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Alcohol for making cbd oil

How to Make CBD Oil at Home and Save Money

With such a wide array of CBD products on the market, you might not have considered how easy it is to make your own. But if you’re looking to save money while still enjoying CBD, and you have access to high-CBD cannabis or hemp, you can actually make your own CBD oil pretty simply with equipment you likely have in your home already.

There are two main methods you can use at home – either an oil infusion or an alcohol infusion – and while it takes a little time, the result will be a pure and affordable CBD oil you can use however you like.

Make sure you use CBD-Hemp buds to make CBD oil – and not Hemp Seeds (read more on CBD vs. Hemp oil here).

DIY CBD oil (at a glance):

  • Professional CBD oil is generally made with CO2 extraction, which isn’t feasible at home.
  • Making DIY CBD oil is federally legal, safe and can save you money (not state-legal in ID or NE).
  • First, heat your hemp or cannabis in the oven at 110 °C/ 225 °F for around an hour.
  • Infuse the CBD in strong, drinking alcohol by covering your material in it and stirring for 10 minutes. Repeat the process until the liquid becomes clearer, then evaporate the alcohol away.
  • Infuse directly in oil by mixing the two and gently heating (to around 100 °C/ 212 °F) for a few hours.
  • You can make CBD tinctures by mixing your oil with shea butter, coconut oil and glycerine.

Companies Make CBD Oil by Extracting Cannabinoids from Hemp Plants with CO2 or Solvents

Companies make CBD using one of a few different extraction methods, but all basically involve stripping the CBD (and other cannabinoids) from the plant and then purifying the resulting extract.

The most common approach is supercritical CO2 extraction, which uses extremely cold (−69 °F/−56 °C) CO2, at the point where it becomes “supercritical” (i.e. somewhere between a liquid and a gas).

The CO2 is pushed through the hemp (or traditional cannabis, but hemp is more common) to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes, and then it gets sent to a separator where it returns to gaseous state but leaves the extracted material.

Other approaches are similar in principle, but using solvents such as butane, oils or fats to extract the cannabinoids. The mixture is then processed through winterization and distillation to purify it and minimize any unwanted components.

Making CBD Oil at Home Can Save You Money in the Long-Term

Making your own CBD oil is obviously more labor-intensive than just buying one that’s pre-made, so you might wonder what the benefit of making it yourself is.

Firstly, if you’ll be using CBD oil regularly, making your own will undoubtedly save you money over the long-term. If you buy some of the more complicated equipment (e.g. decarboxylators) it will take a little longer for you to break even, but if you want to maximize your savings you can make CBD oil with more everyday equipment.

If you don’t live near a store where you can buy CBD, it could also be much more convenient to make it yourself, and similarly if the legal situation in your state or country makes it difficult to buy professionally-made products, it may be the only way to get your oil.

Although it’s likely that professional companies using CO2 extraction will produce a purer product, if you make it yourself you can at least attest to the quality and be 100% sure which ingredients were used.

Making Your Own CBD Oil is Legal (Provided Hemp is Legal Where You Are)

The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level, and in the EU there is a similar law with a 0.2% THC limit, and (pitifully) 0.02% in the UK.

If you’re making CBD oil with hemp that falls within these guidelines, it’s very likely that the process will be entirely legal.

If you’re using a high-CBD but also THC-containing strain of cannabis, it’s only legal if you live in a state with legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes.

Really, the crucial thing isn’t actually making the CBD oil; it’s the legality of the starting materials in your country or state.

Making CBD Oil is as Safe as Any Cooking

Making CBD is generally safe, although this depends on the method you use. If you use a basic approach, where you heat the material to decarboxylate it, the process is basically as safe as cooking food in the oven – provided you’re careful when handling a hot pan, everything is fine.

Solvent-based extraction is not safe to do at home, because it requires too much specialized equipment and there could be a risk of explosions, as well as the possibility of dangerous amounts of the solvent making it into the finished oil.

You can do it with strong ethanol (i.e. drinking alcohol), which carries some risks from the fumes and the flammability of the liquid, but these risks are easily mitigated with some common sense and good ventilation.

You Can Make CBD Oil with Everyday Kitchen Equipment

The good news is that you only need very basic equipment to make CBD oil. The requirements can differ a little bit depending on the method, but broadly speaking you can get by with this basic list:

  1. A slow-burning oven or purpose-made carboxylation machine
  2. Baking tray
  3. Grinder
  4. Cheesecloth/coffee filter/something else to finely-strain the material
  5. Double boiler (two fitted saucepans or two stacked together with a space between
  6. Glass bowl/mixing bowl
  7. Thermometer
  8. Container to store finished oil
  9. Carrier oil (e.g. coconut oil or olive oil) / high proof (drinking) alcohol
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Aside from this, everyday equipment like spatulas and wooden spoons may be needed depending on the method you use, and it can help to have a funnel or even a plastic syringe to ensure you get all of the finished material.

