A beginner’s guide to making and dosing cannabis oil at home
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- Cannabis oil can be made at home with oil, cannabis, a pot, and a strainer.
- The process isn’t that different than infusing any herb oil for cooking.
- You can use your finished weed oil in baking, stir fries, salad dressings, and more.
Weed oil is one of the most versatile substances to have in the home. It can be used for any cannabis edibles, from pot brownies to weed stir fries. A well-dosed cannabis oil will give you a great high, and may also help with sleep, pain relief, and relaxation.
Homemade cannabis-infused oil like the one we outline here is much more potent than hemp oil or a CBD-only oil because it is using the entire plant — often called full-spectrum. A full-spectrum oil not only contains CBD, but also the plant’s other cannabinoids, including THC, CBN, and more. These cannabinoids all work in unison to make their effects stronger, a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.”
When it comes to the high, a little bit of cannabis oil goes a long way. Edibles have been found to offer effects five times as strong as smoking the same amount. This is because when it’s digested, THC passes through the liver and becomes 11-hydroxy-THC. This chemical change brings with it a strong body high. That’s why dosing correctly is important.
Once you get the steps down, making cannabis-infused oil at home is easy. You can use household items like a pot, a mason jar, and strainer. Just keep in mind the type of oil you’ll choose, along with the best strain of cannabis for your need.
Choosing the right carrier oil
Cannabis is fat-soluble, which means it must bind to fat molecules in order to be digested; it’s not possible to make fat-free edibles. The best oil for making cannabis cooking oil is olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil.
“Choosing the oil does depend on what the recipe calls for, and how it pairs with what I’m making,” says Christina Wong, who formerly worked at the California-based edibles and topical company Papa & Barkley, and even flexed her cannabis baking skills on Hulu’s Baker’s Dozen. “Coconut oil is best for the most efficient THC infusion, but the overpowering coconut scent doesn’t go well with everything.”
Experts often recommend starting with olive oil because there are added health benefits. This is attributed to the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in olive oil, says Felicity Chen, CEO, and Founder of Potli, cannabis-infused olive oil and edible producer in California with a national line featuring CBD oil. “The good fats in the olive make it a perfect carrier for cannabis,” says Chen, who uses locally-produced California olive oil in her infusions.
Choosing the right cannabis strain
For cooking, choose a strain of cannabis that smells good and is fragrant. Chances are, it contains terpenes that would taste equally great in cannabis oil. I used 7 grams of a strain called Grape Pie. It contains my favorite terpenes, Limonene, and Myrcene, which give the cannabis an herbal, fruity, and even sweet flavor.
Experiment with strains you love, either high CBD strains or ones you like, to find out which works best.
How to make cannabis oil
You’ll want to choose the ratio of cannabis to oil depending on what works best for you. A 1-to-1 volume ratio of olive oil and cannabis is a standard starting point: 1 cup of oil, and a quarter aka 7 grams of cannabis (when ground up, this equals about 1 cup). If you want a less potent batch of cannabis oil, use an eighth which is 3.5 grams of cannabis and 1 cup of oil.
You can increase the amount of both to make a larger batch, just be sure they’re still the same ratio.
What you need
- 3.5 to 7 grams of cannabis flower
- 8 ounces (1 cup) of high-quality cooking oil
- A cannabis grinder
- One nonstick baking sheet
- One stovetop pot and heat-safe bowl, or a double-boiler
- A thermometer (optional)
- Cheesecloth or a strainer
- An airtight glass jar
Step 1: Decarb your cannabis
Decarboxylating or “decarbing” cannabis is an important step in the edible or topical making process. This step heats up or “activates” the cannabis. When you decarb the cannabis beforehand, the cannabinoids like THC and CBD will work more effectively in the body.
1. Heat up your oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Use a grinder to grind your cannabis into small pieces.
3. Place the ground cannabis evenly on a baking tray.
4. Bake for 30 minutes. Don’t exceed 40 minutes — you want to activate the cannabinoids without damaging the terpenes.
Quick tip: You can also use an at-home infusion machine for this step. I reviewed the Levo and the decarb step is the absolute best thing about the device; it really reduces the smell. If you don’t have $300 for an infusion machine, no worries. The oven method works well.
