Making CBD oil at home is easy, and you need only a few ingredients. It's a two-step process that involves heating and then infusion into a carrier oil. CBD oil doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, you can significantly reduce the costs by making it at home. Here we present the most common at-home extractions for CBD oils — and why you should try them out. Come learn how to easily make your own cannabis-infused oil, ready to use in medicated edible recipes, topical salves, or even enjoy straight on its own.
How to Make CBD Oil
Posted: May 12, 2020 · Updated: May 12, 2020 by Jenny McGruther · This site earns income from ads, affiliate links, and sponsorships.
Many people use CBD oil to reduce inflammation, soothe pain, or improve their body’s response to stress. And it’s super easy to make at home, too. Plus you can use healthy fats and you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your bottle, avoiding the refined oils and additives that commercial producers sometimes add.
If you’re looking to make CBD oil, you’ll need just two ingredients: hemp and a carrier oil like olive oil. The result is a vibrantly herbaceous infused oil with soothing anti-inflammatory properties.
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is a non-intoxicating herbal remedy made from hemp flower, another is cannabis honey. It is rich in cannabidiol, a type of compound found in cannabis that has strong anti-inflammatory properties. One of CBD’s benefits is that it conveys the beneficial properties of cannabis without the high since it contains little to no THC.
Many people take CBD to help combat inflammation, anxiety, or restless sleep. Some research suggests it helps protect and support nervous system health (1) and may reduce pain (2), while other research suggests it supports gut health and proper immune system function (3).
To make CBD oil at home, you’ll need to follow a simple two-step process: decarboxylation and infusion. While it sounds complex, decarboxylation is a simple process of precision heating that activates beneficial compounds in cannabis. The second step, infusion, releases those compounds into a carrier oil. Infused oils are easy to take, and oil makes these compounds easier for your body to absorb, too.
Activating the CBD
In order to make CBD oil, you need to extract cannabidiol from hemp first. Further, you need to activate through a process called decarboxylation. The compounds in cannabis plants aren’t active or bioavailable on their own; rather, they’re activated through heat which is why the plant is traditionally smoked.
Rather than smoking, you can activate these compounds through other means of heating. Some people bake hemp flowers in a slow oven for about an hour or use a slow cooker. These methods are inexpensive, but they’re also imprecise and may not activate all the CBD.
To activate CBD efficiently and to get the most from your plant material, you’ll need a precision cooker (also known as a decarboxylator) that can maintain the exact temperatures needed for the full activation of CBD and other cannabinoids. With precision heating, decarboxylators extract a higher percentage of beneficial plant compounds than cruder methods and are a worthwhile investment for anyone who takes CBD oil regularly or wants to make a consistently good product.
Where to Find a Decarboxylator. Commercial CBD oil producers use huge decarboxylators capable of activating the cannabinoids in several pounds of cannabis; however, if you’re making it at home, you’ll need a smaller version.
We used the Ardent Flex for making this CBD oil. With multiple settings, you can use it to activate CBD as well as similar compounds. And, you can also use it to make herbal infusions. Save $30 with code NOURISHED.
What you’ll need to make CBD oil
To make CBD oil you only need two primary ingredients: hemp and a carrier oil. Hemp flowers that are high in CBD will yield the best results, and if you can’t find them locally, you can order them online. After decarboxylating the hemp flowers, you can then use them to make a CBD-infused oil.
High-CBD hemp flower
Depending on their strain, cannabis may contain large or relatively low amounts of CBD. When you make CBD oil, choose a strain with a high CBD content so that you can extract the most beneficial compounds into your homemade oil.
Where to Find High-CBD hemp flower. Since hemp flower is non-intoxicating with negligible to no-detectable THC content, it is legal on a federal level. You may be able to find it locally; however, your best bet is to purchase it online from Botany Farms.
Finding the right carrier oil
A carrier oil is an oil that you use for herbal infusions. Coconut oil and MCT oil (which is derived from coconut) are popular carrier oils both in commercial and homemade CBD products. Avoid highly refined, inflammatory oils such as vegetable oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, and corn oil.
How to Make CBD Oil At Home?
