Photography by Georgia Love for Herb
Every part of the cannabis plant is usable, including often-forgotten stems. But what do you do with weed stems, exactly? From Cannabutter to do-it-yourself hemp paper, there are many surprising ways to make use of your left-over cannabis stems. So, don’t throw them out! The next time you break out your bud, start saving stems in an air-tight jar. Once you’ve collected a fairly large quantity, your creativity is the only limit to what you can do with these unconventional plant parts.
Some die-hard consumers may choose to grind up and smoke their stems. Smoking stems, however, does not lead to the smooth and comfortable experience most flower enthusiasts enjoy. Stems are fibrous and contain more sturdy cellulose than dried bud. As a result, they conduct heat more efficiently and can burn at substantially hotter temperatures. While stems do contain small amounts of cannabis resin, they are more likely to burn your throat and the delicate tissues of your lungs more harshly. The overall result is a nasty taste and an uncomfortably harsh experience.
Further, smoking cannabis stems is unlikely to give you the oft sought-after high. Compared with leaves and flowers, stems and stalks contain very little cannabis compounds. For this reason, it is better to save stems and use them en masse for making homemade tinctures and basic infusions. If consuming stems doesn’t tickle your fancy, however, there are all sorts of crafts and projects that make excellent use of this overlooked part of the plant.
While scientific documentation on the matter is lacking, many consumers report that smoking stems can trigger a headache. Whether this is fact or myth, however, is up for debate. In fact, most of the discussion of weed stems and headache is limited to online forums and anecdotal evidence. Regardless, using stems in tinctures and edibles doesn’t seem to be associated with this particular problem. So, until actual research is done and results are put to the test, it’s hard to tell whether or not smoking stems is more likely to cause a headache than other parts of the cannabis plant.
Cannabis stems and stalks are the parts of the plant most often used to make fiber. Throughout history, fiber from stocks and stems were used to make rope, textiles, and paper. For those interested in putting in the time, it’s fairly easy to make your own DIY crafts and other infusions from leftover stems. Here are the top ideas:
Yes, that’s right. If you have a ton of stems you can make cannabutter for all of your baking needs. To do this you need to make sure you have a ratio of 4 grams of butter to 4 grams of stems. First, simply melt the butter in a pan over low heat and sprinkle in the stems. Let it simmer on low heat for about 15-30 minutes and boom. You’re all set.
Hoping to make this process even easier? Throw your stems into a MagicalButter machine, push a button, and you’ve got yourself some excellent infused-goods!
Interested cannabis-infused alcohol? You can use stems to slowly transform your favorite alcohol into an infused brew over time. Simply decarboxylate your stems in an oven, then place the decarbed stems into high-proof alcohol. Let the concoction sit for up to several months, adding new stems as you wish. This infused-alcohol can be used as a base for infused cocktails or even as a simple tincture. It’s important to use caution, however. Cannabis-infused alcohol is very potent and can easily amplify the intoxicating nature of each substance. A little goes a long way with this stuff!
Grind the stems until they become an extremely fine powder. You can decarboxylate this powder or the stems in an oven prior to usage. Add the stem powder to a glass jar filled with 99% isopropyl alcohol. Cover it and shake vigorously for one to two minutes. Strain immediately. Then transfer the liquid to a wide-bottomed glass dish or bowl. Set this dish in a well-ventilated space and let all the alcohol evaporate.
Have lots of stems and some ice? Make stem bubble hash! While it won’t be the most potent bubble hash around, it certainly does the job! Bubble hash is made by using ice to freeze trichome resin glands, making them easier to break away from the plant material. If you have some extra stems around, you may want to invest in some bubble bags and set aside some time for a fun weekend project.
A variety of marijuana topicals can be made by using stems. Marijuana topicals have a great therapeutic effect and now you can make them at home! Making a cannabis topical can be as simple as heating your stems in coconut oil slowly over time. Or, if you’d like to get fancy, you can use a basic marijuana topical recipe you can then add your own vitamins and essential oils. Peppermint and lavender, for example, are may be soothing options for muscle pain.
Did you know you could brew cannabis-infused tea with just your stems? Brewing tea from marijuana stems is actually a fairly quick process. To make this tea, you can use water, coconut oil or half-and-half (fatty substances work best). Then you’ll need to decarboxylate your stems first and then grind them up. Afterward, wrap them up in a coffee filter, a DIY tea bag if you will. Simmer on low heat for at least 7 minutes and then you’re ready to add it to your tea or hot chocolate. Want to speed things up? Try making your own oil using the MagicalButter machine.
Here’s a tip for the growers— many herbivores use hemp wick to avoid butane fumes from regular lighters. But, did you know that you can make your own hemp wick with leftover cannabis stems and stalks? To make your hemp wick, you’ll need to strip the longest stems you have or left-over stalks with a sharp blade until you’re left with multiple strings of fiber. Then, twist the fibers together to form a rope and fold the rope over and twist it again. Next, take the twisted fibers and dip them in beeswax. Allow it to dry before you use your new DIY hemp wick!
Out of writing utensils but have a load of stems lying around? Have no fear, stem pens are here! This might be easier for growers who have left-over stalks, making it easier to turn them into pens. To make a stem pen, you’ll need to get your hands on a drill press, a few thick stalks, sandpaper, and your basic pen kit, all of which can be found online or at a craft store.
Searching for a new hobby? Stems can also be used to make hemp paper. Now you can make your own holiday cards and enjoy the fact that your relatives have no idea their Christmas cards were made from weed. To do this, soak ground cannabis stems and paper scraps in water overnight.
After you soak them, add both the paper scraps and stem soak to a blender and blend fully. Next, pour the pulp onto a screen or “deckle” (you can use a pair of nylon stockings over a wooden frame for this) evenly. The process should take about 24 hours so plan accordingly.
Add some real flavor to your kebabs by using stems as the skewers. To do this you need to sharpen the end of a few long stems and soak overnight. Once you’re done making your kebab, the skewers will be ready for use. Now you can tell your parents you’re a real chef because you make your own eating utensils. You’re welcome.
Growers searching for new things to do with leftover stems and stalks may want to consider dabbling in the arts and crafts. As a matter of fact, you can weave your own basket using your old stems. In order to keep the stems from breaking while you’re weaving them, soak a good amount of long stems in water overnight. The following morning, tie a few stems together in the center using hemp rope and use the leftover stems to weave between the stems at the base. If you’re still a bit confused, a simple wicker basket tutorial should help clear things up.
If you’re still poking holes in tin foil and using it as a screen STOP. Tin and aluminum foils are extremely dangerous to inhale and should not be used as a screen. Instead, take your stems and break them into pieces so that they fit evenly on your bowl. Viola! Now you have a sturdy screen free of chemicals and full of cannabinoids.