This easy, step-by-step beginner's guide will teach you how to make cannabis coconut oil at home. It is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to make a cannabis-infused coconut oil that is dairy-free, plant-based, and can be used as a base for many cannabis-infused recipes and self-care products.
How to Make Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil
Making infused cannabis coconut oil is a fairly straightforward process that uses both heat and fat to decarboxylate the cannabis flower and extract the cannabinoids from the plant.
This process extracts a full-spectrum of cannabinoids and other plant compounds from the plant.
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Why Coconut Oil Is Great For Infusions
I help educate my Cannabis Compass Online Course students about how they can learn to confidently use cannabis to improve their quality of life.
Many of my students follow a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, which is why I wanted a cannabis-infused butter alternative that was dairy-free.
Coconut oil is the perfect substitute for butter when in need of dairy-free or vegan cannabutter.
The coconut oil performs similarly to the butter in extracting the cannabinoids from the plant matter, and it remains solid at room temperature like butter.
Coconut oil is naturally dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, and allergen-friendly, and this is the product we use and recommend when making our own at home.
This cannabis-infused coconut oil is a great option for anyone following a specialty diet or just looking for an alternative to traditional cannabutter.
Step 1. Choose What Type of Coconut Oil to Use
It is ultimately your decision on which type of oil you want to infuse, but here are some important considerations when making your decision.
Virgin or Unrefined Coconut Oil
Virgin or unrefined coconut oil is about as close to the natural substance as you can get.
Unrefined coconut oil is made from the 'meat' of fresh coconuts and then cold-pressed, leaving just the oil which has a pure coconut flavor.
Unrefined coconut oil has a more natural, more prominent, topical coconut taste and smell.
Like refined coconut oil, unrefined coconut oil is 63% MCTs and 50% lauric acid, meaning it infuses the same.
If you choose to use unrefined coconut oil, this is the organic virgin unrefined coconut oil we recommend.
Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oil is an oil made from dried coconuts that have been put through additional processing.
Some companies use harsh chemicals to bleach the coconut to remove the taste and flavor, while others use steam to refine the oil.
The biggest draw to refined coconut oil is that it has a very neutral taste and flavor, making it easier to work within certain recipes where the coconut taste is not wanted.
Many people prefer refined coconut oil because it has a less prominent coconut taste.
Like unrefined coconut oil, refined coconut oil is 63% MCTs and 50% lauric acid, meaning it infuses the same.
If you choose refined coconut oil, you will always want to make sure you choose a sustainably farmed organic steam refined coconut oil like this one we recommend.
MCT Coconut Oil
MCT oil is a type of saturated fat extracted from coconuts that are rapidly digested and absorbed by the body.
Many people prefer liquid MCT oil for infusions because it is tasteless and remains liquid at room temperature.
"Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a unique type of fatty acid naturally found in coconuts that support the metabolism and are easily digested and burned by the body for energy and fuel" (1).
The process for infusing MCT cannabis oil is the same as refined or unrefined coconut oil, although we do have a special guide for making MCT-infusion here.
One important thing to note is that MCT oil in large amounts may cause digestive distress in some individuals.
If you choose to use type oil, this is the MCT oil product we recommend.
Step 2. Decarboxylate The Flower
Before getting started, it is important to note that consuming dried or raw cannabis flower buds will provide little to no intoxicating effect at all.
This can be good or bad depending on your desired experience.
If you do not decarboxylate, you will reap the health benefits of CBDA or THCA, which are non-intoxicating.
However, most cannabis consumers want to feel the full effects of activated CBD flower or THC flower when making edibles.
To reap the benefits of activated CBD or THC, cannabis decarboxylation must occur before cooking, baking, or extracting oil from the dried flower buds of the cannabis plant.
For this recipe, we decarboxylated our cannabis flower in the oven before combining it with coconut oil and placing it into the crockpot.
Therefore, we can have a shorter cooking time, about four hours.
If You Forget to Decarb
You will simply increase your cooking time which will help you achieve decarboxylation over time.
If you don't decarb first, I recommend infusing the coconut oil for longer than the typical 4 hours, going for at least 8 hours.
This longer cooking time helps to decarboxylate the flower for you.
If you accidentally forget to decarb, you can relax, all is not lost.
Important Factors to Consider
If you asked 100 different Chefs, you would likely get 100 different variations on how to make your own cannabis-infused oil at home.
Many factors can affect your results when cooking with cannabis.
Here are a few additional considerations to keep in mind:
It is important to keep tight temperature controls when cooking with cannabis.
