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What Should I Do With My Sugar Leaf Trim?

Never waste another leaf or lower bud ever again, and discover how to turn your leftover trash into top shelf medicine!
26 July 2022
8 min read
What Should I Do With My Sugar Leaf Trim?

  • 1. What is sugar leaf?
  • 2. Drying and trimming cannabis plants
  • 2. a. Wet trimming
  • 2. b. Dry trimming
  • 3. Choosing to make hash
  • 3. a. Ice water hash explained
  • 3. b. Dry sifting explained
  • 4. What about extraction?
  • 5. Top 3 recommended strains for hash making and extracts
  • 6. In conclusion

Once upon a time long before bubble bags were available and the hash and extracts seen were almost non-existent, 99% of home growers would discard their leftover leaves and lower buds. Nowadays many growers go to extreme lengths to produce the finest hash and extracts on the planet, so below you will learn what can be done with your leftovers, how to make hash and why you should never throw them away ever again.

1. What Is Sugar Leaf?

This basically refers to the leaves that are closest to the buds, meaning they will have the most resin content. Sometimes fan leaves can even display resin, however, the majority of the time, it is the smallest leaves that are closely packed around the buds. As the name suggests, these leaves will hold many precious trichomes clustered around the leaf. They will also have the same quality terpene profile as the buds and should be delicately collected.

Discovering the difference between fan leaves and sugar leaves will help you dial in your cannabis anatomy. As their name suggests, fan leaves are the larger fan-like foliage that develops during the vegetative phase of the growing cycle. Their large surface area makes them highly effective at absorbing sunlight and converting it into energy that plants use to develop and grow. But make no mistake, fan leaves also harbor trichomes. You can see this for yourself by taking a closer look using a loupe or another form of a magnifying glass. Because they possess these glands, they also help to deter insects, defend against UV rays, and fix nitrogen from the atmosphere that ultimately helps to build structural proteins.

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How to Use Sugar Leaves?

So, how do sugar leaves differ? Well, first of all, they’re much smaller in size. These tiny leaves help to make up cannabis colas. They also photosynthesize and provide developing buds with a local source of sunlight and carbohydrates. Size considered, they also feature a much different shape. Whereas fan leaves possess numerous extended leaflets, sugar leaves consist of one singular serrated leaflet. Sugar leaves also contain fair higher concentrations of glandular trichomes that give them a frosted and sugar-coated appearance. Such high levels of trichomes mean they produce more valuable secondary metabolites than fan leaves, including cannabinoid acids such as THCA and CBDA and a wealth of aromatic terpenes that underpin the flavor and aroma of each strain. Their high volume of trichomes means they contribute to the defense of colas; the potent hydrocarbons they produce help to deter herbivores while attracting pollinators (although the majority of growers home to avoid pollination in order to achieve true seedless sensimilla). 

Much like the buds themselves, sugar leaves are more valuable to growers than their fan leaf counterparts. Although they house fewer cannabinoid acids and terpenes than buds, they still produce enough to make them worthy of harvesting and processing. In this article, you’re going to learn why you should keep hold of your sugar leaves after trimming and how to make the best use of this vegetative resource. 

2. Drying and Trimming Cannabis Plants

Trimming cannabis is simple, right? Agreed. But there are several things you need to take into consideration before you start aimlessly chopping away at your sugar leaves. The most important decision involves deciding on whether to trim your flower while they’re fresh or after you’ve dried them. This might seem unnecessarily nuanced, but different approaches to trimming provide unique benefits and downsides.

There are two main methods of drying and trimming Cannabis plants. One method involves trimming every leaf meticulously when the plants are freshly harvested. This is known as wet trimming and can be very time demanding. Sure, things will get sticky. But don’t get it twisted. Many growers choose to pursue wet trimming because it comes with some key benefits. 

Wet Trimming 

The benefits associated with wet trimming are:

  • The grower can make fresh frozen hash or extracts. This means the cannabinoids in the plant have not got decarboxylated and have the same terpene profile as when freshly harvested.
  • If making B.H.O, then the end product again will be classed as live resin and a highly desirable smoke.
  • Buds can be cut down to an identical consistency, then placed onto a mesh drying net to be aired out for the duration of the drying process. As the main stems and stalks containing most of the moisture are not present the drying process is speeded up.
  • It is easily possible to make a fresh frozen isolator using bubble sieving bags, ice, and water to smoke before your crop is close to being dry.


What Should I Do With My Sugar Leaf Trim?: Wet Trim infographic

Wet trimming consists of trimming before drying.

Dry Trimming 

The other method is dry trimming meaning there is no hands-on trimming performed until the buds are fully dry, after 10-14 days of hanging in a temperature-controlled environment. Dry trimming should be done over a sifting screen to collect all of the falling trichome heads.

