Growing Tips From the 101
Part XI – Cannabis Concentrates, Extracts and THC Treats
While all those frosty buds are hanging to dry and curing, a thrifty cannabis grower will get right to work turning their trim into ganja goodies and THC treats. Every time I write or speak about trim I cannot help being reminded by and disappointed by my own post-harvest habits in the 1980s and 1990s. We didn’t know about bubble hash or cannabis oil and RSO was yet to be discovered. If we made budbutter we used our buds and “shatter” was just something a bong did if you dropped it on a hard surface. We grew good buds but we threw our trim away….sometimes going to great lengths to secretly dispose of it. I literally cringe when I think about how much trim gets thrown away and how much medicine is tossed out with those trimmings. Don’t make that same mistake….those trimmings are just as valuable as the buds.
Every concentrate and extract is made with a process of concentrating and extracting trichomes from the plant. When the plant spews resin all over itself it does not only do so on the buds. The sugar leaves are called sugar leaves because of the resin all over them. Even small fan leaves are sometimes coated in crystals. When you smoke weed you are enjoying the flower of the plant and it is coated in crystals and resin. The trichomes in this resin deliver the high while the weed is tasty to smoke. However, the leaves are not tasty to smoke…but the trichomes still deliver the high. Extracting these trichomes from the leaves and concentrating them into dabs and oils or cooking with kief and budbutter makes the high even better. In this installment of our “Know Before You Grow” series, we will outline some basic extraction methods and begin building the foundation for your cannabis kitchen.
This article and any photos or videos associated with this article are for educational purposes only. Even in states where marijuana has been legalized there may still be restrictions on what you can make with harvested cannabis. Refer to your own local and state laws before making your own cannabis creations.
Whether you are looking for the potency of a good dab or the smoke-free enjoyment of cannabis through oils and edibles the trichomes for your THC treats are in the trimmings. Let those buds hang, dry and cure….we’ll smoke those later. For now, grab your trimmings and we’ll make some basic extracts and concentrates….let’s get started!
- Drying Trimmings
- Freezing Trimmings
- Processing with Heat
- Processing with Cold
- Cooking Oils
- Kief and Tinctures
- Candy and Cookies
- Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
- Bubble Hash
- Shatter (BHO)
- Rosin and Live Resin
FIRE AND ICE
- DRY TRIMMINGS – Some cannabis concentrate and extraction methods work better with dry trimmings while other cannabis processing methods work better with frozen trimmings. For example…if you intend to make Rick Simpson Oil or bud butter the trimmings should be dried. If you intend to make bubble hash the trimmings should be frozen immediately after harvest. To dry cannabis trimmings simply spread your trimmings across any type of screen material. We use home window screens and keep them clean with isopropyl alcohol between dryings. Whatever type of screen material is used make sure it is clean and made with small enough gauge holes that trichomes and plant matter will not fall through. However, kief will fall through most anything air can get through. Place your screen on a hard, flat and smooth surface so you can collect your kief when the drying process is done. Whenever we want to make a little bud butter for ourselves we will dry out an ounce or two on a screen elevated over a piano bench. We bought new screens for a house in Arizona years ago. We never put one screen on because we never opened that particular window…it has been a drying screen ever since. There is nothing special about our piano bench other than it is a hard flat surface and we elevate the screen above the bench with four square wooden pieces from a “Jenga” game. So as you can see, there is no need to be super technical about this. Just make sure your trimmings get air from all directions for a couple days. Remember that drying will decrease size and weight. If you need an ounce of dried cannabis then you need to begin with at least an ounce and half. You will lose a third of your weight or more throughout the drying process. Toss the trimmings a bit and spread them out even more as they dry.
- FROZEN TRIMMINGS – More often than not you will use dry trimmings for ganja goodies but there are a few processes that require the trimmings to be frozen. Trimmings will also keep much longer in the freezer than they will once dry. For this reason, we put our trimmings in plastic bags as soon as they are cleared from the trimming station. We do not seal or even close the bags until right before the bags are put in the freezer. Sealing up fresh weed without freezing it immediately will cause the weed to “sweat” in the bag creating moisture that will freeze into the trimmings. Let them breathe until they are put into the freezer. We store all our trimmings in a freezer and dry the trimmings as we need them.
- PROCESSING WITH HEAT – Whether infusing cannabis into butter or cooking oil off the leaves in a rice cooker…heat is an herbal healer’s friend. To the naked eye and at room temperature the trichomes on a plant appear securely attached to the plant and hard to handle or work with. Heating up all those trichomes and resin turns them into a paste or tar-like oil that can be described as nothing less than miraculous. Once a trichome is removed from a plant it is easily manipulated with temperature. Over time the cannabis culture has invented and developed many extraction processes to get those trichomes removed purely and in their entirety. Most of these processes involve heat not only to extract….but also to decarboxylate/activate the trichomes….and even to administer the finished product. There are dab rigs made to regulate the temperature of the chamber, the nail and even the smoke. Controlled heat and consistent heat delivery are a cannabis oil maker’s best friends.