While heat is needed to decarboxylate the acids into the active form of cannabinoids our bodies can use, extreme temperatures can destroy many important plant materials that contribute to positive health outcomes, like terpenes.
Each terpene may have its own therapeutic health benefits, but it also carries its own sensitivity to heat.
If cannabis is heated above 300° Fahrenheit for a prolonged period of time, you run the risk of denaturing many important plant compounds.
For this reason, we recommend using an instant digital-read thermometer during your cooking process to ensure you never go above the safe temperature threshold.
The Strain of Cannabis Used
The strain of cannabis flower you are using will impact decarboxylation time and temperature recommendations.
Each cannabis strain contains varying amounts and ratios of different cannabinoids and terpenes.
Because each cannabinoid and terpene decarboxylates at a different temperature, you will want to consider the best temperature and cooking time for your particular strain.
Additionally, the final potency and intoxicating effects will vary depending on whether it is a THC or CBD dominant strain.
There are CBD dominant flower options and THC dominant cannabis flower options to choose from.
The Freshness of Product
You will have noticeable differences in the final product depending on the freshness of the material you start with.
Cannabis coconut oil can be made with raw cannabis leaf trimmings to make a CBDA dominant oil and it can also be made with traditionally dried and cured flower buds.
The concentration of cannabinoids will vary with the freshness of the starting material, the cannabinoid concentration of the material, which will ultimately impact your final product's potency.
Different crockpots will have different temperatures when setting to the same setting, which is why we recommend a digital thermometer be used throughout the cooking process.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Below are some other important considerations before making your own cannabis-infused coconut oil and answers to the most frequently asked questions from my Well With Cannabis Facebook Community.
Should I Add Lecithin?
Lecithin is a natural phospholipid substance derived from soybeans, sunflowers, eggs, and avocados.
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 and THC more bioavailable or ready for use by the body, ultimately making the edible stronger.
Alternatively, other chefs only use lecithin as a binder when combining oil with other ingredients to make recipes like homemade gummies.
Like MCT oil, some people anecdotally report that lecithin causes digestive issues.
You will definitely still have a great infused cannabis oil if you don't use lecithin, it's not a make or break ingredient for this recipe.
If you use lecithin, we recommend working with a liquid lecithin option rather than a powdered or granulated version, as it will mix in easier.
Sunflower Lecithin vs. Soy Lecithin
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, my vote is for choosing sunflower lecithin over soy lecithin.
Soy is a heavily genetically modified crop that often exacerbates certain individuals' health problems.
Sunflower lecithin is available in powder and liquid form, but the liquid is easier to work with in this recipe.
If you choose to use sunflower lecithin in this recipe, this is the sunflower lecithin product we recommend.
Can I Infuse Coconut Oil with FECO or RSO?
Yes, you can infuse coconut oil with full-extract cannabis oil, FECO (or RSO), instead of cannabis flowers.
Because of the sticky, molasses-like texture of the FECO, many people prefer to mix in a carrier oil which will help to dilute the FECO and make a more viscous, tincture-like oil.
I recommend mixing 1mL of FECO with 30mL of MCT oil for a strong batch, but you can choose to mix 1mL FECO with your desired oil amount.
If you want to infuse with this type of oil, here is my guide on making FECO.
What Can I Do With The Leftover Pulp?
After the straining process to separate the plant matter from your infused oil, you will be leftover with a ball of spent cannabis flower, also called leftover pulp or sludge.
While some folks say it's garbage and throw it away, we've heard too many success stories of people using the pulp in many awesome pulp recipes with great results.
It would be challenging to guestimate the potency of what is leftover in the cannabis pulp.
An educated guess as a registered dietitian tells me that at the very least, there would be important plant nutrients like dietary fiber.
Anecdotally, many people have reported still receiving pleasant, intoxicating high effects when consuming the pulp, supporting the theory that at least some percentage of cannabinoids are left behind in the plant matter.
We believe in nutrition and sustainability and appreciate the beautiful cannabis plant, so we keep our leftover pulp to use in any of these 15 Recipes To Use Up Leftover Cannabis Pulp.
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.
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Recipes To Make With Your Cannabis Coconut Oil
Now that you have your cannabis coconut oil made, it's time to try some delicious recipes.
Check out our full selection of cannabis recipes here!
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Crockpot Cannabis Coconut Oil Recipe
- 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 instant-read 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 40 minutes. Click here for a full cannabis decarboxylation tutorial, if needed.
- Evenly divide the coconut 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 coconut oil-filled jars. 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 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.
- Store the prepared cannabis coconut 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:
- Avocado oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Coconut oil