How to Make Weed-Infused Coconut Oil with an Herbal Infuser
Have you ever given much thought to making DIY cannabis treats? While it can be great fun to get all of your cannabis tinctures, drinks, and edibles from your local recreational pot shop, this can get a little pricey if you are a frequent user. If you start from scratch with cannabis flower and infuse either alcohol-based tincture, oil, butter, or another fat-based product, you can create your own custom goodies - all while getting a little more “bang for your buck”. This article will walk you through the steps of creating a cannabis infused base. I will be walking through a recent kitchen lab project that I completed to turn standard, boring coconut oil into it’s cooler, sexier older sister: cannabis-infused coconut oil!
Making my own cannabis bases (tincture, oil, or butter) has been a great approach for my life because it allows me to imbibe via my preferred method without having to ingest any sugar since I am currently following the keto diet. Creating cannabis treats at home allows me the freedom to use sugar substitutes that are in alignment with my diet. The end result is a low-guilt treat when I need a pick me up!
Coming soon: I will be posting an article to share some of my “do’s and dont’s” for creating cannabis goodies. Stay tuned!
Note: I use a cannabis infuser (specifically the Mighty Fast Herbal Infuser) to create my cannabis-infused bases, however if this is not something that you have handy in the cupboard, don’t stress! You can also use a stove top or crock pot for the same result. There are some Youtube tutorials out there for using a stove or crock-pot, but let me know if you can’t find any that help, I’d be happy to create a post using these techniques in the future.
If you purchase your marijuana flower from a recreational shop in a legal state, and you feel weird about creating your own cannabis infused products from a legal perspective, don’t! I equate making homemade cannabis infused products with making jello shots at home. Once you bring your preferred remedy “tonic” home, either booze or cannabis, the government doesn’t dictate what you do with it!
Decide What Base To Create
Prior to diving in to your kitchen lab and just rolling up your sleeves, it’s important that you make the decision of what cannabis-infused base you are going to make. And this is really up to you, but I recommend keeping your intended end-use in mind:
For example, are you looking to create a cannabis-infused tonic that you can keep on your bar and serve to guests in cocktails when they come over? If so, then I would recommend creating a liquid tincture using either alcohol or an oil that is liquid and room temperature (such as avocado oil).
But, if you are more interested in creating canna-treats, like pot brownies or small chocolates, then I would recommend creating a solid base, such as canna-butter or canna coconut oil. I have used liquid tincture in some of my canna-treats in the past, but I have found that the liquidity of the additive can cause problems (such as watering-down brownie batter or causing chocolate/sweet concoctions to seize when cooked)
Also, keep in mind that your base does have to be a fat. But why? Cannabis is fat-soluble, meaning that when infused in fat, the cannabinoid molecules that we appreciate so much have something to bind with, allowing them to be enjoyed later.
Measure and Set Out Your Ingredients
Personally, I’m a fan of the mise-en-place method when creating a cannabis-infused base. “Mise-en-place” literally means “set in place” and will make you feel extra fancy when you say it. Anyway, this method entails setting out all of your tools/ingredients before getting started, similar to how I laid out my supplies in the picture below. The benefit to setting out all of your accoutrements prior to infusion is that this can help you keep surfaces clean as you move about your kitchen. The whole process can get pretty oily, and so you don’t want to have to open up cabinets and drawers when you have canna-butter or oil all over your hands. If there’s a dog in your household, I’m assuming they are like my parents’ late dog and will lick every surface they can reach. Keeping that in mind, it’s best to keep clean during your project so you don’t accidentally send your pooch to Margaritaville.
I have historically used paper towels to keep clean during the process, but I think I’ll soon be investing in some eco-friendly dish towels that can help me keep tidy throughout this process.
You also want to make sure that you are taking and recording measurements as you step through this process. I know, I know… measuring. As someone who struggles with the patience required to bake, I know that careful measurement and execution doesn’t come easy to all of us; but, it’s important to remember that the more information you have about your homemade treats, the more you will be able to control the experience you have when you’ve popped one! I also find that accurate measurement and dosing is a MUST if you are going to be serving your treats with friends and family. Sharing cannabis with friends and family is all about sharing a positive, connected experience - it’s not about giving them too much and turning them off to cannabis forever!
For my concoction, I used 34 grams of flower from the guys over at Cowlitz County Cannabis Cultivation. This company does a great job in that they display the actual chemical composition results on the back of their packaging, so people interested or aware in the “science” behind cannabis can interpret exactly what they’re getting into. If the label looks like gobbledygook to you, and you have no idea how to interpret it, don’t worry - it’s not you, it’s the fact that cannabis strain and terpene labeling isn’t all that intuitive.
I am currently doing some research so that I can put together a guide on how to interpret cannabis labels, and I’ll be sure to post that as soon as I have some salient pointers you can take with you on your next pot shop experience!
Note: I would recommend purchasing flower for your infusion process in the week(s) leading up to your lab project. For my cannabis-infused coconut oil, I used bud that was approximately 8 months old, and the end result tastes great; however, fresher inputs will result in a superior output.
