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How To Make Edibles From Cannabis

Created by
JoshuaHolt JoshuaHolt
Added 14 October 2020

 

Weed Brownies

Consuming weed orally has been a thing for centuries. Even though smoking is the preferred method of ingesting THC, making extracts and infusions is gaining popularity. As pot heads look for healthier ways to get that sweet THC into their system, cannabis edibles can be noticed cropping up more frequently.

To much delight, working with cannabis in this way has given us the ability to properly digest THC. Even if you are not a smoker but have heard about the health benefits of cannabis and want to give them a try, making edibles can be the perfect solution. From gummy bears, brownies and cookies, to salad dressings and sauces, there are hundreds of ways cannabis can be used in the kitchen.

Eating weed can be extremely beneficial to those who want to get high but are looking for a healthy alternative to absorbing through the lungs, which as we know are extremely sensitive and easily damaged (especially if cannabis is mixed with tobacco). Some may be looking for a way to completely remove smoke from their life. This article presents the ins and outs of preparing your own edibles so you can experience the benefits of eating weed.

THC Can Be Extracted From The Cannabis Plant For Edibles

The Effects of Eating Cannabis

THC (tetrahydrocannabidol) affects us differently when we consume it orally. Ingesting with smoke (or vapour) means THC is absorbed through the lungs directly into the blood stream, giving the user an instant hit. The cannabinoids are broken down during the heating process and made readily available to us as particles in the smoke. The high can be felt intensifying with each puff until we decide it's enough.

With edibles, the process of digestion is much slower, therefore the high takes much longer to settle in. This is why it is important not to over-do it, because you have less control over the effect if you ingest too much. The high is also extended when you eat cannabis. The effects from smoking a joint can only last an hour or two, whereas eating it can leave you baked for 4 - 8 hours.

Cannabis Edibles Affect The Body Differently

Depending on one's metabolism, weed ingested through the mouth may be felt sooner or later. How long the experience lasts also depends on your age, gender, and body weight, amongst other things. 

A cannabis extract is measured in milligrams (mg), with a standard edible containing around 80 - 100mg of THC. More experienced users with a higher tolerance may be able to handle twice that much, but beginners may want to opt for a slightly weaker dose of between 30 - 50mg. If you are a just trying weed for the first time or are unsure what works for you, start with an even lower dose.

Getting high with edibles can produce a range of different effects, with common reports of users experiencing relieved stress, anxiety, along with increased euphoria and appetite. It depends on how much you eat. Eating too much is possible (usually from being impatient) and may produce uncomfortable feelings of paranoia or drowsiness. Or you might just fall asleep.

THCStrengthGood For?
1 - 2mgWeakMicrodosing
2 - 5mgMildNew users
5 - 20mgLight DoseSubtle effect
20 - 50mgAverageEuphoria
50 - 100mgStrongStoners with a tolerance
100 - 200mgVery IntenseReaching new highs

Drying and Curing

The first step if you are planning to make edibles is to make sure you dry and cure your weed properly. Buds that have not undertaken the right post harvest processing may still contain chemicals and sugars that will affect the final product's flavour, and most importantly, it's effect.

Cured Cannabis Buds

Correctly drying and curing will bring out the best in your buds, leaving you with an increased THC content and richer flavour right off the harvesting bat. You may not be too concerned about the flavour of your edibles, however it makes the experience much more enjoyable when they actually taste nice. Depending on the method of THC extraction (explained below), the flavour will be more or less intense.

Decarboxylating Cannabis

THC is activated through a process called decarboxylation, which normally happens through burning during smoking. Eating weed is a little more complicated because our stomachs do not have the capability to process THC if it is not decarboxylated. It would simply be a waste to ingest weed that has not been pre-prepared.

Decarboxylation

The process of THC extraction with butter or oil and a bit of heat can help to decarboxylate the weed, however we can aid the process by gently toasting the trim and buds beforehand. When we do this, another cannabinoid compound called THCA is converted into THC. You still get an effect without decarboxylating first, however the result will be not be as potent and flavour may be a bit off-putting.

To properly decarboxylate your cannabis you may use the following guide:

  1. Loosely grind up your weed and sugar leaves (the trim closest to the buds covered in trichomes) to a rough consistency.
  2. Add 2 - 3 layers of aluminium foil onto an oven proof baking tray.
  3. Evenly spread the ground cannabis over the oven tray.
  4. Cover with aluminium foil or greaseproof oven paper.
  5. Heat the oven to 240°F or 115°C.
  6. Place the tray in the middle of the oven and heat for 30 - 45 minutes
  7. Once ready, the cannabis should be slightly brown/golden and crispy.

