The Do’s and Don’ts of making CBD Edibles
Let me just preface this post by saying that I am biased when it comes to CBD edibles. I think they may be my favorite way of ingesting CBD for a number of reasons— edibles are the most accessible CBD ingestion method, their effects last longer than any other method, and when done right they taste absolutely amazing.
That said, as someone who’s been making and perfecting their own CBD edible recipes for some time, I wanted to share some do’s and don’ts that I’ve learned over time. Hopefully they can help you make effective (and tasty) CBD edibles.
What Are CBD Edibles?
CBD edibles are treats, gums, or sugars that are infused with CBD extract. CBD edibles can be formulated in a number of ways depending on what experience the manufacturer is trying to offer. For example, Sunset Lake sells coffee beans infused with CBD and we also sell CBD-infused fudge that’s great just before bed.
CBD edibles can also be made with or without the trace amounts of THC present in whole-plant extract.
Now, for the tips!
Don’t Fly Blind
So you have some hemp flower or some shake and you want to make CBD edibles? How much should you use?
Because ingested CBD is metabolized differently than when smoked or topically applied, it’s important to be as precise as possible. Unless you’re a seasoned CBD edible user and have perfected your own batches, don’t fly blind.
A word of caution: as mentioned, CBD edibles do take longer to kick in. They also don’t stop kicking in for quite some time. So unless you want to end up taking a three-hour nap, it’s important to heed this and the next tip!
Do Use a Dosing Calculator for Your CBD Edibles
This process takes a bit of math and plugging in numbers. You’ll need the certificate of analysis that came with your CBD for the potency and a small kitchen scale.
Use the certificate of analysis’s potency numbers with this free dosage calculator . After that, choosing the amount of flower to determine the dosage of your CBD edibles is entirely up to you.
We, at Sunset Lake CBD, always recommend starting with a 25mg dose of CBD. That includes CBD edibles. Play around with the calculator until you find the sweet spot.
Do Decarboxylate Your Hemp
Decarboxylation, or decarb for short, is the process in which CBDa (cannabidiolic acid) loses its carboxyl acid group through heat and becomes CBD. This process is perhaps the most important when making CBD edibles. Without ‘decarbed’ CBD, our edibles won’t have any effect.
Chart Source: https://www.fortunahemp.com/hemp-decarboxylation-what-it-is-why-its-important
How to decarb your flower for CBD edibles- a quick and dirty guide:
- Preheat your oven to 240 degrees F
- In a clean roasting pan, spread out hemp buds/trim evenly and in a single layer
- Cover the pan with tinfoil (not necessary, but helps cut down on smell and keeps the good terpenes in)
- Bake for one hour
- Warning: this part is quite pungent. Turn on your overhead exhaust— especially if you live in a shared space.
Don’t Throw Hemp Directly into Your CBD edibles
Warning: definitely don’t do this unless you want to end up with a less-than-stellar-tasting finished product.
My rookie mistake, I’m not ashamed to admit. One might think that you can treat your hemp flower like any other ingredient during the cooking process. “A little hemp shake in some brownies… what could go wrong?“
As we’ll learn, the secret to good CBD edibles is the infusion of the cannabinoids into a fat, like unsalted butter or raw coconut oil.
Do Use High-Quality Fats for CBD Edibles Infusion
Better ingredients lead to better dishes, right? The same is true for CBD edibles. Using higher-quality fats like coconut oil or butter from grass-fed cows is the way to go.
Not only will it lead to tastier products, but they will also latch on to the CBD at a better rate than regular old olive oil. This better latching rate will make your CBD edibles stronger.
- Butter – 93% infusion rate
- Avocado – 92%
- MCT (Medium-Chain Triglyceride) – 91%
- Coconut – 82%
Some of the above oils taste better than others in certain dishes. Plan accordingly!
Don’t Burn the CBD
I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve done this before either. After a textbook infusion, I tried to use my CBD butter in a recipe that called for a 400-degree oven. What a tragic result.
At temperatures this high, CBD and other cannabinoids can boil off and vaporize leaving your CBD edibles ineffective. You’ll want to stick with recipes that call for 350 degrees or lower and protect the integrity of your CBD.
Do Share Your CBD Edibles
Not much of a tip. But definitely do this!
Time to make your own CBD edibles
While you’re here, check out Sunset Lake’s selection of small buds. At a fraction of the price of our premium jarred flower, these buds are perfect for bakers and chefs alike who are thinking about making their own CBD edibles.
How to make cannabutter
Cannabis-infused butter, or cannabutter, is one of the simplest and most common ways to make edibles. Butter is an ideal medium for cannabis infusion because it’s delicious, versatile to use, and THC needs to bind to fat molecules, which are abundant in butter (as well as oils such as coconut, olive, and vegetable oil).
The infusion process takes a few hours, but it’s easy to do and this recipe will show you how to do it.