People use CBD oil to boost wellness, deal better with stress, and ease different types of physical discomfort (1). With so many positive effects on the body, as well as the costs involved in professional production, commercially available products can be expensive. This, of course, applies to high-quality CBD oil.
Many new users are wondering if it’s possible to make CBD oil at home, and whether or not it’s a good option to save money on your supplementation. While DIY CBD oils won’t be crafted with the same precision as professionally manufactured extracts, a homemade batch of CBD drops is still safer than a commercial product without a Certificate of Analysis (2).
If you’re considering the idea of making CBD oil at home, we’ll be glad to help. After spending several years in the superfoods and hemp industries, we have gathered our experience and packed it into a concise guide to at-home extractions.
Don’t worry, this isn’t rocket science. In fact, all you need to make CBD oil at home is a high-CBD hemp flower, a solvent, and/or food-grade carrier oil.
Let’s get down to work.
Why You Should Learn How to Make CBD at Home?
Because it’s easy and doesn’t require anything beyond some basic kitchen equipment. The reason why not many people decide to perform their own extractions is the overwhelming abundance of commercially available products; you know how it is, convenience is the name of the game these days.
CBD oil is available both online and in local specialty stores. In fact, CBD has become so popular that you can find it in vape shops, organic food stores, and wellness centers. Local retailers offer limited options, so we always recommend finding a trustworthy online supplier. Online stores offer a broader selection of products, from capsules to vapes and edibles such as CBD gummies and honey sticks.
So, why would you want to make CBD at home with so many products at hand?
Making CBD oil at home is a great way to save money that you’d otherwise spend on browsing hundreds of different brands, comparing the ingredients in their products, the prices, and user reviews.
Once you’ve got the know-how, life becomes easier.
Not only that but making CBD oil at home gives you full control over the quality of the final product. If you can gather high-quality hemp flower and a decent carrier oil, you’re halfway home.
Last but not least, homemade CBD oil is more cost-efficient. Although soaking the plant matter in the solvent requires some time before your infusion gains enough potency, you don’t have to invest in advanced technology and specialized lab workers to get a high-quality full-spectrum extract.
What You Need to Make CBD Oil?
Everything starts from the plant. First, you’ll need to find some high-quality CBD flower — derived from hemp if you want to stay compliant with federal law. There are plenty of great companies that grow craft CBD strains and ship their products to all 50 states.
If you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, you can use a high-CBD hybrid strain obtained through selective breeding. These are available in cannabis dispensaries and are also known for a higher terpene content than their hemp-derived counterparts.
The majority of hemp CBD strains are grown indoors or in greenhouses rather than outdoors, so the bag appeal and the overall quality of the buds is better.
Another important ingredient is the carrier oil. These range from hemp seed oil to olive oil to canola and MCT oil. MCT is considered the best source of fats for CBD, as the cannabinoid shows higher absorption rates in the presence of saturated fatty acids.
Besides, you’ll need some basic kitchen equipment, such as a pot, spatula, fine mesh strainer, glass containers, jar, oven, and a heatproof bowl or pie plate.
How to Prepare CBD (Activating the CBD)?
There is little CBD in fresh hemp plants. Instead, hemp contains high concentrations of CBDA, the inactive precursor of CBD. CBDA offers many health benefits, but it doesn’t have the properties of CBD. In order to transform CBDA into CBD, you need to remove an extra carboxyl group from the compound. In plain English, decarboxylation means adding extra heat to activate CBD and get the most out of its content (3).
If you’re looking for a professional way to decarboxylate your plant material, there are special machines known as decarboxylators available in specialty stores. This equipment ensures that the process is conducted efficiently both on its short and long tail, which have different times and temperatures depending on the desired cannabinoid.
Nevertheless, you may just as well use less expensive methods and still perform efficient decarboxylation. Simply use your oven or a slow cooker. They sacrifice some precision, but then again, not everyone can afford a professional decarboxylator.
Decarboxylating CBD in the Oven
What you’ll need:
- High-quality CBD hemp flower
- Baking tray
- Parchment paper
- Grind your CBD buds using the herb grinder. Break them down into smaller pieces instead of grinding them into a fine powder.