Tip: Oven temperatures can sometimes be inaccurate, so check your weed every so often to make sure it is not burning. Reduce the temperature if you feel it might be too hot.

Decarboxylating Cannabis

Methods of Cannabinoid Extraction

There is not a go-to method when it comes to extracting cannabinoids from cannabis. We have a few ways to prepare our edibles, so let's discuss each of them. One method may be better than another, but it depends on how you plan to use the extract or infusion after preparing it.

If you are planning to make brownies, then butter or oil might be the best option because it is easily added to the recipe. On the other hand, butter is not ideal if you are trying to make some kind of candy edible. In this case, THC sugar or a tincture would be much more suitable.

Kief

Kief Is Collected Using Screens

If you've ever had a grinder with multiple layers (specifically a bottom chamber with a screen over it), then you've proabably smoked Kief. Also known as Dry Sift, Kief is basically the broken trichomes that fall off from grinding or handling weed. Normally, once buds are dry, the Kief is easily separated from the weed through a screen which only allows trichome particles to pass through. The finer the micron size of screen, the higher grade of Kief.

Making Kief leaves you with a pure cannabinoid product, which means there should not be any plant matter involved. This makes it a great method for creating a medicinal quality, ready to use and edible product. In this form it can be added to cooking directly. 

Steps to make Kief:

  1. Set up a smooth, clean, sterilised tray to work over. This will collect the trichomes during the process.
  2. Place dry buds or trim on a sieve/screen with a mesh size of 70 - 150 microns. For different grades of Kief you can use multiple screens, stacked on top of each other (highest micron size on the top)
  3. Using gloves, gently rub and move the plant material around on the screen for 5 minutes. You can also shake the screen at intervals to help trichomes fall through the mesh.
  4. Lift the screen off the collecting tray and collect the powder using a card.
  5. Store in an airtight container away from sunlight or heat.

Tip: working in cold temperature helps to make the trichomes more brittle so they fall off more easily.

Kief

Butter

Cannabutter is possibly the most common ingredient people use to make edibles. As you may have guessed, it is made using butter (preferably unsalted). The reason people choose butter for making edibles is because it is mostly fat, helping to bind the ingredients together. For cannabis, this works especially well as terpenes and cannabinoids are also oily, meaning they seemingly fuse together with butter when heated up.

Cannabutter

Ingredients:

  • 5-10g Decarboxylated cannabis
  • 250g of Butter or Oil

How to make Cannabutter/Cannaoil:

  1. Place the butter and decarboxylated cannabis into a mason jar
  2. Put the closed mason jar in a saucepan filled with cold water (double boiler style).
  3. Heat up the water in the saucepan to almost boiling. Starting with cold water prevents the glass from cracking.
  4. Simmer for 2 - 3 hours. Add more water to the saucepan if necessary.
  5. Strain into a storage container using a cheesecloth, fine mesh sieve, or coffee filter.
  6. Let it cool and store in the fridge.

This method works for pretty much any kind of butter or oil so you can use these steps if you are thinking about making cannabis coconut oil, which we discuss in the next section.

Tip: Do not over-extend the simmering time for too much longer than 3 hours because THC may start converting into the less desired CBN. 

Double Boiler Setup

Coconut Oil

For a healthier, vegan option, making your extracts using coconut oil can be an extremely effective method. Although more expensive than using butter, coconut oil is 100% fat so it actually does a better job of stripping THC from your buds. On top of that, more THC can be dissolved in it because of its high fatty content.

Using coconut oil infused with THC provides one with a versatile product that can be added in all sorts of cooking. We won't go into the benefits of coconut oil here, but just know that it has many uses in the food and cosmetics industries. It can also be kept in the fridge for many months without losing quality.

Coconut Oil

Tinctures

A tincture is made by infusing herbs in a solvent such as alcohol to remove oils. This results in a concentrated liquid extract that has many uses. For cannabis edibles, tinctures can be added to most recipes without issues.

Another advantage of preparing THC extract in this way is that it becomes very easy to dose. Because it's in a liquid form, it can be measured by the drop. Be careful though, as consuming weed tinctures can be pretty strong so you may want to dilute it. A small drop may not seem like much, but it can still be enough to get you sky high if you are not already familiar with the effects.