Ultimately, dry trimming helps to avoid the sticky mess that often manifests when growers elect wet trimming. However, after drying, sugar leaves become considerably shriveled. This change in shape makes them more fiddly and slightly more difficult to work with. But don’t let this put you off before you discover the benefits of this technique below. Dry trimming works particularly well when you have a lot of flower mass to work with. Drying everything first ensures that your bounty is protected from excess humidity and mold before the trimming process begins. 

The benefits associated with dry trimming are:

  • The dry sift on the collecting screens can be collected and pressed into a ready-to-smoke piece of hash (as opposed to having to wait for the isolator to dry).
  • The buds have fully dried meaning they have decarboxylated and are now rich in THC and contain a different end flavor due to the change in cannabinoid profile. 
  • Sifting tumblers are an excellent way to produce trichome heads, and can be done with dry buds, or dry sugar leaf.
  • It is possible to press the dry sift pollen into rosin using a micron mesh filter, parchment paper, and a rosin press.


What Should I Do With My Sugar Leaf Trim?: Dry Trim infographic

Dry trimming consists of trimming after drying.

3. Choosing To Make Hash

So you have decided to follow the traditional hash-making methods used around the world for hundreds of years. Deciding on which hash is the best suited for you, can be down to the equipment needed, as well as your skill level and understanding of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Ice Water Hash Explained

This requires using a set of micron sieving bags that range from 220 micron down to as little as 25 micron. You will also need to use cold water and fresh ice. Making ice water hash can be done with either fresh frozen trim which means the leaves and buds were immediately frozen, or with dry material. 


What Should I Do With My Sugar Leaf Trim?: Ice water hash

Hash is basically pressed kief.

In order to make top-quality ice wash hash you will need the following:

  • Bubble sieving bags ranging from 220 micron - 180 micron

  • Fresh frozen trim / lightly frozen dry trim

  • A washing machine for your plant material and ice and water

  • 2 buckets to filter your water through

  • A high-pressure hose with shower head

  • Plenty of ice cubes

  • A spoon and utensils to scoop the hash up

  • A plate/parchment paper to rest the wet hash

Dry Sifting Explained

The best way to think about this method is to relate to the traditional drum beating style, incorporated by the Moroccans. Of course, we are able to take things a step further and in the privacy of our own homes, gently rub our dry material over the micron screens. These screens will be heavy-duty similar to a silk printing screen and will allow a cleanup process to occur, meaning the end product will be full melt quality. In order to make a top-quality dry sift pollen, all you need is:

  • Dry plant material of leaves or buds

  • A various screen that will allow the plant material to be cleaned up

  • Plastic credit card-sized tools for moving the material over the screen

  • Working in a cold environment to encourage more agitation

  • Parchment paper or a clean surface to collect the fallen trichome heads.

4. What About Extraction?

As we take things one step further from traditional hash making, we can begin to talk about extracts and the difference between hash and extraction. Many would say hash and extracts are the same, however, a hash is made from the entire trichome and plant essence contained from 120-25 micron. B.H.O or rosin actually removes the terpenes and cannabinoids like sap from a tree. The body of the trichomes is discarded and removed from the final product. If you think about it like cracking an egg and removing the yolk, then this is what is called wax. 

Butane Honey Oil is a method that involves running butane through a closed-loop system and blasting fresh frozen or dry material. The butane is then removed using a temperature-controlled vacuum over and purged of all solvents that were used in the process. Rosin is the most recent advancement in producing a solventless extraction, and uses micron bags and parchment paper, with heat and pressure to squeeze out the essential oils.

5. Top 3 Recommended Strains For Hash Making and Extracts

When it comes to producing next level hashes and extracts, we got you covered with the tastiest, frosties and most rewarding autoflowering strains around:

Wedding Cheesecake Auto
5 out of 5
Beautiful plants, and consistent among the three. I topped all of them and got around 115g off each in 2 gallon pots. Very pleased
Verified customer
Reviewed 9 December 2020

Fresh from the oven, Wedding Cheesecake Auto is the latest addition fo the Fast Buds family. This highly productive hybrid will be ideal for those who want to make some top-notch quality bubble hash or extracts with the sugar trim when harvesting.

Gelato Auto
4 out of 5
I didn't think I’d harvest much at first but then I was surprised by the yield. It was 87 grams from one plant. Not bad, not bad at all.
Verified customer
Reviewed 22 July 2022

Its flavor is a combination of sweet cookies, citrus, and earthy-sweet resembling ice cream, which makes it a perfect choice for making oils or extractions.

Zkittlez Auto
5 out of 5
Just an easy to grow, solid packed buds. A heavy feeder and can be a bit prone to light burn at the end but otherwise perfection!
Verified customer
Reviewed 21 November 2020

An incredible candy sweet, a massive yielding cultivar with the most unique terpene profile, that has taken the world by storm in recent years.

6. In Conclusion

We hope you have learned how important your sugar trim and unwanted popcorn buds are, and have proven they go a long way. It is a good idea to research as much about hash making and extraction online, so you can practice at home at producing cup-winning quality!

26 July 2022