Charas Cannabis
6 min

What Is Charas?

6 min
Facts News

Charas is the traditional Hindu hash, made by hand from the young buds of natural occurring strains that grow in the Himalayan region of India. Read all you ever need to know about it, here at Zamnesia.

The History Of Charas

In India, the use of hashish has been common practice for thousands of years. It is used mostly for religious and medicinal purposes and it even used to be sold in government-sanctioned shops up until the 1980’s. Marijuana is still being sold in its raw form but the shops also sell a cannabis-based drink called ‘bhang’. The use of marijuana used to be a part of everyday life in India, just like chai or chapatis still are. Charas, to be precise, is used by certain sects of the Hindu religion in their rituals and it has a very important role in their culture. The Shivas, who believe that Lord Shiva is the supreme god, see using charas as one of the properties of Lord Shiva.

Cannabis Bhang

Even though charas has a long and entwined history with the Indian culture and religion, it was declared illegal in the 1980’s, including the trafficking and cultivation of it. Back then, possession of charas could land you a hefty sentence of ten years in prison and that sentence was mandatory. Nowadays the laws are not enforced as harshly, but it still is a popular way for police officers to extort money from charas users. Since it was made illegal, it quickly became the cash crop for the rural areas. Most of the cannabis farming takes place in the mountains, away from roads and are hard to reach for the police force. Even though charas was made illegal, it can still be easily obtained, especially in areas that are popular with tourists.

Bhang is still sold all over India and as a cannabis-based drink, it is extremely popular. Bhang, unlike charas, is meant to be imbibed and not to be smoked. There is one similarity between bhang and charas that stands out: it is made from fresh marijuana flowers as opposed to the dried buds that are almost standard in Western culture. This is also the biggest difference between hashish and charas.

In the North of India, marijuana grows naturally and abundantly. Safely tucked away in the Himalayan foothills, it grows from Pakistan to Nepal and Afghanistan, but the best charas is said to be found in the north Indian village of Malana, which is situated in the Parvati Valley. There, fresh buds are used to manufacture charas by rubbing the buds between their hands, creating charas known by the name of Malana Cream. This blend of charas is revered for the high levels of THC it contains, but it also takes very long to manufacture; about twice as long actually. This is probably why it also is one of the most expensive charas but that's not the only reason; Malana is situated in the region of Himchal Pradesh. This area is rich in naturally growing cannabis but unfortunately its infrastructure is less than ideal. The region has a serious lack of access roads, which means that the charas must be transported by mule or by hand, making it a very labour-intensive endeavour.

Cannabis Growing Natuerally

Kerala Gold is another form of charas that is very well known and praised for its high potency. It is also known as Neelachadayan but was made most famous under the name Idukki Gold. Idukki Gold happens to also be the name of a popular 2013 movie from India that focuses on five friends trying to relive their youth again by smoking the first strain they ever tried. The real Idukki Gold or Kerala Gold is a hard find these days due to police having raided and burned fields and the leftover cannabis being mixed with local strains to create a new strain known as Sheelavathi. This new strain was better equipped to handle the local weather but its THC levels usually only reach about 8 per cent and the quality is inferior to the original Kerala Gold.

How To Make Charas Concentrate The Traditional Way

The process of creating your own charas is actually really simple, if perhaps a bit sticky. After the process you will undoubtedly end up with sticky and messy hands, so make sure that you have some heavy-duty soap ready to hand.

When the buds are 2 to 3 weeks from ready for harvest, clip off a handful of buds from your cannabis plant. These buds should be much smaller and more delicate than buds that are ready for harvest, but this also means that they hold a lot more THC. You could also use fully matured buds but the process will require more time and rubbing.

Cannabis Charas Hands

Trim the excess leaves off the young buds but leave the stem, or at least a portion of it, intact. Thoroughly clean your hands and begin by rubbing these young, fresh buds between your hands. Make sure not to apply too much pressure or go too fast; the focus should be on moving the buds between your hands instead of squeezing them tightly. As the buds release their oils onto your hands, start speeding up the rubbing motion.

