CBD oil is widely-available, but if you have easy access to hemp or cannabis, there are a couple of simple methods to make your own at home. CBD oil doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, you can significantly reduce the costs by making it at home. Here we present the most common at-home extractions for CBD oils — and why you should try them out. Come learn how to easily make your own cannabis-infused oil, ready to use in medicated edible recipes, topical salves, or even enjoy straight on its own.
How to Make CBD Oil at Home and Save Money
With such a wide array of CBD products on the market, you might not have considered how easy it is to make your own. But if you’re looking to save money while still enjoying CBD, and you have access to high-CBD cannabis or hemp, you can actually make your own CBD oil pretty simply with equipment you likely have in your home already.
There are two main methods you can use at home – either an oil infusion or an alcohol infusion – and while it takes a little time, the result will be a pure and affordable CBD oil you can use however you like.
Make sure you use CBD-Hemp buds to make CBD oil – and not Hemp Seeds (read more on CBD vs. Hemp oil here).
DIY CBD oil (at a glance):
- Professional CBD oil is generally made with CO2 extraction, which isn’t feasible at home.
- Making DIY CBD oil is federally legal, safe and can save you money (not state-legal in ID or NE).
- First, heat your hemp or cannabis in the oven at 110 °C/ 225 °F for around an hour.
- Infuse the CBD in strong, drinking alcohol by covering your material in it and stirring for 10 minutes. Repeat the process until the liquid becomes clearer, then evaporate the alcohol away.
- Infuse directly in oil by mixing the two and gently heating (to around 100 °C/ 212 °F) for a few hours.
- You can make CBD tinctures by mixing your oil with shea butter, coconut oil and glycerine.
Companies Make CBD Oil by Extracting Cannabinoids from Hemp Plants with CO2 or Solvents
Companies make CBD using one of a few different extraction methods, but all basically involve stripping the CBD (and other cannabinoids) from the plant and then purifying the resulting extract.
The most common approach is supercritical CO2 extraction, which uses extremely cold (−69 °F/−56 °C) CO2, at the point where it becomes “supercritical” (i.e. somewhere between a liquid and a gas).
The CO2 is pushed through the hemp (or traditional cannabis, but hemp is more common) to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes, and then it gets sent to a separator where it returns to gaseous state but leaves the extracted material.
Other approaches are similar in principle, but using solvents such as butane, oils or fats to extract the cannabinoids. The mixture is then processed through winterization and distillation to purify it and minimize any unwanted components.
Making CBD Oil at Home Can Save You Money in the Long-Term
Making your own CBD oil is obviously more labor-intensive than just buying one that’s pre-made, so you might wonder what the benefit of making it yourself is.
Firstly, if you’ll be using CBD oil regularly, making your own will undoubtedly save you money over the long-term. If you buy some of the more complicated equipment (e.g. decarboxylators) it will take a little longer for you to break even, but if you want to maximize your savings you can make CBD oil with more everyday equipment.
If you don’t live near a store where you can buy CBD, it could also be much more convenient to make it yourself, and similarly if the legal situation in your state or country makes it difficult to buy professionally-made products, it may be the only way to get your oil.
Although it’s likely that professional companies using CO2 extraction will produce a purer product, if you make it yourself you can at least attest to the quality and be 100% sure which ingredients were used.
Making Your Own CBD Oil is Legal (Provided Hemp is Legal Where You Are)
The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level, and in the EU there is a similar law with a 0.2% THC limit, and (pitifully) 0.02% in the UK.
If you’re making CBD oil with hemp that falls within these guidelines, it’s very likely that the process will be entirely legal.
If you’re using a high-CBD but also THC-containing strain of cannabis, it’s only legal if you live in a state with legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes.
Really, the crucial thing isn’t actually making the CBD oil; it’s the legality of the starting materials in your country or state.
Making CBD Oil is as Safe as Any Cooking
Making CBD is generally safe, although this depends on the method you use. If you use a basic approach, where you heat the material to decarboxylate it, the process is basically as safe as cooking food in the oven – provided you’re careful when handling a hot pan, everything is fine.