It Will Take 3 to 6 Hours to Make CBD Oil (Depending on Your Method)

The length of time it will take to do your extraction depends on the method you use, and whether you spend a little extra time purifying and extracting.

For alcohol-based extraction, the process can be completed in a few hours or even less, but if you’re adding oil to your material, it can take six hours or longer depending on how many times you heat the material.

Broadly, you should leave yourself around four hours if you’re using alcohol extraction and at least six for oil extracting, allowing for unexpected delays or issues cropping up during the process.

Decarboxylation and Infusion Are the Key Stages in Making CBD Oil

There are basically two steps to any home CBD oil process: decarboxylation and infusion.

Decarboxylation means activating the THCA and CBDA to remove the carboxyl group from the chemicals and turn them into THC and CBD, respectively. This is a necessary process because THCA and CBDA aren’t “activated” in this form and so won’t have any of the desired effects.

Once you’ve decarboxylated your material, you infuse it into either alcohol or oil to pull the key components out of the plant matter. For alcohol infusions, chemistry does the work for you (which is why it’s quicker), while for oil infusions you need to add heat and leave it some time for the process to complete.

You Can Activate CBD and THC in the Oven

Regardless of the method you use to make your CBD oil, the first part of the process is always the same: you need to decarboxylate your bud.

How your cannabis will look before and after decarboxylation. Photo by Emily Kyle

There are differing views on the best way to do this, but generally speaking, it’s recommended you set your oven to 110 °C/ 225 °F and bake ground-up bud for around an hour. THC carboxylates a little easier than CBD, so for CBD oil you can actually leave it for an hour and a half if you’re using a high-CBD strain. If you’re using more of a balanced strain, stick to an hour.

You can achieve the same basic effect with higher temperatures for lower periods of time, but it’s important to stay below the boiling points of CBD and THC (180 °C/ 356 °F and 157 °C/ 315 °F, respectively).

It’s also better to keep a low temperature for longer to keep as many of the terpenes (the chemicals that give the characteristic smell of cannabis) as possible.

In short, set your oven to this temperature, grind up your bud (not too finely), spread it out on a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray and let it cook for the appropriate amount of time. When it’s done, your flower will be slightly brown and dried out.

Method #1: Infuse the Material in Alcohol, Strain and Evaporate

If you’re using alcohol for the infusion stage, the process is fairly simple and should take around 20 minutes. Ensure you’re either outdoors or have good ventilation, because the fumes from the alcohol pose the main risk in this whole process.

  1. Place the decarboxylated material into a mixing bowl and add enough strong alcohol (something like Everclear is perfect) to completely cover the bud.
  2. You can stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to speed the process along, but in any case you should leave it for five to ten minutes.
  3. When it’s completed, strain the mixture through cheesecloth, a coffee filter or any other form of fine sieve and let the liquid fall into a bowl.
  4. You’ll notice a green color to the alcohol, which basically tells you that you have some cannabinoids and terpenes in your liquid.
  5. Repeat the process a few more times with the plant material, until the alcohol becomes much clearer at the end of the process.
  6. Now all you have to do is evaporate the alcohol from your mixture.
  7. Set up your double boiler (if you don’t have stackable pans, you can use a normal pan with a stainless steel bowl that fits in the top but doesn’t contact the bottom of the pan) and put the alcohol mixture into the top section with water in the bottom.
  8. Gently heat the mixture so the alcohol evaporates but without letting it get too hot. Just keep the burner on low and switch it off occasionally if needed – high-proof alcohol is volatile so it doesn’t need much to work.
  9. Once it’s finished, you should be left with a thick, gloopy oil that you can easily draw up into a plastic syringe or place into another container.

You should note that this process isn’t the best in terms of getting absolutely pure cannabinoids, but it’s a great approach for home extractions because it’s relatively straightforward.

Method #2: Infusing Your Material in Oil

Oil infusions are simpler in a sense but it takes longer to get a good result.