When your hands are sticky enough, perhaps even black by now, press your thumb against the palm of your hands, collecting all the sticky oil into a ball. Use this ball to gather the rest of the oil from your hands, keep rolling it until it stops secreting oils and leave it to dry.

Charas Cannabis Boule

For the best effect, use careful and slow movements while rubbing the buds; the best charas is made painstakingly slow. The more you try to speed up the rubbing process, the more precious oils will be lost, so pace yourself. Hand harvesting might land you around 8 to 9 gramme of charas per day but this will not be of the highest quality. A word to the wise: the slower you go while making it, the higher quality product you will end up with. The highest quality charas, Malana cream, is made by producing only a few grammes per day for instance.

A Modified Method For Creating Charas Concentrate

For us home growers there is a way of not having to dedicate your entire crop to making charas; you can harvest some resin and still harvest the buds when they are fully matured to leave them to dry and cure.

Instead of clipping the buds off of your cannabis plants, now we very, very gently squeeze the buds between the palms of our thoroughly cleaned hands. If you are careful enough, this should leave some of the resin on your palms but will leave the bud itself intact. Repeat the process with the rest of your plants and pay extra attention to the lower buds that will probably not make it to harvest anyway. When you have collected enough resin, you can start rubbing your hands together and follow the traditional method of rolling a ball or strand and leaving it to dry.

Cannabis Charas

When harvesting your plants later on, you can remove the oils from your clipping shears and hands to form a second batch of charas. The clipping of the leaves and trimming of the buds should have left a decent to fair amount of oils. For the best effect, try adding some plant particles. This will add to the flavour and effect of the final product. Drying your charas in the same container as the one that your buds are left to cure in, will also add to the flavour profile.

How To Use Charas

Charas is still used today, mostly by Sadhus (religious ascetics) and the younger working class. The charas is rolled into a ball but it can also be formed into ropes or braids, which better prevent drying out over time. A rope or braid also does a better job at delivering uniform doses, making sure that every time the same amount is used, the user experiences the same or a similar high as before.

Cheech Chong Charas Pipe

Traditionally, charas is smoked out of a clay pipe or a chillum. A chillum is a pipe that can be made out of wood or clay but they are even made out of cow horns. The chillum delivers hot smoke directly into the throat. The Agoris, Tantric Bhairava, and Naga Sadhus all use chillums to smoke their charas. They use a cotton cloth to cover the end of the pipe and use a pebble of clay as a filter. Before lighting the pipe or joint chanting the many names of Shiva is a custom for these sects. Shiva has many names that praise the different forms Shiva comes in, the list of these names is called the ‘Shiva Sahasranama’ which basically translates into the list of a thousand names.

Charas can also be mixed with tobacco to be rolled into a joint or a blunt, another popular way of using charas in India. Remember to always start off with a lower dosage. You can always roll a second joint a take another hit of the chillum but you can not reverse how much you have been smoking already. Do not underestimate the effects of charas, it has even swept heavy users of cannabis right off of their feet.

Effects Of Charas

Charas can have very powerful effects; some would even describe the effect as dangerous. THC is the active ingredient in charas and it is present in much higher concentrations than the dried marijuana buds or regular hashish. This makes for intensified effects of the strains used to make the charas, bordering on the psychedelic. It can sometimes even induce hallucinations or an altered state of consciousness. Some of the side effects are red eyes or even bloodshot eyes, intense hunger, slurred speech and heavy eyelids. It gives the user warm and relaxing feelings reminiscent of a dream.

Best Strains For Charas

The original way of making charas uses a wide variety of indicas, that grow naturally on the Himalayan hillsides. However, any strain can be used to make charas. The effects and flavours of the strains used to make the charas will be amplified so the more Sativa genetics you add to the mix the more psychedelic the effect of your charas will be.

Charas Cannabis Strains

Some of the strains we would recommend for making charas is Indian Kush for a mellow effect, Strawberry Amnesia which will give a psychedelic effect, Sweet Tooth will leave you happy and relaxed, Monster Dwarf will leave with a more sociable effect and Caboose if you want to just straight out be sedated.


  Guest Writer  

Written by: Guest Writer
Occasionally we have guest writers contribute to our blog here at Zamnesia. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, making their knowledge invaluable.

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