The popularity of cannabis-infused edibles has been on a steady rise in the past few years, and their versatility gives consumers options to enjoy weed in more ways than one.
Cannabutter, or weed butter, is one of the most essential cannabis edibles because it has a universal appeal and it can be used in an array of different cannabis edible recipes, like the classic brownies or even with just plain toast.
Simply put, weed butter is butter infused with marijuana. During the cooking process, the phytochemicals (cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) are extracted from the plant material and incorporated into the butterfat. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble, so this process increases their bioavailability and allows them to be better absorbed by the body without losing the power of their effects.
Fats are a great choice for weed infusions. For example, besides butter, there are also coconut oil and olive oil infusions with weed, as well as ghee, also known as clarified butter, but with a more liquid consistency than traditional butter.
Cannabis edibles made with weed butter are often a very friendly option for those who are sensitive to smoking or want to avoid lung irritation.
You can always buy weed butter if they sell it in your local dispensary, but homemade cannabutter gives you a more hands-on experience, which means more control of the ingredients because you’ll be using your own cannabis, and the possibility to adjust it to your own preferences.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics for making your own cannabutter and discuss some commonly made mistakes.
The Basic Cannabutter Recipe
Making cannabis butter may sound daunting, but it’s nowhere near being an arduous process. On the contrary, it’s quite simple. The catch is that you’ll need extra time and patience, but we promise it’ll pay off.
For this cannabutter recipe, you can use cannabis flowers, sugar leaves, and other trims from your own marijuana plant. Fan leaves are also ok, though, their THC and CBD content is much lower than other parts of the plant. However, that’s not to say that they can’t be used.
- ½ ounce high-quality cannabis (14 gr.)
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter (approx. 8 ounces)
- 2 cups water
Part 1: Cannabutter Decarboxylation
Before you begin the actual process of infusing the butter, you’ll need to decarboxylate (or decarb) the weed in the oven. This is the most important part of the process as it allows for the activation of the main compounds, cannabinoids THC and CBD.
For better clarification, raw marijuana needs to be exposed to a high temperature in order for the tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) to convert to their active forms THC and CBD, which give cannabis its characteristic properties.
The best way to do this is to use your oven, as you’ll have more control of the temperature. We don’t recommend microwaving weed for this step as it may damage the plant materials.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Preheat oven at 220-240 °F;
- Grind the cannabis with a hand grinder. You can also use your hands or a food processor, but be careful not to over-grind;
- Spread cannabis evenly on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, to prevent sticking;
- Bake it for 30-40 min, or until the weed changes color from bright green to a darker brownish-green and make sure to check on it, stirring often, every 5 to 10 min to allow even decarb. If you’re using a drier cannabis plant you can shorten the baking time.
Part 2: Making the Cannabutter on the Stovetop
The following process is fairly straightforward, you’ll just need to pay attention to keeping the temperature level and be careful not to burn it.
- Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan on medium heat;
- Once it starts boiling, turn down the heat to low, add one stick of butter and wait for it to melt, then add the other;
- Next, add the decarboxylated cannabis to the boiling water with butter and gently stir;
- Once everything is combined, put a lid on the saucepan and let the mixture simmer for 3-4 hours. Make sure to stir frequently, every 20 min or so. The infusion is done when it’s thick and looks glossy;
- When it’s done, take 2 cheesecloths or a fine strainer and put them over a glass bowl, then slowly pour the infusion over and give it enough time to strain – it usually takes about 10 min. If you’re using a cheesecloth, be careful not to press too much as you will lose larger butter volume;
- Let it sit at room temperature until it cools down, then place it in the refrigerator overnight. The cold temperature will help the butter to separate from the water, remaining at the top of the container.
- Lastly, gently scrape the marijuana butter and place it in a separate container, and refrigerate for up to one week. If you don’t plan on using it immediately, you can also store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Common Mistakes When Making Cannabutter
As you can tell, making marijuana butter isn’t that complicated, but it does require some patience, especially if you’re a rookie. Essentially, it’s going to be trial and error before you make your perfect batch of cannabutter, but we’ll give you some common mistakes to avoid to save you time.
1. Skipping the Decarb Process
Skipping decarboxylation is one of the most common mistakes when making weed butter. This is usually either due to impatience or being uninformed about the importance of decarbing the weed.
As we mentioned earlier, the weed needs to be decarbed to let the cannabinoids bind to the lipids in the butter and become activated, so if you’re using raw cannabis you’ll end up with a less-than-appetizing weed butter and no active THC. You shouldn’t skip this step if you want your efforts to count.
2. Not Adding Water to the Infusion
It may sound like it’s unnecessary to add water when making cannabutter, but this isn’t true. On the contrary, adding water is very important because it regulates the water temperature and prevents overheating, and with this, it helps the butter simmer smoothly without burning. It also helps to wash out the strong herbal flavor.
So, don’t be shy with adding water – a ratio of about 50:50 water to butter is a good way to go, and remember to keep adding more if it evaporates to maintain the consistency.
3. Heating to the Wrong Temperature
Weed butter is best slow-cooked on low heat or medium heat to avoid burning the delicate plant material and allow uninterrupted infusion. Avoid high heat at all costs and don’t let it boil. We recommend maintaining the temperature between 160-180ºF for the best results.
But, if you notice that your cannabutter starts boiling, remove it from heat right away and let it cool for a while. Don’t worry, it won’t be ruined, just turn down the heat before you put it back, and keep stirring diligently.
4. Using Too Much Cannabis
This is also a common mistake, especially if you don’t have any experience with edibles. In this case, it’s always better to overestimate how much weed you need than underestimate and add too much. You should be very mindful of the dosage. You don’t want cannabutter that’s too potent, to the point where you need only a very small amount to get you very high as it can cause serious side effects.
With cannabis edibles, the high hits differently than smoking, as edibles typically take more time to kick in and the effects last longer. For comparison, edibles take approximately 30-90 minutes to kick in, peaking between 2-4 hours, while smoking takes less than half an hour to feel it, and in 2-3 hours the effects subside. (Barrus et al, 2016) Please note that these parameters may change depending on the dosage and the tolerance of the individual.
In this case, the less is more mentality applies. Start with a more conservative dose, try it, and then increase if you need to. The more often you make it, the more you’ll get the feel of how much you can tolerate and how much you need to get pleasant effects. Once you get a feeling for it, you’ll know what to do next time.
5. Over-Grinding the Weed
There is misinformation that the finer you grind the weed the more THC will be extracted, but this isn’t the case. Grinding it too fine will result in an unpleasant, grassy flavor, and will make it more challenging for straining, as smaller pieces of plant material may seep through the strainer.
To avoid over-grinding, be mindful of how you use your grinder and make sure you grind it coarsely. This is the best way to allow the cannabinoids to bind to the butterfat without affecting the flavor or the straining process.
Cannabutter is a cannabis-infused butter that can be used to make a variety of different marijuana edibles.
You can easily make weed butter with sugar leaves, buds, or other trims by using the ingredients and tools you have in your own home.
One of the most important things to remember is to pay extra attention to the dosage, as the effects of cannabis edibles are delayed and longer-lasting, so it’s a good idea to start with a smaller dose and then build up if necessary.
Barrus DG, Capogrossi KL, Cates SC, et al. Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles. Methods Rep RTI Press. 2016;2016:10.3768/rtipress.2016.op.0035.1611. doi:10.3768/rtipress.2016.op.0035.1611