- Lay a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper. Spread the ground hemp evenly, and preheat the oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit (115 Celsius).
- Bake the CBD flowers in the oven for about 45 minutes, up to one hour depending on how dry the buds are. Buds with more moisture may require more time in the oven.
- Remove the CBD from the oven and transfer it to a glass container. It should have a bit of a brownish color.
How to Make CBD Oil?
If you’ve gathered the necessary supplies and are ready to make CBD oil at home for the first time, you can use two solvents for the job: food-safe alcohol or cooking oil.
Alcohol extraction involves soaking the hemp plant in alcohol until it pulls all the beneficial compounds from it. The infusion gains potency over time; the longer you soak the hemp in alcohol, the stronger your product will get; this is how you make cannabis tinctures. However, since alcohol is highly flammable, you shouldn’t perform it in enclosed places with access to open fire. Gas stovetops are a big no-no for alcohol extractions; electric ones are much safer.
If you’re looking for a more beginner-friendly method, cooking oil extraction will come in handy. This method involves using plant-derived oils as carriers due to CBD’s fat solubility. It’s a slow process for which you can use different types of cooking oils.
These are at-home extraction methods. Professional manufacturers use pressurized CO2 in order to maximize the quality and quantity of their yields. The CO2 extraction technology doesn’t require additional heat or solvents, which makes it both effective and safe. Unfortunately, it also requires a lot of financial resources to purchase and maintain the machinery, not to mention the highly qualified lab workers.
Below we cover all types of homemade extractions in detail.
Make CBD Oil with Alcohol
What you’ll need:
- 14 grams of ground, decarboxylated hemp flower
- 500 ml of high-proof food-safe alcohol (Everclear, vodka, or spirit)
- Mixing bowl
- Double boiler
- Glass jar
- Tincture bottle
- A plastic syringe or glass dropper
- Place the decarboxylated CBD in the mixing bowl and cover it completely with alcohol. Stir the decarbed buds for up to 10 minutes using the wooden spoon. During this time, the alcohol should already extract some of the compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes. Once done, you can pour the liquid into a glass jar. Store it in a cool and dark place for a minimum of 2 weeks up to several months. As mentioned, the longer it sits, the stronger it gets.
- Separate the CBD-infused alcohol from the plant material. Strain the liquid through a piece of cheesecloth into a collecting container. At this point, the tincture should have a dark green color.
- Set up a double boiler. Pour the alcohol solution to the top of the dish and apply low heat. High-proof volatile will easily evaporate at low temperatures because it’s highly volatile. You can turn the heat on and off if necessary, just make sure you have a good ventilation system, and if not, run the extraction outdoors. The vapor from alcohol is flammable and thus may cause an explosion.
- Once you’ve evaporated all the alcohol, the extract will have a tar-like texture. You can draw it up into a syringe or mix it into a carrier oil to increase the volume of your final product.
Make CBD Oil with MCT Oil
If you want to make CBD oil with MCT oil, follow the steps from the alcohol extraction, and once you have a thick extract, suspend it into MCT oil in the desired ratio. MCT oil is derived from coconut and comes with medium-chain triglycerides, which are known to boost the bioavailability of CBD and other cannabinoids. You can find it in health supplement stores.
Make CBD Oil with Coconut Oil
This method is similar to how you make cannabis-infused coconut oil or the famous cannabutter. But this time, we’re working with hemp-derived CBD, not medical-grade cannabis.
What you’ll need:
- ½ oz of high-CBD hemp flower
- 500 ml of melted coconut oil
- Double boiler
- Glass jar with a lid
- Glass collecting dish
- Combine the decarboxylated CBD buds with the coconut oil to start the extraction process. Place them in the double boiler, filling the bottom part of the dish with some water, and bring it to a delicate simmer. Do not bring the mixture to a rolling boil because anything over 150 degrees Celcius will destroy most terpenes. The simmering process takes around 3 hours; the end product will look slightly darker than the raw oil.
- Remove the top of the boiler, take out your jar, place the cheesecloth over the top of the collecting dish, and pour the mixture into it. You can use a spatula to push the plant material against the strainer so that it squeezes the most out of it.
