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How to Make Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil or MCT Oil

How to Make Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil or MCT Oil

Understanding Cannabis Infusion

Cannabis infusion is the process of extracting the phytochemicals (plant chemicals) from the plant into a solvent such as oil. Cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are the most common phytochemicals extracted from cannabis and hemp. The plant material is steeped in a solvent over a period of time, much like tea leaves are steeped in water. The plant material is removed and discarded, while the phytochemicals remain suspended in the liquid. Both the process and the end result are called infusions.

Extraction of medicinal plants is a process of separating active plant materials or secondary metabolites such as alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenes, saponins, steroids, and glycosides from inert or inactive material using an appropriate solvent and standard extraction procedure. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how to make cannabis-infused coconut oil or MCT oil, decarboxylate cannabis, or choose to infuse cannabis into any oil of your choice. You don’t need to invest in any special devices to make cannabis-infused oils. Herbalists have been infusing herbs and making medicinals for centuries. It’s not as hard as you think, and as you expand your general knowledge, you’ll grow in confidence. 

Learn More About Cannabis-Infused Oil in these Articles:

Infusing Cannabis Oil: 5 Tips You Need to Know Before You Begin

How to Make THC Gummy Bears with Canna Oil


Time To Get Busy!

To make cannabis-infused coconut oil at home without fancy equipment, use a slow cooker. A scale, strainer, coffee filter and mason jar a the main items you need to gather.
An ordinary slow cooker is all you need to make cannabis-infused oils in your kitchen. You’ll want your slow cooker to have high and low-temperature settings. A built-in auto shut-off timer is a fantastic feature to have for this “low and slow” method of infusion.

Equipment 

Ingredients: 

  • Oil of your choice. The amount of oil will depend on the amount of cannabis or hemp material used. (See section on how to choose the best oil)
  • Dried Cannabis or Hemp

How Much Cannabis and Oil should I use? 

For large batches, consider using fan leaves, popcorn buds, and trim. Even stems can be used. The glitter-like crystals seen on cannabis and hemp are called trichomes. Trichomes contain many of the phytochemicals such as cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN, CBG), terpenes, and flavonoids that will be infused into the oil. 

You will need approximately 4 ounces dry wt. of cannabis per 32 liquid ounces of oil. Adjust this for smaller batches. (2 oz dry plant per 16 oz oil). The idea is to ensure your plant material is saturated and well covered. 

How to Decarboxylate Cannabis or Hemp

To convert the THC-A and CBD-A, for example, into their active forms — more commonly known as THC and CBD — you need to heat your plant material or flower. I prefer not to use a grinder as that will cause the removal of many of your trichomes as they fall into the kief catcher. Ideally, we want as many trichomes to stay on the buds as possible, as they contain all the cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, esters, and many other components of the Cannabis plant. Gently breaking up your flower into small uniform pieces will be sufficient for this. 

Spread your bud or trim across a baking pan lined with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or in a glass pyrex baking dish. The more spread out the herb, the greater the surface area of the cannabis exposed to the heat. As a result of this process, the cannabinoids can now be active when orally consumed and passing through your gut, encountering first-pass metabolism by your liver.

I recommend baking “low and slow” to guard against overheating and time exposure. Use an oven thermometer or laser thermometer to monitor your temperatures while the herb decarbs. Most people recommend 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 240ºF-245° for THC conversion and 60 minutes for CBD conversion. You may gently shake the baking tray/dish or stir to maximize the exposed surface area of your cannabis. If possible, cover your tray or baking dish. Silicone oven-proof lids are now available and create a good seal on glass baking dishes. By covering, you will contain the vapors released by the flower, allowing them to resettle on the decarbed herb and reducing the smell in your kitchen. 

Once removed from the oven, keep covered until it cools to room temperature to allow the vapors (which likely contain volatile cannabinoids, terpenoids, and other compounds) to fall back into your flower. Many people allow it to sit and cool for about 4 hours. Drier cannabis buds can spend less time in the oven, as they will need less time to decarb. Once out and cooled down, your cannabis is ready to infuse into oils, butter, or any recipe. 

Pro Tip:  Placing your decarbed weed in the freezer for an hour will allow the trichomes to fall off more easily and optimize the upcoming infusion process.

More About Decarboxylation 

What is Decarboxylation?
This short video will help explain why we decarboxylate cannabis and hemp.

The following is a transcript from the video:

“THC is a much more common term than THCA, and although they look very similar, they are very different in chemical structure. The letter A on the end represents an acid. As long as this acid is in place, THCA represents a separate chemical compound with its own benefits, and it is not psychoactive. This means it will not get you high. 

THCA always comes first in the raw plant. It is called a precursor to THC. THCA actually begins to naturally convert and change slowly into THC as the plant ages and dries over time. This natural process is called degradation. One way to speed up the process of this chemical change is to add heat. Adding heat to convert THCA to THC is called decarboxylation or more commonly known as “decarb” or “decarbing.”  Smoking is a prime example of how people decarboxylate cannabis without even realizing it. If you eat the flower, though, you’ll get very little of the converted THC. The good old “ pot brownies” worked because they were cooked! Raw cannabis won’t make you high. 

Are there other acid forms and precursors of cannabinoids? You bet. And research is ongoing to discover the health benefits of each and discover even more.”

