Read more about cannabinol, known as CBN, discover why this cannabinoid has earned the nickname ‘the sleep cannabinoid,’ and learn how to make CBN oil at home following a simple oil infusion process.
What Is Cannabinol (CBN)?
The cannabis plants contain more than 100 cannabinoids, which give the plant its powerful properties.
While you often hear a lot about the major cannabinoids CBD and THC, a minor cannabinoid called cannabinol, or CBN, has been getting a lot of attention due to its unique effects.
But what is CBN, what is it good for, why is it nicknamed the sleep cannabinoid, and is it right for you?
In this guide, we will review CBN's potential benefits, and I will show you how to make your own CBN oil at home.
Looking For More Support?
Join over 25,000 members inside the Well With Cannabis Facebook Community to ask questions and share your edible creations!
How Do You Get CBN from Cannabis?
In most strains of cannabis, THC and CBD are the two most prominent active cannabinoids.
CBN, among other cannabinoids, is considered a minor cannabinoid because it is only found naturally in trace amounts.
Fortunately, CBN can be achieved through two different processes.
In the first process, CBN is formed through the degradation of THC.
The process of THC degrading to CBN involves exposure to UV light, heat and/or through the process of oxidation, or prolonged exposure to air.
This means if you have old cannabis or expose the THC to oxygen and/or heat, you will have plant material that has developed a higher concentration of CBN.
In the second process, THCA converts to cannabinolic acid (CBNA), and the CBN molecule is then produced by decarboxylating CBNA into CBN (2).
CBN attaches to cannabinoid receptors in our body through the endocannabinoid system, producing sedative effects when consumed.
CBN, the metabolite of THC, is considered to be mildly-intoxicating in nature.
CBN is best known anecdotally among my Well With Cannabis Facebook Community as a solution to manage conditions like insomnia or anxiety due to its calming, relaxing nature.
Why is CBN Called The 'Sleep Cannabinoid'?
CBN is commonly referred to as ‘the sleep cannabinoid’ or ‘the sleepy cannabinoid’.
Consumers who have aged cannabis that has been sitting around for a while (years) report that they find that it produces more sedative effects than fresh cannabis.
As THC further breaks down into CBN, this effect becomes even more pronounced.
Through Dr. Russo's research, it has been found that "CBN can be sedative, anticonvulsant in animal and human studies, and has demonstrated significant properties related to anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-MRSA activity" (3).
With millions of Americans dealing with mild to severe insomnia, CBN has been getting a lot of attention from health practitioners and consumers alike.
While more research is needed before anyone can make definite claims, many consumers hope that CBN may one day replace addictive and potentially dangerous prescription sleep medications.
What Are The Effects and Side Effects of CBN?
Before you start making or using CBN, it's important to understand both the positive effects and the potential negative side effects.
First, it's important to note that pure, isolated, CBN won't make you sleepy.
This theory believes that a full spectrum of cannabinoids produces a more powerful effect than isolated cannabinoids on their own.
CBN is often combined with a complimentary cannabinoid, like CBD, to produce ideal effects.
CBD and CBN can work synergistically to relax and produce calming feelings.
On the other hand, some users report that they experience grogginess and dry mouth as a result of consuming CBN.
It's also not uncommon for your body to get used to CBN, which can only be avoided by giving your body tolerance breaks, switching products, or increasing your dosage.
How to Make CBN Oil At Home
The best part is that CBN, unlike some other cannabis products, is not directly considered a controlled substance.
This means more and more CBN products are appearing on the market, like sublingual tinctures, capsules, or even tea bags.
However, many CBN products may fall into a legal gray area depending on where you live, so it's important to be careful and check your local regulations.
While you can purchase CBN products from my shop, you can also make your own CBN oil at home from cannabis flower by breaking down the THC into CBN.
Aging the cannabis with exposure to air will produce more oxidation, and the more oxidation there is, the more of the THC will degrade in CBN.
Unfortunately, most people don't have aged cannabis available, or the patience to wait.
The next best option to get the desired results is to take your THC dominant cannabis flower and expose it to heat for a long period of time through the decarboxylation process.
How To Decarb To Get CBN
According to a decarboxylation study of acidic cannabinoids published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, "Δ9-THC itself readily oxidizes to cannabinol (CBN) with oxygen and light during the decarboxylation process".
The study goes on to note that the "formation of an oxidation product, CBN, was observed at 160°C and 180°C" (2).
For my Fahrenheit friends, that is 320°F to 356°F.
At these high temperatures, I've seen THC being converted into CBN in 90 minutes.
Of course, many people prefer to decarboxylate at lower temperatures in order to preserve the valuable terpenes present in the plant.
Because decarboxylation operates on a time-to-temperature scale, we can decarb for CBN at a lower temperature for a longer period of time to achieve CBN formation.