Solvent-based extraction is not safe to do at home, because it requires too much specialized equipment and there could be a risk of explosions, as well as the possibility of dangerous amounts of the solvent making it into the finished oil.
You can do it with strong ethanol (i.e. drinking alcohol), which carries some risks from the fumes and the flammability of the liquid, but these risks are easily mitigated with some common sense and good ventilation.
You Can Make CBD Oil with Everyday Kitchen Equipment
The good news is that you only need very basic equipment to make CBD oil. The requirements can differ a little bit depending on the method, but broadly speaking you can get by with this basic list:
- A slow-burning oven or purpose-made carboxylation machine
- Baking tray
- Cheesecloth/coffee filter/something else to finely-strain the material
- Double boiler (two fitted saucepans or two stacked together with a space between
- Glass bowl/mixing bowl
- Container to store finished oil
- Carrier oil (e.g. coconut oil or olive oil) / high proof (drinking) alcohol
Aside from this, everyday equipment like spatulas and wooden spoons may be needed depending on the method you use, and it can help to have a funnel or even a plastic syringe to ensure you get all of the finished material.
It Will Take 3 to 6 Hours to Make CBD Oil (Depending on Your Method)
The length of time it will take to do your extraction depends on the method you use, and whether you spend a little extra time purifying and extracting.
For alcohol-based extraction, the process can be completed in a few hours or even less, but if you’re adding oil to your material, it can take six hours or longer depending on how many times you heat the material.
Broadly, you should leave yourself around four hours if you’re using alcohol extraction and at least six for oil extracting, allowing for unexpected delays or issues cropping up during the process.
Decarboxylation and Infusion Are the Key Stages in Making CBD Oil
There are basically two steps to any home CBD oil process: decarboxylation and infusion.
Decarboxylation means activating the THCA and CBDA to remove the carboxyl group from the chemicals and turn them into THC and CBD, respectively. This is a necessary process because THCA and CBDA aren’t “activated” in this form and so won’t have any of the desired effects.
Once you’ve decarboxylated your material, you infuse it into either alcohol or oil to pull the key components out of the plant matter. For alcohol infusions, chemistry does the work for you (which is why it’s quicker), while for oil infusions you need to add heat and leave it some time for the process to complete.
You Can Activate CBD and THC in the Oven
Regardless of the method you use to make your CBD oil, the first part of the process is always the same: you need to decarboxylate your bud.
How your cannabis will look before and after decarboxylation. Photo by Emily Kyle
There are differing views on the best way to do this, but generally speaking, it’s recommended you set your oven to 110 °C/ 225 °F and bake ground-up bud for around an hour. THC carboxylates a little easier than CBD, so for CBD oil you can actually leave it for an hour and a half if you’re using a high-CBD strain. If you’re using more of a balanced strain, stick to an hour.
You can achieve the same basic effect with higher temperatures for lower periods of time, but it’s important to stay below the boiling points of CBD and THC (180 °C/ 356 °F and 157 °C/ 315 °F, respectively).
It’s also better to keep a low temperature for longer to keep as many of the terpenes (the chemicals that give the characteristic smell of cannabis) as possible.
In short, set your oven to this temperature, grind up your bud (not too finely), spread it out on a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray and let it cook for the appropriate amount of time. When it’s done, your flower will be slightly brown and dried out.
Method #1: Infuse the Material in Alcohol, Strain and Evaporate
If you’re using alcohol for the infusion stage, the process is fairly simple and should take around 20 minutes. Ensure you’re either outdoors or have good ventilation, because the fumes from the alcohol pose the main risk in this whole process.
- Place the decarboxylated material into a mixing bowl and add enough strong alcohol (something like Everclear is perfect) to completely cover the bud.
- You can stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to speed the process along, but in any case you should leave it for five to ten minutes.
- When it’s completed, strain the mixture through cheesecloth, a coffee filter or any other form of fine sieve and let the liquid fall into a bowl.
- You’ll notice a green color to the alcohol, which basically tells you that you have some cannabinoids and terpenes in your liquid.
- Repeat the process a few more times with the plant material, until the alcohol becomes much clearer at the end of the process.
- Now all you have to do is evaporate the alcohol from your mixture.
