Knowing BHO from RSO: Intro to Cannabis Concentrates




We are living in the midst of a present-day cannabis revolution.

As today’s scientific community increasingly investigates the medicinal and psychoactive qualities of the cannabis plant itself; there are, simultaneously, some very rapidly developing technologies in the way of cannabis cultivation and concentrate extraction techniques. This piece will focus primarily on cannabis concentrates, or extracts; an umbrella term that is used to refer to cannabis “hash”, ‘honey oil’, or lovingly and modernly referred to as “dabs”. 

This is not a comparison to determine which way of consuming cannabis is superior to another, or with which smoking choice you will ‘get the most bang-for-your-buck’. There are so many wonderful things about smoking cannabis flower, and obviously the medicinal effects are palpable no matter which way you ingest the plant. Clearly, smokers of all varieties ought to pay homage to the plant herself, as the female ‘Cannabaceae’ plant is responsible for all of the THC and CBD products that we adore so much. But truly, this concentrate stuff, it is a science. Hopefully, this informational piece will be able to clarify what some of these acronyms mean (RSO  or “Rick Simpson Oil” from BSO or “Butane Hash Oil”) for less enthusiastic ‘dabbers’ of 2020’s modern cannabis culture. In introducing this topic, I think it is fair to say that as far as concentrates are concerned,

BHO and RSO belong in completely different categories.

Both are extracted through a solvent-based process (meaning that the oil is isolated from the plant matter by using alcohol/glycerine based extraction).

RSO was made famous for its medicinal properties, and was popularized by it’s maker Rick Simpson, as a topical/ingestible form of cannabis that is said to cure cancer (more information about this can be found on the world wide web). 

BHO on the other hand, appears to have been the logical evolution of ice ‘bubble’ hash – a concept that may have been born out of a desire not to waste cannabis byproducts. Historically, this appears to have been an opportunistic approach to utilizing cannabis that seemed apparently un-smokable. The end goal of hash production is not necessarily a medicinal product, but the end-product that is being discussed here is so versatile, potent, and efficient to use, it may be processed into many forms of medicinal, or recreational cannabis products.

What does this mean to the consumer? It means highly potent infused products such as edible candies and beverages, infused prerolls, and cannabis hash cartridges. Methods of hash extraction have been mastered and re-mastered in the last 30 or so years, with some incredibly advancing technology – and have resulted in a product that Has profoundly affected the cannabis market we are moving through today. 


RSO: Rick Simpson Oil. 


Named after its inventor, Rick Simpson Oil is a product that’s popularization was established around one man’s personal story, and an increasingly dire global need for an effective and ‘natural’ treatment for cancer. Rick Simpson has been a crusader for cannabis as medicine, even prior to discovering that an easy-to-make cannabis extract could remove/heal a case of skin cancer he was experiencing. As far as cannabis activism is concerned, Rick Simpson oil is backed by the support of personal success stories based around cannabis effectively curing malignant cancer cells. It is significant to the cannabis community, in that experiments with RSO have lead to some of the first tangible discoveries of medically beneficial properties of cannabis. The wide-spread popularization of RSO, and the fact that Rick Simpson promoted a DIY recipe to making extracts at your own home, is in itself a symbolic protest that has been ongoing since the treatment was discovered. 

According to High Times writer, Ab Hanna, “Rick Simpson Oil is dark in color and usually stored in syringes for easy dosing by mouth”. Keep in mind that the BHO that you would most likely find at your local dispensaries ‘concentrate section’ will ideally be lighter in color (the lighter the better, when referring to solvent-based concentrates) and is most likely not intended to be ingested. 

While some internet content may indicate otherwise, RSO is typically not smoked or vaporized, from what I’ve gained from popular opinion, it is traditionally ingested or applied topically in an attempt to treat an ailment. While RSO may not be categorized as ‘crude oil’ per say, it is of a different grade and flavor profile than that of the concentrates being sold at your local dispensary. To understand more about the types of ailments that RSO (or cannabis in general) is said to help alleviate, I would recommend following the links below and searching around from there. In my own personal experience, there aren’t many types of ailments it doesn’t treat, but I do not necessarily recommend that technique for everyone.  