“De-carbing” the Bud
Prior to mixing cannabis into your fatty base substance, it’s important that you first “de-carb” the weed. When I first heard of this term, “de-carb” I thought, “wait, does cannabis have carbs? Oh no, that’ll kick me out of ketosis!” But, luckily, de-carbing, or decarboxylation, has nothing to do with carbs (whew!). Decarboxylation involves pre-heating the cannabis to a high-enough temperature to activate the terpenes in the weed flower. THC is not activated in the THC until this process is completed, meaning that if you chomped down on a handful of bud without first de-carbing it, there would be no effect to your consciousness.
What’s a terpene, you might ask? Terpenes are essentially the natural materials found in cannabis but also other plant matter that give the plant it’s unique tastes and smells. From a thousand foot view, terpenes:cannabis is tannins:wine.
The temperature of our bodies is not high enough to activate decarboxylation on it’s own, so the weed needs to be pre-heated prior to use so that the terpenes are released. This isn’t required when people actually smoke marijuana, because the act of smoking the flower instantaneously increases the temperature of the weed so that the THC is released. As you can image, the process of de-carboxylation in the stove releases a great deal of the terpenes from the flower into the air. Some commercial companies are looking into ways to refine this process so that during commercial processing, higher terpene content is maintained within the bud itself; however, for now, the DIY de-carbing will result in overall loss of terpenes, but don’t let that dissuade you. Consuming edibles through ingestion is one of the fasted methods of absorption into the blood stream, and so you are still going to get a lot of bang for your buck!
De-carbing is easy and can be completed in the stove, here are 6 simple steps:
Preheat the oven to 250℉.
Break down the flower with your hands (no need to grind it in a grinder, however; you’ll just want to make sure it’s in smaller chunks (see below picture as an example)
Place flower chunks onto an oven-safe cookie sheet or casserole dish
Bake the cannabis at 250℉ for 25-30 minutes.
Next, check on your cannabis flower. It should be light to medium brown in color and should be very dry. If it’s not, put it back in the oven for an extra 5-10 minutes. You’ll want to make sure it doesn’t burn too quickly.
Let the cannabis cool for 10 minutes. During this stage, it will be very crumbly so transport from the oven to your countertop very carefully
Word of warning: This process will make your home smell like marijuana! I live in a one-bedroom apartment, and so I was somewhat worried that the smell emanating from my stove during decarboxylation would make my neighbors think I was partying with Cheech, Chong, and Snoop Dogg. However, there are ways that you can limit the smell wafting out of your stove, including:
Turn on your oven fan
Light some intense!
Bring your air diffuser into your kitchen and plug it in close to your stove
Roll up a towel and place it against the door, on the floor to absorb smells. People do it, because it works!
Combining Cannabis and Your Base
Once you have activated the THC in your cannabis, you are ready to mix it into your fatty base! This step is particularly easy with the Mighty Herbal Infuser; essentially, all you have to do is add the base and the cannabis to the herbal infuser, stir with a spatula, and turn it on. Once you have added your ingredients into the herbal infuser, all you need to do is select a pre-set setting on your herbal infuser. For my oil, I used the Mighty Herbal Infuser “Mighty Fast 2” setting which takes 90 minutes to process. During the processing phase, your kitchen will smell like warm oil, machinery, and a light hint of cannabis, too; I commented to my husband that the smell was not unlike the smell of making popcorn at home.
Finally, once the machine is done heating and combining the cannabis and oil, you will want to wait for the oil to cool down so that you can run it through a filtering cloth (ie: cheese cloth). This will allow you to prevent any remaining cannabis matter from the liquid, however, there shouldn’t be much of this left.
Once you have filtered your oil, you can pour it into your container. For this project, I poured the oil back into the original coconut oil container. However, in the future, I’m going to leverage a glass mason jar so that I’m not paranoid about adding plastic particles to my cannabis mixture.
As you can see, my final yield wasn’t a full 30 oz of cannabis-infused oil; rather, the finished liquid ended up just being slightly higher than the label, likely between 27 and 28 ounces. Next time, I plan to take the tare weight prior to pouring the oil back into the container so that I can get a 100% accurate measurement of the final yield. In this case, I expect that the overall volume of oil was reduced to to loss in the process and some of the oil being bound to the plant matter that had been filtered out.
Within a few hours, the emerald-green liquid that you created will turn into a calming, jade green. It’s like your own, natural Frankenstein. At this stage, I also recommend adding some stickers or labels to indicate that your oil does, in fact, contain marijuana. This can be especially important if you live with housemates, children, or elderly people. Plus, it makes the final product look that much more 420 friendly and festive.
With regard to storage, you are going to want to store canna-infused bases in a cool, dry place. I am planning to keep my oil in the fridge, but a cool cupboard could work, as well. Be sure that the container is tightly sealed so that quality is not compromised; over time, if the mixture has too much exposure with air before use, the cannabinoids can start to degrade. However, if stored correctly, cannabis oils and butters can last several years. I would suggest using the product by the expiration date of the butter/oil you added cannabis to, if any.
While I typically use my cannabis-infused bases for edibles or infused meals, I think I may try to use this cannabis-infused coconut oil to add to some homemade skin-care products. So, before you create your cannabutter or cannaoil, I would recommend considering whether or not the selected product allow you to use it in more than one application!
Let me know if you have any questions about making cannabutter or cannaoil! I’m still refining the process each time I complete it, so I’d also love to hear if you have any tips or tricks with regard to selecting the ingredients, de-carbing, processing, or how to use your cannabis-infused products.