Step 2: Steep on the stovetop
1. Set up a double boiler. A double boiler enables the infusion without the risk of burning the oil. If you don’t have a dedicated double boiler, you can make your own pretty easily: fill a pot halfway with water and place a heat-safe bowl on top. The bowl should fit in the pot without touching the water.
2. Heat the double boiler on your stove’s low setting.
3. Add oil to the bowl or top portion of the double boiler. Once the water in the pot (or bottom portion of the double boiler) is simmering, add 1 cup of oil to the bowl (or top component of the boiler). The water and oil should stay completely separate throughout the entire infusion.
4. Bring the oil to 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Add the decarbed cannabis and stir.
6. Continue to steep at between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat setting on your stove to maintain a consistent temperature for the entire cook time. You may have to add water to the bottom pot or double boiler as the infusion goes on, just in case all the water evaporates over the several hour cook time.
Step 3: Strain the oil
1. Set up your strainer. Place a dish towel on the counter, and sit your glass jar on top. Then place the cheesecloth over the open jar so it’s ready to help you strain the mixture. You can use a fine mesh strainer in place of a cheesecloth for this step, but the final mixture won’t be completely clear.
2. Carefully remove the oil and weed mixture from the double boiler with an oven mitt.
3. Strain the oil over the cheesecloth or strainer into the jar. Make sure to pour away from you to avoid potential for burns.
4. Repeat the straining process twice for best results.
Step 4: Store the oil
Store the oil in an air-tight container, preferably glass. Glass will help the oil last longer, and it is considered a “neutral” substance, so it won’t add anything unwanted to the oil like potential microplastics. You can store it at room temperature in a cool, dark place, like a cupboard.
Light degrades its quality, so the less light, the better. It will last for six months if stored properly.
How to dose your cannabis oil
Dosing edibles is important. It will make the experience more enjoyable if you know what the right dosage is for your desired effect. Edibles affect each individual differently, depending on our genetics, age, gender, weight, and tolerance. Remember that the effect of edibles is much stronger than smoking, because of the chemical process when metabolizing them.
When dosing edible cannabis oil, make sure to start low and build. Our weed oil recipe is made with a 1-to-1 ratio: 1 cup of oil and 7 grams (about 1 cup) of ground cannabis. This ratio estimates that a teaspoon contains three to five milligrams of THC. When you’re ready to eat the edible cannabis oil, dose each dish by using a teaspoon of oil. Then wait 30 minutes to an hour and see how you feel.
An important component of dosing is knowing the THCA percentage of the cannabis you’re using. In legal markets, these are printed right on the container. Most cannabis contains anywhere from 20% THCA to 35% THCA. The higher the potency, the stronger the cannabis oil.
Here’s an example of how the THC dosage breaks down for our above recipe using 7 grams of cannabis with an estimated 25% THCA. This handy THC calculator will do this same math for you.
- 7 grams of cannabis that contains 25% THCA: 0.25 x 7 g x 1000 = 1750 mg of THCA for the entire batch.
- This potency degrades a bit over the decarb stage, while processing it from THCA into THC. The conversion rate of THCA to THC is around 88%. This is because, during decarboxylation, 12% of the THCA evaporates as carbon dioxide gas. 1750 mg x 0.88 = 1540 mg of THC
- Experts estimate 70% to 95% of these remaining milligrams of THC will be active in the final cannabis oil product. 1540 mg x 0.70 = 1078 mg of THC.
- You have 1078 milligrams of THC in the final 1-cup batch of oil. There are 48 teaspoons in one cup: 1078 mg ➗ 48 teaspoons = 22 mg THC per teaspoon of cannabis oil.
- That’s a pretty potent teaspoon. Since a standard dose is 10 mg of THC, you’ll want to use no more than half that, roughly ½ teaspoon per dose.
- Assuming you stick to ½ teaspoon per dose: 48 teaspoons x 2 = 84 total doses in the 1-cup batch.
Remember, despite all the math, this dosing equation is just an estimate. Each batch of cannabis oil will have a slightly different dose, and you’ll need to tinker and experiment to find the right dose for you.