Optional All-In-One Method of Decarboxylation and Oil Infusion

Once you are more comfortable with processing cannabis and understanding some science behind infusion, you may want to combine your process. I process or infuse my oil for about 4 hours if my cannabis is already decarbed. I eventually learned that I could “cook” low and slow for about 8 hours and achieve all the steps in one process. I feel I lose less of the beneficial phytochemicals of the plant this way. This method also reduces some of the smell if you’re keeping a low profile. After 8 hours, I turn off my crockpot and let the oil and herb soak overnight. 

People will waste time arguing over methods and decarboxylation. There are many ways to complete a job. Choose a method that fits your lifestyle, that you believe in, and most importantly, that works for you! 


Instructions to Make Cannabis-Infused Oil

1. Melt oil in the baking dish or crockpot 

2. Add decarboxylated cannabis to oil 

3. If the oil doesn’t cover the material, you may add a bit more.  (No need to float in oil, though). If already decarbed, you may add water to the oil mixture to help cover the plant. The water will boil at 212° F and help you monitor temps. Do not let the mixture go over 250° F. Water will help remove some of the chlorophyll and plant taste. Continuously monitor your temperatures.

4. Process decarboxylated cannabis/ hemp in the oil for about 4 hours OR process and decarb all in one step for 8 hours.

5. Cool product enough to work with. If using coconut oil, keep in liquid form. Re-heat if needed. Pour all contents into a very tightly woven metal mesh sieve strainer. This is your first straining.

6. Strain a second time through a small micron filter. A reusable coffee filter basket works great. Repeat the straining if desired with tighter woven filters until all the sediments are removed and the oil is clear.  

7. If you added water to your coconut oil while processing, put your strained oil in a shallow container in the refrigerator or freezer. Once the coconut oil solidifies, the water is left behind. A flexible plastic cool whip style or similar container may help when it comes time to “unmold” the solid oil. Dry the block of oil with a paper towel. Warming oil and adding water is a process known as “water washing” and may be repeated to remove chlorophyll. Cannabinoids stay within the oil, not the water.

8. Store your finished oil in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to use it to protect and preserve the phytochemicals you worked so hard to capture. 

9. Celebrate and look around at the mess you made! Just joking!  Be proud of your hard work and your accomplishment. Well done!  

Note about water washing: 

Too many heatings will further degrade the cannabinoids and terpenes. If you’re making topical creams and salves, there is no reason to remove the natural chlorophyll of the plant material. Some individuals feel chlorophyll upsets their stomachs when using this oil in food. 

How to Infuse Small Batches of Oil With Cannabis

Small Batch Equipment

  • Canning Jar such as quart size or large enough for product and oil to fit 

or 

  • Oven-proof baking dish (Pyrex) with a lid or oven-proof silicone cover to fit. 
  • Cooking Thermometer – digital or traditional candy thermometer or a digital laser. 
  • Strainer – metal wire mesh
  • Reusable coffee basket filter ( Bubble hash micron filters may be purchased)
  • Baking sheet or Pyrex type baking dish  
  • Aluminum foil or parchment baking paper (not wax paper!) 

Small Batch Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or oil of your choice
  • 1/8 oz dried cannabis flower

 

Instructions to Make Small Batches of Cannabis-Infused Cononut Oil

  1. Add melted oil to a canning jar
  1. Add decarboxylated cannabis and seal jar with lid 
  1. Place in boiling water on the stovetop for at least one hour. You can also use a crock pot filled with water to set the jar in for longer and slower processing. Don’t leave your stove unattended.
  1. Agitate jar or open and stir every 15 minutes
  2. Let the jar sit until cool or overnight. You may heat it again in a water bath if your oil turns to a solid.
  3. Strain the oil through a very tightly woven metal mesh sieve strainer. This is your first straining.
  4. Strain a second time through a small micron filter. A reusable coffee filter basket works great. Repeat the straining if desired with tighter woven filters until all the sediments are removed and the oil is clear.  
  5. Store your finished oil in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to use it to protect and preserve the phytochemicals you worked so hard to capture. 

Do I Have to Use Coconut Oil? 

There are many uses for your cannabis-infused coconut oil. Cannabis Tincture, salves, creams, and massage oils are a few options. You may choose other healthy oils to infuse.

You do not have to stick to coconut oil or MCT oil to infuse. You may choose any healthy oil that would work well for your desired end product.

Good oil options include:

  • Hemp seed 
  • Olive
  • Grapeseed
  • Sunflower 
  • Flaxseed
  • Avocado 

What Can I Use Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil For?

  • Baking 
  • Cooking
  • Beverages
  • Dietary supplement
  • Capsules
  • Suppositories
  • Salves
  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Hair 
  • Personal lubricant
  • Massage 

And the list goes on….

How should I store Cannabis-Infused oil?

Store your cannabis-infused oil in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to use it.  Heat and light will degrade your cannabis infusion. Choose dark-colored or amber-colored glass containers. Remember to label and date your oil. 

You can read more about coconut oil and storage here: Add Link 

Did you make this recipe? We’d love to hear about your experience. Please share your comments and suggestions below!

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Penelope Hamilton

View all posts by Penelope Hamilton

Penelope Hamilton is a health and wellness coach dedicated to medical cannabis education and outreach. Her passion stems from wanting to be the support and teacher she herself longed for during her own personal battles with chronic autoimmune illness and from years of experience as a caregiver.
As an Educational Outreach Manager with The medical Cannabis Community, Penelope connects the needs of our community members through social media platforms, workshops, advocacy, and public speaking. She resides in Upstate New York where she enjoys developing new recipes, kitchen apothecary, cannabis of course and simply being creative.

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