Education & Wellness

What is Afghan Hash?

August 16, 2022

If you image search for “cannabis hash” on Google, right off the bat, you see a picture of a dark brown to black, squishy yet crumbly looking brick. This is Afghan Hash, the most widely recognized form of the preparation known as hash or hashish. Since the 1950s and the dawn of the Hippie Trail up until the development of modern extraction methods, this style has been the definition of hash for the West. With a relatively easy and simple preparation method, Afghan Hash has been developed and perfected over the centuries. 

Presently, Afghan Hash is in a class of its own and is known throughout the world as the most potent form of dry sift hash. In 2010, a study by the UN surmised that Afghanistan led the world in hashish production

A brown chunk of cannabis that looks pressed together
Afghan Hash is packed together to form a brick shape. Photo credit: Shutterstock

So what is behind the demand? It is the combination of the old world cannabis genetics used and the process that has been developed over centuries to remove, sift and compress trichomes.

What is an Afghan Hash Plant?

To make true Afghan Hash you need to start with the Afghan Hash Plant, an indica variety of cannabis that has been continuously cultivated in Afghanistan for time untold. Over the millennia, this plant was selected to thrive in the harsh conditions of the high desert, and produce buds specifically geared for the hash making process. Generations of farmers have carefully picked seeds from the best plants to replant for the next year. 

Each hash producing region of Afghanistan has their own variation of the Afghan Hash Plant, each with a slight variation of aroma, yield, and flavour which can also be seen in the hash produced there. Similar between all the regional cultivars is that Afghan Hash Plant is a small to mid-sized in height, rarely getting taller than 7 or 8 feet. The plant is stout and strong with large shade leaves. 

A short and fluffy green cannabis plant that has wide leaves
Afghanistan growers cultivated plants with high counts in trichomes specifically for hash making. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Due to the short flowering season in the mountain areas, the plant has adapted to finish flowering in around 56 days. And after centuries of being selected for high potency, trichome production and yield, Afghan Hash Plant produces some seriously strong cannabis. This quick flowering time and high potency caught the eye of many of the early cannabis breeding pioneers. Now, many of today’s most popular cannabis strains owe their fame to genetics that have descended from Afghan Hash Plant. 

How is Afghan Hash made?

The first step in producing Afghan Hash is to remove the trichomes from the cannabis buds. The trichomes are commonly referred to as the “crystals” of the bud. Really, they are the small wax coated sacks of oil, full of THC and terpenes. This sack is often referred to as the trichome “head” and is attached to the plant by a wax stalk. The best hash is made of pure trichome heads, completely separated from any and all plant material.

Macro shot of mushroom shaped trichomes in front of a purple background.
Trichomes are broken off, once dried, and collected for dry sift hash. Photo credit: Shutterstock

In Afghanistan, when a cannabis plant is harvested it is allowed to dry in the sun. This causes the “crystal” appearance of the trichome heads to have a more amber hue. Also, the trichome stalk becomes brittle and the head detaches easily. The most common method of removing trichomes in Afghanistan is to beat bundles of buds with sticks over a cloth filter. With every hit, the buds release a dusty cloud of trichomes. The cloth acts as a filter, letting the small trichome heads fall through, but stopping the plant matter. The trichomes are collected in a large pan or dish beneath the cloth. Once collected, this fine amber powder is called dry-sifted kief. 

Alone, kief has powerful psychoactive effects with a THC percentage ranging from 40% – 60% per gram. To create Afghan Hash though, dry sifted kief or “dry-sift” for short, needs to be processed further. Usually a small amount of tea or water is added to a pile of kief and worked into a crude dough. This dough is then agitated and pressed by hand and warmed by the heat of a lighter or heater. 

Once heated, the hash is then repeatedly hand-pressed, then rolled into a ball. Finally, once enough is collected, the hash is spread into a block frame, and pressure is applied until it forms a solid, brick like appearance. This final product still has a THC percentage of around 40% – 60%, but its compressed nature means it burns much slower with a denser smoke than dry sifted kief. 

How is Afghan Hash consumed?

A few years ago, 2,400 year old gold bongs with cannabis residue were found in Russia giving us evidence that people in the area were well aware of how to smoke the green stuff long ago. 

A hookah pipe that is made out of glass and has a green hose wrapped around it with smoke surrounding it
It was and still is common to smoke cannabis with hash in a hookah. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Evidence of hash smoking in the Middle East dates back to around 800 – 900 AD, typically out of hookahs, something that is still practiced today in the area. When using a hookah the hash is commonly mixed with tobacco. This is a more recent tradition, as tobacco was first introduced around the 1500s. Mixing tobacco with hash is done to help keep the hash ignited.

Another less common method of consuming Afghan Hash is to eat it. In preparing and heating the hash, the THC-a has been decarboxylated to THC and is orally active. Its flavor is extremely spicy, like very strong cinnamon that leaves a burning sensation in the mouth and throat. So chomping on a hash brick isn’t recommended. Instead, small balls can be rolled up and swallowed like pills. Dry sift hash can also be mixed with oil to create a paste that can be mixed into food. Be sure to check how your hash was produced, if it was heated during production it can be ingested orally. If not, you will need to decarboxylate it.

As mentioned earlier, Afghanistan is currently known throughout the world as producing the highest quantity and quality of dry-sift hash than any other country. When smoked, Afghan Hash can help you wind down, typical of indicas but in a more concentrated form. 

Conclusion

Of all the hash varieties out there, Afghan Hash reigns supreme among the dry sifted hashes. No other hash in the world can claim to be as potent or as prevalent. This is why, still to this day, when you look up hash in the dictionary or encyclopedia you will see a picture of Afghan Hash.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Afghan Hash Made From?

Afghan Hash is made from the sifted trichomes of the Afghan Hash plant. The trichomes are removed from the plant and sifted through cloth or screens to filter out any plant matter. This “dry sift” is then pressed into bricks. 

Is Hash Legal in Afghanistan?

No, cannabis and hash have been illegal in Afghanistan since the 1970s. The cultivation of cannabis and manufacturing of hash dates back for centuries though and in 2010 it was reported that Afghanistan produced the most hash in the world. 

Is Afghani Hash Indica or Sativa?

Since Afghani hash is made from the Afghan Hash plant which is an indica, Afghani Hash would also be considered indica.

What is an Afghan Hash Plant?

Afghan Hash plant is an indica variety of cannabis that has been cultivated in Afghanistan for centuries, if not millennia. It is short, stout, and evolved for the mountainous desert regions of Afghanistan.