- Set up your double boiler (if you don’t have stackable pans, you can use a normal pan with a stainless steel bowl that fits in the top but doesn’t contact the bottom of the pan) and put the alcohol mixture into the top section with water in the bottom.
- Gently heat the mixture so the alcohol evaporates but without letting it get too hot. Just keep the burner on low and switch it off occasionally if needed – high-proof alcohol is volatile so it doesn’t need much to work.
- Once it’s finished, you should be left with a thick, gloopy oil that you can easily draw up into a plastic syringe or place into another container.
You should note that this process isn’t the best in terms of getting absolutely pure cannabinoids, but it’s a great approach for home extractions because it’s relatively straightforward.
Method #2: Infusing Your Material in Oil
Oil infusions are simpler in a sense but it takes longer to get a good result.
- Set up your double-boiler (or a metal bowl in the top of a regular pan) and add a mixture of oil and your decarboxylated flower to the top section.
- If you’re using coconut oil, you’ll need to melt it first so you can mix the flower in properly.
- Add water to the bottom of the pan and bring it to a simmer.
- It’s best to try to keep the temperature of the mixture in the top around 100 °C/ 212 °F, although it’s fine provided it doesn’t reach 150 °C/ 302 °F, which would evaporate the terpenes.
- Check it regularly with a thermometer and adjust the heat as needed.
- Leave it on the double boiler for around two to three hours – when it’s done the oil should be brown-green.
- You can leave it to cool for a few hours then repeat the process if you want to get the most out of the material, but whenever you’re done, strain it through cheesecloth into a container and your oil is ready.
Method #3: Cold-Pressed CBD Oil
Cold-pressed CBD oil is made through a simple process that doesn’t involve adding any chemicals or really anything more complicated than squeezing juice out of fruit. This makes it a possible method for home extraction, although it’s important to note that the result will be a little different than when other methods are used. This is because it keeps all of the phytonutrients, fats and oils from the plant.
The benefit is the simplicity of the process: all you need is a cold press/juicer and some hemp (buds have the most CBD but you can also add stems and seeds).
- Simply put the hemp into the cold press and apply some pressure (with minimal heat).
- This will grind the material into a paste, which you can then mix to help the oils distribute through the mixture.
- This in itself will be rich in CBD, but you can apply pressure to the paste again to draw the oil out.
Measuring CBD Tinctures is a Trial and Error Process
Unfortunately, if you use hemp or an ordinary cannabis plant to make your extract at home, it’s incredibly difficult if not impossible to know how strong your resulting oil will be. Simply, the efficiency of the process can vary substantially and it’s unlikely you’ll know the cannabinoid content of the material you started with anyway.
The only way you could really know is if you made the CBD oil by mixing a specific amount of pre-extracted CBD isolate into your carrier oil.
So the best advice in most cases is to start with a small amount of your oil and increase gradually once you get a feel for the strength.
Creating Self-Care Products at Home
Although many of the self-care products made with CBD are a little difficult to put together at home (for example, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make yourself a bath bomb), you can make a CBD lotion pretty easily with the equipment you used to make your oil. Set up your double boiler, adding an inch or two of water to the bottom and putting it on a low to medium heat, then place half a cup each of shea butter and coconut oil to the top. Stir the two together as they warm up, aiming to remove any lumps and prevent them from burning.
When they’re heated, take the oils off the heat and transfer them to a heat-safe bowl or (if you have one) a glass blender, setting aside for around an hour for them to cool. Afterwards, add a third of a cup of aloe vera gel, 2 tbsp of vegetable glycerine and a couple of teaspoons of CBD oil (more if you like), along with an essential oil for fragrance if you like. Blend or hand-mix them together and your lotion is ready.
Making your own CBD oil at home is a much simpler process than you might have expected, and once you’ve gone through the process a couple of times, guides like this won’t even be needed. It’s worth trying different approaches if the first one you attempt doesn’t go well, but be sure to stick to a relatively simple method, because the methods professional companies use are expensive to do right. Once you have your oil, you can enjoy it in the way you would with any CBD, safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what’s in it.
How to Make CBD Oil At Home?
