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Cannabis Tinctures 101: What are They, How to Make Them, and How to Use Them

Are you interested in medicating with edibles but don't know where to begin? Infusion is often the most challenging part of cooking with cannabis and the reason why many people turn to their vaporizer in defeat. I'm here to tell you that you can do this! Not only is it doable, but it's worth it.

If you haven't yet discovered the wonder that is cannabis-infused eating, I'm excited for you because you're in for an adventure. The experience from start to finish is significantly different from the other common inhalation methods:

Effects are generally longer, more physical, and the onset is gradual. This combination makes for an easy, single-dose, all-day application.

Metabolic effects are especially different since the cannabis directly interacts with your digestive system.

Those who experience muted psychoactive effects may also find an increase in daily functionality in comparison to other medication delivery methods.

Cannabis-infused oil is probably the most versatile medium and a great place to start, since it can be used for baking desserts, sauteeing veggies, frying up your morning eggs, or in your salad dressing. If you're still on the fence, let me outline the roadblocks so you can decide for yourself whether or not you're ready to make the leap.

Time. The entire process takes roughly eight hours, which can be supplemented with cooking hardware (like a slow cooker, for example) to reduce the hands-on time. If you're in a bind, however, you probably won't have time to whip this up.

Money. Although dependent upon desired potency, a fair amount of cannabis is needed regardless, which means sad bank accounts for some of us.

With that said, both time and money must be spent to go pick up cannabis-infused oil from the nearest medical cannabis shop (if that's even a viable option). In addition, as is the case with cooking anything at home, you have complete control over its preparation. Does peanut oil hold a special place in your heart? Make cannabis-infused peanut oil!

Besides, you're sidestepping pitfalls by not purchasing pre-made edibles that are often loaded with sugar and other processed ingredients and lack dosage standardization, let alone accurate nutritional labeling. But I digress.

Recipe for Cannabis Cooking Oil

Cannabis Product:

Cannabis (flower, leaf, trim, etc.)


Cooking oil

Note: Oils with the highest fat content will be most effective in activating the THC. Coconut and olive oil are probably the most common choices; coconut oil has a milder taste and can therefore be used for more dishes, whereas olive oil is the staple cooking oil for most kitchens. However, both have trouble with high heat, in which case canola oil may make the most sense.



Grinder (blender, coffee grinder, food processor, etc.)

Double-boiler, slow cooker, saucepan, etc.


Grind the cannabis. You can include the entire plant, just the flower, a little bit of both -- this is all a matter of preference. Many experienced cannabis edible chefs like to use the entire plant, in part for conservation but also for the health benefits the more fibrous parts of the plants have been linked to. The more inactive parts of the plant that are included, the stronger the cannabis flavor for the same level of potency. Just keep in mind that anything small enough to fit through the strainer will end up in your finished product, so you'll probably want to remove any hard stems at the bare minimum.

Measure out the oil and cannabis. When it comes to proportion of oil to cannabis, there is no standard, and practice is your best bet. Just like your consumption of bud changes depending upon the flower's potency, the same applies when preparing edibles. To give you a general framework, a 2:1 oil to cannabis ratio (by volume) is a good place to start.

Dissolve the cannabis in the oil. To achieve this, you'll need to heat the two together on low for hours to allow for decarboxylation (activation of THC) without scorching (which destroys the active ingredients). This can be done a variety of ways: in a crockpot on low for up to three days (minimum of 6 hours) stirring occasionally, in a double-boiler on low for at least 6 hours (8 is better) stirring occasionally, or in a simple saucepan on low for at least three hours, stirring frequently (a saucepan is most susceptible to scorching). In all cases, a small amount of water can be added to the mixture to help avoid burning.

Strain and store the oil. All remaining plant material can be discarded or used in other dishes if you have the wherewithal. The oil's shelf life is at least two months, and can be extended with refrigeration.

Note: Be cautious when using the oil to prepare dishes that require heating. Do not microwave and choose low heat whenever possible.

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