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How To Make Your Own Cannabis-Infused Oil (Canna Oil) & Cannabutter

Cooking with cannabis is becoming more popular as more states loosen restrictions on medical marijuana. Though it’s possible to put cannabis directly into your cooking, it won’t mix properly, especially if there isn’t much fat in the recipe.

Leafwell has two tried and tested recipes for you to make your own cannabis oil and cannabis butter at home. They’re quick, easy and produce great products. Once you’ve made your canna oil or cannabutter, store it in the fridge to extend the shelf life. We’ve also included recipe downloads so you can come back time and again to create more canna oil and cannabutter.

Table of contents
  1. Should I Make Canna Oil or Cannabutter?
  2. How to Make Cannabis-Infused Oil (Canna Oil)
  3. No Oven Canna Oil Recipe Alternative
  4. How Do I Make Cannabis-Infused Butter (Cannabutter)?
  5. FAQs about Canna Oil and Cannabutter
  6. Will My Infused Oil or Butter Taste of Cannabis?
  7. How do I Use Cannabis-Infused Oil?
  8. What’s the Shelf Life of Cannabis-Infused Oil?
  9. Is Canna Oil the Same as Cannabis Tincture?
  10. Do I Have to Cook Canna Oil at a Specific Temperature?
  11. How and Where do I Legally Buy Cannabis To Cook Canna oil and Cannabutter?
  12. How Potent Is Cannabis-Infused Oil? Can I Control the Potency and the Cannabinoid Ratio?
  13. Decarboxylating Your Cannabis – What Is It and Why Is It Important?
  14. What About Lecithin?
  15. What About Cannabis That Isn’t Decarboxylated? Does It Have Health Benefits?
  16. Is the Process for Decarboxylating CBDA and THCA the Same?
  17. Is There A Way to Retain Terpenes?
  18. Already Been Vaped (ABV) and Decarboxylated Cannabis – the Easiest Way to Make Canna Oil

Should I Make Canna Oil or Cannabutter?

As cannabinoids dissolve easily in fats, cannabis can be infused into a butter or oil (usually olive oil or coconut oil due to their high smoke points, bioavailability, and health benefits) to be used as an ingredient for whenever a medicated edible is wanted.

Oils are more versatile than butter, as butter is usually restricted to be used for cooking, whereas cannabis-infused oil can be used as a topical.

Butter is best for people who are looking to bake cakes and those famous pot brownies.

Remember: you do not necessarily have to get “high” or “stoned.” For many medical cannabis users, the ideal is a therapeutic amount, meaning that they are functional and the psychoactive effects are not overwhelming.

There are two main approaches to making edibles. One is to make edibles as concentrated and packed full of cannabis as possible, as this can ensure that there is cannabis throughout your edible. This means you can eat a small amount and be guaranteed of an effect.

The second approach is to find your “cannabis sweet spot”. This means infusing your ideal amount of cannabis into your oil or butter. One of the problems with edibles is that people sometimes do not know when to stop and can easily eat too much. On the other hand, this makes it difficult to gauge efficacy, and you may end up eating a larger amount to get the desired effect.

One of the best things about the marijuana plant is its versatility in consumption. With cannabis oil and cannabis butter, the possibilities are endless! You can make your own edibles and bake all kinds of treats, just like you would with standard butter or oil.

How to Make Cannabis-Infused Oil (Canna Oil)

Follow these six steps to get cooking:

Prep

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 grams of flower
  • Half a cup of coconut oil*

*For oil, the standard starting amount is 3.5 grams of flower to half a cup (8 tablespoons/4 ounces/just under 120ml) of coconut oil, depending on the THC content of the flower.

How to Edibles also has a helpful dosage calculator you can use to factor in the amount of cannabis at your disposal, the strength of your cannabis, and how many portions you want to make. Also keep in mind that coconut oil, olive oil, and butter all carry cannabinoids differently as well, which will affect your end result.

Coconut oil is most renowned for carrying the most cannabinoids, although olive oil and butter can be useful for different types of recipes. Different oils also have different smoking points, although this should not be too much of a concern in this case as you want to keep the temperature of the oil consistent.

