Butane hash oil

hash oil

Last published: June 06, 2024

What is Butane hash oil?

Dabs or dabbing are the names for the use of concentrated butane hash oil (or BHO). It is a relatively new method of administering/ingesting cannabis that involves the inhalation of highly concentrated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active chemical in cannabis. This concentrated form is produced through a chemical process using butane oil. Butane is used to extract the oils from the cannabis.1

The use of butane hash oil is not a new practice, but has been gaining popularity in the USA and also here in Australia. This increase in use is thought to be associated with the liberalisation of cannabis use in the United States and Canada.1, 2

Reports suggest that butane hash oil can have a THC concentration of approximately 80% (in comparison with traditional cannabis which is about 10-25%).3

What does BHO look like?

The consistency of BHO can be similar to honey or wax but also hard and like glass that shatters.

BHO is usually a golden amber colour but can also be translucent or opaque.4

Other names

BHO, Marijuana wax, budder, honeycomb, shatter, dab, amber, oil, wax butter, sap.3

How is BHO used?

Cannabis is traditionally smoked in ‘joints’, ‘bongs’ or vaporised but these methods are not effective ways of consuming butane hash oil as it becomes a ‘runny liquid’ when heated. A specifically designed ‘bong’ commonly known as an ‘oil rig’ is commonly used.3

There is anecdotal evidence that indicates people believe dabbing is a safer method of cannabis ingestion as opposed to a bong or joint due to the high potency of dabs, which reduces the number of times it needs to be taken to produce a ‘high’.5

It has been reported that the home production of BHO (known as blasting) is hazardous as butane is flammable and highly volatile, with a number of incidents such as explosions, fires and severe burns occurring in the US.1

There is little known about the risks of ‘dabs’ compared to traditional cannabis but it has been proposed that the increased level of THC and the unique method of administration may increase the risk of dependence and intensify withdrawal symptoms.5

Effects of BHO

Use of any drug can have risks. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Butane hash oil affects everyone differently, based on:

  • size, weight and health
  • whether the person is used to taking it
  • whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • the amount taken
  • the strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch)
  • the environment (where the drug is taken).

Low to moderate use of cannabis may produce the following effects:

  • feelings of relaxation and euphoria
  • spontaneous laughter and excitement
  • increased sociability
  • increased appetite
  • dry mouth.

High strength cannabis in the form of butane hash oil may produce the following effects:

  • relaxation
  • reduced nausea
  • changes to heart rate and blood pressure
  • Pain relief
  • excitement and restlessness
  • confusion and paranoia
  • anxiety and panic
  • reduced attention rate
  • decreased reaction times
  • detachment from reality3,6

Impact of mood and environment

Drugs that affect a person’s mental state (psychoactive drugs) can also have varied effects depending on a person’s mood (often called the ‘set’) or the environment they are in (the ‘setting’):

  • Set: a person’s state of mind, previous encounters with butane hash oil and expectations of what’s going to happen. For example, if you have been experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, the use of Butane Hash Oil might make these symptoms worse and lead to a bad experience.7,8
  • Setting: the environment in which someone consumes BHO – whether it’s known and familiar, who they’re with, if they’re indoors or outdoors, the type of music and light. For example, using BHO in a calm, quiet and relaxed environment can lead to, or contribute to, a pleasant experience but being in a noisy, crowded place may result in a negative experience.7

Long-term effects 

Long-term effects are dependent on how much and how often cannabis is consumed and may also be affected by how cannabis is consumed (e.g. vaporising a concentrate versus smoking the flower). Heavy, regular use of cannabis may eventually cause: 9,10

  • tolerance to the effects of cannabis
  • dependence on cannabis
  • lung injury
  • reduced cognitive functioning9-11

BHO and mental health

People who use extremely strong THC cannabis concentrates (such as BHO) may put themselves at a greater risk of experiencing mental health harms such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.8,12

Individuals with a family history of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – or who currently experience symptoms of these conditions – should also avoid using BHO.13,14

Tolerance and dependence

People who regularly use BHO can quickly become dependent on the drug. They may feel they need BHO to go about their normal activities like working, studying and socialising, or just to get through the day. They may also develop a tolerance to it, which means they need to take larger amounts of BHO to get the same effect.

Mixing BHO with other drugs

Mixing BHO (cannabis) with other drugs can have unpredictable effects and increase the risk of harm.

  • Cannabis and alcohol: can cause nausea, impaired coordination, vomiting.
  • Cannabis and cocaine/speed/ice: can lead to anxiety, paranoia, confusion, and thought loops.
  • Cannabis and psychedelics: may increase the effects which can lead to confusion or a challenging experience/bad trip.15

Use of more than one drug or type of drug consumed at the same time is called polydrug use.16

More on Polydrug use

Polydrug use is a term for the use of more than one drug or type of drug at the same time or one after another. Polydrug use can involve both illicit drugs and legal substances, such as alcohol and medications.


