Our article on how to make cannabis coconut oil has everything you need to get started making cannabis edibles at home. We’ll share our simple recipe, talk about the different types of coconut oil, and go over a few health notes as well. Let’s get started!
What Is Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil?
The name implies most of what you need to know about this common infusion – When steeped in warm oil, cannabis releases its THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. Once strained, the oil is suitable for a wide variety of culinary applications, both for cooking (IE: baking) or cold/raw applications (IE: salad dressings). If your recipe calls for a fat or oil, the odds are good you can replace it with your cannabis coconut oil instead.
Why Use Coconut Oil For Cannabis Infusions?
Though any type of fatty liquid will work, coconut oil has a few special properties that make it an interesting choice for canna-oil infusions.
Harvested from matured coconuts, coconut oil has a significantly high percentage of saturated fats – This gives the oil significant shelf life and also contributes to its unique firmness. Like animal-derived fats, coconut oil has such a high ratio of saturated fat that it remains solid at room temperatures, only melting when exposed to heat (true only for virgin coconut oil; more on this below).
Coconut oil is also a flavor enhancer – Though refined coconut oil will have the coconut flavor mostly (if not completely) removed, virgin coconut oil carries the taste of coconut with it. Of course, this isn’t always ideal, depending on your recipe, but many baked goods (particularly sweets) play very nicely with the earthy, nutty background notes of coconuts.
Virgin, Refined, Hydrogenated or MCT?
Coconut oil comes in a variety of different types, and which one you choose can have a significant impact on how your edibles turn out.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Typically the result of an expelling process, virgin coconut oil is the natural, otherwise unaltered oil of the coconut – Again, expect its mild coconut scent and taste to carry over to your end product.
This oil has a rather low smoke point (only 350°F), meaning it can be good for lower-heat applications like sauteing or in baked goods but is unsuitable for high-heat tasks like basting or deep frying. If kept in a dark, cool location, you can expect virgin coconut oil to have a shelf life of two to three years.
Refined Coconut Oil
After expelling the oil from the coconut meat, it is then sent through a refinement process that can take several steps. Typically the oil is heated for deodorizing purposes and then filtered to remove impurities and strip away bacteria – This gives it a much higher smoke point (near 425°F) and no overt flavor. Expect refined coconut oil to have a shelf life of around six months.
Hydrogenated Coconut Oil
This is coconut oil that has been partially hydrogenated to help increase its solidity and shelf life in warmer environments. Unfortunately, the hydrogenation process also creates trans fats, which as nearly any medical professional, will tell you are terribly unhealthy. Therefore, staying away from hydrogenated oils of any type is usually a smart decision.
MCT Coconut Oil
Part of the fad “keto diet” wave, the “MCT” in “MCT Coconut Oil” stands for “medium-chain triglycerides.” MCTs are saturated fats that contain a shortened chain of carbon atoms, enabling them to be processed more quickly (and thus release energy faster) than fats with a long chain of carbon atoms – Health benefits to this are somewhat outside the scope of our article/website. Still, when combined with a diet that forces the body into ketosis these medium-chain triglycerides can be beneficial.
MCT coconut oil (also referred to as “fractionated coconut oil,” due to the refining process) can be used for cannabis infusions, but MCT coconut oil has a very low smoke point (only 320°F), meaning anything beyond relatively mild heat will make your oil burn (taking your precious THC with it). Therefore, if you are determined to infuse MCT coconut oil, we recommend only using it for cold/raw purposes.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy For Me?
So, please do your own research here, but in our opinion, absolutely not. The claims of coconut oil being healthy are misleading, to put it mildly, and only really stand up in a comparative sense. Is coconut oil healthier than, say, vegetable shortening? Sure, but only in the same way sunbathing for days on end is healthier than literally standing inside Chernobyl.
Coconut oil is loaded with saturated fats – Compare 100 grams of coconut oil (82.5g of saturated fat) to the same amount of lard (39.2g) or olive oil (13.8). Lauric acids, MCTs, and other health benefits aside, the sheer fat content of coconut oil outweighs any potential it has as a “healthy” food.
That doesn’t make it any less tasty, though, and to be quite frank, some days, you want to feel that artery-clogging goodness in your baked goods. Just understand the health risks of coconut oil, and try to keep it to occasional usage as part of a healthy lifestyle, and you’ll be fine.