People use CBD oil to boost wellness, deal better with stress, and ease different types of physical discomfort (1). With so many positive effects on the body, as well as the costs involved in professional production, commercially available products can be expensive. This, of course, applies to high-quality CBD oil.
Many new users are wondering if it’s possible to make CBD oil at home, and whether or not it’s a good option to save money on your supplementation. While DIY CBD oils won’t be crafted with the same precision as professionally manufactured extracts, a homemade batch of CBD drops is still safer than a commercial product without a Certificate of Analysis (2).
If you’re considering the idea of making CBD oil at home, we’ll be glad to help. After spending several years in the superfoods and hemp industries, we have gathered our experience and packed it into a concise guide to at-home extractions.
Don’t worry, this isn’t rocket science. In fact, all you need to make CBD oil at home is a high-CBD hemp flower, a solvent, and/or food-grade carrier oil.
Let’s get down to work.
Why You Should Learn How to Make CBD at Home?
Because it’s easy and doesn’t require anything beyond some basic kitchen equipment. The reason why not many people decide to perform their own extractions is the overwhelming abundance of commercially available products; you know how it is, convenience is the name of the game these days.
CBD oil is available both online and in local specialty stores. In fact, CBD has become so popular that you can find it in vape shops, organic food stores, and wellness centers. Local retailers offer limited options, so we always recommend finding a trustworthy online supplier. Online stores offer a broader selection of products, from capsules to vapes and edibles such as CBD gummies and honey sticks.
So, why would you want to make CBD at home with so many products at hand?
Making CBD oil at home is a great way to save money that you’d otherwise spend on browsing hundreds of different brands, comparing the ingredients in their products, the prices, and user reviews.
Once you’ve got the know-how, life becomes easier.
Not only that but making CBD oil at home gives you full control over the quality of the final product. If you can gather high-quality hemp flower and a decent carrier oil, you’re halfway home.
Last but not least, homemade CBD oil is more cost-efficient. Although soaking the plant matter in the solvent requires some time before your infusion gains enough potency, you don’t have to invest in advanced technology and specialized lab workers to get a high-quality full-spectrum extract.
What You Need to Make CBD Oil?
Everything starts from the plant. First, you’ll need to find some high-quality CBD flower — derived from hemp if you want to stay compliant with federal law. There are plenty of great companies that grow craft CBD strains and ship their products to all 50 states.
If you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, you can use a high-CBD hybrid strain obtained through selective breeding. These are available in cannabis dispensaries and are also known for a higher terpene content than their hemp-derived counterparts.
The majority of hemp CBD strains are grown indoors or in greenhouses rather than outdoors, so the bag appeal and the overall quality of the buds is better.
Another important ingredient is the carrier oil. These range from hemp seed oil to olive oil to canola and MCT oil. MCT is considered the best source of fats for CBD, as the cannabinoid shows higher absorption rates in the presence of saturated fatty acids.
Besides, you’ll need some basic kitchen equipment, such as a pot, spatula, fine mesh strainer, glass containers, jar, oven, and a heatproof bowl or pie plate.
How to Prepare CBD (Activating the CBD)?
There is little CBD in fresh hemp plants. Instead, hemp contains high concentrations of CBDA, the inactive precursor of CBD. CBDA offers many health benefits, but it doesn’t have the properties of CBD. In order to transform CBDA into CBD, you need to remove an extra carboxyl group from the compound. In plain English, decarboxylation means adding extra heat to activate CBD and get the most out of its content (3).
If you’re looking for a professional way to decarboxylate your plant material, there are special machines known as decarboxylators available in specialty stores. This equipment ensures that the process is conducted efficiently both on its short and long tail, which have different times and temperatures depending on the desired cannabinoid.
Nevertheless, you may just as well use less expensive methods and still perform efficient decarboxylation. Simply use your oven or a slow cooker. They sacrifice some precision, but then again, not everyone can afford a professional decarboxylator.
Decarboxylating CBD in the Oven
What you’ll need:
- High-quality CBD hemp flower
- Baking tray
- Parchment paper
- Grind your CBD buds using the herb grinder. Break them down into smaller pieces instead of grinding them into a fine powder.
