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Cannabis and coconut oil: Uses, benefits, and a recipe to make your own

April 16, 2016

What do a medicated sipping cocoa, a THC-infused sensual oil-based spray, and a line of body care products all have in common? Besides being among the most sought after products in the cannabis market today, all of these innovations incorporate the same basic ingredient: coconut oil.

Why is coconut oil popular for cannabis infusion?

cannabis-infused coconut oil uses and benefits

Coconut oil has managed to infuse its way into some of our industry’s most sought-after products, including edibles and topicals, but why? The reason can be attributed to a few important factors. First, coconut oil has among the highest concentration of fatty acids (saturated fats). The surplus of these fatty acids in the coconut oil create a stronger binding agent for cannabinoids. Compared to olive oil, which contains a saturated fat content of less than 20%, coconut oil contains over 80% saturated fats and thus has the ability to retain far more cannabinoids during extractions, rendering far more medicinally efficient products in return. Coconut oil, therefore, is a near perfect medium for cannabis.

Coconut oil uses and health benefits

Coconut oil also contains other sets of beneficial acids that have been known to have a list of potential health benefits. Lauric acid is a great example — when digested, lauric acid creates a monoglyceride that acts as an antimicrobial. These fatty acids are found in abundance in coconut oil, making it a top contender for those looking for a healthier oil base than butter or canola oil.

Related

Cannabis-Infused Edibles 101: What to Know About Dosing, Potency, and Labeling

Another fantastic benefit of using coconut oil is that when you use it to extract cannabinoids, your end product will remain solid at room temperature. The versatility of a cannabis-infused product that remains solid at room temperature is paramount when considering its use as a topical agent. Furthermore, its solid state allows the oil to be easily stored via gelatin capsules, a widely popular and highly effective method of distributing cannabinoids. Gelatin oil capsules are so simple and easy to make at home that the ingredients can be purchased from just about any pharmacy or online, making the process of infusing capsules at home a relatively simple DIY project.

Related

How to Make Your Own Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil Capsules

How to make cannabis-infused coconut oil

recipe: how to make cannabis coconut oil

Ease of use may be one of the most under-appreciated benefits of coconut oil in making infused products. Aside from the fact that you can purchase coconut oil relatively inexpensively from just about anywhere, the process of decarboxylating and infusing cannabis into coconut oil requires only a few simple ingredients and can be done at home with minimal effort. Check out Leafly’s recipe for infusing coconut oil – the end product is tasty, versatile, and, if stored properly, can last a very long time without degrading.

Recipe for cannabis coconut oil

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of ground cannabis flower (or less for milder potency)
  • 1 cup of coconut oil

Hardware:

  • Strainer or cheesecloth
  • Grinder (a simple hand grinder works best; appliances like blenders and coffee grinder pulverize the cannabis, resulting in edibles with bad tasting plant material)
  • Double-boiler, slow cooker, saucepan, etc.

Step by step instructions are provided below but you can also follow along with this video.

Directions:

  1. Grind the cannabis. You can include the entire plant, just the flower, a little bit of both — this is all a matter of preference. Just keep in mind that anything small enough to fit through the strainer will end up in your finished product, so again, do not grind your cannabis to a fine powder.
  2. Combine oil and cannabis in your double-boiler or slow cooker, and heat the two together on low or warm for a few hours. This allows for decarboxylation (activation of THC) without scorching (which destroys the active ingredients). Cooking can be done a variety of ways: in a slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally; in a double-boiler on low for at least 6 hours (8 is better), stirring occasionally; or in a simple saucepan on low for at least three hours, stirring frequently (a saucepan is most susceptible to scorching). In all cases, a small amount of water can be added to the mixture to help avoid burning. Note: whatever method you choose, temperature of the oil should not exceed 245°F.
  3. Strain and store the oil. Do not squeeze the cheesecloth; this will simply add more chlorophyll to your oil. All remaining plant material can be discarded or used in other dishes if you have the wherewithal. The oil’s shelf life is at least two months, and can be extended with refrigeration.

Once you’ve got an infusion of coconut oil, the uses are nigh endless!

Expect to see coconut oil remain a staple in future cannabis infusions across the market. As major brands continue to innovate, coconut oil should thrive on the ingredient lists of more products to come. If, however, you don’t have access to a dispensary near you or want to try a fun DIY with your own material, you can always make your own at home. Trust us, you’ll go coconuts for this stuff!

Next up: Learn why it’s tricky to dose homemade edibles in Part 4 of our cannabis cooking series!

Patrick Bennett's Bio Image

Patrick Bennett

Patrick lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, where he spends his time writing, photographing, and creating content for the cannabis community.

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5 part series

  • Alese Johnson

    Where is the recipe?

    • Darin Livingston

      Click on recipe tab at the bottom of of article. Then scroll down 3/4 and it’s listed as vegan budder.