You can add lecithin to the oil as well to improve the effectiveness of the canna oil, known as bioavailability. Most people recommend 1 cup of cannabis to 1 cup of oil, but we recommend starting with about 5-7 grams of 16%+ THC cannabis to 1 cup oil, especially for beginners with low tolerance. However, a concentrated product can be more efficient, and you can use less! Overall, the amount to use is up to you and what you feel most comfortable with.

Equipment:

  • Rimmed baking tray
  • Baking paper
  • Crockpot, double boiler or saucepan
  • Cheesecloth or strainer

Step 1

Break up any cannabis flower or “buds” you have into smaller pieces. Not too small, though – you do not want to break up the trichomes (the tiny plant hair) too much.

Step 2

Layer the pieces onto a rimmed baking tray lined with baking paper/parchment.

Place the baking tray into the center of a preheated oven set to 240°F-248°F (115°C-120°C) for 30-40 minutes.

Stir every 10 minutes.

Step 3

Allow the cannabis to cool to room temperature. It should appear darker in color – usually, a light brown/yellow color, and not as green as fresh cannabis.

Step 4

Once cooled, coarsely grind the cannabis and store it in an airtight container to be used at your convenience.

Step 5

Combine the cannabis and coconut oil using one of the following methods:

  • In a crockpot on low for about 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • In a double boiler on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • In a saucepan on low heat for 3 hours, stirring regularly. This method is the fastest, but most susceptible to scorching. You can add a small amount of water to the oil to prevent scorching.

The temperature of the oil should never exceed 245°F (118°C).

Step 6

Strain your canna oil through a cheesecloth or strainer to get rid of the plant material. You can use the leftover plant material in another recipe.

Enjoy!

Once made, your canna oil is ready to use as you please. Some make recipes out of it, others a homemade tincture to be applied directly under the tongue. Some use it as a salve/topical, others as an addition to their coffee or tea. If you decide to cook with your canna oil, remember that cooking with oil, and especially baking, is different from cooking with butter.

Get Your Delicious Canna Oil Recipe

No Oven Canna Oil Recipe Alternative

You can also infuse raw cannabis directly in olive or coconut oil by first getting the cannabis-oil mixture to a temperature of between 212°C (100°C) and 230°C (110°C) in order to decarboxylate it, then simmering and double boiling it for around 1- 2 hours at a temperature of between 158°F (70°C) and 199°F (93°C).

Double boiling ensures that the oil does not go above 212°F (100°C) after the initial decarboxylation, and means you can decarb the cannabis at a lower temperature over a few hours. However, we recommend decarboxylating the cannabis first rather than decarbing in the oil, as this is more efficient.

If double boiling already decarbed cannabis, a temperature between 100°F and 120°F (38°C – 49°C) in a double boiler for between 1 and 5 hours is ideal. Use a cheesecloth to hold the raw or decarbed cannabis as you double boil it to avoid having to strain the oil afterwards. Although raw cannabis can be added directly to oil, it is still best to decarb the cannabis first in order to ensure CBDA and THCA are properly converted to CBD and THC and to keep the shelf life of your oil. The left over plant matter can also be used to make edibles.

How Do I Make Cannabis-Infused Butter (Cannabutter)?

Follow these seven steps to get cooking cannabutter:

Ingredients:

  • 5-10 grams of flower
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of butter

Equipment:

  • Rimmed baking tray
  • Baking paper
  • Saucepan, slow cooker or crockpot
  • Cheesecloth or strainer
  • Funnel

Step 1

Break up any cannabis flower or “buds” you have into smaller pieces. Not too small, though – you do not want to break up the trichomes (the tiny plant hair) too much.

Step 2

Layer the pieces onto a rimmed baking tray lined with baking paper/parchment.

Place the baking tray into the center of a preheated oven set to 240°F-248°F (115°C-120°C) for 30-40 minutes.

Stir every 10 minutes.

Step 3

Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of butter to a saucepan, slow cooker or crockpot, and simmer on low until the butter melts. For 1 cup butter and 1 cup water, we recommend starting with 5-10g of cannabis depending on how strong you want the butter to be.

Step 4

Add your ground cannabis to the butter-water mixture in the saucepan. The more cannabis you use and the longer you infuse it, the stronger the cannabutter will be.

Step 5

Simmer for 2-3 hours, ensuring the butter doesn’t boil. The ideal temperature is between 158°F-199°F (70°C-93°C).

Step 6

Allow the cannabutter to cool, but not to a solid.

