Let’s start with an evaluation of what’s out there for making Butane Honey Oil, or BHO. BHO is a favorite with extraction experts because of the relatively low cost of supplies and the potent yield. BHO is one of the more accessible procedures and that means there is a lot of misinformation floating around. Here are some of the most basic mistakes to look for in a tutorial video:
Mistake 1: Undervaluing the Value of Safety
Look at the safety procedures the extraction video/info guide stresses. If the safety basics are not outlined, then you’re dealing with an irresponsible teacher. Close out of the window and move on before someone really loses an eye.
What to look for instead:
1. BHO must be made outdoors
2. Do not light any fires, cigarettes, etc anywhere near your butane process
3. Have a fire extinguisher ready
Mistake 2: The Ol’ PVC Debate
This is a major point of contention for expert extractors. Most internet instructions call for PVC pipes. The consensus is that PVC pipes do not do well with a solvent, like butane. This means that PVC pipes have the potential to leech onto your oil supply and contaminate it. You do not want to inhale that. Stainless steel and glass pipes are a better alternative.
This video showcases a BHO technique called the “purge vacuum technique.” The maker utilizes a stainless steel turkey baster (ingenious!) from a large-scale home goods department store.
Or visit a headshop for a thick glass extractor tube, they sell glass tubes especially for these purposes.
Mistake 3: How About the Butane?
Using the wrong kind of butane is a hazard. Sure, if you do it once and it goes well, you’ll be okay. But, if you continue to use butane that is laced with other chemicals you are harming your respiratory system and totally messing up your honey oil. Who wants to toxic chemicals with a nice, quality budder anyway?
When learning about BHO, the butane used is an important step and shouldn’t be overlooked. Any instructional BHO video that skimps on butane quality is a no go. This is an example of a not-so-great video. The maker uses lower quality butane. Watch this and learn how to avoid bad habits like cheap butane:
So what kind butane should be used? It should be refined with a “Near Zero” impurity label. All butane contains some levels of impurity, so the question for commercial butane is how much does it contain.
Not all butane brands are good. The cheaper brands often use Isobutane, which has more toxins mixed in. The more expensive use N-Butane. Look at the labels, if it says N-Butane then that’s the one to get. Consider Vector or Colibri brand butane, but again, always read the labels.
Also, don’t go for a larger canister like camping butane. In those cases, the company often adds a smell (like sulfur dioxide) to the butane to warn the campers of a butane leak. This is yet another impurity to avoid.
To check your butane quality, use the mirror trick. Take a mirror and spray liquid butane into it. A good amount. Wait about 10mins for the butane to evaporate and check the mirror for a whitish residue. It may also smell quite bad. If it has white residue and it smells, it’s unsuitable.
Mistake 4: Paper or Cloth?
Filters also get overlooked. Most suggest unbleached filters (2) secured with a hose clamp or a zip tie. Others say that this isn’t enough to prevent a blow out and that a cheese cloths with a thin metal mesh is the better way to go. This one may be a matter or trail and error.
This video uses a mesh cloth, and though it is missing quite a few explanatory steps, it has the tell-tale signs of a good BHO demo clip.
Mistake 5: Impatient Purging
A lot of videos speed through the final steps in the BHO method, the purge and wait. The purge is the part where the maker helps the butane evaporate from the oil. This is important because otherwise, if done incorrectly, you could be smoking mercaptans, which are toxins in the butane. The jury is still out whether or not all of the butane ever evaporates in the final steps or if there are trace amount of residual toxins.
When purging, the mistake most people make is to use boiling water. Water should be hot, but not boiling. Place the collector tray (preferably a square pyrex dish) with the butane runoff in a larger tray that has hot water in it. The butane will eventually evaporate and the honey oil will bubble. Keep in mind that the water will get cold so change it with warm water until the oil starts to thicken.
After the oil bubbles, experts use a flame purging method. This, however, is asking for trouble. Most people now use the vacuum purge method instead because it’s safer for the maker. Good purging should be a two-part process whether you use water heating again (careful, don’t overheat or your oil will get dark and lose some of its value) or any other means. Your oil should be thick and honey colored. If it looks cloudy, purge again.
This is a good example of what the purge looks like. If you can patiently watch this minute vid, maybe you’re good to go:
Mistake 6: Impatient Curing
Once you’ve purged, the honey oil still needs to sit for a bit. How long? That depends. The recommended time differs greatly between makers. Some say a day, others say an hour. For long term-curing, after you scrape it off, lay some in glass vials and freeze, thaw, and freeze and repeat for a few days for a waxier oil.
If this isn’t how you make BHO, let us know. Everyone has a few kinks of their own incorporated into the routine, however, we can all agree that some of these mistakes should really be avoided.
Next up: Buying and Smoking your oils