I’ve written before about my fondness for solvent-free concentrates, but selecting a concentrate or extract is already overwhelming, and a lot of the time you simply aren’t getting the best advice. For instance, a few weeks ago I wrote about a budtender at a San Francisco dispensary who insisted the “live resin” he sold me met my clearly and emphatically stated request for only solvent-free concentrates, such as rosin. His stoned explanation was that because the butane used in this was “pretty much taken out,” it did qualify as a solvent-free concentrate.
All love and respect to every butane and propane processor across this great land, but no—the live resin I bought was not solvent-free.
When we talk about solvent-free concentrates (SFC), we’re referring to a finished product that has a high concentration of THC, CBD, and terpenes, the oils that give cannabis its flavor and scent. The end result is greater in potency than the cannabis flower from which it’s taken. Hash is a SFC, for example.
Any dispensary I’ve been to in Washington, Oregon, or California has had more solvent-extracted products on their shelves than non-solvent ones. (The exception was Southwest Portland’s Calyxes dispensary—R.I.P., Calyxes.) But I recently came across a dispensary that had that equation reversed. What’s more, they produce their solvent-free products in-house.
Just off Southeast 82nd, Alternative Remedies (8109 SE Flavel) has a well-curated collection of flower and concentrates, including a wide spectrum of SFC that I’ve not seen before, under the name Permaculture Solutions. Ryan Biglione owns and operates both Alternative Remedies and their line of extracts with his wife Martine Lelievre.
I ask Biglione about the philosophy behind Permaculture’s products, and he begins with a clarification. “Technically the ‘solvent-less’ explanation is a bit tricky, because water is considered a solvent,” he says. “But it’s the only solvent that doesn’t add chemicals or substances not already currently in our bodies.” Biglione believes in the integrity of cannabis’ healing powers and properties, which are maintained by only using water and ice in their processing methods.
“We started as a single-source processing lab, meaning we grew our plants specifically to process into cannabis concentrates,” he says. “And we only processed what we grew ourselves—paying close attention to growing methods, as well as processing methods we have cultivated over the years.” Since then, they’ve fostered relationships with other wfarmers who they feel meet similar standards of quality.
Biglione explains the differences in their various offerings. “Both our rosin and live rosin are ultra-refined bubble hash products, hand-collected and machine-pressed using stainless steel products for screening—no nylon! Our rosin is made with dry trim material, and our live rosin uses only fresh frozen whole plant material, produced with only water and ice. Our ice wax is hand-washed and micro-separated, and we only pull the first wash for consumption, so the integrity of the product is maintained. Temperature and humidity are controlled at every step for resin preservation.”
Biglione has reason to be proud. The finished product—offered in both single-strain and mixed-strain varieties—sparkles in the light, and is so pure it bubbles when smoked (hence “bubble hash”), leaving behind virtually no ash. Permaculture’s production process removes the chlorophyll, leaving you with a “full melt” concentrate that fills your mouth with intense flavor. For old heads who miss the Nepalese Temple Ball hash experience, this will bring back memories. The ice wax looks like bright, clean, fine sand, and the rosins are closer to shatter in consistency. They can all be consumed using a dab rig, although I used a vaporizer and got stellar results.
Using hydrocarbons like propane and butane to produce a concentrate can be a real art form—and that doubly goes for one made with water and ice. I’d recommend Permaculture’s extracts to any fan of craft cannabis concentrates.