There are few people on the planet that love hash as much as Ashley Gaetrig, co-founder of one of the top hardware companies in solventless hash, IceExtract.
I’ve had the pleasure of judging solventless at The Emerald Cup with Gaetrig for the last couple of years. It’s easy to presume she brings the same focus levels to all her work as she does judging the world’s best hash.
Much of the time over the years she made the hash she was smoking alongside her husband Eric. She emphasized it’s a shared journey. The affection for hash she shares with him proved a major catalyst for where their lives ended up.
The pair started growing in Michigan for personal use 20 years ago. Eventually, the medical laws passed and they decided to take it to the next level as caregivers.
“Then we got some patients and we were growing the weed for them and basically charging them really cheap prices, $100 an ounce,” Ashley told L.A. Weekly. “That was on top of what we gave to them for free. And then they were buying the crap out of it. And then we realize that, like, oh, this is like crazy. So I started growing larger amounts to supply the dispensaries.”
Eventually, the pair would go on a trip to Amsterdam. While they were there, they tried the Sublimator Vaporizer.
“What it did was destroy our taste for flowers,” Eric said. “Because when we came home from Amsterdam, we started rolling joints again and it just tasted like we were smoking ashtrays. So then we started extracting our trim so that we could smoke hash.”
From there they attempted to research as much as they could in 2013. They started to learn more about how to dry the hash.
They started microplaning the hash onto parchment paper and drying it in the fridge. Microplaning is just breaking down the hash into a thin sandy looking layer that will release the moisture more efficiently and evenly in the early stages of drying it out, as opposed to the big chunks you get in spoonfuls out of the bag.
“And we found out that was one of the best ways you can make hash. We fell in love. We haven’t gone back,” Eric said. “We haven’t smoked flower since then. We’ve been strictly nonsolvent hash smokers for 10 years.”
In 2015 the pair would head to L.A. for the cannabis cup and enter, despite living in Michigan. They got to L.A., but the package was yet to arrive. The pair started to freak out a little bit. Eventually, it did arrive. The pair would unknowingly jump in the car to their future home Marietta, where ICEExtract is now based from.
When it was time for the awards show, they ended up winning the SoCal cup that year. Development on the bags started immediately.
“And then after that, we started making bags basically. My first sale was in 2015 to 3rd Gen at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Michigan in Flint. He bought a set of 20-gallon 8-bag kits,” Ashley said.
In preparation for their next cup, the entry was caught in the shipment to Denver. They would end up getting raided a couple of weeks later. They’d already started looking at bag material samples earlier that winter after the L.A win. This forced them to put their foot on the gas with the bags. They sold their cars and put their life savings into the company, financing one car so they could drive to and from the manufacturing facility.
They would spend two and a half years in Michigan getting the ball rolling on ICEExtract and finishing probation. Eventually, they made the move to The San Francisco Bay area. That was when they made the jump into producing larger commercial-grade extraction equipment and not just bags.
“We were sentenced to two years probation. But since we were good boys and girls, we got off early,” Ashley said. “It’s so funny because like a month before we got off, we weren’t even supposed to leave the state without permission for business release right? And we went to Chalice for the last one. I was there and like, literally took a dab and basically almost had a panic attack because I thought like I was gonna get caught.”
The pair noted that toward the end of probation, they knew they had made it when Cookies cofounder Jigga hit them up for some lessons on doing proper extractions. The lessons went great; they said they weren’t sure who was more nervous, them about the meeting or Jigga because he’d never made hash. It was another example of just how welcoming California was to the then-Michigan company.
Things certainly worked out. But it wasn’t some dice roll, it was effort- and perseverance-based.
We asked the pair what it’s like to see the risks they took before coming to California work out for the best? Ashley quickly replied it was amazing, the way things played out reminds her of all those speeches her mother gave her in her youth about being able to do whatever you want in life if you apply yourself and work hard.
“And that’s essentially like what Eric and I did, every hurdle that gets in our way, we keep pushing it down and keep moving forward and trying to push the envelope for machinery and equipment,” Ashley said. “That is essentially why we wanted to start making the bags. Because like, we wanted better equipment.”
The little tweaks included making the bags a little shorter so they didn’t sit on the hash. That gives it the best shot to be as pristine as possible. They also made the bags a bit more durable than they were seeing in the marketplace.
Ashley emphasized they just paid attention to detail.
“How can we do this and make these the shit, basically,” she laughed. “When we make and manufacture the equipment. Our goal is to make the best quality out there and it will never change as long as you know, we’re here at the forefront of ICEExract.”
Eric went on to note even with all the success, it was hard to not be a caregiver anymore. They were giving out a lot and it helped many sick people. Having that right taken away from him was one of the hardest things for him to adjust to through the whole process.
“I had to explain to him now instead of us helping just 12 patients and the people that buy our stuff at the dispensary now are helping the whole world like make clean our product and essentially we’re helping more people,” Ashley said. “So at the end of the day, he’s looked at it as being a win whether or not we were directly interacting with patients or not.”
The world of solventless hash is a much wilder monster than it was in 2015. These days, solventless reigns king. They’ve seen the growth as a whirlwind. It was almost like ICEExtract grew with the changing of the times as Ashley sees it.
With the rise of solventless came the fall of BHO. Even world champs say there is no month in it for them anymore. We asked the pair if they ever expected Butane Hash Oil to fall off this far, especially given there are some terpene profiles that just won’t produce through solventless extraction.
“I bet for sure, 100%,” Ashley replied. “Even though a lot of people in the beginning or a lot of the BHO people are like, oh the yields aren’t there. But the health craze is already coming into effect. Where people are more health conscious and stuff, especially here in California and not as much in Michigan. But I think that’s why respect for hash is a little bit greater out here, too.”
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