Hi Everyone,

Sure is good to see Graywolf + Crew up and running again. 

We’re living in an era when some people actually rebel against science in general, simply because it is science. Unbelievable! 

Graywolf asked me for my thoughts on the infamous red oil from the old days and turned me on to a thread at ICmag where people have been discussing the red oil and honey oil of the old days and are on a mission to recreate the legendary cherry red oil of the late 60s / early 70s.  


It is quite a thread. Numerous OGs (old guys) who were fortunate enough to have sampled the fantastic red oils and honey oils that hit the US in the late 60s / early 70s.

I remember when the oils first showed up in San Francisco. I was fortunate enough to sample a few different batches and I am pretty sure everything came from the same Alchemists – because of the supply lines, and the similarities and differences between the batches, and the way that the pacific current flowed from Laguna Beach up to SF in those magical times …

A few San Francisco Alchemists tried to equal the legendary imported oils of the era using the commonly available feedstocks at the time.  Although we came close, there was something very special and different about those particular oils.

And I don’t know for sure – never met anyone with the magic fingers that actually made those oils – but I think that the very special red and honey-colored oils were so special because the hash they were made from were exceptional batches of hashish.

The cherry red oil came from the same folks as the honey-colored oils, and there were subtle differences between each batch. The acrid taste, which I remember very well, leads me to believe they were isomerized, which is likely as most all of the hash around back then had a lot of CBD.  The Alchemists who made these oils certainly had the wherewithal to perform the isomerization process. I don’t think these oils were acetylated.

Alchemists on the thread wondered about what made the difference between the different batches, and was the cherry red oil significantly better than the other varieties.

At the time, I figured that the oil was probably made thru fractional distillation, and I still think that might have been the method used. Now that fractional distillation is being used to refine cannabis oils, some of the modern product seems to have some of the physical characteristics of these particular oils of old.  If the old time oils were made via fractional distillation, I’m pretty sure they kept all of the fractions together.

However, I wouldn’t be too surprised if it came to light that the oils were made with a simple butane or propane extraction, perhaps cleaned up by using a water extraction of the hash prior to the butane extraction.

Regarding the red oils specifically, I think that they were so damn good because the oil was made from a particularly exceptional batch of hashish.

There was a lot of hash in SF during this period.  Afghani was generally considered to be the best, except when you scored some special Nepalese Temple Balls. Lebanese was next down the totem, and then hash from Morocco + Pakistan, which was considered to be lower quality than the others.

Lebanese came in red, blond, brown, and sometimes even a tint of green in the lesser stuff. Red Leb was the best, and occasionally, a batch of extremely sticky, extremely powerful, extremely wonderful Red Leb would come thru that would blow the socks off all but the the best Afghani. 

 I smoked the red oil that our friend remembers and it is everything that he remembers it to be. Color was cherry and the hit was powerful and intense and psychedelic. I think the legendary Red Oil of the 70s was the result of spectacular red hashish processed by exceptional Alchemists, as opposed to some complicated and exotic alchemy.

I recently smoked some (relatively) pure organic THC that was a beautiful cherry red oil, just like in the pictures on the web. But the hit, the taste, the lung effect, the high, and everything else was very different.  The pure THC oil was lacking many of the characteristics and subtleties of the original Red Oil of the seventies. Actually, it was lacking much of the overall characteristics that made the original such a spectacular smoking experience.

It’s kind of ironic. Pure THC red oil was the goal of underground Alchemists for decades. Now that it is an easy reality to experience pure smoked THC, the experience well illustrates the value of the terpenes + terpenoids and other goodies that Mother Nature thought would go well with the THC.

Pure THC is a beautiful cherry red oil that looks just like the old stuff, but a hit of it is very very different from the famous Red Oil that is the subject of this discussion. The red oil of old exploded in the lungs, often had a bad cough, made the sweat pop out of the forehead, and could even cause a bit of nausea if the hit was too big.

A large hit of pure THC tastes somewhat plastic-like, is relatively smooth on the lungs, and is nothing like the Red Oil being discussed, indicating that intense refinement and complex Alchemy probably wasn’t responsible for the wonderfulness of the oil of old.

If you consider the overall effects of a big hit of the finest Red Leb hash, they are very similar to the overall effects attributed to the Red Oil of old … which leads me to think that the legendary red oil was made from really fine red Lebanese hash, using a method that preserved a lot of the terps, and other natural goodies.

The same can be said of the famous Honey Oil of the time. Almost assuredly made from fine Afghani, the oil retained many of the effects and characteristics of the fine hash it was made from.

So, about that pure red oil THC that I’ve been smoking, a buddy of mine made it in his kitchen in a couple hours using hardware store chemicals and kitchen equipment. Costs him just few bucks a gram.  No kidding. I’ll write it up for my next column. (I’ll also have the next installment of my take on the history of cannabis extraction.)

Thanks, everyone.


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