Cannabis oils are made by extracting the resins from the plant material with a solvent such as butane, carbon dioxide, ethanol, or olive oil. The extracts can then be mixed with a carrier oil and used in cooking, applied topically on sore muscles and joints, or taken orally in capsules for medicinal benefits.
This article will discuss how to make cannabis oil including what equipment is needed, how to extract cannabis oils, the dosage guidelines for the desired medical effect, recipes for cooking with cannabis oil, the potential side effects when taking cannabis oils orally, and other tips for making your own cannabis oil at home.
Equipment and Extraction Techniques
The equipment required for making cannabis oil includes a 10-ml syringe or eyedropper bottle, a large mixing bowl, baking paper, aluminum foil, a lighter, and canna butter or canola oil.
Place cannabis into a mixing bowl and spread to a single layer. Cover with baking paper and use the rolling pin to break up the buds without turning it into a powder. Make sure not to do this so much that you start releasing chlorophyll from the plant material, which will turn your oil green.
Once broken down, cover again in baking paper and place under something heavy like a cast iron pan or cutting board until there is no air space between materials.
Fill your large bucket about halfway full of water warm enough for your fingers to stay comfortable when held in for 20 seconds around 110 degrees F. (43 degrees C.). Place a large glass jar into a water bath to warm up while you are working.
Pour the round bowl through a strainer lined with 4 layers of cheesecloth into your glass jar. Pour until nothing comes through, being sure not to tear any holes in the cheesecloth or clog the pipe. Remove all plant material from the dish and squeeze out any extra oil that might have been left behind. Reserve both liquid and solid for making edibles later on.
Add the solvent (canna butter or canola oil) to cannabis mush. Mix thoroughly by hand without letting it sit undisturbed for more than 20 seconds at a time because it will get too hot. Place foil over top of the mixing container and poke several holes in it with a pen. Once butane starts to rise up the sides of the jar, slowly begin to release the butane.
After all butane has been released and you can no longer hear it bubbling out of the pipe, scrape all your oil into the large glass jar. Mix together with metal or wood utensils. Let solvent (butane/canola) evaporate over 12-24 hours until only oil remains.
Heat water bath back up to 110 degrees F. (43 degrees C.), place a syringe into warm coconut oil for 30 minutes before using. This will make your cannabis oil more viscous and easier to push through a syringe. Use syringes or eyedropper bottles to dispense dosage as a dropper bottle.
Dosage guidelines for cannabis oil are: 5 drops = 1 serving of 5mg THC, titrated up until desired effect.
Side Effects of Cooking with Cannabis Oil
Cooking with cannabis oil can be fun and easy once you have done some research and are comfortable working around solvents. Be smart about making your own edibles at home. It is important that you maintain a clean work space, that all items being used are food safe, any containers being used are elevated off the ground in case of spillage, that ventilation is adequate for removing air born fumes.
Cannabis oil is an extremely potent medicine and should be used as such. Please do your research before ingesting cannabis oil and if you feel overwhelmed or uncertain about doing this on your own find someone to help you make it safely.
Cannabis edibles can cause problems in some people when ingested. Always start by taking a small amount and work your way up. If you have any sensitivity to medication or drugs you should be especially aware of this fact.
Negative side effects include: increased anxiety; hallucinations; dry mouth, eyes, nose, and throat; racing heart beat; and paranoia. Other side effects can occur but are less common such as disorientation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Tips for Homemade Cannabis Oil
Some tips that might be helpful in making your own cannabis oil at home include:
- Pre-measure all ingredients, don’t guess or eyeball anything.
- Make sure to use a solvent that can be removed easily from the plant material – avoid things like olive oil, butter, and essential oils. Using a solvent with a low boiling point is helpful because it makes it easier to remove from the oil once you are done. If using BHO, make sure you do your research on purging techniques so you get clean tasting oil without chlorophyll.
- Use food-grade gloves while handling BHO during the extraction process.
- If working with solvents in enclosed spaces make sure there is adequate ventilation to keep the air fresh and free of butane fumes. Have an open window available. Make sure everyone working with butane is wearing eye protection and not just gloves. Make sure everyone working with butane is wearing a respirator outside of the work area if possible.
- Be smart about using flammable materials around a heat source.
- If using water as part of your water bath, be careful when heating up – do not let it get too hot or else the glass jar will shatter from thermal shock. Allow plenty of room for expansion by keeping jars well spaced out in the water to avoid breakage from thermal shock as well.
- Don’t use metal spoons, spatulas, or utensils that can scratch or otherwise damage surfaces you are cooking on.
- Always take into consideration that oil doesn’t mix with water.
- Do not use a water bath if cooking on an induction stove.
- Stir often to make sure the oil heats evenly.
- If using BHO, do not let butane get in contact with your product, ground up plant material or aluminum foil when extracting – it will eat right through it.
John DiBella is a medical marijuana advocate, owner of The Sanctuary Wellness Institute, and a writer. When he’s not writing blogs about medical marijuana, he enjoys hiking, camping and sailing.