A Quick Guide to Cannabis Infusions
Cannabis infusions are a popular, yet slightly confusing, way to produce edibles. After all, how do you know the end potency of your concoction? Here's a quick guide to making your own infusions, and a prediction of how strong they will end up being.
A popular way to cook with cannabis is via infusion. Infusing decarboxylated cannabis with something like butter or oil makes the possibilities of what you can make almost endless, as most recipes either contain some sort of fat or can have it added without too much consequence.
You can also be quite confident that you will get a pretty even spread of the infusion throughout your meal. Most importantly, though, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds easily to fat, so it is a no-brainier to infuse it with butter or cooking oil for optimum potency.
When creating an infusion, it is important to roughly calibrate the strength. If you’ve experienced what it’s like to consume too much cannabis, you’ll know it’s not a pleasant experience and can lead to a range of side effects including anxiety, nausea, dizziness, and, in some cases, hallucinations.
This risk is heightened in the case of edibles because the active ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream through the digestive system, which causes the effects of the cannabis to be felt more strongly and for a longer length of time than they would be if the cannabis had been smoked.
Read also: Decarboxylation: Activating THC in Cannabis
Another issue with edibles is that after consumption, the effects of the cannabis are not felt for around 20-30 minutes. People will often eat more to make the effects more immediate, like they are when smoking. However, this, as you could guess, doesn’t speed up your digestive system. It simply sets you up for a much larger dose than you are normally used to.
A good place to start is to make an infusion with 10 milligrams (mg) of THC per teaspoon. Of course, it’s easier to achieve this when you know the THC percentage of your cannabis. Below is a table to give you a general idea of how much cannabis to use depending on your THC strength.
3.5 g (0.12 oz)
4.5 g (0.16 oz)
5.5 g (0.19 oz)
7 g (0.25 oz)
10.5 g (0.37 oz)
If you do not know the strength of your cannabis, follow the above infusion guide with measurements as stated. Then, before cooking, try half a teaspoon to check the potency. If you can handle a full teaspoon, then that’s where you need to be. If you need it weaker, then just add more fat to reduce the strength.
If you find that it’s not strong enough, there’s not much you can do at the infusion stage. Instead, simply increase the amount of the cannabis butter or oil you use in your recipes. Just be sure to note down all your dosages along the way so that you can adjust your next infusion to the perfect strength if needed.
Read also: Watch What You Eat: Edibles Options and Dosage
It’s important to remember that during the decarboxylation and infusion process that some THC is lost. If infusions are made carefully and correctly, then this loss should not be more than 20 per cent. (This has been factored in to the calculations in the measurements table above, however, so you that you will still be producing 10 mg THC per teaspoon even after this loss has occurred.)
Heat is the main reason for loss of THC during cooking. So, to maintain the highest levels of potency, you should keep temperatures as low as possible and use an oven thermometer to ensure that your temperatures are, in fact, correct despite what your oven dial may say.
For that reason, I would advise against cooking anything that has been infused in the oven above a temperature of 340˚F. You should also not microwave anything, cook at high heat on the stovetop, or bring your infused butter or oil to a boil. As such, recipe cooking times may need to be extended, but be patient. All good things come to those that wait.
Ingredients and Tools
- 16 oz unsalted butter (organic if possible)
- 7 g decarboxylated cannabis, chopped or blended till very fine.
- Mesh strainer
- Glass bowl
- 16-oz airtight container
- Heat your unsalted butter until melted and then add your decarboxylated cannabis, giving it a good stir.
- Cook for three hours on a low heat. Give the mixture a stir every 15-20 minutes.
- Layer the fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and pour the finished cannabutter mixture through it into your glass bowl.
- Press the mix in the cheesecloth with the back of your spatula to squeeze out as much of the infusion as possible into the bowl.
- Let the butter infusion cool down, but not to the point where it begins to solidify. Pour it into your airtight container. Close the container and store in your fridge, where it will keep for up to three months. Please note that when cooking with the infusion, you will need to melt the butter once again before adding to your recipe so that it mixes in well with your other ingredients.
When using your infusion, remember your dosage rates. One teaspoon of cannabutter equals one serving. So, four teaspoons of cannabutter would make a dish strong enough to serve four people. You can, of course, add more cannabutter if you feel you need it to be stronger. This is personal preference and fine if only you will be eating it.
However, be sure to take others into consideration if they are going to be eating your food, as everyone has different tolerance levels or may not be used to the effects.
Always inform people that your food is infused and to what strength before you offer it to them, and label food clearly in case of unexpected/unaware snackers.
Also, remember that the addition of cannabutter to your recipes may alter the taste. If you like the taste of cannabis, this isn’t an issue. If you want the taste to remain authentic, the best way to disguise the cannabis is to increase the other ingredients with the strongest flavors.
With sweet baked goods, this is much easier as you can increase or add natural flavorings such as chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, and peanut. Trial and error is the key here.
Like many things, making edibles is down to the individual and what their expectations, needs, and tolerances are. This guide is just that, a starting point for you from which to get creative. So, go and give it a try and see what you can come up with using this wonderful and versatile herb. The possibilities really are endless! Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Take it easy at the start.
Read next: Baking a Fool of Myself: Edible Consent & Cannabis Brownies
Written by Rich Hamilton | Writer, Consultant, Author of The Growers Guide
Rich Hamilton has been in the hydroponics industry for more than 20 years, working originally as a general manager in a hydroponics retail outlet before becoming an account manager at Century Growsystems. He enjoys working on a daily basis with shop owners, manufacturers, distributors, and end users to develop premium products.