- Lay a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper. Spread the ground hemp evenly, and preheat the oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit (115 Celsius).
- Bake the CBD flowers in the oven for about 45 minutes, up to one hour depending on how dry the buds are. Buds with more moisture may require more time in the oven.
- Remove the CBD from the oven and transfer it to a glass container. It should have a bit of a brownish color.
How to Make CBD Oil?
If you’ve gathered the necessary supplies and are ready to make CBD oil at home for the first time, you can use two solvents for the job: food-safe alcohol or cooking oil.
Alcohol extraction involves soaking the hemp plant in alcohol until it pulls all the beneficial compounds from it. The infusion gains potency over time; the longer you soak the hemp in alcohol, the stronger your product will get; this is how you make cannabis tinctures. However, since alcohol is highly flammable, you shouldn’t perform it in enclosed places with access to open fire. Gas stovetops are a big no-no for alcohol extractions; electric ones are much safer.
If you’re looking for a more beginner-friendly method, cooking oil extraction will come in handy. This method involves using plant-derived oils as carriers due to CBD’s fat solubility. It’s a slow process for which you can use different types of cooking oils.
These are at-home extraction methods. Professional manufacturers use pressurized CO2 in order to maximize the quality and quantity of their yields. The CO2 extraction technology doesn’t require additional heat or solvents, which makes it both effective and safe. Unfortunately, it also requires a lot of financial resources to purchase and maintain the machinery, not to mention the highly qualified lab workers.
Below we cover all types of homemade extractions in detail.
Make CBD Oil with Alcohol
What you’ll need:
- 14 grams of ground, decarboxylated hemp flower
- 500 ml of high-proof food-safe alcohol (Everclear, vodka, or spirit)
- Mixing bowl
- Double boiler
- Glass jar
- Tincture bottle
- A plastic syringe or glass dropper
- Place the decarboxylated CBD in the mixing bowl and cover it completely with alcohol. Stir the decarbed buds for up to 10 minutes using the wooden spoon. During this time, the alcohol should already extract some of the compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes. Once done, you can pour the liquid into a glass jar. Store it in a cool and dark place for a minimum of 2 weeks up to several months. As mentioned, the longer it sits, the stronger it gets.
- Separate the CBD-infused alcohol from the plant material. Strain the liquid through a piece of cheesecloth into a collecting container. At this point, the tincture should have a dark green color.
- Set up a double boiler. Pour the alcohol solution to the top of the dish and apply low heat. High-proof volatile will easily evaporate at low temperatures because it’s highly volatile. You can turn the heat on and off if necessary, just make sure you have a good ventilation system, and if not, run the extraction outdoors. The vapor from alcohol is flammable and thus may cause an explosion.
- Once you’ve evaporated all the alcohol, the extract will have a tar-like texture. You can draw it up into a syringe or mix it into a carrier oil to increase the volume of your final product.
Make CBD Oil with MCT Oil
If you want to make CBD oil with MCT oil, follow the steps from the alcohol extraction, and once you have a thick extract, suspend it into MCT oil in the desired ratio. MCT oil is derived from coconut and comes with medium-chain triglycerides, which are known to boost the bioavailability of CBD and other cannabinoids. You can find it in health supplement stores.
Make CBD Oil with Coconut Oil
This method is similar to how you make cannabis-infused coconut oil or the famous cannabutter. But this time, we’re working with hemp-derived CBD, not medical-grade cannabis.
What you’ll need:
- ½ oz of high-CBD hemp flower
- 500 ml of melted coconut oil
- Double boiler
- Glass jar with a lid
- Glass collecting dish
- Combine the decarboxylated CBD buds with the coconut oil to start the extraction process. Place them in the double boiler, filling the bottom part of the dish with some water, and bring it to a delicate simmer. Do not bring the mixture to a rolling boil because anything over 150 degrees Celcius will destroy most terpenes. The simmering process takes around 3 hours; the end product will look slightly darker than the raw oil.
- Remove the top of the boiler, take out your jar, place the cheesecloth over the top of the collecting dish, and pour the mixture into it. You can use a spatula to push the plant material against the strainer so that it squeezes the most out of it.