- COLD PROCESSING – On the other end of the temperature spectrum we have processing methods that use freezing temperatures, bags of cubed ice and even dry ice to capture those trichomes. Bubble hash and cold water hash extractions freeze the trichomes off with extremely cold temperatures. When the trichomes freeze they break off from the leaves when the leaves are agitated in cold water…much like a washing machine for clothes. The water is then filtered through micron bags which capture all those trichomes in the water. Shaking dry ice and weed in a micron bag is a popular method of making kief using the same freezing & shaking process to break off the trichomes. One method of making a cannabis oil called alcohol clear oil uses both dry ice then heat.
COOKING WITH CANNABIS
- BUDBUTTER – No canna-kitchen is complete without a good supply of bud butter. Nugbutter-cannabutter-marimargarine-weed spread…whatever you want to call it, any cannabis kitchen is incomplete without it. Cannabis-infused butter is very simple to make and can be made with simple kitchen items you most likely already have in your cupboard. You can make bud butter in a saucepan, in a double boiler or in a crock pot. You can find two different tutorial videos that take the viewer step by step through each of these methods on our YouTube channel Follow The Dart. Whichever method you choose a good ratio to start with is 1 oz of weed to 1 pound of butter. Remember that the longer you cook your canna-butter the more potent it will be. Click here for Budbutter Video!
- COOKING OILS – Olive oil has some healing benefits all of its own, when infused with cannabis it carries a double dose of healing and can be used both as an edible or topically. Cannabis infused olive oil can be used topically for skin issues, sore muscles and it can also be digested as an edible. It’s wonderful for cooking or just to make a nice bruschetta. ½ oz cannabis to every cup or two of olive oil is a good ratio to start with. Bring the oil to 160-165 degrees in a pot and let cannabis infuse at that temperature for a couple hours. Strain the oil through cheesecloth, coffee filters or micron to refine the oil. Coconut oil can also be infused and used the same ways olive oil can. Many recipes exist on the net to make these fine edible/topical oils.
- KIEF and TINCTURES – The taste of cannabis remains in the bud butter. The taste remains in cannabis-infused oils and foods as well. Personally…I love the taste of cannabis cooking. However, some people do not. Cooking with cannabis can be done without a lingering flavor of marijuana using either tinctures or kief.
Cannabis leaves can be steeped into alcohol tinctures simply by soaking some leaves with 80 proof or above alcohol like 151 Rum, pure grain alcohol or 100 proof vodka in a jar. Leave the jar in the freezer for at least 30 days then strain the mixture 3 times through coffee filters. Tinctures can also be made with vegetable glycerin on a stove top. Vegetable glycerin tinctures can be made in a few hours. Cooking with tinctures allows the edible to possess the healing and the high of marijuana….without the taste of weed. Tincture video here.
Kief is the concentration of trichomes that fall off the leaves when agitated. Kief can be collected from kief trays at harvest or even some grinders have kief trays included.
Kief can also be made with micron bags or bubble bags. You can check out our video on how to make kief by clicking on the link. FOLLOW THE DART When cooking with kief both healing and the high can be achieved while once again avoiding the unmistakable taste of bud butter.
- CANNA-COOKIES & CANNA-CANDY – I know, I know….the quintessential stoner food is brownies. That was fine and dandy through the 1970s,1980s, and 1990s …..but we have finally moved on. Brownies are no longer the sole stoner food. In fact, the entire culinary world has since collided with cannabis and that collision has produced a foundation of delicacies, creations, and recipes that will be built on by both the culinary and cannabis worlds for generations to come. At least make some cookies to be just a bit different. Perhaps the cliché pot brownie is just something you have to make or maybe eating one is even on your bucket list. If that’s the case and you just have to make pot brownies then knock yourself out. Simply take your favorite brownie recipe and replace the butter with canna-butter, add a few drops of tincture or sprinkle some kief into the dry ingredients. If you want your edibles to pack a punch or if you cook like my lovely wife….use all three canna-ingredients in your creations. Here is our favorite cookie recipe to get ya’ started in your canna-kitchen.
- 1 1⁄2 cups Canna-butter/ bud butter
- 1 1⁄4 cups granulated sugar (add kief here if adding kief)
- 1 1⁄4cups brown sugar, packed
- 1tablespoon vanilla (add tincture here if adding tincture)
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 (24 ounces) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (4 cups)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs on medium speed or with a spoon until light and fluffy.
- Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff).
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by tablespoonfuls or a cookie/ice cream scoop 2 inches apart; flatten slightly.
- Bake 11-13 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft).
- Cool 1-2 minutes, remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.
- Note: For nut lovers, stir in 2 cups coarsely chopped nuts with chocolate chips.
