Cannabis infused butter, otherwise known as cannabutter, is a primary ingredient in many marijuana-infused recipes. Cannabis butter is technically an ‘extraction’ method whereby the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are extracted from the cannabis plant and infused into the butter fats. The butter from a normal recipe is then substituted with cannabutter to produce psychoactive effects.
Cannabis butter is often used in decadent edible recipes (such as brownies), but ultimately its use depends on the cook and his/her personal preferences and/or their dietary needs. It can be made from dried or decarboxylated cannabis buds, trim, solvent-less hash or even sugar leaf.
Patients seeking relief from the many side effects of various ailments can tailor their medication to their personal circumstances, preferences and dietary needs by creating their own edibles. Cannabutter can be used in practically any recipe that calls for butter by simply substituting cannabutter in equal measure. The trick is to dose the amount of butter you use with the desired effects you want to achieve.
And, butter is finally overcoming the decades of criticism for contributing to obesity and heart disease. In moderation, butter may actually be good for you.
How To Make Cannabutter
When you’re making marijuana-infused butter (cannabutter), the key thing to remember is “low and slow” (eg, low temperature, slow cook time). Infusing the butter over low heat for several hours allows for full activation of the THC without scorching the herb or wasting material.
THC and CBD are not soluble in water, but are in certain carrier oils. Therefore, the butter fats act as carriers and “soak up” the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, leaving any impurities in the water.
Important: If you are looking for a more psychoactive effect (eg. the high commonly associated with THC), then it is recommended that you completely decarboxylate your cannabis before cooking with it. The ‘decarbing’ process ensures the cannabinoids are activated and no longer in their acid-form (THCa, CBDa, etc.).
You Will Need
- ½ ounce decarboxylated cannabis*
*New patients should consider starting with a half ounce flower, gradually increasing the amount of cannabis after becoming familiar with the results. Those seeking more potent medication may tolerate effects of a 1:1 ratio (1 oz of cannabis to 1 lb of butter). Also, flower high in THC (15%+ THC content) will often deliver a heavier effect than trim or shake. If using all shake/trim, use 1 to 3 ounces. Try experimenting with a mix of flowers and trim/shake to maximize your medication supply. Adding kief or vaped bud will contribute to the effects, but doing so unfortunately cheapens the taste. Additionally, older/decarboxylated herbs/kief will typically yield a more sedative effect than fresh flower, so keep that in mind as well.
- 1 pound butter (unsalted preferred)
- 1 quart (4 cups) of water
- Metal spoon
- Medium saucepan / pot (2 or 3 quart)
- Glass or stainless steel bowl (2 quart)
- Metal strainer or colander
- 2 pieces of cheesecloth (approx 8” x 8”)
- Food handling gloves
- Plastic wrap or airtight container(s)
Directions for Cannabis Infused Butter
- Combine water, butter (cut into several pieces) and cannabis into pan and cook over low heat – the mixture should never boil but simply simmer. Continue cooking for 3-4 hours.
- Every 30 minutes or so stir gently. The mixture will thicken as the water cooks off. Don’t allow mixture to become too thick. The cannabis should float about 2 inches from the bottom of the pan and should never touch the bottom. If necessary, add water.
- After 3-4 hours, when the mixture looks glossy and is more dense and compact (most of the water has evaporated), turn off heat and allow to cool.
- While the butter mixture is cooling, line a metal colander or strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth (be sure to allow a few inches of overhang).
- When mixture is safe to handle, pour the butter and cannabis mixture into the colander/strainer, pressing down with back of spatula, allowing the butter to drain into the glass bowl.
- With gloved hands, bring together the corners of the cheesecloth and twist tightly to squeeze out all of the butter. Discard cannabis.
- Using the spatula, scrape out any residual butter left in pan into the bowl.
- Place bowl in fridge for about 2 hours, or until butter has solidified.
- After the butter has solidified, the next step is to remove it from the water. Run a knife around edges to separate the butter from the bowl, and then cut a small piece from edge (but large enough to feed spatula underneath).
- Carefully lift the butter layer and place wet side up on wax paper or cutting board and dab off any excess water with dry clean cloth. Your finished butter will have a green tinge.
- Place the cannabutter into an airtight container, and store in fridge until ready to use.
- It is recommended cannabutter be used immediately, or within a few weeks for optimal quality.
Tips For Making Cannabutter
Cannabinoids, specifically THC and CBD, exist in acidic and activated forms. In the plant, these cannabinoids exist almost entirely in the acidic forms known as THCA and CBDA. When heated, these acidic forms undergo a chemical reaction converting the THCA to THC and CBDA to CBD. Because the water method for making cannabutter uses very low heat, it is recommended that you use decarboxylated cannabis to get the full benefits of the constituents of the cannabis.
Any kind of butter – not margarine – can be used (unsalted preferred), though we find that using high-quality, organic butter tends to provide a better effect and taste. This is most likely because high-quality butter has less water and foreign substitutes, essentially guaranteeing that more of the cannabinoids and such will be “soaked up” by the butter fats.
It is important to recognize that cannabis edibles are slow-acting due to the cannabinoids going through the digestion process first. As such, it may take up to three (3) hours for you to feel its maximum effects, and those effects could last for some time. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or concerned about overdosing, don’t panic — no one has ever died as a direct result of consuming cannabis.
We also recommend keeping a log or journal for each batch of cannabis butter including the strain(s) used, cannabinoid levels of the strain(s), amount of cannabis used in the process, cook time and temperatures, etc. This will not only allow you to identify the right ratio that works for you, but also give you insight into which infusion process yields the best results as you test different methods.
Cannabis Infused Butter Storage Tips
As long as you use an airtight container or storage bag (plastic wrap works, too, if sealed tightly), your cannabutter will keep in the fridge for several weeks or in the freezer for up to six months. It is a good idea to separate into individual doses or measurements first, especially if freezing.