- Transfer the CBD coconut oil to a jar, seal it tightly, and store it in a cool, dry place. You can use it alone or use it as an infusion in your CBD recipes.
Make CBD Oil with Olive Oil
This method follows the same process as making CBD oil at home with coconut oil. If you don’t have any coconut oil at hand, olive oil will make for a great substitute, especially if you’re up for some CBD-infused pesto, guacamole, or drizzling it over a slice of pizza.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Homemade Extractions?
- Choose high-quality organically grown CBD flower
- Use healthy carrier fats (coconut oil is the best due to high amounts of saturated fat)
- Carefully calculate the dosage in your CBD infusion
- Add natural flavorings to the homemade CBD oil to mask the hempy flavor
- Store your CBD oil as you would store any other herb-infused oils
Tips for Using Homemade CBD Oil
- Use CBD oil sublingually (under the tongue) to avoid the first-pass metabolism in the liver and increase its absorption rate.
- Add CBD oil to your meals or cook with it. However, make sure not to exceed 160 degrees C so that you don’t waste any CBD.
- Make CBD vape oil at home by using a thinning agent in your CBD oil solution (e.g. vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol).
- When working with alcohol, let the mixture sit for a few months to maximize its potency.
- You don’t have to evaporate all the alcohol from your tincture. You can reduce it by half and add it to drinks and cocktails.
- Add CBD to a fat base and other natural skincare ingredients of your choice to create homemade CBD cream.
Advantages of Professional CBD Oil Extraction
Wondering how CBD oil made at home compares to a product obtained through CO2 extraction?
As we said, CO2 extraction is the golden standard for manufacturers. This method produces safe, premium-quality products, but it requires a piece of expensive triple-chamber equipment, large quantities of hemp biomass, and experienced professionals to oversee the extraction. Using CO2 as a solvent ensures a pure and more potent product than any homemade method. If you’re looking for a top-shelf product, CO2-extracted CBD is still second to none.
Making CBD Oil at Home: Is It Worth A Try?
Of course, especially if you want to kickstart your CBD routine on a low budget. In the meantime, you can browse through different brands online and choose the one that fits the generally accepted quality standards. Many premium companies have reward programs to make their products more affordable for everyone. As you do your research, a bottle of homemade CBD oil will wait for you in your health cabinet.
Still, we recommend buying a professionally extracted CBD oil if you want to maximize the results of your supplementation. Making CBD oil at home is fun and very rewarding, but it still doesn’t give you such a complete cannabinoid profile as CO2 extraction.
How to Make Homemade Cannabis Oil (or CBD Oil)
Are you interested in making your own cannabis-infused oil? I don’t blame you! Making homemade cannabis oil is a great way to create a highly healing, concentrated, and versatile cannabis product. It is ready to use in edible recipes, topical salves, or even enjoy straight on its own. Especially if you use organic homegrown cannabis like we do, this is an excellent way to use up any extra or “fluffy” stuff too. It also happens to be very easy to make cannabis oil at home!
Follow along with these step-by-step instructions to learn how to make homemade cannabis oil. We’ll also briefly discuss the science behind cannabis oil, and what types of cannabis to use to make oil. Finally, we’ll go over various ways to use homemade cannabis oil, including some notes about caution and dosing with edibles.
What is Cannabis-Infused Oil
Cannabis oil is made by lightly heating (and thus infusing) cannabis in a “carrier oil”. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC, the most active components in cannabis, are both hydrophobic. That means they don’t like water, and are actually repelled by water molecules. On the flip side, CBD and THC are both fat-soluble. They like to bind with fatty acid molecules – such as those found in oil. When cannabis is steeped in oil, the THC and CBD molecules leave the buds or plant material and become one with the oil instead.
A wide variety of oils can be used to make cannabis oil. However, coconut oil and olive oil are the most popular and common. Coconut oil and olive oil are both pleasant-tasting and very nourishing for skin, making them versatile options for either medicated edibles or topical applications. Plus, they both have strong natural antifungal and antimicrobial properties. This helps prevent mold and extends the shelf life of your cannabis oil. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fat, which may bind fat-loving cannabinoids even more readily than olive oil.
