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. Cannabis-infused oil is the most versatile way to start making edibles. Learn how to make it and its benefits with Leafly. 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.
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.
How to make cannabis cooking oil
Cannabis cooking oil is versatile and easy to make. You can infuse any type of oil, such as canola, vegetable, olive, peanut, sesame oil, and others—all you need is some weed, cheesecloth, and a sauce pan or slow cooker.
Consuming food made with cannabis cooking oil is similar to consuming edibles or anything made with cannabutter —compared to inhalation methods, effects will take longer to kick in, and they will usually last longer and be stronger.
As will all cannabis edibles, we recommend to “start low and go slow”: Eat a little bit and wait at least 45-60 minutes until effects kick in, and only eat more if you want stronger effects.
Benefits of using cannabis cooking oil
The great thing about using cannabis-infused oil is that you can add it to anything: sauté some veggies, fry up some morning eggs, mix it in a salad dressing, or whatever else you can think of.
Keep in mind that it’s difficult to calculate the potency of homemade edibles. However, compared to other cannabis infusions, such as making cannabutter to add to a batch of brownies, cannabis cooking oil is easier to measure out. You can add a lot to a salad dressing or just drop a little bit in a skillet to cook in with your whole meal.
Types of cooking oils to infuse with cannabis
There are many types of oils you can infuse with cannabis:
When picking a base cooking oil, consider how you’ll use it and what foods you’ll cook with it. You can use a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil, or something with a specific flavor, like sesame or peanut oil. It all depends on your flavor preferences and the dishes you plan on cooking.
Additionally, oils have different consistencies at room temperature, so consider how you’ll be storing the oil.
If you’re looking for an oil that can be used in a stir fry as well as a pie crust, coconut oil is a great option—it adds great flavor to veggies and remains solid enough at room temperature to hold up as a pie crust.
Vegetable and canola oil are great options if you want something with a mild flavor. They are also versatile and work with most recipes that call for oil.
For something a little more robust in flavor, infuse olive or avocado oil with cannabis. Both stand up well to the cannabis flavor and can be stored in your pantry.
Recipe for cannabis cooking oil
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Saucepan, stock pot, d ouble-boiler, or slow cooker
- Mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Container for cannabis oil
- Cannabis grinder (optional)
- 1 cup cooking oil of your choice
- 1 cup (7-10 grams) of ground cannabis, decarboxylated
When making cannabis cooking oil, we recommend a 1:1 ratio of cannabis to oil. If you want milder effects, use less cannabis.
- Decarb the cannabis. We recommend decarboxylating your weed first, and then putting it in oil. Decarbing turns THCA in the plant into THC, the psychoactive compound that will get you high. Set your oven to 245ºF and put buds on parchment paper on a baking pan. Heat for 30-40 minutes.
- Grind or break up the cannabis. Grinders break weed down to the same consistency and will save you time, but you can just as easily break up the weed with your hands. Keep in mind that anything small enough to fit through the mesh strainer or cheesecloth will end up in your finished product, so don’t grind the weed into a fine powder.
- Heat oil and decarbed cannabis.Add oil and decarbed cannabis to double-boiler, slow cooker, or saucepan, and simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Make sure the temperature of the oil stays between 160-200ºF.
- Strain and store the oil. Put mesh strainer or cheesecloth over container for oil and pour the oil/cannabis mixture through it. Do not squeeze it out—this will add more chlorophyll to your oil and make it taste more vegetal. Discard the plant material. The oil will have a shelf life of at least two months and can be extended with refrigeration.
Tips for reducing odor when making cannabis oil
As it takes hours to infuse coconut oil, a weed odor may build up in your kitchen.
Turn on a vent or fan while infusing the oil to keep the smell down, or open a window. If you’re concerned about the neighbors smelling it, stick to the fan or vent.
How to cook with cannabis cooking oil
After you have your cannabis-infused oil of choice, be sure to try a little before you make an entire meal to get a sense of how potent it is. This will give you a good sense of how much to use when cooking.
Also, be sure not to heat the infused oil too hot when cooking a dish, which can burn out the THC, leaving you with plain cooking oil.
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.