Now let’s talk infusion. First, we’ll outline a simple, basic cannabis-infused coconut oil recipe – Afterwards, we’ll go through how the technique may differ depending on what type of cannabis material you’re infusing into your oil.
Simple Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil Recipe
Learning how to make cannabis infusions start off with proper decarboxylation of your marijuana. Without being decarbed first, your cannabis will not be activated and ready for making edibles, ultimately wasting your weed.
We talk about this at length in our “Three Best Ways to Decarb Your Weed” article, so if you’re unfamiliar with the term or just need a refresher, head there first before moving on to the next step.
Note: You shouldn’t try to decarb your cannabis coconut oil once it has been infused – After it steeps, it’s steeped, and there’s no going back, so make sure you decarb your weed before infusing. If using concentrates or other forms of processed THC, your concentrate may already be decarbed – check your packaging to make sure.
To begin the infusion, you’ll need the following:
- A double boiler; a heavy Pyrex bowl set on top of a water-filled pot is a perfectly functional substitute. A measuring cup hanging into a pot by the handle is another great option (photo below).
- Cheese cloth & butcher’s twine. This is to make either a small sachet of ground cannabis, or to strain it out after.
- Your cannabis; 1 cup ground cannabis, if using plant material, 4 grams if using kief or 2 grams if using concentrates (see notes below).
- 1 cup coconut oil
1. Fill the bottom of your double boiler with water and set it onto your stove at a low simmer. If using the measuring cup method, place the measuring cup handle over the edge of the pot, so it’s partially submerged in water.
2. Put your coconut oil into the top section of the double boiler or the measuring cup. Then, add your decarbed cannabis (either in a sachet or loose)
3. Steep the decarbed cannabis in your coconut oil for at least four to six hours, at a target temperature of 185F.
Your steeping time will depend on your material used but expect a minimum of four hours for kief and six to eight hours for ground cannabis flower. You don’t have to hit this temperature exactly if you don’t have a thermometer or probe; simmer lightly.
Over time the oil will darken as the cannabinoids and terpenes leech out of the cannabis and into the oil.
4. We recommend you stir up the cannabis every hour or so during the steep, just to increase the penetration of the oil. If using a small cheesecloth sachet, just mix around the sachet in the oil, and maybe press on it and it will squeeze out some oil and then suck in more like a sponge.
5. After your steep, you’ll want to remove any remaining material inside – This is typically done by straining the oil through a cheesecloth (coffee filters will also work but can be messy) or just removing (and squeezing out every last drop from) the sachet – if you went that route.
Now let’s talk about how the process differs depending on your cannabis of choice.
Infusing Coconut Oil with Cannabis Flower
Ground bud/flower is likely the easiest, most immediate substance for making cannabis infusions with. But, again, make sure your flower has been fully decarbed before proceeding; it should feel “crisp” to the touch and crumble easily.
Though you can just add your ground-up bud into the oil directly, we recommend either using or making a small cheesecloth sachet to keep your cannabis in; herb or spice bags can be found online and at culinary supply stores or can be made at home by tying together a parcel of cheesecloth with butcher’s string. Try to ensure your sachet is tightly sealed; otherwise, leakage could force you to strain regardless, making the effort of using the sachet moot.
Again, six to eight hours is our recommended steeping time, with the occasional stir. After steeping, either strain or remove your sachet. At this point, you can squeeze your steeped material through your cheese cloth/filter if you’d like; this will ensure you get as much use as possible out of your oil but may add in unwanted particulates & chemicals into your infusion, such as chlorophyll or flavonoids, giving your end product additional color and flavor you may not want, so just be aware before you squeeze.
Infusing Coconut Oil with Kief
You have two options available when making kief coconut oil: The Lazy Way or The Proper Way.
The Lazy Way works if you’re, well, lazy and don’t care about leaving in the kief. For that, simply dump your kief into the oil, occasionally stir as it steeps for a couple of hours, and remove from the heat. Tada, you’re done. The kief is small enough it won’t be very noticeable if used in applications such as baking, so leaving it in is perfectly fine.
If you want to do it The Proper Way, the methodology is about the same as for steeping cannabis flower: Either place the kief in a sachet or otherwise strain out using cheese cloth or coffee filters. If you plan on using your cannabis coconut oil for candy making, sauces, or things like salad dressings, this extra step is probably worth the time.
