Cannabis oil is an easy way to get the health benefits of cannabis, and it’s easy to make at home. Learn how to make cannabis oil with our at-home recipe. You hear a lot of confusing cannabis acronyms, and probably wonder: what the heck do they all mean and why do there need to be so many? This article breaks down THC and CBD and how they can be used together. 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 Cannabis Oil at Home
Making your own cannabis oil at home is easy if you know a few tricks. Learn how to make canna oil in your kitchen with our complete recipe and step-by-step guide.
DIY Cannabis Oil: The Basics
Homemade cannabis oil offers a variety of health and wellness benefits. You may choose to mix the canna oil into another edible or beverage recipe, apply the canna oil topically, or place a few drops under your tongue like a cannabis tincture .
Canna oil has recreational uses as well as medicinal purposes. Here are a few therapeutic uses for cannabis oil:
These possible health benefits also depend on whether you use hemp or marijuana in your oil.
Hemp vs. Marijuana: Which Should You Use?
Hemp or CBD oil is a good choice if you live in a state where cannabis is illegal. CBD hemp oil may also be the right option if you want to avoid “getting high” from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Using marijuana with a full spectrum of cannabinoids may offer more potent therapeutic benefits through the entourage effect .
Dosing is one of the most challenging issues with cannabis edibles , including canna oil. Too much THC can give you an unpleasant and lingering high. For this reason, it’s a good idea to consult with a physician who can provide you with proper dosing instructions for your body chemistry and level of cannabis experience.
Best Carrier Oil for Cannabis Oil
Many cannabis users report that coconut oil makes the best carrier oil for cannabis oil. Coconut oil contains beneficial fatty acids that go well in both edibles and topicals. However, alternatives to coconut oil also work well, such as vegetable oil or lecithin.
Lecithin is a type of fat that allows for ingredients to stick and bind together. 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. Lecithin has the added benefit of increasing the bioavailability of cannabinoids. Sunflower lecithin is best for a range of diets. Eggs are also a source of lecithin and act as a binding ingredient in baking.
Why It’s Important to Decarboxylate Cannabis
Decarboxylating or “decarbing” cannabis refers to a chemical reaction where a carbon atom is removed from a carbon chain, resulting in the release of carbon dioxide (CO2). Key cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, convert from different original forms during the decarbing process.
For example, THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is non-psychoactive in its raw form but becomes psychoactive as THC after decarboxylation. Likewise, CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) is the acid precursor to CBD and may provide its own health benefits .
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 them more easily).
Cannabis Oil Recipe
The following recipe includes everything you need to make cannabis oil at home.
What You’ll Need
- Rimmed baking tray
- Baking paper
- Crockpot, double boiler, or saucepan
- Cheesecloth or strainer
- Cooking twine to tie the cheesecloth
- 3.5 grams of flower
- 1/2 cup of cooking oil (coconut oil or olive oil)
Break up any cannabis flower or “buds” you have into smaller pieces.
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.
Allow the cannabis to cool to room temperature. It should appear darker in color – usually, light brown or yellow, and not as green as fresh cannabis.
Once cooled, coarsely grind the cannabis and store it in an airtight container.
Combine the cannabis and coconut oil using one of the following methods:
- In a slow cooker or crockpot on low for about 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
- In a double boiler on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally – a simple heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water will suffice.
- On the stove 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.
Note that the temperature of the oil should never exceed 245°F (118°C).
Strain your canna-oil through a cheesecloth or strainer to get rid of the plant material.
Get Your Delicious Canna Oil Recipe
Alternative Method for Making Canna-Oil
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°F (100°C) and 230°F (110°C) to decarboxylate it. Then, simmer and double boil 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, which is more efficient.
If you’re double boiling 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 straining the oil afterward. Although raw cannabis can be added directly to oil, it is still best to decarb the cannabis first to maximize the shelf life of your oil. You can also use the leftover plant matter to make edibles.
Tips and Tricks for Making Homemade Canna-Oil
Follow these tips and tricks to make the best homemade canna-oil.
Always Cook at Low Temperatures
To retain any acidic cannabinoids, cook at lower temperatures or use the infused oil without cooking it. Once the oil 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).
Extend Shelf-Life with Proper Storage
Cannabinoids do not last forever, and over time and exposure to light, air, and heat, your cannabis-infused oil will decrease potency. Acidic cannabinoids, in particular, are very unstable and do not last very long when exposed to the air.
Any impurities in the cannabis-infused oil will also affect how long a cannabis-infused oil will last. Therefore, properly straining any plant material from the oil is essential to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
Kept in a cool, dark place, cannabis-infused oil should retain its potency for about 1-1.5 years. Room temperature is appropriate if your indoor environment stays below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Infuse Oil to Retain Terpenes
Much of the flavor and effect of cannabis come from its terpenes and flavonoids . Infusing decarboxylated cannabis into oil will impart the flavor of the cannabis into the oil. While 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 to overcome the taste with sugar, hence the huge variety of medicated sweet treats like pot brownies .
Strain to Help Get Rid of Unpleasant Tastes
Straining away the plant material from the oil will reduce the unpleasant taste but not eliminate it. Matching the flavor profile of the cannabis-infused oil to the dish is possible but not easy considering the number of terpenes and terpenoids at play. Other ingredients can mask the flavor, as can infusing the oil with other herbs and spices.
