5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Making Cannabis-Infused Oil
How do I estimate the strength of my cannabis-infused oil? Will I screw up decarboxylation? What is cannabis-infused oil?
Let us help you answer these questions and more in this easy-to-understand guide!
Table of Contents
Do you have Cannabis-Infused Oil ready to cook with? Check out our How to Make THC Gummy Bears with Canna Oil recipe!
1. What Does It Mean To Make Cannabis-Infused Oil?
“Infusion is the process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent such as water, oil, or alcohol by allowing the material to remain suspended in the solvent over time (a process often called steeping). An infusion is also the name for the resultant liquid.”
The most basic example of an infusion is making a cup of tea or coffee in your kitchen.
When you “steep” or soak your cannabis plant in oil, you are extracting the plant chemicals and infusing them into your chosen oil or solvent. Just like a cup of tea, the plant material is soaked or steeped, removed, and the phytochemicals remain suspended in the solvent. In the case of tea, water is the solvent. The beneficial plant chemicals in cannabis, though, are fat-soluble rather than water-soluble.
Canna oil is also a common term for patients and home herbalists to refer to cannabis-infused oil.
2. How to Estimate the Potency of Your Canna Oil or Cannabutter
Edibles and tinctures made with canna oil have a way of sneaking up on you. It takes some individuals two to three hours to feel the full effect of an edible. Overconsuming because you think you didn’t eat enough is a common beginner’s mistake. It happens to the best of us, but knowing approximately how many milligrams of THC or other cannabinoids are in each serving will help you learn what your ideal portion or dose is.
The only way to know exactly how many milligrams of cannabinoids are in your infusions or extractions is to have your edible or oil professionally lab tested. Keep in mind that this method is a basic estimate only.
Calculate the Milligrams of Cannabinoids in Your Cannabis
- Convert the grams of cannabis you plan to use into milligrams by multiplying by 1000.
Example: 5 grams of flower x 1000 = 5000 mg flower
- Determine how many milligrams(mg) of cannabinoids (THC, CBD) is in your bud. You’ll need to estimate if you don’t know the percentage of cannabinoids your flower contains. For this example, we will use 20%.
milligrams of cannabis x % of THC or CBD = total cannabinoids in milligrams
Example: 5000 mg x 20% = 1000 mg
Estimate the Infusion Rate
In the above example, we have estimated that the 5 mg of cannabis we are using contains about 1000 mg of cannabinoids. It isn’t realistic to think that 100% of the cannabinoids will be infused into our oil. Decarboxylation, the type of oil, the temperatures, the length of infusion, and other factors all play a part. Realistically, it could be anywhere between 50% to 80%. Erring on the high end is safe if you fear taking too much. You can always consume more.
We will estimate that 80% of the cannabinoids will infuse into our oil.
Example: 1000 mg x 80 % = 800 mg of infused cannabinoids
Determine the Total Milligrams of Cannabinoids (THC/CBD) In Your Recipe and Per Serving
Measure the amount of strained cannabis-infused oil or butter once the infusion is complete. If you began with 2 cups, you may have a bit less after all the filtering steps. We will estimate that you have 1 ¾ cup of finished oil to use, containing 800 mg of cannabinoids in total.
To determine how many milligrams of THC, for example, are in an entire recipe after completion, convert to a smaller unit of measurement needed in your recipe and use division. In this example, we will break down the total of 1 3/4 cups into ¼ cups. There are 7 quarters in 1.75.
1 ¾ cups = Seven ¼ cups meaning the total of 800 mg needs to be ÷ by 7 parts = 114.28 mg
Each ¼ cup used will contain approximately 114 mg of THC
Don’t worry, you can use Google to help you convert into the various measurements your recipe may call for.