Line a funnel with cheesecloth and pour the cannabis-infused butter mixture through to strain it into a jar.

This will stop plant matter from getting into your butter, which can help the cannabutter last longer. You can use any storage containers, but we recommend jars, as they are airtight and can help extend the life of your cannabutter.

Step 7

Put the jar of cannabutter in the fridge to cool and solidify into a butter.

If there is excess water in the jar, you can remove the solid butter with a knife or a spatula, and drain the water.

Enjoy!

You can now use this butter in your favorite recipes! Remember to dose slowly. You can always take more, but not less.

Get Your Delicious Cannabutter Recipe

Cannabis-infused butter; cannabutter
Cannabutter. Author: Cannabis Training University. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cannabis_Butter.JPG (CC BY-SA 3.0).

FAQs about Canna Oil and Cannabutter

Now you’ve made your canna oil or cannabutter, you’ve probably got some questions. We’ve put together the questions and answers which are most common to help you get started with your new canna oil and/or cannabutter.

Will My Infused Oil Taste of Cannabis?

Much of the flavor and effect of cannabis comes from its terpenes and flavonoids. Infusing decarboxylated cannabis into oil will certainly impart the flavor of the cannabis into the oil. Whilst the terpenes and flavonoids may be pleasant when smelled (and even smoked or vaporized), the taste of cannabis when eaten is not usually as pleasant. Many people try and overcome the taste with sugar, hence the huge variety of medicated sweet treats available on the market.

However, refined sugar is not really medicine in most cases, so this is not always the best way to ingest cannabinoids when it comes to living healthily. With that being said, there have been dramatic improvements in the types and quality of products over the past few years, and many producers have started to make far healthier edibles, as well as improving the quality of their tinctures and capsules. There has also been significant progress in making cannabinoids hydrophilic and water-soluble, which can improve the absorption of cannabinoids in the human body and give it applications for different parts of the body (e.g. the eyes).

Whilst straining away the plant material from the oil will reduce the unpleasant taste, it will not get rid of it entirely. Matching the flavor profile of the cannabis-infused oil to the dish is possible, but not easy considering the amount of terpenes and terpenoids at play. Other ingredients can certainly mask the flavor, as can infusing the oil with other herbs and spices. Infusing a low weight of cannabis into the oil reduces potency as well as the cannabis taste, but this is not always ideal.

How do I Use Cannabis-Infused Oil?

You can use cannabis-infused oil as a tincture by placing a few drops under your tongue or use a small amount in your cooking in replacement or addition (if a recipe calls for 15 ml of oil, you do not necessarily want all 15 ml to be cannabis-infused oil, for example) to your normal cooking oil or fat. You can also use such oils as a topical for inflamed joints and skin, or indeed even as a conditioner for your hair!

Coconut oil – fantastic for skin and hair. Picture by DanaTentis. From https://pixabay.com/en/coconut-oil-on-wooden-spoon-2090580/

What’s the Shelf Life of Cannabis-Infused Oil?

Cannabinoids do not last forever, and over time and exposure to light, air, and heat, your cannabis-infused oil will decrease in potency. Acidic cannabinoids in particular are very unstable and do not tend to last for very long when outside and exposed to the air. Kept in a cool, dark place, cannabis-infused oil should retain its potency for about 1-1.5 years.

Any impurities in the cannabis-infused oil will also affect how long a cannabis-infused oil will last for. This is one reason why properly straining any plant material from the oil is important, as you do not want to have mold and bacteria growing in your oil. However, as it is difficult to get rid of all plant material, added to the fact that the oil will have been exposed to heat and air, the shelf life will likely be around 12 to 18 months.

Some may heat their cannabis-infused oil at a low temperature of around 140°F (60°C) for around 10-15 minutes on occasion to kill off some of the impurities left behind during the infusion process. Coconut oil is also a favorite base for cannabis-oil infusions due to it having antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Some prefer to use olive oil for its adaptability for different dishes.

Is Canna Oil the Same as Cannabis Tincture?

You will find many oil-based cannabis tinctures in a medical cannabis dispensary. They are usually infused with coconut, MCT (medium chain triglyceride) or olive oil. They may have different methods of infusion, but canna oil is essentially an oil-based cannabis tincture. You can also infuse cannabis in alcohol for an alcohol-based tincture, but many tend to avoid alcohol-based tinctures for health reasons.