  1. Set up your double-boiler (or a metal bowl in the top of a regular pan) and add a mixture of oil and your decarboxylated flower to the top section.
  2. If you’re using coconut oil, you’ll need to melt it first so you can mix the flower in properly.
  3. Add water to the bottom of the pan and bring it to a simmer.
  4. It’s best to try to keep the temperature of the mixture in the top around 100 °C/ 212 °F, although it’s fine provided it doesn’t reach 150 °C/ 302 °F, which would evaporate the terpenes.
  5. Check it regularly with a thermometer and adjust the heat as needed.
  6. Leave it on the double boiler for around two to three hours – when it’s done the oil should be brown-green.
  7. You can leave it to cool for a few hours then repeat the process if you want to get the most out of the material, but whenever you’re done, strain it through cheesecloth into a container and your oil is ready.
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Method #3: Cold-Pressed CBD Oil

Cold-pressed CBD oil is made through a simple process that doesn’t involve adding any chemicals or really anything more complicated than squeezing juice out of fruit. This makes it a possible method for home extraction, although it’s important to note that the result will be a little different than when other methods are used. This is because it keeps all of the phytonutrients, fats and oils from the plant.

The benefit is the simplicity of the process: all you need is a cold press/juicer and some hemp (buds have the most CBD but you can also add stems and seeds).

  1. Simply put the hemp into the cold press and apply some pressure (with minimal heat).
  2. This will grind the material into a paste, which you can then mix to help the oils distribute through the mixture.
  3. This in itself will be rich in CBD, but you can apply pressure to the paste again to draw the oil out.

Measuring CBD Tinctures is a Trial and Error Process

Unfortunately, if you use hemp or an ordinary cannabis plant to make your extract at home, it’s incredibly difficult if not impossible to know how strong your resulting oil will be. Simply, the efficiency of the process can vary substantially and it’s unlikely you’ll know the cannabinoid content of the material you started with anyway.

The only way you could really know is if you made the CBD oil by mixing a specific amount of pre-extracted CBD isolate into your carrier oil.

So the best advice in most cases is to start with a small amount of your oil and increase gradually once you get a feel for the strength.

Creating Self-Care Products at Home

Although many of the self-care products made with CBD are a little difficult to put together at home (for example, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make yourself a bath bomb), you can make a CBD lotion pretty easily with the equipment you used to make your oil. Set up your double boiler, adding an inch or two of water to the bottom and putting it on a low to medium heat, then place half a cup each of shea butter and coconut oil to the top. Stir the two together as they warm up, aiming to remove any lumps and prevent them from burning.

When they’re heated, take the oils off the heat and transfer them to a heat-safe bowl or (if you have one) a glass blender, setting aside for around an hour for them to cool. Afterwards, add a third of a cup of aloe vera gel, 2 tbsp of vegetable glycerine and a couple of teaspoons of CBD oil (more if you like), along with an essential oil for fragrance if you like. Blend or hand-mix them together and your lotion is ready.

Conclusion

Making your own CBD oil at home is a much simpler process than you might have expected, and once you’ve gone through the process a couple of times, guides like this won’t even be needed. It’s worth trying different approaches if the first one you attempt doesn’t go well, but be sure to stick to a relatively simple method, because the methods professional companies use are expensive to do right. Once you have your oil, you can enjoy it in the way you would with any CBD, safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what’s in it.

Cannabis tinctures 101: How to make, consume, and dose them

Cannabis tinctures are alcohol-based cannabis extracts—essentially, cannabis-infused alcohol. In fact, tinctures were the main form of cannabis medicine until the United States enacted cannabis prohibition. They’re a great entry point for both recreational and medical consumers looking to ease into smokeless consumption methods.

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How to make cannabis tinctures

If you don’t have a full kitchen or just prefer simple, mess-free preparation techniques, cannabis tinctures are a great DIY project. You can make a tincture with a jar, alcohol, strainer, and cannabis. That’s all you need!

Using alcohol vs. glycerin for tinctures

When it comes to making tinctures, high-proof, food-grade alcohol is going to be your best friend. If you wish to avoid using alcohol, glycerin, a plant-based oil, is an acceptable replacement. However, glycerin is not as efficient at bonding to cannabis compounds and will produce a less potent tincture.

Some people try to make a more potent glycerin tincture by first using alcohol, carefully evaporating the (very flammable) alcohol off of the tincture, and then introducing glycerin afterward. You get the potency of the alcohol with the glycerin body. Considering the dangers associated with evaporating alcohol with a heat source, we at Leafly do not recommend this method.

Choosing the right type of alcohol for tinctures

The goal is to find a high-proof alcohol that is safe for consumption. The higher the alcohol content, the better it will dissolve cannabis resin. Everclear is my alcohol of choice when making a tincture, as it is both safe to consume and highly potent.

Products like isopropyl alcohol are not intended to be consumed and should never be used when making a tincture—save that for cleaning your pipes!