As with all edibles, start low and go slow: After making food with cannabutter, try a little bit first, wait 45-60 minutes for effects to kick in, and have more only if you want stronger effects.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to edibles
How is cannabutter used to make edibles?
After you infuse butter with cannabis, you can use that butter to make any baked goods, or to simply spread on some toast or other food. People commonly use cannabutter to make weed brownies, cookies, and cakes.
You can use all cannabutter in a recipe, half cannabutter and half regular butter, or some other ratio of regular to cannabutter for milder effects.
Cannabis must first be decarboxylated to properly infuse it with butter. This process converts THCA in the plant into THC, activating the plant’s psychoactive potential in your edibles.
Heat is need for decarboxylation. When you put a flame to a bowl or joint, that heat decarboxylates the plant material, turning THCA into THC, which will then get you stoned. For cannabutter, decarboxylation is done by heating cannabis at a low temperature in an oven before adding it to the butter.
Note that homemade edibles are difficult to accurately dose. This guide will give you some tips for dosing, but all DIY cannabis cooks should be aware that it’s difficult to guarantee the potency or homogeneity of a batch of edibles.
How to make cannabutter
Making cannabutter is cheap, easy, and only requires a few items (plus some time and patience). Keep in mind that butter burns easily, so keep a close eye on your cannabutter as it cooks.
A note on decarboxylation
Before making cannabutter, you need to decarboxylate, or “decarb,” the cannabis flower. Skipping this step will result in butter that has little to no cannabis effects.
As mentioned above, decarboxylation converts THCA into THC using heat, which will allow the butter to have THC and deliver euphoric effects.
Some recipes call for putting cannabis directly in hot butter, but decarbing before will make your cannabutter more effective, and the less time spent soaking buds, the better your infused butter will taste. For this reason, we recommend decarbing in an oven first.
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Saucepan, stock pot, d ouble-boiler, or slow cooker
- Mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Container for cannabutter
- Cannabis grinder (optional)
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup ground cannabis (7-10 grams), decarboxylated
When making cannabutter, we recommend a 1:1 ratio of cannabis to butter. If you want milder effects, use less cannabis.
Basic cannabutter recipe
- Decarb the cannabis. Preheat the oven to 245ºF. Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper and place the loosely broken up cannabis on it. Heat in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Gently mix the buds every 10-15 minutes to expose all sides of the buds. (Older, drier cannabis may require less time.) Tip: You can also set your oven to 300ºF and heat for 10-15 minutes, although the low-and-slow approach is recommended to better preserve cannabinoids and terpenes.
- Grind or break up the cannabis. Grinders break weed down to the same consistency and will save you time, but you can just as easily break up the weed with your hands. Keep in mind that anything small enough to fit through the mesh strainer or cheesecloth will end up in your finished product, so be careful not to grind the weed into a fine powder.
- Melt the butter. On low heat, melt 1 cup of butter in a saucepan, stock pot, d ouble-boiler, or slow cooker . Add 1 cup of water, which will help regulate temperature and prevent the butter from scorching.
- Add the cannabis. After the butter is fully melted, add in the decarbed cannabis.
- Simmer. Simmer on low heat, between 160-200ºF; don’t exceed 200ºF or you may burn out the cannabinoids. Simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture should never come to a full boil.
- Strain the mixture. Place a mesh strainer or cheesecloth over a jar and pour the butter/cannabis mixture through it. Discard the plant material. Tip: Don’t squeeze out every bit of butter—this will add chlorophyll to your cannabutter, giving it a bad plant taste.
- Refrigerate. Place the jar of butter in a fridge, and let it solidify before using, ideally overnight, or a few hours at least. If excess water forms at the bottom of the jar, remove the solid butter with a knife and drain out the water.
Why calculating edible dosage is difficult
Many variables are at play when infusing butter with weed, and there’s no exact science or formula to it. Cannabutter can be difficult to dose because its potency depends on a few factors:
- Potency of cannabis used
- How long you heat it when infusing
- Temperature while infusing
These variables are hard to measure and don’t necessarily have easy correlations: Cannabis with 23% THC isn’t necessarily 5% stronger than cannabis with 17% THC; heating cannabutter for two hours instead of one doesn’t necessarily make it twice as strong; and heating it at 180ºF instead of 170ºF won’t necessarily make it stronger.
At the end of the day, its hard to know exactly how potent your homemade edibles are without trying a small amount. To test their potency, try spreading ¼ or ½ teaspoon on a snack and see how that dose affects you after an hour. Then decrease or increase the dose accordingly.
You can then use this personalized dose as a baseline for recipes. If making a large batch of edibles, multiply your personalized dose by the number of treats—for a pan of brownies, multiply your personalized dose by 9, 16, or however many brownies you’ll be making, so each one equals one dose.
You can always use regular butter in addition to cannabutter to fill out a recipe, or if you want milder effects.
Bailey Rahn, Anna Wilcox, Chef Torrin (aka The Dank Chef), and Pat Goggins contributed to this article.