Do I Have to Cook Canna Oil at a Specific Temperature?

As cannabinoids are decarboxylated at high temperatures, if you want to retain any acidic cannabinoids, you will need to cook at lower temperatures or use the infused oil without cooking it. Once the oil or butter has been infused, you can heat it to a maximum of 350°F (approx 176°C) to keep all the cannabinoids from burning off. We recommend cooking at below 284°F (140°C) or even 248 (120°C).

How and Where do I Legally Buy Cannabis To Cook Canna Oil and Cannabutter?

Depending on your state, you may be able to purchase marijuana legally under recreational cannabis laws.

However, if recreational cannabis use is not legal in your state, a great way to obtain marijuana is with a medical card.

Even if your state does permit recreational cannabis use, a medical marijuana card could give you access to higher quality products to make your oil or butter safer and even more effective.

Get A Medical Marijuana Card Today

How Potent Is Cannabis-Infused Oil? Can I Control the Potency and the Cannabinoid Ratio?

If you are ingesting it, then it can be quite potent. Another problem with homemade edibles and oils is that knowing precisely how much of each cannabinoid is present in each portion or spoonful is extremely difficult. For this reason, it is ideal to use different amounts of decarboxylated cannabis in each different batch of oil, and use no more than 1 teaspoon at a time, or even less if you have made a particularly strong batch of oil.

To give an example, if you have infused 3.5 g of decarboxylated cannabis in 500 ml of extra virgin olive oil, you may want to ingest no more than half a teaspoon full (around 2.5 ml). Then wait an hour to see if you feel OK, and repeat if you still feel you need more to beat any pain you may have. Remember: you can always take more, but you can never take less.

Of course, much of what is written above is written with the assumption that cannabis flowers with a high amount of THC are used. Using cannabis flowers wherewith a CBD:THC of 1:1 or higher (e.g. 2:1, 3:1, etc.) will dampen or even negate any psychoactive effects. The strain you use will affect which cannabinoids and terpenoids end up in the oil. Basically, if you want to avoid having too much THC in your oil, use a strain with low amounts of THC in it.

Some would advise to find a particular strain or group of strains, and make oils, butters, and edibles as concentrated as possible. This way, you need only small amounts, and you can be sure that each amount you take has at least some cannabinoids in them, even if they are not evenly distributed throughout the product.

Decarboxylating Your Cannabis – What Is It and Why Is It Important?

“Decarboxylating” cannabis essentially refers to a chemical reaction where a carbon atom is removed from a carbon chain, resulting in the release of carbon dioxide (CO2). In order to change THCA to THC and CBDA to CBD, the raw cannabis flower must be decarboxylated first. Decarboxylating also makes certain cannabinoids, such as CBD, more bioavailable (i.e. your body can process it more easily). However, this is not to say that there are not any benefits to non-decarboxylated cannabinoids, and they may work in tandem with decarboxylated cannabinoids.

Essential oil; tincture; infused oil in a tincture bottle; medicine bottle with pipette.
Tincture.

What About Lecithin?

Lecithin is a phospholipid (a type of fat) that allows for ingredients to stick and bind together. Lecithin is essentially an emulsifier. Adding lecithin to your recipes and/or into your oil can help the canna oil bind together with other ingredients more readily, and improve shelf life as well. Sunflower lecithin is best for a range of diets. Eggs are a source of lecithin as well and act as a binding ingredient in baking. Lecithin can also increase the bioavailability of cannabinoids.

What About Cannabis That Isn’t Decarboxylated? Does It Have Health Benefits?

Raw cannabis and some of the acidic cannabinoids it contains may possess health benefits. However, the question arises: how does a non-dercarboxylated cannabinoid that doesn’t necessarily affect CB1 or CB2 receptors have any medical effect? Hence, when it comes to acidic cannabinoids, it can be very difficult to tell what effect it is having, and on which receptors.

CBDA, for example, is a COX1 and COX2 enzyme inhibitor, making it a compound with very useful anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. THCA, meanwhile, may have antispasmodic properties. It may be ideal to have a mixture of decarboxylated and non-decarboxylated cannabinoids for a full spectrum of health benefits, depending upon the condition. For pain specifically, though, it does seem that a mixture of cannabinoids is best. Focusing on just CBD and/or THC alone will likely decrease the pain-relieving potential of cannabinoids.

