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How to Make Cannabis Infused Oil (We Tested THC Levels)

Introduction

Now that you’ve learned the science of decarboxylation, you’re ready to tackle cannabis oil infusions. There are many ways to combine your plant material with fats like oil, butter, and ghee, to make your infused treats even tastier and more bioavailable than ever before.

Once your medical marijuana is decarboxylated, fats and oils act like insulators to your cannabis flower, and can typically undergo a bit more heating before fully binding with the cannabinoids and terpenes in your plant material. This guide will help you go from stovetop to final product in no time.

3 Ways to Make Cannabis Infused Oil

  1. Nova Decarboxylator
  2. Slow Cooker Method
  3. Double Boiler Method

1. Nova Decarboxylator

That’s right! You can now infuse cannabis right inside the NOVA. Watch our how-to video here.

Storing your cannabis flower in a cool, dark place before or after decarb is the first step to maximum potency. When exposed to excessive heat over long periods of time, degradation of plant material begins to occur, which may result in a weaker end product.

  1. Decarboxylate your cannabis.
    Decarbing in the Nova results in a full decarb, every time. Skill level required: beginner to pro.
  2. Place the decarbed cannabis into a glass jar of butter or oil, or use our Concentrate and Infusion Sleeve for a perfect fit in your Nova!
  3. Put the jar back into the decarboxylator for a second cycle. The second cycle will pull the THC  or CBD from the plant and infuse it into the oil.
  4. When the process is complete, strain the plant material from the oil.
  5. The infused butter or oil can then be used to make any cannabis product, including THC and CBD oils and tinctures, gummies, brownies, and other edibles or giftable cooking oils.

2. Slow Cooker Method

Many folks opt for the slow cooker or crockpot method because it can help infuse your medical cannabis over low heat for over an extended period of time. This method is also called the water bath method.

  1. Decarb the Cannabis
    Decarbing in the crockpot results in, at most, a 70% decarb and will vary from batch to batch. Skill level required: intermediate to pro. To decarb in the crockpot or slow cooker, you must place your plant material in a water bath, preventing the temperature from going over water’s boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a mason jar to shelter the cannabis buds from the water. The crockpot method is great for maintaining temperature stability, but fails to fully and effectively activate all available cannabinoids due to its inability to go beyond 212 degrees leaving it unable to achieve a full decarb.
  2. Select your Oil
    When using this method, a thick fat like butter makes the most sense for your infusion.
  3. Heat
    Add your decarboxylated cannabis, butter, and water to the crockpot mixture, and allow it to sit over low heat (adding more water, if necessary) and infuse for 2 hours.
  4. Strain
    Strain out your plant material, using a cheesecloth, coffee filter, or the Ardent Frainer (our funnel/strainer hybrid,) and discard.

3. Double Boiler Method

Double boilers are useful tools for melting chocolate and working with other sensitive materials, like butter and milk, that can easily scorch. Many patients also utilize double boilers to create concentrates but we will focus on butters and oils today.

Like the crockpot method, the double boiler method helps maintain a layer of protection from direct heat; however, you’re limited to the temperature of boiling water, which can only reach 212 degrees F. The double boiler method also comes with intrusive aromas and fluctuating temperatures due to exposure to direct air throughout the infusion process, impacting the strength and quality of your final product.

  1. Decarb cannabis using a slow cooker, stove, or for maximum efficiency use the Nova decarboxylator
  2. Combine oil and plant material in the double boiler
  3. Pour the oil or butter of your choice in the double boiler with your plant material
  4. Place Mixture Over Medium Heat
    Allow the oil and cannabis mixture to infuse over medium heat for 90 minutes, occasionally stirring.
  5. Strain and store
  6. Remove double boiler from heat. Using a cheesecloth, strainer, or the Ardent Frainer, our funner/strainer hybrid, separate your plant material from your infused oil and dispose of the used material. Store your infused oil in an airtight container like a tincture bottle, and enjoy it as is, or as an ingredient in the recipes of your choice.

But wait…there’s more!

Much like the decarb process, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding cannabis infusion. This is mainly due to the lack of data regarding the infusion process – there’s little to no real testing to show the maximum amount of THC you can get into butter or oil infusions.

We set out to change that by bringing in MCR Labs to test a number of infusion samples extracted using the Nova. We were excited with the results.

Will infusing decarbed herb damage the THC?

When you add the decarbed flower into the fatty oil, the oil encapsulates the flower, acting as an insulator.

That’s why it’s necessary to decarb BEFORE you infuse.

The oil acting as an insulator means that you won’t get a fully activated product if you don’t decarb before the infusion process.

Our testing below shows the infusion of flower that was NOT decarboxylated prior to infusion. The flower was mixed with oil and placed in the decarboxylator.

