First of all what exactly is charas? Like hashish (hash), charas is made from the resin of cannabis but unlike hash, it’s derived from the live cannabis plant that hasn’t yet been harvested. To produce charas you rub the flowers between your hands and the dirt from your hands slowly transforms into a sort of brown play dough.
Charas is very common in the Parvati Valley in northern India, said to have the best charas in the world. Having been a tourist in the area, I’m not sure I agree, but for sure it is the cheapest. A tola* costs around 1,000 Rupi, about $15.
How do you inspect charas? To choose good charas, check three features: color, texture, and smell. The color should be a nice brown on the outside and dark greenish inside. Good charas will change its texture depending on climate — when hot it will be elastic like playdough and when cold it will be harder but not so you can’t squash it. As for the smell, like any cannabis product, if you don’t like it don’t get it!
And how do you smoke charas? The traditional way in India would be a chillum pipe, a straight cone-shaped pipe usually made out of clay. But there’s no real need for a chillum. You can smoke charas like any other kind of cannabis. Roll up a small portion into a snake shape, then cut it up into small balls. You should be able to do this with your fingers. Mix the balls with a little tobacco and smoke any way you want (spliff, bang, pipe). I do advise beginner cannabis users to take a five-minute break after every two puffs and see how you feel.
* A tola (tolah or tole) is about 10 grams.