Similarly, focusing on non-decarboxylated cannabinoids alone is not enough. Decarboxylated cannabinoids of all sorts can work in conjunction with non-decarboxylated ones and become a more effective medication overall.

One potential way of getting more acidic cannabinoids into oil is to infuse non-decarboxylated flowers into olive or coconut oil alongside decarbed ones, but remember that cooking with it may still change THCA to THC. Raw cannabis is also likely to contain moisture in it, so is more prone to mold. Care also must be taken to ensure that any raw cannabis flower is as clean and pesticide- and pathogen- free as possible.

Perhaps the best way to retain acidic cannabinoids is to keep an eye on what temperature you are cooking your oil in. Different cannabinoids decarboxylate at different rates, so even if you decarboxylate at 240°F (115°C), you will likely still have some acidic cannabinoids left. Alternatively, you can decarboxylate your cannabis at a lower temperature of around 194°F (90°C) to 212°F (100°C) for around 60 minutes (1 hour) in order to retain the terpenoids and prevent decarboxylation of all the cannabinoids, then slowly double boiling it as instructed above.

Molecular structure of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA); chemical structure of CBDA, precursor to CBD.
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cannabidiolic_acid.png

 

Is the Process for Decarboxylating CBDA and THCA the Same?

The process described above decarboxylates both THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD. However, as stated already, different cannabinoids decarboxylate at different rates. The general rule of thumb seems to be that decarboxylation of cannabis flower is best at a temperature of between 194°F and 248°F (90°C and 120°C) for 30 to 60 minutes (1 hour), with some loss of cannabinoid concentration. The “sweet spot” for various kinds of cannabinoids seems to be around 230°F (110°C) for around 30 minutes. Go above 293°F (145°C), and it becomes very difficult to know precisely how cannabinoids behave, and it is likely you will start to lose them as well as the terpenoids as heat increases.

Decarboxylation is a necessary process if you want to get the therapeutic effects of CBD and efficiently convert CBDA to CBD. THC, meanwhile, will likely start to convert into cannabinol (CBN) if the temperature goes above 266°F (130°C). CBN tends to have “sleepy” effects, especially when combined with THC, myrcene, linalool, and alpha-humulene (which are terpenes often found in many cannabis types, and is usually most associated with Indica strains, although this is not a hard-and-fast rule).

Is There A Way to Retain Terpenes?

Sadly, cooking your cannabis-infused oil at high temperatures can sometimes burn off some of the terpenes. One way of overcoming this is by infusing your cannabis oil with fresh and dried herbs and spices such as rosemary and peppercorns, or even lavender flowers (linalool) and lemon & orange rinds (limonene).

Already Been Vaped (ABV) and Decarboxylated Cannabis – the Easiest Way to Make Canna Oil

If you vape your cannabis, you’re left with browned cannabis. Vaporisers don’t completely use up all the cannabinoids and terpenes left in the plant, so many people have taken to keeping their ABV cannabis and using it in other ways. What’s more is that the cannabis has already been decarboxylated, meaning you don’t have any extra work to do. ABV cannabis is not as strong, though, so keep this in mind.

To make canna oil using ABV weed, all you need is:

  • 500 ml olive or coconut oil (olive oil is probably a bit easier to work with in this instance)
  • 10 – 20 grams ABV cannabis – use more or less, depending on the strength you’d prefer
  • An airtight container
  • A cheesecloth or a fine strainer

Method

  • Put ABV cannabis in airtight container
  • Cover it with the olive or coconut oil
  • Seal the container and shake it around
  • Keep the container in a cool, dark place for about 1 week, shaking it once every day
  • After about 1 week, strain the cannabis plant matter from the oil using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
  • You now have canna oil, which you can use as you wish in your favorite recipes
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Written by
Dipak Hemraj
Dipak Hemraj - Chief Research Officer

Dipak Hemraj is a published author, grower, product maker, and Leafwell’s resident cannabis expert. From botany & horticulture to culture & economics, he wishes to help educate the public on why cannabis is medicine (or a “pharmacy in a plant”) and how it can be used to treat a plethora of health problems. Dipak wants to unlock the power of the plant, and see if there are specific cannabinoid-terpene-flavonoid profiles suitable for different conditions.

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