Acid thcaActive thctotal potential active thctotal infusion %Decarb %Testing Results
Sample A: 1 gram of Raw Plant – Gorilla Glue170mg18mg168mg*10%View Results
Infusion A: 1 gram of raw plant Gorilla Glue infused in NOVA with 1 oz coconut oil with no pre decarb98mg47mg136mg*80%33%View Results
Sample B: 1 gram of Raw Plant – Red Congo206mg13mg193mg*6%View Results
Infusion B: 1 gram of raw plant Red Congo infused in NOVA with 1 oz Grapeseed oil with no pre decarb143mg35mg159mg*82%22%View Results

*Total Potential THC = THCA x .87 + THC. When THCA converts to THC the acid molecule (carboxyl group) is released, reducing the total molecule weight by 13%. Thus, you can only get the full potential THC with precision decarboxylation

While there was good infusion into the oil (80%), you can see the vast majority of the cannabinoids are still in the acid THCA form (almost 100mg). This means that when using this oil, instead of getting the effects of the expected 130mg dose of THC, you would only get 47mg.

What’s the best oil for infusions?

We tested several types of oils to figure out which type of oil produced the highest THC levels after infusion.

Details of the test:

Starting flower for all of the infusions was 20% THC after precision decarb in the Nova. That means in each gram of starting material, there was 200mg of THC. See our dosing guide for more details on dosing after decarboxylation.

In the table directly below, 2 grams of decarbed flower totaling 400mg of THC was placed inside a glass container with 1 ounce of oil and infused for 1 cycle. The testing results below show how much of the 400mg were pulled into the ounce of oil during the infusion.

Type of oilamount of decarbed flower placed in 1 oz oiltotal mg thc extracted into 1 oz oilinfusion percentagelink to testing result
Extra Virgin Olive Oil2 g – 400mg392mg96%View Results
Fractionated Coconut Oil2 g – 400mg332mg81%View Results
Walnut Oil2 g – 400mg370mg91%View Results

Choosing a good oil for the infusion isn’t too difficult. Every oil we tested had an infusion rate of 80% or higher, and some over 90%. Keep scrolling to see infusion percentages of more oils and information on increasing and decreasing the potency.

Check them out: 

Decarbed Flower 20% THC ~ 200 milligrams per gram of flower (200mg/g)  View Results

Can you control the potency of your infusions?

Changing the potency is a matter of adding additional cannabis. You can use as little as a half a gram of flower. For those who need a higher dose, just increase the amount of cannabis.

We were able to get up to 700mg in an ounce of oil out of a total of 800mg (4gm) of flower material.

That was the highest saturation point for this particular strain of flower in one ounce of oil (though you could get higher using more potent flower, concentrate or kief).  

Type of oilamount of material placed into 1 oz of oiltotal mg extracted into 1 oz oilinfusion %
Butter0.5 – 100mg93mg93%View Results
Avocado0.5 – 100mg92mg92%View Results
MCT0.5 – 100mg91mg91%View Results
Grapeseed1g – 200mg163mg81%View Results
MCT4g – 800mg707mg87%View Results
Coconut4g – 800mg670mg82%View Results
Walnut4g – 800mg679mg83%View Results
EVOO4g – 800mg675mg83%View Results

*Dosing with edibles should start low (5mg) and then titrate up 5mg per 2-3 hours after your last dose to test and reach the appropriate dose. Most legal states limit dispensary doses to 10mg per dose, with 10 servings (100mg) per package. Patients using cannabis for severe pain relief may need to use more than 100mg per day.

Can you increase potency with kief or concentrates?

Follow the same procedure: decarb the kief or concentrate first, then mix with your butter, oil, or ghee to infuse.

However, you can choose whether you want to strain the kief out, or leave it inside. If you plan to strain, put the material through an entire infusion cycle to make sure the maximum amount infuses into the oil. Then, using a cheesecloth, coffee filter, or the Ardent Frainer (our funnel/strainer combo) separate your plant material from the oil. Otherwise, simply stir. With concentrates, it’s really more of a mixing process than an infusion process (concentrates will blend with the oil; there is no straining necessary or even possible).

After decarbing the concentrates, you can mix it with the oil and put it back in the decarboxylator for another 30 minutes, to allow the contents to heat and blend.

Wrapping it up

The Ardent Nova is the most easy, mess-free, and effective way to decarboxylate and infuse cannabis into butters and oils at home. Through our research with MCR Labs, we’re able to put older methods and new technology to the test, providing consumers with scientifically-backed proof for all of their holistic kitchen experiments. Happy infusing!

Perfect Decarb and Infusion in One

Activate and Infuse your THC with the Nova Lift Home Decarboxylator.

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