shaivs is a Hindu sect that worships Lord Shiva as God. They usually depict Shiva smoking a chillum.
Take a trip to India, and you’ll find charas readily. However, the production of charas is mainly focused on the Kashmir and Parvati Valley regions. The latter is famed for creating high-THC charas called Malana Cream. Other notable versions include Kerala Gold and Idukki Gold.
Is Charas the Same as Hashish?
The two products are similar in many ways. However, there is one significant difference. Hashish comes from harvested and dried (cured) plant material. In contrast, charas is made from live (fresh) marijuana cuttings.
Another difference lies in the methods of creation. You can make hashish in a variety of ways, including dry sifting and the use of bubble bags. However, the most common way to make charas is via a special hand-rolling method which we outline later.
Charas purists will tell you that the real thing only comes from India’s Himalayan region. In their eyes, charas made in other nations, such as Jamaica, are not the true version. (This is analogous to saying that it is only champagne if the grapes come from the Champagne region of France. Everything else is sparkling wine!).
Incidentally, the standard unit of charas is the tola. One tola is the equivalent of 11.7 grams.
A Brief History of Charas
It seems that the word ‘charas’ comes from the Persian word for a piece of leather. People living in the Indian subcontinent have used it for thousands of years. Cannabis itself has played a major spiritual role in the history of India. The plant was mentioned in The Vedas, which are sacred Hindu texts, more than 2,000 years ago. Marijuana is classified as one of the five sacred plants.
Despite being used for thousands of years, not many people in the West knew about charas. One of the earliest mentions of it in Western scientific writing was in 1874 in Pharmacographia – a reference book that cataloged the growing array of plants and their derivatives used in Victorian medicine.
Despite its importance in Indian culture, the nation’s government bowed to pressure from the United States and made charas illegal in the 1980s. Trafficking and cultivating charas came with severe penalties. Being convicted of charas possession could have landed you in prison for a decade!
How to Make Charas
Making charas is a messy affair, and it requires a lot of patience. Also, we’re assuming that you don’t have landrace flowers sourced from the Himalayan region on hand. Fortunately, all you need are some trimmed cannabis buds from plants that are roughly 2-3 weeks from harvest (make sure you keep a little bit of stem when you trim). Now that you have the requisite material, here is a step-by-step guide to making charas.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before beginning. Ideally, you will use organic hand soap with no scent. Using dirty hands will contaminate your charas.
- Give the flowers you have plucked away an extra trim. Remove the sugar leaves to leave nothing but fresh, fat buds. (You can keep the leaves to make cannabutter if you like).
- Grab a few buds, or one large one, and start rubbing them slowly between your hands. Resin will begin to excrete out of the flower, sticking to your hands.
- Increase the speed of your hand movements until no more resin comes out. (However, avoid rubbing your hands too quickly as this could cause a loss of precious resin).
- Continue the process until resin stops coming out of the buds. At this stage, place the remaining buds on one hand, and press down on them with the thumb of your other hand. This will remove what’s left of the resin.
- Set the buds aside, and rub your hands together to create the famous charas ball.
It’s worth pointing out that you shouldn’t even think of making charas unless you have a real determination to complete the task. For reference, it can take up to eight hours to produce around seven grams of charas. On the plus side, this represents a large amount when you consider the highly potent THC content.
How to Use Charas
In an ideal world, you will locate a chillum and enjoy charas in the traditional way. Realistically, you can smoke charas with a little bit of tobacco if you already use this particular substance. Otherwise, you can add charas to a joint, bowl, or blunt to get an extra kick. It is even possible to vaporize or dab charas as you would with other cannabis concentrates.
You can use any cannabis strain you like for charas, but the best options are strains with a high resin content. As we mentioned earlier, consider an indica with origins from Pakistan or India. You can pretty much choose any Kush variety, such as OG Kush or Grandfather Kush. Other options include Northern Lights, Bubble Kush, Royal Gorilla, or White Widow.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Charas
Making charas is a time-consuming affair that will make a complete mess of your hands. However, it isn’t easy to find charas products, and you’ll feel proud that you created this potent concentrate. Those who follow through often find that the process is a lot of fun.
It isn’t easy to find charas products, and you’ll feel proud that you created this potent concentrate.
Lastly, make sure you use fresh cannabis flower that’s been picked before the plant is harvested. (The use of dried marijuana is for the creation of hashish). Once you create the charas, use it responsibly because it contains a lot of THC.