What Is Charas And How To Make It
5 min

What Is Charas And How To Make It

5 min

Used to worship Shiva, charas has a rich history. But, little is known about it outside of India and Jamaica, the former of which is charas' birthplace. Here at Zamnesia, we've got you covered. Read on for a brief history of charas and instructions on how to make your own.

Hailing from the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, charas' origins are as exciting as its effects. A super-potent concentrate traditionally used to worship Lord Shiva, there is no better way to imbibe the pure strength of cannabis. Uniquely taken from the still-living cannabis plant and created through a long, gentle process, it’s quite unlike anything else. Try smoking it, and a whole new world of cannabis will open up before you.

What Is Charas?

What Is Charas?

Charas is an extract derived from the buds of living cannabis plants. Originating in the north of India, it has a rich and interesting past. The same methods to make Indian charas are commonly used in Jamaica, too. Depending who you ask, some will say that true charas can only come from northern India, whilst others claim it is the process that defines it, not the place it was cultivated.

The History of Charas

The History of Charas

Charas has a rich cultural heritage in India, especially amongst the Shaiva sect of Hinduism. Though outlawed in the 1980s, many Indians have continued to openly smoke charas as it is a religious and cultural practice dating back thousands of years.

Head deep into the Parvati Valley, and there is a community that makes Malana Cream, a world-famous type of charas. By mixing together the resin from multiple cannabis strains into a single extract, they have created some of the best charas available.

Competing with Malana Cream is Kerala Gold. This is made from a single strain; a one-of-a-kind landrace known locally as Neelachadayan. In recent years, the local police have so effectively sought out and destroyed plantations of Neelachadayan that its future is dubious. Nonetheless, it is some of the very best cannabis concentrate you can find.

Related article

Landrace Strains: The Oldest Cannabis Strains

Is Charas the Same as Hashish?

Not quite. The defining difference is that charas is made using resin from living cannabis plants, whilst hashish is extracted from dried, harvested plants. As previously mentioned, some purists will take this further, claiming that where it was grown defines it too. However, the only watertight definition is the production method.

How To Make Charas: Traditional Method

How To Make Charas: Traditional Method

The most common method used to make charas is rubbing the buds between your hands, slowly extracting the resin. Another interesting method used in India is to walk through crops of cannabis plants dressed in leather; as the material rubs up against the sticky buds, it will collect the oils. In time, the amount collected on these suits will be so much that it can be scraped off and rolled into charas.

The traditional method of making charas is time-consuming but worthwhile. With the potential to make up to nine grams a day, you’ll need to put aside some time. And get some alcohol wipes at the ready!

1. Choose Your Buds

For charas, you’ll want to use smaller buds that are about two or three weeks away from being harvest-ready. The smaller size will make the process easier, and you’re likely to get more bang for your buck. Once your buds are selected, cut them, leaving behind as much stem as possible.

2. Rub Them Between Your Hands

Now, begin to roll the buds between your palms—after thoroughly cleaning and drying them. Do this slowly. They will begin to excrete oils, coating your hands in resin. Stop once your hands are brown-black, thick with sticky extract.

3. Make a Ball of Charas

The final and longest stage. Once your hands are covered, take your thumb and begin to roll it in small circles in the centre of your palm. It should begin to create a small ball of resin. Once it has, continue to roll this ball about your palm, and it will grow into a beautiful lump of charas.

Once complete, these balls are traditionally braided into ropes to stop them from drying out too much. If done properly, this method also creates uniform, equal doses, making consumption more reliable.

How To Make Charas: Modified Method

How To Make Charas: Modified Method

There is a method that does not involve cultivating a whole crop of cannabis plants just to make charas. Though it will yield less, it will allow you to leave your buds to fully mature for later harvesting.

1. Squeeze Your Buds

Gently squeeze the cannabis flowers between your hands. Do this to all the flowers you have available. You can afford to be more aggressive with the lower buds, as they are likely to be less desirable to smoke than those located higher up anyway.

2. Repeat Traditional Method

After this, use the same method listed above to create little charas balls or braids.

3. Make Use of Scissors and Shears

Once you do get to harvesting your crop, don’t throw away the sticky resin coating your scissors or shears. This is pristine charas. Scrape it off and roll it into a ball. Don’t worry about the plant material in it; this will just add to the flavour and richness of the final product.

What Are the Effects of Charas?

What Are The Effects Of Charas?

Charas is technically a concentrate, and as such is much more potent than most other forms of cannabis. As it is taken from living cannabis plants and not cured in the same way as most harvests, it retains a slightly different terpene and cannabinoid profile. Some users report almost hallucinatory, psychedelic effects. Dream-like and spacey, make time to indulge in charas, as it offers more than a light stone!

How To Use Charas

How To Use Charas

There are a few different ways to take charas, ranging from the ancient to the highly modern (tip: traditional methods typically work better).


A chillum is the traditional way to smoke charas. Usually in the form of a small clay pipe, the balls of charas are loaded in and set alight. As a filter, users will put a ball of clay in cloth and place this between the mouthpiece and the end of the pipe, somewhat mitigating its harshness. Due to the presence of plant material in the charas, this method can be very harsh and requires a hardy throat to pull it off without coughing.

Traditionally, the name of Shiva will be chanted before smoking a chillum. It’s up to you to decide whether this would be in good taste.


Charas can also be smoked in a joint. As it is so moist, it is important to break it up into very small pieces to ensure an even and complete burn. Too big and the bits will not burn properly, wasting your precious extract.

Bong or Dab Rig

Using a bong is similar to the chillum method, but replaces the clay pebble with water and whatever other filtration devices your bong may come with. You will need a powerful and consistent flame to smoke the charas properly, so be prepared.

In addition to the traditional bong setup, you can also dab charas like other types of cannabis concentrates. Although it won't be as pure as the wax or oil you'd find in a dispensary, it can make for hefty hits that are less harsh on the throat than bongs.


Vaping charas is probably more effort than it’s worth. Due to its thick, wet nature, you need extremely high temperatures, and even then it doesn’t seem to be a reliable method.

That said, if you are determined to give it a go, sandwiching it between layers of dry vegetative matter seems to yield the best results. It will be strong already, so consider using something other than more weed.

Choosing the Best Cannabis Strains for Making Charas

Choosing The Best Cannabis Strains For Making Charas

There is no hard and fast rule regarding which cannabis strains you should use to make charas, but there are some general rules that will yield you better results. Indica is what is traditionally used, though the main factor you should consider is a strain’s resin production. If the buds aren’t drenched in THC-rich goo, then they’re not going to be the best for producing charas. The stickier the cannabis plant, the better!

The same strains that are best for making hash will also be the most suitable for making charas. Zamnesia has identified five of the best. These are:

Any of these strains will put you in a great position to make your first charas, as they are almost unbeatable for gooey goodness.

Charas is one of the most exciting ways to make use of the cannabis plant. Considering how ancient a practice it is, it’s surprising that it isn’t more commonly used outside of India and Jamaica. Well worth it if you grow your own, give it a go, and perhaps you’ll understand why it’s maintained such an essential role in religion and culture. But, go steady, as it can blow your mind!

Luke Sholl
Luke Sholl
Luke Sholl has been writing about cannabis, the wellness potential of cannabinoids, and the positive influence of nature for over a decade. Working with several cannabinoid-centric publications, he publishes a variety of digital content, supported by strong technical knowledge and thorough research.
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