    • toc001

      Right? Why don’t they just link it in the article? Then they name it something else? That is just lazy.

      • David Blazith

        Leafly isn’t very good.

  • Carl Anderson Thomas

    Coconut oil is such a versatile product to have in your kitchen. This is a magical superfood that can improve the health of each and every one of us. Its benefits include boosting your immune system and improving digestion, helping you burn more fat, reduce your hunger, and helps reduce cancer risk. That’s really coconut magic!

    • Darci Macy-Robertson

      I have a question. Been making infused coconut oil, but it seems to be causing loose stools, is there something i could add to my recipe to remedy this situation?

      • Eduardo Fontana

        Its cleaning things that your body then wants to remove them ASAP. Lower quantity if it becomes unbearable, then start to go up with the dosage again,

      • Sami Sallo

        I agree with Eduardo’s comment below AND I would incorporate rice into your diet. Rice, particularly congee-like recipes that are high in rice water. It works like magic to regulate your bowel movements. Make a yummy rice soup.

      • Glenn Keeping

        If you really wanted to even better yourself more, I strongly suggest taking probiotic which comes in different forms. This stuff provides your body with good bacteria which helps to clean out the bad bacteria however it will cause your stool to be firmer and bm’s are much healthier and you excrete more solid wastes which detoxes you even further. Downfall if you go with the capsules it can be pricey and go with the ones kept in your fridge. There is also probiotic in yogurt form however the most important this is do follow the regime for whichever method you chose to a T and you will be surprised how much better your guts feel!!!

      • Cue You

        kalcker parasite protocol

    • Matt

      very high in saturated fats though.

      • Michelle

        Saturated fats from a healthy source like coconut oil are good for the brain

    • J Ro .InAnch

      While it’s having its’ 5 minutes of fame, folks need to beware the super-high saturated fat content in coconut oil, which is 82% saturated fat, and is therefore one of the worst possible oils you can consume. Palm oil is also 82% and is therefore also an unhealthy oil to consume. By comparison butter is 63%, pork lard is 39%, and beef fat is 50%. That’s right – coconut oil is worse than lard. On the other hand, olive oil is only 14% saturated fat, and safflower oil is the lowest at 6%…

      • Matthew Parsons

        saturated fat is fucking good for you, though. it’s necessary for all kinds of important biological functions, and the research that shows that it’s bad is bunk. The real danger from fat comes from the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats; you ideally want to have a 1:1 ratio. The standard american diet is something like 1:20 (too much omega-6), mostly from the amount of hydrogenated vegetable oils we eat.

      • Donna M Ross

        You simply don’t have enough understanding of health to put coconut oil and palm oil in the same sentence…Totally incorrect advice!

        • J Ro .InAnch

          Those are all facts, Donna. If one ingests too much sat. fat, that’s a bad thing, right? MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil is the healthiest medium to use. I make my own tinctures all the time.

          • J Ro .InAnch

            Just as one can find evidence/articles supporting hi sat fat, one can also find postings that do not. All that C-12 sat fat can’t possibly be good for arteries. Y’all are buying into the fad-like hype. C-12 coconut oil is NOT good for anyone. One needs to use C–6, C-8, C-10 oil in place of C-12. It’s fact, folks. Cheers!

      • Munch

        Are you not familiar with the low carb high fat diet? The FDA has the food pyramid/myplate backwards. Fat is not the issue. Check out high performance athletes like three time Tour de France winner Chris Froome or even LeBrom James. Both are low carb high fat. Do you think The Lakers would let LeBron harm himself or his playing ability or risk the $153,000,000 investment they have in him by letting him not eat as healthy as possible? The science does not support low fat….it never has. Look at all the medical articles done since Ancel Keys died.

    • David Nelson

      Superfood is a term that is attached to far too many foods. Coconut oil has many properties, some of which are beneficial, some of which are harmful. As always, the individuals health and biology are other factors which must be considered.

  • Obsidian

    I Have a question: Is it worth it to take infused coconut oil sublingually? Like that should be better than eating it, but with that in mind, what is the suggested dosing this way as opposed to ingesting it orally? I know I would probably want to use less, since by passing my liver will make it much more potent.

    • David Blazith

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t ‘the substance’ need to be in a water digestible form to be used sublingually? Ugh, what’s that word for ‘water digestible’???

      • Obsidian

        You are right. I was just curious if my original instinct was wrong. I will just make a tincture. Or RSO

        • David Blazith

          You might still get some small use from it. But anyways good luck.

      • Draco Malfoi

        Water soluble?

        • David Blazith

          Yes. I thought of it an hour after posting, but thanks.

  • di from Oregon

    My girlfriend made me infused cookies by putting 2 C. coconut oil in a crock pot and adding a handful of Purple Hindu Kush, cooking in, then adding another handful, on low for days. I just need the amount of cookie batter vs. weed. Hers came out pretty powerful. I need this for sleep and severe pain. This way is fairly easy to me and seems to work for my girlfriend.