If you want to stick with the traditional 240°F used for decarboxylation, it is recommended to decarb for 180 minutes (as opposed to 40 minutes for THCA to THC conversion, or 90 minutes CBDA to CBD conversion).
*Please note: I do not yet have lab tests to confirm these times and temperatures for CBN formation.
These recommendations are based on anecdotal reports of what is currently working for consumers inside my Well With Cannabis Facebook Community.
Follow this process at your own discretion, and consider starting with a small batch according to the chart shared below.
How to Infuse Oil To Make CBN Oil
If you'd like to give CBN a try, you can use decarbed flower to make the recipe below for CBN oil.
You can choose whatever carrier oil you desire to make your infused oil, it does not need to be MCT oil.
Below are the following cooking oils you can experiment with to substitute the MCT oil:
- Infused coconut oil
- Infused olive oil
- Infused avocado oil
- Infused sunflower seed oil
- Infused grapeseed oil
- Infused canola oil
- Infused soybean oil
- Infused safflower oil
Do I Need To Add Lecithin?
Traditionally, lecithin is used as a binder to keep opposing ingredients together in recipes like olive oil & vinegar dressings.
Many at-home cannabis chefs swear by adding lecithin to their infusions to make them stronger or the cannabinoids more easily absorbed by the body.
In theory, using lecithin will make valuable cannabinoids like CBD, THC, or CBN more bioavailable or ready for use by the body, ultimately making the edible stronger.
You will definitely still have a great infused CBN oil if you don’t use lecithin, it’s not a make or break ingredient for this recipe.
If you use lecithin, I recommend working with a liquid lecithin option rather than a powdered or granulated version, as it will mix in easier.
Can I Make A Larger Batch?
Yes, you can!
I first recommend making a small test batch before to see if homemade CBN oil is the right option for you.
This recipe calls for ⅛ ounce of THC dominant flower and 2 ounces of MCT oil, which will yield a small batch.
If you want to make a larger batch first to see if CBN oil infusions are right for you, use this ratio guide below:
How to Determine The Dosing
While a calculator is no replacement for lab testing, this tool has been designed to help you get a more accurate guesstimate of the potency of your cannabis infusions and extractions.
Use An Infusion Machine For Your Edibles
Cannabis-infusion machines are countertop devices that do all the work for you by decarboxylating and infusing your butters, oils, and more.
Want A Discount Code?
Enhance Your Cannabis Education
My beginner-friendly Cannabis Compass Online Course will show you how to dose, use, and apply cannabis safely and effectively so that you can begin to manage your most unwanted symptoms the natural way from the comfort of your own home.
Learn more and enroll today →
How to Make CBN Oil (Cannabinol)
- Fill your crockpot with enough warm to hot water to cover the top of the mason jars you plan on using by an inch to create a water bath.
- Place the digital thermometer into the water. Start the crockpot heat on high. When a temperature of 185° F is reached, turn the crockpot to low.
- While the water bath is heating in the crockpot, measure and decarb the cannabis flower in the oven at 240° F for 180 minutes. Click here for a full cannabis decarboxylation tutorial, if needed.
- Evenly divide the MCT oil between the mason jars you plan on using. You can either use pint-sized or half-pint-sized jars, it’s you’re preference, just be sure they fit in your crockpot. No matter the size, be sure to leave a ½ inch headspace from the top.
- If you plan on using sunflower lecithin, add it to the mason jars now.
- Evenly divide the decarbed flower between the MCT oil-filled jars. Stir well. Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean paper towel and place the lid on. Tighten the metal ring to finger-tip tightness, it does not have to be tightened all the way. Do not tighten too tightly.
- Once the water bath reaches a temperature of 185° F, carefully place the jars into the water bath.
- Place the lid on the crockpot and leave it alone to infuse for 4 hours.
- After 4 hours, carefully remove the lid, followed by the jars from the hot water. Set them aside to cool.
- Save the leftover cannabis pulp for use in future recipes. Then return the prepared cannabis oil to whatever jar you would like to store it in. We use a small amber tincture jar.
- Store the prepared CBN oil in a cool, dry place. It will last longer if stored in the refrigerator and even longer if stored in the freezer.
- Yield: ~16 ounces / ~2 cups
- Temperature Control: The water bath does not need to stat perfectly at 185° F the entire time. Any temperature between 170°-190°F is OK.
- Safety First: I recommend you sanitize your jars by keeping them submerged in the 185° F crockpot for 10 at least minutes. This step is not necessary, but good practice for safety and hygiene.
- Floating Jars: Sometimes the mason jar will float when placed in the water bath. This is no need for concern, simply put something heat and water safe over the top of the jar to weigh it down, a clean rock works well.
- Alternative Carrier Oil Options Include:
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Coconut oil