Infusing Coconut Oil with THC Concentrates
When using concentrates to make an “infused” cannabis coconut oil, you’re really just making a blend of the two; there’s no “infusion” going on if there’s no extraction. But this is also one of the easiest ways to make a cannabis coconut oil and requires even less effort and time than the above methods – Just heat your oil, stir in your concentrate, and you’re pretty much done. Steeping is not even a requirement.
What is important is making sure your concentrate is decarbed. Yes, we keep harping on this, but it is incredibly important to the process of making edibles. We again recommend checking your concentrate’s packaging to see if it has been decarbed or “activated,” but if that isn’t an option, a good rule of thumb is to think about how your concentrate was meant to be consumed. If using wax, shatter, or any concentrate designed to be vaped/smoked, it likely needs to be decarbed. If using a tincture or concentrate designed to be eaten/absorbed through the skin, the odds are good it’s already been activated.
And though we give a general recommendation of “2 grams concentrate to 1 cup coconut oil” in our method above, this may be different depending on your type of concentrate and its strength. If your cannabis-infused coconut oil feels too weak, adding more concentrate in is easy enough, and playing around with the ratio is the best way to get your desired results. Just remember: It’s always easier to add more in than take some out, so use a light hand when adding concentrates in – You can always add more later.
Calculating the Potency of Your Coconut oil
This should probably read “estimating the potency,” but – yes, it is possible to calculate the potency of your homemade oil, making a few assumptions and using a little math. Don’t worry – we’ll make this is as simple as possible.
That being said, the most important part of estimating the potency is weighing your bud rather than using a volumetric measure like 1 cup.
Let’s say you used one cup of decarbed, ground cannabis as per the recipe above, and it weighed 15 grams.
If you know the THC % of your bud (on the label or the dispensary told you), then calculate the % of THC in that 15 grams by multiplying it by the % and dividing by 100. If you don’t know the THC % of your bud, this is where you have to just estimate it. While cannabis is getting stronger and stronger, using 18% is usually a good estimate.
ex. 15 grams cannabis x 18% THC ÷ 100 = 2.7 grams of THC
Now, multiply that by 1000 to get mg of THC
, ex. 2.7g x 1000 = 2700 mg.
So, whatever volume of oil you used (1 cup for the recipe above) has a total potency of 2700mg THC.
Putting it into practice
So now, let’s say you use 1/2 cup of this oil to make two dozen infused muffins. What’s the potency of each muffin?
Well, your oil’s total (estimated) potency is 2700mg, so half a cup of the oil would contain 1350 mg THC.
Then, you’re splitting that between 24 muffins, so 1350mg ÷ 24 = 56.25mg of THC per muffin. Which is pretty strong, depending on who you are.
Using an estimated potency like this is a great way to not overdo your consumption and adjust your recipes accordingly to find the right dose.
Can You Infuse Cannabis In A Slow Cooker?
Yes, you can make cannabis infusions in a slow cooker, though it can be a bit fussier than the double boiler method. For this, you’ll need the following:
- A slow cooker
- A mason jar
- Aluminum foil
- Coconut oil
- Cannabis product; use the same ratio of oil to cannabis as our above method
Place your empty mason jar inside your slow cooker and begin filling it with water, stopping when it comes roughly halfway up the outside of your jar.
Remove your jar and add in your coconut oil and cannabis before covering tightly with aluminum foil – The aluminum foil is there to help keep condensation from leaking in during the steep.
Place your jar back into your slow cooker and cover with the lid. From here, once every couple of hours, check in on your jar and give it a gentle shake (tongs or an oven mitt are recommended to protect from the heat), also making sure your water level hasn’t dipped too low; if so, add more water.
For this, we recommend a longer steep, upwards of 12+ hours, to get the most out of your cannabis. From here, your canna-infused oil is ready for any recipe you might have.
Now that you’ve made your own cannabis-infused coconut oil, the world is pretty much your oyster – From weed gummies to brownies to even emulsions like a sweet chili coconut mayonnaise, if you can think it? The odds are good there’s a recipe out there just waiting for some canna-oil goodness. Be sure to check out our article on “How to Make Cannabis Edibles” for more ideas and tips – Happy munching!