Reach out to one of the qualified physicians at Leafwell to learn more about the health benefits of canna oil and other cannabis products. Our doctors are here to help you quickly apply for a medical marijuana card.
How Can I Legally Buy Cannabis to Make Canna Oil?
Stay informed about the current cannabis laws in your state to know if you can legally buy cannabis to make canna oil.
Is Canna Oil the Same as CBD Oil?
No. The difference between canna oil and CBD oil comes down to THC. Canna oil contains a significant amount of THC, while CBD oil contains only trace amounts of THC, i.e., not enough to have psychoactive effects.
How Long Does It Take to Make Cannabis Oil?
If using a double-boiler, the infusion process to make canna oil takes approximately 6 to 8 hours until you have a final product.
How to Use THC and CBD Together
You hear a lot of confusing cannabis acronyms, and probably wonder: what the heck do they all mean and why do there need to be so many? THC is one you probably know, and CBD too. THC and CBD are both phytocannabinoids, and they are found in the cannabis plant. There are over 100 known cannabinoids, with researchers believing there are more that have been yet to be discovered. THC and CBD are among the most popular, and you’ll probably hear them being talked about the most.
You might know THC as the cannabinoid responsible for getting you high, and you’d be correct! THC works by binding to the CB1 receptors found in the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a bodily system every human being has, and even every animal!
The endocannabinoid system
It might sound like pseudoscience, but trust us, the endocannabinoid system is very well-documented. UCLA, for example, has an entire initiative dedicated to cannabinoid research. The endocannabinoid system was discovered decades ago, and researchers believe its primary purpose is to help regulate the body and bring it to a place of homeostasis. CBD also interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, but in a more roundabout way. Instead of binding directly to either receptor, CBD works mainly by regulating inflammation in the body.
Mixing CBD and THC
Let’s talk about mixing CBD and THC. Many people wonder if this is okay, or something people do. Think about it like this: THC and CBD already co-exist together in the cannabis plant, and in literally every joint/bowl/etc you’ve ever smoked! If you’ve consumed a high-THC cannabis product, smoking or not, you’ve mixed CBD and THC. Cannabis is naturally riddled with cannabinoids, both THC and CBD. So when you consume cannabis, you’re already mixing CBD and THC!
So to simplify the answer, yes. Mixing CBD and THC products is perfectly fine, great even, because of something known as the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the idea that cannabinoids work better together, instead of apart. Since hemp-derived CBD joined the legal marketplace, we hear a lot about something called full-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD is simply a hemp-derived CBD product with a full cannabinoid and terpene profile. It’s the idea of using the entire plant, instead of just isolating bits and pieces of it.
Full-spectrum profiles have both THC and CBD
In a full-spectrum profile, you should be able to find potent concentrations of CBD, CBN, and CBC. There should be THC present too, but the amount depends on whether or not the product is hemp-derived or derived from high-THC cannabis. You’ll also find CBD isolate extracts, which basically means the product is CBD alone, without THC or other plant compounds present.
A little about terpenes
Terpenes will also be found in a full-spectrum profile, and terpenes are responsible for the way cannabis smells and tastes. The most popular terpenes include:
Terpenes are thought to have some pretty powerful benefits of their own, like anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. You won’t find any additional cannabinoids or terpenes, and there are many experts who think CBD isolate should be removed completely. We believe some cannabinoids are better than none, but we also support the idea behind the entourage effect. What could be better than the whole plant?
The entourage effect
Let’s talk a little more about the entourage effect. When you consume cannabinoids together, your body will better utilize them. The cannabinoids interact in such a way that creates balance in your body. Most of the entourage effect research we have available is exploring the use of THC and CBD specifically.
Dr. Ethan Russo is one of the biggest supporters of the entourage effect, and he even wrote an insightful review making a case for the phenomenon. This review highlighted different pieces of evidence to support the entourage effect (sometimes called cannabis synergy), and mentioned how CBD and CBG were shown to be effective against fighting MRSA, a bacterial skin infection. Mixing your CBD and THC might give you more powerful results than you could have thought possible, though we don’t have conclusive evidence.
CBD can negate some of THC’s effects
Have you ever had too much THC? If you have, you know it isn’t an enjoyable experience. Your heart might race, you’ll probably feel anxious and paranoid. An unexpected benefit of the entourage effect is CBD’s ability to cancel THC. If you have too much THC, take some CBD and wait a few minutes. You should start to feel the high come down! This is a great trick for new consumers, and even seasoned consumers who have had a little too much. This is the entourage effect at work, too, just in a different way!
Save time, track your consumption
This is why tracking your consumption is important. The Farmer’s Wife is launching a patient journal that allows medical marijuana consumers to keep track of how much medicine they’re currently taking. You can write about your emotional and physical state, as well as exactly which product you consumed and how much. This way, you always have a written reference as to how much you need. Dosing your medicine can be challenging, especially if you notice it frequently fluctuates. Keeping track of how you feel can be a great way to identify some potential triggers, and do what you can to reduce them. For example, you might not respond to a certain product each and every time, but the same product with a little bit higher THC content is your go-to. We can’t possibly be expected to remember how we feel at every turn, which is where journaling comes in handy.
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.