Reducing harm

There are ways you can reduce the risk of harm when using Butane Hash Oil:

  • Start with a low dose and wait a few hours before taking any more
  • Try to avoid inhaling too deeply or holding your breath
  • Avoid using regularly to reduce the potential for negative effects
  • Avoid operating machinery, driving or swimming after use.
  • Butane is highly flammable and extremely volatile, and home production has been linked to an increase in hospital admissions for severe burns. Undertaking this type of extraction indoors is considered to be extremely dangerous. There have been reports of property damage, serious injury or death.3, 17, 18


There is some evidence that the use of higher potency cannabis is associated with greater risk of cannabis-related problems such as increased tolerance and an increase in the severity of withdrawal.3, 5

Giving up cannabis after regular, heavy use over a long time is challenging, because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms may last for only a week, but sleep may be affected for longer. Symptoms can include:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite and upset stomach
  • sweating, chills and tremors
  • restless sleep and nightmares.10

Getting help

If your use of cannabis products is affecting your health, family, relationships, work, school, financial or other life situations, or you’re concerned about a loved one, you can find help and support.

Call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 for free and confidential advice, information and counselling about alcohol and other drugs

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Federal and state laws provide penalties for possessing, using, making, selling cannabis, or driving under the influence.
There are also laws that prevent the sale and possession of bongs and other smoking equipment in some states and territories.

  1. Stogner J., Miller B. Assessing the Danger of "Dabbing": Mere Marijuana or Harmful New Trend? Pediatrics [Internet]. 2015 [19.10.2023]; 136(1).
  2. New Zealand Drug Foundation. About a drug: Dabbing and BHO 2015 [19.10.2023].
  3. DrugWatch. DrugWatch Information Sheet Butane Hash Oil (BHO) 2017 [19.10.2023].
  4. Meier M. Associations between butane hash oil use and cannabis-related problems. Drug and Alcohol Dependence [Internet]. 2017 [19.10.2023]; 179.
  5. Loflin ME, M. A new method of cannabis ingestion: The dangers of dabs? Addictive Behaviours [Internet]. 2014 [19.10.2023]; 39(10):[1430-3 pp.].
  6. Homel PB, R. . Marijuana legalisation in the United States: An Australian Perspective.Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice [Internet]. 2017; (535):[1-20 pp.].
  7. Nutt D. Drugs without the hot air: making sense of legal and illegal drugs. Cambridge: UIT Cambridge Ltd; 2012 [10.10.2023].
  8. Chan G, Hall W, Freeman T, Ferris J, Kelly A, Winstock A. User characteristics and effect profile of Butane Hash Oil: An extremely high-potency cannabis concentrate. Drug and Alcohol Dependence [Internet]. 2017 [25.10.2023]; 178:[32-8 pp.].
  9. Colizzi M, Bhattacharyya, S. Cannabis use and the development of tolerance: a systematic review of human evidence. Neuroscience & Biobehavioural Reviews[Internet]. 2018 [25.10.2023]; 93.
  10. Scott J, Slomiak, ST., Jones, JD., Rosen, AFG., Moore, TM., Gur, RC. Association of Cannabis with Cognitive Functioning in Adolescents and Young Adults. JAMA Psychiatry [Internet]. 2018 [25.10.2023]; 75(6):[585-95 pp.].
  11. Anderson R Zechar K. Lung injury from inhaling butane hash oil mimics pneumonia. Respiratory Medicine Case Reports [Internet]. 2019 [26.10.2023]; 26:[171-3 pp.].
  12. Hall W, Degenhardt L. The adverse health effects of chronic cannabis use. Drug Testing and Analysis [Internet]. 2014 [26.10.2023]; 6(1-2):[39-45 pp.].
  13. National Academies of Sciences E, and Medicine. The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research 2017 [26.10.2023]; 104(4):[32 p.].
  14. Wilkinson ST, Radhakrishnan R, D’Souza DC. Impact of Cannabis Use on the Development of Psychotic Disorders. Current Addiction Reports [Internet]. 2014 [26.10.2023]; 1(2):[115-28 pp.].
  15. Hi-Ground. Cannabis  [24.05.2023].
  16. Tucker JA, Darke, S, Lappin, J, Farrell, M. The Clinicians Guide to Illicit Drugs and Health: Silverback Publishing; 2019 [26.10.2023].
  17. Novosel I KZ, Gusić S, et al,. Immunohistochemical detection of early myocardial damage in two sudden deaths due to intentional butane inhalation. Two case reports with review of literature. Journal Of Forensics and Legal Medicine [Internet]. 2011 [26.10.2023]; 18(3).
  18. Psychonaut Wiki. Butane hash oil (BHO) extraction 2022 [26.10.2023].

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anxiety , change in perception , clumsiness , confusion , coughing , dry mouth , feeling relaxed , happiness , increased appetite , red eyes , stoned , uncontrolled laughter


budder , dabs , hash , sap , wax butter