First, what is rosin? Why make it? This form of solid resin has risen in popularity because it is simple to make, produces a high-quality product, and does not use solvents or other chemicals. Making your own rosin is a relatively simple process: all you need is starting material, some high quality rosin bags, and a rosin press.
Your starting material will be marijuana flower, hash, or kief, and of course the quality of your starting material will determine how good your rosin is. Even the best starting material, however, needs the best rosin press bags to produce quality outcomes. These bags have to withstand heat and pressure without affecting the product with dyes or leaks. Finally, you’ll need a rosin press to put your bags under heat and pressure. There are multiple different types available, each with benefits and drawbacks.
The different types of rosin press share a few characteristics. They all use plates or similar receptacle to house the starting material, they all use electricity to heat those plates, and they all use pressure to press the starting material to create resin. How this is accomplished, however, varies by type.
Manual rosin presses are the most affordable types of press available on the market. They are also flexible, portable, and easy to use. Because they tend to lack the pressure strength of more advanced types of presses, manual presses are best suited for small-scale operations and are particularly friendly to beginners.
As the name indicates, manual presses get their power from the user, unlike their more advanced counterparts which use compressors or pumps. Instead, the user uses a crank to generate pressure and compress the material in the press. Through clever design, manual presses can help the average user generate up to two tons of pressure, though most models max out at less than that.
For convenience and ease of use, fully electric rosin presses are excellent: just plug and play! Because pressure is generated using electricity, no physical effort is required. Many models are small enough to be portable as well, though you can expect them to be heavier than manual presses. Electric presses are also slightly more expensive than manual presses, but can generate up to ten tons of pressure, outdoing their manual sisters fivefold.
The beauty of electric rosin presses is their all-in-one nature. The press does not require external components like pumps. Unlike units with compressors, purely electric presses are also very quiet in operation, so electric units are preferable when noise is a concern. The biggest drawback to purely electric units is that, relative to hydraulic or pneumatic units, they do generate less pressure. Large-scale operations are thus not well suited for such units.
Hydraulic rosin presses can generate some serious pressure: even low-end models will start at five tons, and many of them can pack up to twenty tons of pressure. Amazingly, in most hydraulic presses, this pressure is generated by the user’s use of a hand pump amplified by the press’s hydraulic cylinders. The machine essentially multiplies your strength until you are delivering tons of pressure on your rosin. Hybrid models, described below, let you upgrade to a compressor or electric pump for even easier handling.
This sort of power comes at a cost, of course. While the average hydraulic press is comparable in cost to manual or electric presses, hydraulic presses also require the purchase of an external hand pump. That added cost can easily double or triple your investment, as the cost of a quality hand pump is not that different from the cost of the press itself. For many, the added pressure of a hydraulic press is worth the additional investment.
Hydraulic are much less portable than electric or manual presses. Even without the external pump, hydraulic presses are twice the size of manual or electric presses, and often weigh ten times more. They are better suited for one location, though without an electric pump they are not ideal for commercial or frequent use.
Pneumatic presses are the top of the line among rosin presses: powerful, easy to use, and suitable for large-scale operators. After the initial setup, no hard labor is required. Instead of turning the crank or pumping using the external pump, all you need is to activate the attached air compressor and watch the pneumatic press go.
Pneumatic presses are not ideal for everyone, of course. The two major drawbacks to pneumatic rosin presses are cost and noise. Because they are so powerful and largely targeted at large-scale commercial users, pneumatic pumps are the most expensive of the various rosin press types.
Even an entry-level pneumatic press will cost you several thousand dollars, with the better models appropriately more expensive. The air compressor that is necessary is an added cost as well, although most air compressors on the market will do the job.Some models allow for manual use as well as air compressor use.
In addition to the cost, air compressors are quite noisy in operation, and are thus not favored for use at home or in areas where constant noise is going to attract complaints. Their heavy weight also makes them not very portable.
Hybrid rosin presses combine the benefits of different types of presses for extra scalability and flexibility. Hybrid presses generally utilize hydraulic cylinders to generate pressure. However, where in pure hydraulic presses power is generated through manual pumping of an external pump, in hybrid units the external pump may be manual, electric, or pneumatic. The pressure in these presses can reach twenty tons, though the flexibility of hybrid presses also means wider variability in their capabilities.
This sort of versatility is desirable for users who plan to upgrade from a smaller operation to a larger one. They make it possible to invest less on the front end and upgrade to a more productive press later in the process. Hybrid presses are also useful in larger operations engaged in small-batch experimentation, testing, or other comparisons.