- Transfer the CBD coconut oil to a jar, seal it tightly, and store it in a cool, dry place. You can use it alone or use it as an infusion in your CBD recipes.
Make CBD Oil with Olive Oil
This method follows the same process as making CBD oil at home with coconut oil. If you don’t have any coconut oil at hand, olive oil will make for a great substitute, especially if you’re up for some CBD-infused pesto, guacamole, or drizzling it over a slice of pizza.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Homemade Extractions?
- Choose high-quality organically grown CBD flower
- Use healthy carrier fats (coconut oil is the best due to high amounts of saturated fat)
- Carefully calculate the dosage in your CBD infusion
- Add natural flavorings to the homemade CBD oil to mask the hempy flavor
- Store your CBD oil as you would store any other herb-infused oils
Tips for Using Homemade CBD Oil
- Use CBD oil sublingually (under the tongue) to avoid the first-pass metabolism in the liver and increase its absorption rate.
- Add CBD oil to your meals or cook with it. However, make sure not to exceed 160 degrees C so that you don’t waste any CBD.
- Make CBD vape oil at home by using a thinning agent in your CBD oil solution (e.g. vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol).
- When working with alcohol, let the mixture sit for a few months to maximize its potency.
- You don’t have to evaporate all the alcohol from your tincture. You can reduce it by half and add it to drinks and cocktails.
- Add CBD to a fat base and other natural skincare ingredients of your choice to create homemade CBD cream.
Advantages of Professional CBD Oil Extraction
Wondering how CBD oil made at home compares to a product obtained through CO2 extraction?
As we said, CO2 extraction is the golden standard for manufacturers. This method produces safe, premium-quality products, but it requires a piece of expensive triple-chamber equipment, large quantities of hemp biomass, and experienced professionals to oversee the extraction. Using CO2 as a solvent ensures a pure and more potent product than any homemade method. If you’re looking for a top-shelf product, CO2-extracted CBD is still second to none.
Making CBD Oil at Home: Is It Worth A Try?
Of course, especially if you want to kickstart your CBD routine on a low budget. In the meantime, you can browse through different brands online and choose the one that fits the generally accepted quality standards. Many premium companies have reward programs to make their products more affordable for everyone. As you do your research, a bottle of homemade CBD oil will wait for you in your health cabinet.
Still, we recommend buying a professionally extracted CBD oil if you want to maximize the results of your supplementation. Making CBD oil at home is fun and very rewarding, but it still doesn’t give you such a complete cannabinoid profile as CO2 extraction.
How to Make Homemade Cannabis Oil (or CBD Oil)
Are you interested in making your own cannabis-infused oil? I don’t blame you! Making homemade cannabis oil is a great way to create a highly healing, concentrated, and versatile cannabis product. It is ready to use in edible recipes, topical salves, or even enjoy straight on its own. Especially if you use organic homegrown cannabis like we do, this is an excellent way to use up any extra or “fluffy” stuff too. It also happens to be very easy to make cannabis oil at home!
Follow along with these step-by-step instructions to learn how to make homemade cannabis oil. We’ll also briefly discuss the science behind cannabis oil, and what types of cannabis to use to make oil. Finally, we’ll go over various ways to use homemade cannabis oil, including some notes about caution and dosing with edibles.
What is Cannabis-Infused Oil
Cannabis oil is made by lightly heating (and thus infusing) cannabis in a “carrier oil”. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC, the most active components in cannabis, are both hydrophobic. That means they don’t like water, and are actually repelled by water molecules. On the flip side, CBD and THC are both fat-soluble. They like to bind with fatty acid molecules – such as those found in oil. When cannabis is steeped in oil, the THC and CBD molecules leave the buds or plant material and become one with the oil instead.
A wide variety of oils can be used to make cannabis oil. However, coconut oil and olive oil are the most popular and common. Coconut oil and olive oil are both pleasant-tasting and very nourishing for skin, making them versatile options for either medicated edibles or topical applications. Plus, they both have strong natural antifungal and antimicrobial properties. This helps prevent mold and extends the shelf life of your cannabis oil. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fat, which may bind fat-loving cannabinoids even more readily than olive oil.