Here are a few conversions as an example:
- 1 ¾ cups = 14 fluid ounces
- 1 ¾ cups = 28 Tablespoons
Now you need to determine how many milligrams of cannabinoids are in each serving, not just the entire recipe. Divide the total amount of cannabis-infused oil or butter in milligrams used in the recipe by the number of servings.
example: The recipe calls for ¼ cup of oil and is cut into 12 serving pieces
¼ cup = 114 mg THC ÷ by 12 pieces = about 9.5 mg THC in each piece
Let’s Review the Steps
- Determine the total amount of milligrams (mg) of cannabinoids (THC): 5 grams of flower converts to 5000 milligrams by multiplying by 1000. 5000 mg x 20% THC is 1000 mg of THC in the flower.
- Calculate total infusion rate: 1000 mg x 80 % = 800 mg of infused THC is in the oil. (It will never be 100% infused)
- Determine the total Cannabinoids in your recipe: 800 mg divided by the amount used, which is ¼ cup. How many quarter cups are in our total amount of 1 ¾ cups? There are 7 quarters in 1.75. 800 mg ÷ by 7 is about 114 mg. There is approximately 114 mg of cannabinoids in the entire recipe.
- Calculate the milligrams (mg) in each serving piece: 114 mg divided in 12 pieces = 9.5 mg each
3. What Kind of Oil Should I Use?
Choose an oil to infuse based on what you plan to make with your finished infusion.
Many oils have a strong flavor. Choose an oil that will complement your recipe or fit your personal needs. If baking brownies or cookies, you will want a neutral oil. Neutral oils have no distinct taste or smell. Refined oils are usually neutral. If you plan to make salad dressing and sauces, for example, you have room to experiment with the oil flavors. If you are infusing oil as medicine and plan to take it sublingually, consider your personal taste preference and health needs. Other factors to consider are the smoking point, processing, omega ratio, cost, and shelf life.
Neutral Oil Examples:
- Refined Coconut Oil (solid)
- MCT Oil (liquid)
- Vegetable Oil
- Canola Oil
- Extra Light Olive Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
Examples of Oils with Strong Flavors:
- Virgin Coconut Oil (solid and has a coconut flavor and scent)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oils (EVOO)
- Hemp Seed Oil
4. You Don’t Need To Stick To THC
You don’t need to limit yourself to only working with THC-dominant cannabis flower. The wide range of genetics available for home cultivation and purchasing at dispensaries is growing yearly. CBD, CBN, and CBG are a few cannabinoids to look for and research. You can look for balanced genetics or create your own unique mix by infusing a variety of flower together.
5. Don’t Stress Over Decarboxylation
Decarboxylation is a process that changes or activates the psychoactive chemicals in cannabis. If you consume cannabis that hasn’t been “decarbed,” you won’t feel “high.” Time, heat, and light naturally begin the process. We can speed up the natural degradation of cannabis using applied heat. When you smoke cannabis, you are decarboxylating it. Most people want this desired psychoactive effect. You’ll need to decarboxylate cannabis to make your edibles psychoactive.
There are many ways to decarb cannabis at home. Ovens, water baths, and special units sold for cannabis decarboxylation are common ways to achieve this process. The basic idea is to heat your cannabis (THC) between 200°F – 245°F for 30 – 40 minutes. The internet is full of self-proclaimed decarbing “experts” who all boast of having the best way to decarb.
When making cannabis-infused oil, you use heat to extract the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. Most people will decarb their weed before infusing it in oil. So don’t worry about “under baking” during decarboxylation. The second addition of heat applied while infusing your oil as you “cook it down” will activate your cannabis as well.
If there’s one point you need to focus on, it’s not to apply too much heat or for too long. Don’t destroy the valuable cannabinoids and terpenes by overheating with high temps in either step. The common phrase for consuming edibles is “low and slow”. When making cannabis-infused oil, keep the processing “low and slow,” too. (Low temperature and more time) “Weed decarboxylation occurs between 200-245ºF. When making edibles, we recommend heating buds at 220ºF for 30-40 minutes.”
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