Harvesting trichomes and producing top quality, organic full melt hash seems to be an ever growing craze in the States. Soft Secrets sat down with Kees Schelfhout from EX-Tractor, a dutch extractor based in Barcelona who specializes in organic and non solvent. We find out more about hash making, different techniques, terpenes, freeze drying, the hash culture in Amsterdam and Europe and what his top tips are for any purveyors of the finest full melt.
SSUK: Can you tell us more about EX-Tractor and how you got involved with Cannabis?
I was fortunate to come out of a family that; eats, sleeps, drinks and breath growing plants. My Dad Karel Schelfhout was one of the first to cultivate our beloved plant indoors back in the day. He started the Super Sativa Seed Club in 1985. I also have a brother that got into growing on a young age as well, and he developed a strong talent for pushing the boundaries on increasing
the yields when growing organic and setting the standard high, for what we consider a high quality smoke.
Those two guys are my mentors and our mother Liliana has always supported us, and encouraged us to do it better, cleaner and worry free. Out of love, it is natural to explore the different possibilities of what we are able to do with a plant. Besides the growing, a couple of years ago I really fell in love with iceolator technique. Then EX-Tractor was born.
Can you explain what EX-tractor specialise in?
We like to keep ourselves busy, only with clean organic solventless extracts. In essence we are washing and sifting most of the time and during our trimming we always work above a huge, 1.5x 1M sized 110 micron screen where we collect loads of dry sift trichomes. This technique I learned from my father, when I started rolling in to the weed scene. Our favorite way of mining our beloved trichomes, is the Ice water hash style or iceolator.
I started making small batches of iceolator in my student kitchen 7 years ago, and was amazed by the various qualities and quantities that could be reached, when using this technique.In love with the pure smoke and the intense high you can feel, that for real will give you a different perspective to life. Then a whole new world opened for us when the dry freezer was introduced to the party. Now the hash became even cleaner, due to super short drying time, meaning that we won’t give terpenes and flavonoids the the chance to evaporate.
With the classic dry method you could give mold a chance to develop in the soggy moist hash. We are now dipping our toes in to Rosin pressing and have to say it is loads of fun, trying out different temperatures, pressures and micron sizes. Discovering interesting, changes of structure, smell and colour. At the moment we are most pleased, with the soft golden butter structure squishing can produce.
Which strains do you personally work with as official hash maker for The Super Sativa Seed Club?
The Karels Haze is one of my favorite strains to make hash from. My dad and me have been working on that strain for a couple of years now which is Old School Haze X Chem Dog X OG Fire.
The terps on this lady are just all over the place and your nose will be welcomed with fresh citrus notes combined with a gassy, fuel aroma with a background of Haze mixed in. The trichomes are bit dark gold coloured and are quite big in size for a haze cross and the Karels Haze gives good returns and she also packs a real punch with strong flavour ratio.
My other favorite is the for me recently discovered Cookies N Cream from Exotic Genetics. The first time we grew it, immediately was visible that the trichomes on this lady, are present in abundance, big sized and the most beautiful golden colour i have seen on trichomes so far, combined with a very creamy smoke and a chill relax buzz.
What are your techniques when it comes to washing the buds and trim?
We like to dry out plants for 7=9 days before we start trimming and storing the trim and small bud in the freezer. Then we are sure all the chlorophyll is dried out and no funky green taste is left in the hash. In your washing bag there should be only small sized buds present and trichome rich leaves. Since we live in Spain and the water has very poor quality, at EX-Tractor we work with clean reverse osmosis water.
We like to pour a bag of ice cubes inside of the washing bag, so the leave material has more contact with the ice cubes and trichomes can break off easier. We start with short washes around 1- 2 minutes and collect the hash. Then give the hash a little extra wash inside the collection bag with a plant sprayer filled with clean water. We do not use one where nutrients were in before making sure it is clean and sterile. The second wash will use new water and some extra ice cubes. The washing time after each collection of hash will become longer until a washing session of 5-6 batches are run. Then the hash will be popped in to the dry freezer to get the hash dry in 14- 24 hours depends on how full the dry freezer is.
Do you have a preference to micron size when washing your materials, and which micron grades do you consider inferior?