Hemp Oil, CBD Oil, THC, or…
Your choice! You can make cannabis-infused oil with hemp or marijuana, depending on what is legal and available in your area. Or, what you’re desired end-results are. Hemp oil will only contain CBD (or a very minuscule amount of THC), while marijuana-infused oil will likely contain both THC and CBD. The ratio and concentration of THC and/or CBD depends on the strain of marijuana and particular plant it came from.
Generally speaking, THC is psychoactive and CBD is not. But THC does a lot more than change your state of mind! Studies show that THC has even stronger pain and stress-relieving properties than CBD, which is known to help with insomnia, seizures and inflammation. While they each have notable and distinct stand-alone benefits, an oil or salve containing both CBD and THC has the highest potential for a wide array of health benefits (albeit illegal in some places). Known as the “entourage effect”, the synergistic combination of both THC and CBD through whole-plant cannabis consumption and extracts is more powerful than either one on its own.
I personally like to use strains that are high in both THC and CBD to make oil and salves. To learn more about the differences between strains, CBD and THC, see this article: “Sativa, Indica & Autoflowers, the Differences Explained”.
Why Make Cannabis Oil
Cannabis oil is the foundation ingredient for ultra-healing homemade topical lotions, ointments, and salves – my favorite way to use it! Both THC and CBD have excellent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that cannabinoids have the ability to reduce acne, fine lines and wrinkles, soothe redness and irritation, and balance natural skin oils. Also, cannabinoids (THC especially) are analgesic – meaning they reduce pain. I regularly use our homemade cannabis salve on my knees, ankles, and other aching or inflamed joints and muscles.
Furthermore, making cannabis oil is one of the most reliable ways to create medicated edible cannabis products. Even so, it is extremely difficult to determine the exact potency of homemade edibles or cannabis oil. Because of this, it is suggested to consume with caution in very small doses at first. Cannabis oil can be consumed on its own, or added to other edible cannabis recipes. (I personally prefer to make homemade cannabis tinctures over edibles.)
On the other hand, simply chopping up weed to add to your brownie mix is not a good idea, for many reasons. As we already explored, cannabinoids are fat-soluble. That means that they not only bind with oils during the infusion process, but also that cannabinoids are more readily absorbed and digested in our bodies when they’re consumed with fat – such as oil. If you add raw cannabis to baked goods, it is less likely that the cannabinoids will bind to fats for a consistent and effective edible experience. Using decarboxylated cannabis to make cannabis oil further increases precision and consistency.
Using Decarboxylated Cannabis for Oil
The cannabinoid compounds found in raw cannabis (THCA and CBDA) are not the same as those found in cannabis that has been heated – such as those inhaled (THC and CBD) when you ignite or vaporize cannabis, or when cooking with cannabis. The process of heating and “activating” cannabis is called decarboxylation. It is what makes cannabis psychoactive, and also more potent for medicinal applications.
Yet when it comes to heating cannabis, it is best to do so low, slow, and methodically. There are time and temperature “sweet spots” where raw THCA and CBDA are converted into active THC and CBD. But without a precise process, over-heating or under-heating cannabis can lead to uneven activation of THC and CBD. Even worse, it may even destroy the THC or CBD altogether!
The content (activation or decomposition) of THC with time and temperature. Note that CBD takes about 2x as long at the same temperatures. Graph courtesy of 420 Magazine
Most cannabis oil recipes call for cannabis that has already been properly decarboxylated first. The most common and fuss-free way is to decarb cannabis in the oven, and then add it to oil over a very low heat afterwards – avoiding further decarboxylation. Some folks choose to decarb their raw cannabis on the stovetop simultaneously with the oil infusion process. However, that requires significantly more careful monitoring to hit that time-temperature sweet spot (and not ruin it).
Therefore, our cannabis oil recipe calls for decarboxylated cannabis as well. I provide very brief instructions on how to decarb raw cannabis below, but you can read further information about exactly how and why to decarb cannabis in the oven in this article.
1 cup of loosely ground decarboxylated cannabis. To be more precise, I suggest to use a kitchen scale to weigh out approximately 7 to 10 grams (a quarter ounce or just over), depending on your tolerance.