  • Pat Greer

    I have noticed that most recipes for coconut oil in a slow cooker recommend a maximum temperature of between 220-250 degrees F. Is there a minimum temp that the oil should not go below? I have a slow cooker with “buffet” setting that maintains a temp of 190F.

    • Shirallee Bailey-hill

      iv been making infused cannibis and coconut oil now for 3 mths my recipe states keeping temp between 80 c and 90 c do not go over 90 c infuse for 1 hour.

  • Pcwalker

    I only ended up with 4 oz. Is that normal to loose half of the oil in processing?

  • Nareth Leang

    Fresh or dried weed?

    • Sami Sallo

      I’ve been reading and viewing on youtube all pointing to dried.

    • Fuctifino

      Fresh weed is still THCA and needs to lose it’s ammonia molecule(I think it’s ammonia that A stands for), once that is lost in the drying process, it becomes psychoactive THC.

  • Cerrado Alpino

    What about sublingual application of the coconut oil? It seems to be a great option alcohol-less…

    • Bre Bre

      Absolutely! It’s coconut oil! Safe for external and internal use

  • Michael McGuire

    I’ve seen some recipes that tell you to decarb the weed before putting the weed and oil together my question is does that step of decrarbing the weed matter or could I just keep the weed cook in a crock pot longer?

    • Susan Burrell

      No, it is not necessary if you are cooking the product. It is the heat that decarbs it. Read instruction 2.

      • Sami Sallo

        my same question above. I’ve been seeing recipes that suggest doing both, which seems like doubling up to me no?

  • omverse

    what a wonderful article! brilliantly written!

  • Richard Gordon

    Can you please refresh my memory as to why I want DECARBOXYLATION of cannabinoids in my coconut oil infusion? I seem to be consistently unclear on this concept.

    • Joe S

      Cannabinoids are in an acidic form naturally inside the plant.

      Unfortunately, your body cannot process these cannabinoids as an acid. This is why if you picked cannabis from the plant and ate it you’d experience no effect.

      But, why can I smoke cannabis without baking it? When you light a spliff, for example, the HEAT from the FLAME spontaneously decarboxylates (albeit less efficiently) the cannabis right there! Same thing with the heat in a vaporizer or the spark of a lighter.

      When you cook with cannabis, you need to mimic the hot work of the lighter somehow. Decarboxylation in the oven converts THCA/CBDA/etc to THC/CBD/etc so your body can use it.

      I’ve found ~30 mins at ~220°F + ~6hrs of integrating into oil in a double burner on low yields desirable results.

      Joe

      • SpicoliTiki

        how strong do you think a spoonful of infused coconut oil is when using this 1 cup flower + 1 cup coconut oil recipe?
        curious how much to use for cooking, if you ate a spoonful what would it do, etc.

      • Sami Sallo

        This is great Joe. I get the concept. What I’m unclear on is why you would decarb prior to in the oven if you are already heating in the double boiler as Leafly has demonstrated in the recipe above?

      • Terry

        Well said Joe.
        I’m no guru but this is the first time I’ve read a reply to that question that had all the right answers…

        Terry

      • Grigorio Fabrosi

        “This is why if you picked cannabis from the plant and ate it you’d experience no effect.”
        This is just not true. Decarbing definitely makes MORE THC available for digestion/absorption, but you CAN get high from eating raw weed. It’s just less efficient. I’m speaking from experience here.

  • esarbee

    Is there a chemical difference between the process infusing with coconut oil and extraction as seen with hash oil etc? I️ suspect there is but would be good to confirm .

  • Garry Raymonds

    How to sensibly buy LEGAL cbd oil? Because I got a letter saying customs has confiscated my package two times already and I’m pissed.

  • Jay

    A question that I cant seem to get answered is: Is it 1 c of melted coconut oil or solid coconut oil and (out me as a newbie is you want to) but how many oz or grams is 1 c of ground cannabis approximately??

    • Terry VE

      Volume measurements (cups and tablespoons) are good for rough measurements, but always use weight as a true indicator. In other words, use a scale to measure. 1 oz = 28 grams and 1 cup = 8 oz

  • sgtellioman

    Just bought a magic butter machine. I’m hoping for good results!

    • Kim Shouse

      so wanting to make oil or wax for my personel use for my cancer and using for vape use did this magic butter machine work or would it work for me to do this with ? I am new at learning the way of doing things myself .

  • Sami Sallo

    This is great! Can you use dried flowers or do they need be freshly harvested? Also, I’ve been taught a recipe to put the flowers in the freezer prior to. Why would freezing be a recommendation?

    • Felipe Vencejo

      Freezing weed makes the trichomes fragile so that they break off during processing, usually for alcohol extraction of cannabinoids.
      I haven’t an idea if this works with oil extraction.