Cannabis Tinctures

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 1 Ounce (25 - 30g) Decarboxylated cannabis
  • 2 Cups of food grade alcohol (high proof)

How to Make A Cannabis Tincture:

  1. Place the decarboxylated cannabis into a glass container with a lid, like a mason jar.
  2. Add the 2 cups of solvent and mix thoroughly with your hands (using gloves), breaking up and working the buds to remove trichomes.
  3. Tightly close the jar and give it a shake.
  4. Place in a cool, dark place for 2 - 3 months.
  5. Shake the mason jar once every week or two.
  6. Strain into an airtight container or small dropper bottles for easy dosing later on.

Tip: Do not use isopropyl alcohol for making edibles, it is not safe to ingest.

Sugar

For those with a sweet tooth, cannabis sugar can be a fun way to spice up your meal or morning coffee. Sugar infused with THC is becoming an increasingly popular way to get high. Making it requires you to prepare a cannabis tincture (explained above) first, which is then combined with the sugar and left to dry.

After the sugar has dried, the clumps can be broken up using a kitchen tool and stored in a jar or airtight container. It is then ready to use in whichever recipe you choose! This edible definitely puts the sparkle back into your cannabis.

Cannabis Sugar

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cannabis tincture
  • 8 cups of granulated sugar

How to Make Cannabis Sugar:

  1. Place the 8 cups of granulated sugar into a glass container.
  2. Add 1 cup of cannabis tincture.
  3. Mix thoroughly with a spoon.
  4. Cover a baking tray with oven proof paper.
  5. Evenly spread the sugar over the tray.
  6. After 24 hours, break apart the sugar using a kitchen tool
  7. Store in an airtight container and place in a cool, dark location.

Tip: Cannabis sugar can also be made using brown sugar.

Cannabis Candies

FECO (Full Extraction Cannabis Oil)

This method is similar to making tinctures, in that it uses a solvent to extract the cannabis oils from the bud. In fact, FECO is essentially uses the same process as a tincture, just with an extra step or two. The main difference with FECO is that the solvent is boiled off/evaporated, resulting in a thick, sticky resin with a tar like texture. A pea-sized dose can be enough to get you high for the whole day.

This concentrated form of THC is extremely strong and like tinctures, needs to be dosed with care (if not more so). Normally it is ingested directly but it can be used in edibles as well. FECO is used in various medical applications and has shown positive results in treating conditions such as PTSD or epilepsy.

Blue Dream CBD by Hawkbo from GrowDiaries.

Cooking Cannabis Edibles

Once you have your extract or infusion made, it is time to start thinking about how you want to include it in your favourite recipe. The thing to watch out for here is putting in too much. Just because you usually use 250 grams of normal butter in your weed free baking recipe doesn't mean you need that much cannabutter for your space cake.

Space Cake

The quality, concentration and strength of your extraction, as well as the proper cooking technique will determine the how effective the results will be. It is recommended you do a test run with a low dose so you know what strength you are dealing with. You can always increase or decrease it afterwards depending on your preference.

The most important thing when cooking with THC is the temperature. THC cannot be heated too much or it will start to degrade. If you are planning cook with your extract, make sure that you avoid cooking at temperatures over 175°C (347°F) . Anything above this level and THC can start to break down, which will affect potency. You can use a cooking thermometer to keep temperatures at the correct level.

THCA Converts To THC

Conclusion

After all that, you're probably already coming up with your next meal plan or thinking about baking some brownies. Even if you know your weed well, be sure to dose carefully so you can enjoy the experience to the fullest. Being too high can induce some pretty uncomfortable feelings so it is always best to take it slow.

Making edibles is a fun way to experiment with cannabis, so why not give it a try? Discuss your favourite recipes with the community in the comments section below!

External References

An Investigation Of Decarboxylation Of Acidic Cannabinoids: THCA-A, CBDA And CBGA. Planta Medica.-Wang, Mei & Wang, Yan-Hong & Avula, Bharathi & Radwan, Mohamed & Wanas, Amira & Antwerp, J & Parcher, J & ElSohly, MA & Khan, Iftikhar. (2016)

A preliminary investigation of lung availability of cannabinoids by smoking marijuana or dabbing BHO and decarboxylation rate of THC- and CBD-acids. Forensic Science International.-Hädener, Marianne & Vieten, Sina & Weinmann, Wolfgang & Mahler, Hellmut. (2019).

Cannabinoids (THC and CBD) as Controllers of Drugresistant Epilepsy Syndromes.- Babaei, Mehdi & Ajdanian, Ladan & Baboli, Shahnam & Baboli, Simin & Javaaher, Saleh & Nasri, Reyhaneh. (2020). 

This article was updated September 2020.






Comments

Green_Dream
Green_Dream

Wow, this is a really well written article, thank you JoshuaHolt and GD team! :pray::+1:

JHGD420
JHGD420

@Green_Dream, thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Much love.