Hash oil is a solution of tetrahydrocannabinol, but is a misnomer in suggesting any resemblance to hashish. It is made out of cannabis and is very potent due to its high THC concentration, which generally varies between 15 and 20%, but can reach 60 to 70% in some cases.
Honey oil is a specific type of hash oil produced by some solvents, most commonly butane, and isopropanol. Sometimes called butane hash oil or BHO (for how it is made), or simply "oil", it is traditionally a dark viscous liquid made by solvent extraction of cannabis resin. Honey oil is considerably more potent than cannabis itself, due to its extreme purity and lack of other plant matter. Honey oil is a psychoactive drug in the same class as cannabis, from which it is derived, and contains a similar blend of cannabinoids. The THC content of honey oil is variable based on the particular strain of cannabis from which it was derived, and is similar to that of hashish. The name honey refers to the color and consistency of the oil; there is no honey.
Hash oil can be consumed in various ways:
Hash oil is produced by allowing a solvent to dissolve the psychoactive cannabinoids that are present in cannabis. These cannabinoids remain behind when the solvent is subsequently evaporated, leaving a relatively pure, high-potency form of cannabis. The color and odor of the resulting extract will vary, depending on the type of solvent used. Current samples of hash oil, a viscous liquid ranging from amber to dark brown in color, average about 15% tetrahydrocannabinol.
Various solvents are suitable for the production of hash oil. Isopropyl alcohol, petroleum ether, and acetone are three commonly used solvents, though these are not suitable for human ingestion. For edible extracts, solvents such as high-proof grain alcohol, vegetable oils, and butter are commonly used. Supercritical fluid extraction methods using various volatile compressed gases are also rumored to be used.
Ethanol is a common solvent used in the preparation of honey oil, but other solvents may include: methanol, isopropyl alcohol, various highly volatile non-polar liquid solvents (e.g. hexane, toluene, xylene, naphtha) and butane. Solvents are selected based on their ability to dissolve cannabis resins and volatility, leaving minimal chemical residue.
Oil produced from solvents other than butane are considered to be hash oil or cannabis oil, not honey oil. The term "honey oil" originally referred to a secondary process on an ethyl alcohol extract; using a two to one mixture of ethyl alcohol extract to ethyl ether. This mixture is combined, separated and the ethyl ether extract is evaporated, yielding high quality honey oil. All precautions apply.
Butane is advantageous to use as it has a boiling point of −0.6 °C (31 ° F), meaning that it will fully evaporate when left for long enough at room temperature. Butane is cheap and widely available in the form of 'lighter refill' cans. Butane also has the advantage of not dissolving the chlorophyll component of whole cannabis - it dissolves mainly the psychoactive resins. Drawbacks include the risk of explosion associated with large volumes of butane gas, and the possibility of contaminants in the butane or the extraction vessel. BHO, or butane hash oil is a common term for the output produced by butane extraction of cannabis. "Purging" of the product or further processing is highly suggested in order to remove any trapped butane/solvent(s).
The term "honey oil" refers specifically to the colour of the oil regardless of the process used to extract it. The extraction process, if done properly, will produce oil of golden colour, similar to honey. Due to the very low temperature of liquid butane only the cannabinoids will not freeze and will dissolve in the butane. Also the butane is extremely volatile at room temperature and will evaporate quickly leaving almost no residual traces. Other solvents like ethanol or naphtha will dissolve more than cannabinoids, they will collect a large quantity of other plant chemicals such as chlorophyll. This will produce an oil with a much darker color. Sometimes even black as tar when multiple solvent washing of the plant material is done to increase yield. Naphtha based oil notoriously contains amounts of residual naphtha enough to influence the smell, taste and effects of the product. Many users report feeling sick or having headaches when smoking honey oil extracted by naphtha, hence it is generally accepted that the product poses a greater health risk than with butane-extracted oil. Alcohol-extracted oil also contains plant sugars, which caramelize when smoked to produce a harsh taste.
Generally the whole cannabis plant can be used to produce honey oil or other types of hash oil. Some will use only the flowers of the cannabis plant to improve yield since they contain more cannabinoids. This gives an advantage only when using other solvents than butane, because it will improve the ratio of cannabinoids to other plant chemicals. With the butane extraction it will also increase the yield a little bit since there are more cannabinoids to collect, but it will not improve the quality and purity of the oil. Also cannabis flowers are much more expensive than other plant material such as leaves and stems so in the end you get more product but it costs more to produce.
The solvent used is a flammable gas released as liquid that will have to be allowed to evaporate back into gas. This produces fumes that are highly combustible. Other dangers include, placing all the ingredients into a container that is soaked with butane for a short period after the process. Any accidental spark or flame in an unventilated space may cause severe injury or death.
The effects of extracted resin are comparable to smoking the same plant from which it was extracted, but often intensified due to its much higher potency. In the case of honey oil, several small drops can produce effects comparable to a much greater amount of plant material. This can sometimes cause overwhelming effects if the extract's high concentration of cannabinoids is not taken into account.
It should be noted, of course, that inhaling vaporized cannabis oil is not the same as smoking cannabis in that it does not carry most of the well known health risks associated with smoking. The smoke from cannabis plant matter contains many of the same consituents of tobacco smoke, including bronchial irritants, mutagens, tumour promotors, and carcinogens. Thus, cannabis oil could be seen as a far safer option than smoking cannabis in terms of the health risks of chronic use.