  • Kimberly Ann DiNoia

    Hello
    If you are you using Cannibus Oil In hot tea, does anything different need to be done. Is it ok in very hot water? Should I cook it the same? Thank you

  • J Ro .InAnch

    While it’s having its’ 5 minutes of fame, folks need to beware the super-high saturated fat content in coconut oil, which is 82% saturated fat, and is therefore one of the worst possible oils you can consume. Palm oil is also 82% and is therefore also an unhealthy oil to consume. By comparison butter is 63%, pork lard is 39%, and beef fat is 50%. That’s right – coconut oil is worse than lard. On the other hand, olive oil is only 14% saturated fat, and safflower oil is the lowest at 6%.

  • Jessica

    Hi! I’m using this cannabis infused coconut oil for bath bombs. How many MG of cbd is this??? Any idea?

    • Arnie

      depends how much you decarbed

  • HeadBooter

    So, we were fighting cancer, and needed to control smell so we wouldn’t end up in jail.

    We got a Magic Butter machine and gotten GREAT at making coconut oil.

    Our recipe…

    1/2 ounce of high quality flower (20+ % THC)
    2 cups of organic, REFINED coconut oil; refined oil does NOT have much taste – better for cooking, etc.
    2 tbsp of sunflower lechithin

    Decarb the broken up, but NOT finely ground flower, in a 225 degree oven for 30 minutes.

    Partially liquefy the oil but NOT heat much in the microwave; stir in lechithin.

    Pour mix into Magic Butter machine, add flower.

    Put top on, setting 2 – 160 degrees, set time for TWO hours. There are disagreements on 1 hour versus 2 hours – we think 2 makes a more infused result.

    Strain when cycle is complete into mason jar(s). Cool / store in refrigerator – shelf life is 3-6 months. Keep a weeks worth near your coffee / tea pot in a small, airtight container. It will stay solid at room temp.

    DOSE carefully. Try 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon in a hot drink, wait 30 minutes, and see how you feel. Adjust from there.

    Works great, house does NOT stink, uniform results of a light green oil that tastes okay.

  • Ana Escobar

    Sorry for the absolutely rookie question.. but what kind of weed is this? Can I use regular weed that I buy for smoking? Also, 1 cup seems like an obscene amount! Would so appreciate someone spoke to me in super layman terms! Thanks!

    • ZiMhunu

      Yes you can use the weed you buy for smoking. You can use any type of weed you enjoy. So for morning tea to start off the day I wd recommend a sativa type of weed etc sour diesel, silver master haze or a hybrid like cookies n cream, god’s green crack etc and for after work or sleeping time then you want something like afgani pink, purple kush, BC kush which are indicas and give you a body buzz. I have used this recipes with sativa and hybrids so far.

    • Fuctifino

      Grow your own, you’ll end up with a bit more weed for smoking than you will use, especially when you trim the buds and the lower branches that aren’t as good, use the trim and lowers to make your oils. Each plant can produce between 4 ounces and 2 lbs, depending on growing conditions and variety of weed.

      The neat thing is that the lowers and trim are a bit less potent if you smoked them, however, due to your making it more concentrated, the potency will go back up, in some cases, WAY WAY up!

      You want to be careful, just eat a little at a time, then increase until you can find the right levels for you.

    • Michael Floyd

      to be honest, i don’t use my good weed for edibles. i use bush weed for edibles, and have knock out results from this. i do mean bush weed, lousy weed that you’d smoke and throw out what you bought, its that bad. i have been making edibles from this garbage week for years, with mind blowing results. body buzz and barely able to walk! so don’t waste your good weed. ps make sure its run it course so that the weed was harvested roughly on time. weed harvested too soon will be a waste. it can be leafy bud, but most leafs also carry trichomes and why waste. i always put a bit extra in, on both oil and weed allowing for waste factors. my cookies i only eat half a cookie, and they are about 1.5″ in diameter. tried a full one and greened out. lol

  • Mark

    Has anyone tried using the type of coconut oil that stays liquid at room temp? I like the benefits of coconut oil over olive oil, but want to use the final product from a dropper bottle. Thanks!

    • Dee

      Hello. The difference between solid and liquid oil is only one degrees. For example if you take a spoonful of the solid and put it in the dropper bottle just put it in a warm place like i do (in my bra lol for safe keep.) or Run it under hot water for a minute and it returns to liquids.

  • mirthrender

    how much oil does 1 cup of bud and 1 cup of coconut oil produce after you have distilled and reduced it

  • Max Power

    MCT oil sucks! It gave me the shits and a stomach ache. Stop putting this crap in cannabis edibles. I use edibles to feel better, not get sick. It also builds up Ketones in your body and is especially bad for diabetics. Stop poisoning my edibles!