With most strains the 73 # miron will contain the most trichome heads. Although have some Sativas our Old School Haze and Mango Haze, that can fill up the 45 # micron mesh pretty good due to smaller size trichome heads. The 220 and the 160 micron is really for only separating the bad stuff from the good stuff, Some say that quality is great for cooking, but I rather use high quality grade for cooking also.
You dry freeze your hash but can you explain exactly what that means for those who may not know?
The first time I saw quality hash coming out of the dry freezer was so intrigued that I needed to know more! All of a sudden this hash became gold, why does it stay gold, why does it smell so intense? The dry freezer was the secret behind al off this so I ordered one right away and started freaking out at what this device does: It will first freeze the hash all the way to its core. All the water in the hash should be turned in to ice crystals, so first you have to figure out when that point is reached depending on how much freeze time.
Then you have to know that H20 has 3 stages, firstly ice form, then the liquid form and then a gas form. The machine freezes the hash, and after the hash is frozen and the vacuum is pulled. The ice crystals due to the vacuum don’t turn in to water first, they immediately will turn in to gas. This process is called sublimation. During the sublimation process, the hash will start to dry as the ice crystals evaporate immediately and only the essential oils and terpenes will be left in the hash.
Therefore the hash is in minimum contact with air, water and light meaning no chance for oxidation, and will be filled with all the original flavours and terpenes. That is why the hash has such a superior taste. What is also a big benefit of the dry freezer, if you plant material contained some mold or bits powdery mildew, then during the freezing process these will be killed.
What tips to you have for maintaining consistent temperatures both in the water and room temperature when hash making?
This is actually funny as I personally learned about this the hard way. In Holland it is always quite cold and dry, so the room where would make ice in the temp was pretty constant all the time. This was easy to maintain the same temp in the water, due to the room temp being stable. After moving to Spain and starting to make ice for the first time, we notice that the relative humidity and temperature is always a lot higher here.
We lost a small batch to the damp moistyness over here during our first runs, which was way before the dry freezer days of course. Now we work in a nicely sealed room, with a A.C providing us with a fresh cool breeze, making sure the temp stays the same all the time, and giving moist not a chance
Can you explain step by step how you press your temple balls?
I make my temple balls out of dry frozen iceolator of a mix of different micron meshes, in order to achieve that full spectrum experience. I will grab a tray and throw in 3 grams of 73 micron hash, 2 grams of 45 micron hash, 1 gram of 90 micron hash, and 1 gram of 120 micron hash. Next I will mix it up and then add some more 73 micron to get the quality more creamy and extra sticky.
We will put a gram in our hand palm and start working it with our thumb and rolling it all together, once it is a nice ball start rolling it on a hard clean surface, on top of baking paper works best. Once the ball starts to shine, she is ready for packing, storing and curing and that is the basics of making a temple ball!
How do you ensure the materials you are using are totally organic?
We are very conscious about the equipment and products we use, as they need to be of a high standard, that makes us able to make such a high quality hash. High Quality product in simply means a high quality product out. Only working with the best products out there and how you are feeding the growing medium in the end will decide if the hash is residue free.
EX-Tractor grow all our plants 100% organic on the BioTabs organic range. This is a organic strategy that only works living microorganisms, beneficial bacteria and concentrated compost. For lights our standaard was the Gavitas 1000 Watt, but now we are mixing this light SANlight LED and we are providing a much wider spectrum to the plants, and it is stimulation the trichome production significantly.
Has EX-Tractor won any awards for your hash making?
I have recently entered in one competition which was at the Homegrown Cup in Holland. This is a cup only the competing growers are able to judge the rest of the competition which is how I feel is the most fairest way of judging a cannabis cup. EX-Tractor took home the 1st Place in the NederHash / icolator category. Our entry was a super short cold wash of the Karels Haze for just 1,5 min long and only handed in the 73 Micron quality. Happy days and we cannot wait until next year!
For those visiting Barcelona, where can they expect to find your work?
Most of my work is to be found in the Nectar Club who I have been supporting my work right from the start, and are very cool people. In La Kalada some times you can find little bits there also at Dr Dou and the Resin club is where most of our products can be found.
Finally… Where can our readers find out more about EX-Tractor on social media?
We are active on Instagram under @ex.tractor where you can see my work and give me a follow. Thank you and keep up the great work Soft Secrets and Stoney, and green greetings to all from Ex.tractor!