A Moreno Valley resident caught fire and suffered burns to more than 40 percent of his body, apparently while making honey oil, police said.
Chad Bishop, 40, was treated for burns at a regional hospital early March 1, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release. According to investigators, Bishop was burned in his home in Moreno Valley.
At the residence, officers found one pound of weed and five mature cannabis plants, along with a medical marijuana recommendation. Technically, California law limits patients to possession of eight ounces and cultivation of six mature plants, though a 2008 court ruling called those limits into question.
An explosion occurred at the home, apparently while Bishop was making honey oil , also known as “wax” and hash oil, with butane. It’s an intensely concentrated extract produced by separating THC resin from the rest of the marijuana plant.
There are several ways to make honey oil, but each requires a solvent that must be boiled off from the separated resin. Isopropyl alcohol can be used, but it has a high boiling point, so it’s hard to remove it from the resin. It’s also a serious fire risk.
Ether and chloroform also work, though they’re highly flammable and can knock a person unconscious. Above all, they’re very hard to find.
Instead, processors have turned to butane in recent years, with sometimes profitable and sometimes explosive results. Butane, like alcohol and most other solvents, is extremely flammable. But it works better than the others and is easier to separate.
The task is relatively simple: The weed is placed inside a short cylinder with a filter on one end and a small hole on the other. The tip of the butane canister is inserted into the hole, and butane is sprayed into the cylinder.
The butane dissolves the THC resin from the plant, and the mixture leaves the cylinder into a waiting container – usually a flat glass bowl. Finally the butane is boiled off the resin by placing that bowl inside another bowl containing hot water.
The key to safety in making honey oil is ventilation. It should never be made indoors and, since few people have the space or privacy to make it outside, few people should ever try to make it. Making hash oil indoors is begging for an explosion.
And that, plus the booming popularity of the stuff, is why there has been an increase in recent years of house and apartment fires tied to butane extractions. Honey oil produces a powerful, long-lasting high that has made it prized among aficionados.
That has led a growing number of ill-trained entrepreneurs and over-eager stoners to attempt something that should be left to the experts.