Cannabis oil can cost you a pretty penny in a dispensary. Even then, you may not have access to exactly what you want. So, why not just make it yourself? Turns out, making your own medicine is easier than you might think. Here’s how to make the best medical cannabis oil.
What is medical cannabis oil?
Cannabis oil is a highly concentrated cannabis extract. This extract is the famed cannabis oil which many patients have found successful in treating cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and many other difficult to treat medical conditions.
You can also find this oil under the names Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), Black Oil, and Phoenix Tears. Medical cannabis oil is often consumed via a syringe applicator or through self-filled cannabis capsules.
Beginning with the right strains
Your cannabis oil is that it is only as good as the products used to create it. Each individual person and every medical condition best responds to different types of cannabis. For example, strains high in both THC and CBD are thought to work well in cancer treatment. Seizure disorders, however, respond better to high CBD, low THC strains.
Opting for organic cannabis is highly recommended. Those with compromised immune systems or autoimmune diseases may have difficult reactions to any residual pesticide, fertilizer, or insecticide that may still be present in your herb. Organic cannabis also tends to be higher in terpenes.
Terpenes are the flavor and aroma molecules found in plants. Like cannabinoids, terpenes also have a variety of health benefits. Ideally, starting with high-quality cannabis material increases the amount of possible cannabinoids and terpenes in your oil.
The goal is to make a product that is extremely rich and abundant with healing compounds. Since we do not yet know what ratios or terpenes are best for various medical conditions, the easiest thing to do is try to make a product that contains a wide diversity of phytochemicals.
To get started, you’re going to need a few things.
- One ounce of high-quality medical cannabis or 2 to 3 ounces of trim. You can also throw in small stems and fan leaves for good measure
- Everclear Alcohol
- Double boiler or rice cooker
- 1 medium glass mixing bowl
- Cheesecloth or clean nylon stocking
- Large wooden spoon
- Silicone spatula
- 2-quart mixing cup or container (to catch liquid)
- Sterile oral syringes
- Cooking thermometer
- Fans or ventilation (if indoors)
- Parchment paper
Step 1: Prep workspace
Making cannabis oil can be a little tricky. Not only are you making an oil that you want to be as safe and nutrient-dense as possible, but you’re applying high heat to a flammable substance. To play it safe, make sure your workspace is very clear and clean.
Wipe down countertops with water or isopropyl alcohol and remove anything that could possibly get in your way. In preparation for the worst possible scenario, you will also want to make sure that you have a fire extinguisher within reach.
Open all windows and use a household fan to make sure the air is well ventilated. This is extremely important for safety while you make your extraction. The primary danger of heating this extraction is an explosion, so you may also want to do this outside if you can. Outdoors, there is less buildup of combustible off gasses that can cause trouble.
You may also want to have plenty of hot pads and some non-latex gloves handy. These will help protect you from any burns from splashback. Some people like to wear a safety odor respiratory mask while working with the oil. Wearing glasses or safety goggles will also help protect your eyes from the vapor.
Step 2: Solvent extraction
Unlike other recipes for cannabis oil, using high-proof alcohol as a solvent eliminates any potential carcinogens. The alcohol will also completely burn off in the cooking process. This leaves you with nothing but pure, extremely concentrated cannabis oil as an end result. Here’s how you extract with your solvent:
- Add your cannabis to your glass bowl
- Pour your alcohol into the bowl, just enough to cover the herb
- Stir the cannabis with your wooden spoon continuously for a couple of minutes. This mixes the cannabinoids with the alcohol
Step 3: Strain and second soak
Next, you’ll need to strain out the plant material from the solvent. Once this plant material is strained out, you’ll run through the whole solvent extraction process a second time to get the most from your cannabis.
- Cover your 2-quart measuring cup or extra container with cheesecloth or a clean nylon stocking. You will be pouring the cannabis over the top to strain the plant materials from the alcohol, so make sure you can easily grab and bundle up your strained material
- Pour your cannabis mixture over your cheesecloth into the second container
- Gather up the cheesecloth or nylon and squeeze out the remaining liquid
The dark green liquid is now a mixture of alcohol and extracted cannabis resin. Now, it’s time for the second soak. The first soak removes the majority of the cannabinoids, the second soak gets the rest.
- Take your strained plant material and empty it back into your glass mixing bowl
- Pour more Everclear over the top until it is fully submerged
- Stir continuously with your wooden spoon for a couple of minutes
- Repeat the straining process and empty your second batch of alcohol into your runoff container
Step 4: Burning off the solvent
- Photo credit
Now that you’ve made a basic alcohol extraction, it’s time to separate the cannabis resin from the solvent. You do this with heat. Remember, safety is key here. Make sure that you have as much air circulation and ventilation as possible to avoid any mishaps. You want all of the fumes to head outside.
If you’re indoors, keep your fan on your cooking medium and direct off gasses toward an open window or door. The last thing you want is an explosion in your kitchen.
There are two ways to do burn off your solvent, either with a rice cooker or a stovetop and double boiler.
Opting for a rice cooker is nice because it is portable, meaning that you can take it outside if you’re concerned about safety.
Before you make oil with a rice cooker, you may want to test to see how hot your cooker gets beforehand. You can do this by adding in some water prior to cooking your oil and bringing it to a boil in the cooker.
Use your thermometer to test the temperature of the water. Touch the thermometer to the bottom surface, so you know exactly how hot it will get.
- Fill the rice cooker 3/4ths full with the canna-alcohol (you can add in more liquid later as the levels drop with cooking)
- Turn your rice cooker on, and LEAVE THE LID OPEN. You can gently drape some cheesecloth over the rice cooker to keep any dust out of the oil. Make sure the cloth is not touching the oil (see video below)
- Use the White Rice setting and heat your liquid on high and allow the solvent to boil down
- Keep an eye on your oil throughout the cooking process
- Remove the rice cooker pot from the machine when the oil becomes thick and dark green. Remember to use your oven mitts
- Stir the liquid and watch the bubbles. When the amount of bubbles rising to the top decreases substantially, you’re ready to remove the oil
- Use your silicone spatula to remove the cannabis oil from the pot.
- Using a toothpick, gently scrape off the cannabis oil onto some parchment paper
Follow the same safety tips as above before beginning to heat your extraction with a double boiler.
- Fill the bottom of your double boiler with water
- Pour canna-alcohol into the top pan
- Turn your burner on high and wait for your top pot to boil
- Once the liquid bubbles, immediately turn off your burner. The boiling water will do the rest
- Let the mixture in the top pan bubble for 15 to 20 minutes. You can turn the burner back on if you stop getting bubbles
- Once the oil is nice and thick, it is complete. You can remove it from the pan and scrape it out onto parchment paper when it cools
Step 5: Fill your syringes
When the oil has cooled, you can suck up your cannabis medicine into your syringe for proper dosing. You can also use a syringe to fill new, empty pill capsules to make your own cannabis pills.
Watch the video below before making the best medical cannabis oil
Cannabis oil is an extremely potent medicine. So potent that patients turn to the extract for relief from everything from Crohn’s to pediatric epilepsy to cancer. Making your own cannabis oil is not hard, but you do have to be mindful of vapor off gas. Without proper ventilation, this flammable vapor can ignite.
Once you have proper airflow, making cannabis oil is a very simple and rewarding way to get high-quality medicine.
Do you have any tips for making the best medical cannabis oil? Share them with us on social media or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!