For more detailed information about Rick Simpson Oil, please visit these sites:


BHO: Butane Hash Oil.

First of all, there are many varieties of BHO to be found on the market today. The cannabis enthusiast of yester-year only had the options of choosing between two kinds of “wax” – crumble and shatter. Today’s cannabis enthusiasts may find that they have a special taste for diamonds, sauces, or even THCA concentrates, which look more like a dry version of diamonds, and somewhat resemble a white powder substance (yikes). 

Smoking BHO is famously known to have more intense psychoactive effects than smoking marijuana ‘flower’ – those green leafy buds traditionally recognized  as ‘good old-fashioned weed’. That stuff that Reefer Madness warned us about? Well, if only they could see us now. Anyone who has ever taken a ‘dab’, or witnessed the proper smoking of BHO, would know that dabbing is anything but ‘old-fashioned’. (Stay tuned for more blogs by Shaka and The Humboldt Campus, in which we will cover the proper way to smoke BHO). This ‘dabbing’ ought to look like a scene you would stumble upon in a chemist’s research lab; clean metal instruments, a glass beaker device with some water for filtering the potent smoke. A torch, for heating up (ideally) a quartz nail, in which one will apply a small glob of oil (at the perfect temperature, of course). Some people prefer to smoke their hash oil from a ceramic or titanium nail (I see you, you old school cats). Ideally the space should be clean and free of dirt, debris, dog/cat fur –  as the nature of the product that is being smoked is extremely sticky and can be messy if one tries to use their hands or are inexperienced in using the tools.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? 

Well I suppose just like any ceremonial ritual of relaxation, ‘dabbing’ doesn’t seem overly excessive once you have the tools and expertise to properly partake. I do personally recall a window of time where family and friends seemed either slightly or more than slightly perturbed that the newest smoking routine I had clung onto required a gas welding torch. They eventually got used to this, but there are ways around the torch with all of the new-fangled gadgets that are being developed for the smoking of hash oil. 

That being said, advancing technology in the way of smoking hash has truly evolved from the days of ‘knife hits’ in your neighbor’s kitchen, or the days of cheap glass ‘dome’ pen attachments. It is almost entirely obsolete to consider some past methods of smoking BHO (I am referring to such technology as using a ‘domed’ or ‘dome-less’ nail). There are so many efficient and subtle ways to smoke this product nowadays, it’s honestly hard to keep up with all of the newest tech. There are extremely flavorful terpenes that are extracted from the plant or plant byproduct, and isolated from the plant itself. This intensity of cannabis flavor is more easily enjoyed and identified when using an extracted version of the plant. 

Trending in the last three or four years, is a new and wonderful revolution in smoking cannabis concentrates. This is something that we honestly should have known all along. The revolution: low-temp dabbing. IT IS KEY, the practice of timing one’s dab perfectly, in order to avoid the harsh burning of one’s precious lungs. After heating up the nail until it is completely clean, possibly even red-hot, the experienced dabber waits up to 2 minutes (or longer!) to allow the nail to cool off to the perfect temperature before applying the cannabis concentrate. Depending on the temperature attained, the smoker will experience a completely different flavor profile, versus if one smokes hash at too high a temperature, in which they miss out on some of the qualities of terpenes that are being vaporized . The method also requires that one use a ‘carb cab’, to moderate the amount of oxygen and stoke the burning oil, for a smoother and longer toke. This is not for the faint of heart, as it takes both patience and care to find the right duration of time for which to apply heat, and how long to wait, according to the specific thickness of glass you are working with, the oil itself, and your personal preferences. 

There are pros and cons to any concept. Perhaps this method of smoking can make for a faster smoke session than your average cannabis ‘joint’. One reason that smoking BHO is said to be preferred over smoking cannabis flower is due to the fact that there is an overwhelmingly strong and potent flavor when using this type of cannabis, as well as significantly less smoke combustion taking place in your home or body. 


For more information on BHO, check out this article:


This informational blog was written for an audience that is over the age of 21 

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