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Making the tincture

To keep it simple, I like to use this ratio when making a tincture: For every ounce of cannabis flower, use one 750 mL bottle of alcohol (for an eighth of weed, that’s about 3 fluid oz).

This produces a mild effect, great for microdosing. If you want a more potent tincture, reduce the amount of alcohol by a third until you hit your desired potency.

  • Step 1: Decarboxylate your cannabis flower or concentrate (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency).
  • Step 2: Mix your flower or concentrate in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear).
  • Step 3: Close the jar and let it sit for a few weeks, shaking it once a day.
  • Step 4: After a few weeks, strain it through a coffee filter.

And if you don’t feel like waiting several weeks, you can even get away with shaking it for 3 minutes, straining, and storing.

How to dose and consume cannabis tinctures

It’s important to be consistent when making tinctures. If you make two batches at different strengths, a dose from each won’t be the same. Write down how much alcohol and cannabis you use for each batch so it can be replicated again if it was to your liking.

Once you’ve made the tincture, dosages are easy to self-titrate, or measure. Start with 1 mL of your finished tincture and put it under your tongue. If you’re happy with the effects, you’re done.

Otherwise, ramp up your dosage slowly to avoid getting uncomfortably high—try 2 mL the next day, and so on, until you find the dose you’re happy with.

According to The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook, cannabis tinctures will last for many years when stored in a cool, dark place. Their long shelf life means you can make large quantities of them in one sitting.

Compared to the traditional cannabis-infused brownie, tinctures are a low calorie alternative. If you make a tincture with 190 proof alcohol, you’re looking at about 7 calories per mL.

Cannabis tinctures can be incorporated into all sorts of meals and drinks:

  • Juices
  • Ice creams and sherbets
  • Soups
  • Gelatin
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Salad dressing

I like to add some cannabis oil to my homemade chicken tikka masala for a delicious infused dinner.

Benefits of using cannabis tinctures

Tinctures are especially great for first-time cannabis consumers. Here are some reasons why:

  • They’re discrete. Has there ever been a moment in your life when you said to yourself, “I really wish I smelled more like weed smoke right now?” Me neither. Consuming a tincture allows you to avoid the smell while enjoying all the benefits of cannabis. It is also super easy to conceal in a small jar in your bag.
  • Fast onset of effects. Effects from a cannabis tincture set in rather quickly. Whereas cannabis edibles can take an hour or more to kick in, tinctures can be felt in as little as 15 minutes. This allows you to quickly understand how the cannabis is affecting you before you move onto other activities.
  • Easy to dose. Tinctures are the perfect product for finding your preferred dose! You can measure your dose with an eyedropper and increase, decrease, or let it ride.

Cannabis tincture FAQs

How do I take my tincture?

Cannabis tinctures are usually taken by putting a few drops under your tongue (sublingually). When taken this way, the arterial blood supply under your tongue rapidly absorbs the THC. That being said, you can always swallow the tincture in a drink or food, but it will be absorbed slower by your liver.

Do tinctures burn under your tongue?

Some people have reported experiencing a burning sensation under their tongue after a few drops of tincture—the high-proof alcohol used to make a tincture is responsible for this. If the tincture burns under your tongue and you are looking for a different option, you can get a glycerin-based tincture or incorporate your tincture into a beverage.

How long does a cannabis tincture take to kick in?

When dosing a tincture sublingually, expect to feel the effects in 15-45 minutes and reach your peak high at about 90 minutes. If you simply drink the dose, expect a slower onset that more closely resembles traditional edibles.

How long will I feel the effects of a cannabis tincture?

Expect to be high longer than when you smoke or vaporize, but shorter than when you eat a butter or oil-based edible.

Cannabis tincture guide summary

Tinctures are alcohol based cannabis extracts. They’re a great entry point for both medical and recreational consumers looking for a smokeless method of consumption. Tinctures are easy to measure for dosing. Start with one eye dropper full under your tongue. When taken under the tongue, also called sublingually, effects should come on within the hour.

If you drink your tincture or add it to food, effects can take up to two hours to come on – more like edibles. If you’re happy with the effects, you’re done. If you’d like more, take it one eyedropper at a time. Always remember because it could take up to two hours to feel effects, the golden rule when ingesting cannabis is to start small and be patient. That way, you don’t end up uncomfortably high.

However you ingest a tincture, you can expect to feel the effects for longer than you smoked or vaporized cannabis. Tinctures will last for many years when stored in a cool, dark location. The long shelf life means you can make big batches of your own and have a convenient and accurate way to consume cannabis when you want to.

This post was originally published on June 16, 2016. It was most recently updated on March 4, 2020.