Hemp Oil, CBD Oil, THC, or…
Your choice! You can make cannabis-infused oil with hemp or marijuana, depending on what is legal and available in your area. Or, what you’re desired end-results are. Hemp oil will only contain CBD (or a very minuscule amount of THC), while marijuana-infused oil will likely contain both THC and CBD. The ratio and concentration of THC and/or CBD depends on the strain of marijuana and particular plant it came from.
Generally speaking, THC is psychoactive and CBD is not. But THC does a lot more than change your state of mind! Studies show that THC has even stronger pain and stress-relieving properties than CBD, which is known to help with insomnia, seizures and inflammation. While they each have notable and distinct stand-alone benefits, an oil or salve containing both CBD and THC has the highest potential for a wide array of health benefits (albeit illegal in some places). Known as the “entourage effect”, the synergistic combination of both THC and CBD through whole-plant cannabis consumption and extracts is more powerful than either one on its own.
I personally like to use strains that are high in both THC and CBD to make oil and salves. To learn more about the differences between strains, CBD and THC, see this article: “Sativa, Indica & Autoflowers, the Differences Explained”.
Why Make Cannabis Oil
Cannabis oil is the foundation ingredient for ultra-healing homemade topical lotions, ointments, and salves – my favorite way to use it! Both THC and CBD have excellent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that cannabinoids have the ability to reduce acne, fine lines and wrinkles, soothe redness and irritation, and balance natural skin oils. Also, cannabinoids (THC especially) are analgesic – meaning they reduce pain. I regularly use our homemade cannabis salve on my knees, ankles, and other aching or inflamed joints and muscles.
Furthermore, making cannabis oil is one of the most reliable ways to create medicated edible cannabis products. Even so, it is extremely difficult to determine the exact potency of homemade edibles or cannabis oil. Because of this, it is suggested to consume with caution in very small doses at first. Cannabis oil can be consumed on its own, or added to other edible cannabis recipes. (I personally prefer to make homemade cannabis tinctures over edibles.)
On the other hand, simply chopping up weed to add to your brownie mix is not a good idea, for many reasons. As we already explored, cannabinoids are fat-soluble. That means that they not only bind with oils during the infusion process, but also that cannabinoids are more readily absorbed and digested in our bodies when they’re consumed with fat – such as oil. If you add raw cannabis to baked goods, it is less likely that the cannabinoids will bind to fats for a consistent and effective edible experience. Using decarboxylated cannabis to make cannabis oil further increases precision and consistency.
Using Decarboxylated Cannabis for Oil
The cannabinoid compounds found in raw cannabis (THCA and CBDA) are not the same as those found in cannabis that has been heated – such as those inhaled (THC and CBD) when you ignite or vaporize cannabis, or when cooking with cannabis. The process of heating and “activating” cannabis is called decarboxylation. It is what makes cannabis psychoactive, and also more potent for medicinal applications.
Yet when it comes to heating cannabis, it is best to do so low, slow, and methodically. There are time and temperature “sweet spots” where raw THCA and CBDA are converted into active THC and CBD. But without a precise process, over-heating or under-heating cannabis can lead to uneven activation of THC and CBD. Even worse, it may even destroy the THC or CBD altogether!
The content (activation or decomposition) of THC with time and temperature. Note that CBD takes about 2x as long at the same temperatures. Graph courtesy of 420 Magazine
Most cannabis oil recipes call for cannabis that has already been properly decarboxylated first. The most common and fuss-free way is to decarb cannabis in the oven, and then add it to oil over a very low heat afterwards – avoiding further decarboxylation. Some folks choose to decarb their raw cannabis on the stovetop simultaneously with the oil infusion process. However, that requires significantly more careful monitoring to hit that time-temperature sweet spot (and not ruin it).
Therefore, our cannabis oil recipe calls for decarboxylated cannabis as well. I provide very brief instructions on how to decarb raw cannabis below, but you can read further information about exactly how and why to decarb cannabis in the oven in this article.
1 cup of loosely ground decarboxylated cannabis. To be more precise, I suggest to use a kitchen scale to weigh out approximately 7 to 10 grams (a quarter ounce or just over), depending on your tolerance.