Canna-candy is another treat that no cannabis kitchen should be without. For people that do not like to smoke and have a sweet tooth, there is nothing like a good piece of canna-candy or a canna-sucker. If you want to be discreet or stealthy about medicating then canna-candy is for you. Gummies or “squibs” as they’re called in the canna-culture have become so popular and trendy that it almost cliché at this point for any actor or comedian to refer to them when the conversation drifts toward marijuana. Unfortunately, gummies need to be made with VG tincture but hard candies can be made with simple bud butter, kief or tincture. You can use this recipe to make some hard candy and you can add your cannabis using butter, kief or tincture….or you can use all three. We make a batch of cherry and lime each Christmas then frost the candy with powder sugar. You can always find some holiday molds at the store and voila…”Christmas Canna-Candy”. Here’s a basic canna-candy recipe to get ya’ started in your cannabis kitchen.
1 (3oz) pack of gelatin powder ….this is your flavoring
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup bud butter
½ cup corn syrup
1 tbsp honey or agave
2 grams of kief or 10 drops of tincture if you choose to add to the potency offered with bud butter only
In a saucepan bring the sugar, butter and corn syrup to a slow simmer after combining into a liquid. With a candy thermometer let the mixture rise to the desired temp for soft or hard cracking candy. We like hard candy so we let our temperature rise to 305 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir occasionally while bringing to the desired temperature. Once the temperature is reached stir in gelatin and remove from heat. The mixture will be extremely hot…carefully scoop into molds or onto an oiled cookie sheet. Candy will harden when it cools. Shake cooled candy in a bag with a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar if ya’ want to give your candy that frosted look. Check out our video on how to make candy here.
IV. RICK SIMPSON OIL (RSO) – Rick Simpson is a Canadian citizen that discovered the healing of cannabis and the frustration of modern medicine all at the same time while trying to treat his own illness. The result of this frustrating time in his life was the relief of and the cure for his own illness along with a miraculous ointment the rest of us can use for relief and healing as well. The ointment bears his name ….Rick Simpson Oil or RSO. States, where both pure grain alcohol (Everclear) and cannabis are available, are best for acquiring and making this wonderful oil. The process is simple. Caution, ventilation, and safety are paramount as the process requires a heating solvent. Cannabis is stirred in a solvent like pure grain alcohol, naphtha oil or isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes or so. The mixture is strained through coffee filters or micron filters. The liquid is then heated to 175 degrees which is the boiling point for alcohol. The alcohol turns into a steam which may be captured and used again with a distiller. A simple rice cooker is all that is needed unless you wish to re-capture your solvent. The liquid must be heated until there are no more carbon bubbles and the solvent is completely purged from the oil. The oil will harden a bit when it cools. Capture it in a syringe and store it in the refrigerator. The Rick Simpson story is told in a film available for free on YouTube called “Run From the Cure” and you can view our video on how to make Rick Simpson Oil at Follow The Dart.
X. BUBBLE HASH – Bubble hash or ice wax is an old school hippie treat that has been around a bit longer than some trendier concentrates and extracts. Unlike many of the other ganja goodies, we discuss in this article bubble hash cannot be made with simple household items. Making bubble hash requires micron bags or bubble bags. These bags are available on-line and come in 1,5,20 and 32-gallon sizes. The set of bags will include different gauge sizes of micron filters (220,190,160,120,90,73,45 & 25). These bags are stacked into a bucket or barrel with holes in the bottom. Weed trim is washed over ice by stirring weed trim with jagged ice cubes. The trichomes freeze and break off in the water. The water is poured through the bags and the micron filters catch the trichomes. When scooped out of the bags and cured, it becomes a tasty treat called bubble hash. We have two different bubble hash tutorials on Youtube using two different sizes of bags. BIG BAG BUBBLE HASH or 5-GALLON BUBBLE HASH
XI. SHATTER (BHO) – Butane hash oil or (BHO) is probably the current frontrunner for the trendiest way to use cannabis. It can be dangerous to make …..but more people are hurt trying to deep fry their turkey on holidays. Just like deep frying a turkey or even making RSO there are dangers to working next to heat with flammables. However, common sense and basic caution determine whether the project is dangerous or people are careless. If you calculate how much the turkey will raise the oil level of the container then deep frying a turkey is fairly simple. If you try to put a huge turkey into an already full container of hot oil over a flame then the oil is going to spill over and ignite the flame. You will be severely burned and the local fire dept will spend their holiday treating your burns. At this point, you will also have contributed to the stigma that deep frying turkeys is dangerous. This same principle applies to making BHO, RSO or any other cannabis creation. Butane hash oil is made by forcing butane through a container filled with cannabis. The butane collects trichomes and can escape the container while all the plant matter cannot. That is why the process of blasting the butane through the container is called “blasting shatter” or “punching out shatter.” Once the gas evaporates away a sticky liquid is left….the clearer it is, the better it is. This oil used to be a rare hippie treat. People would call it “honey oil” or “pure gold”. It was rarely sold, hard to find and people who made it were few and far between. Nowadays….everybody is blasting shatter, and less than half are doing it correctly. Keep in mind that if all the butane is not purged then you are putting butane in your body. There are many how-to videos that will show you how to make BHO but you will not find such a video on our Youtube channel. This grower, user, and the author find the concept of mixing cannabis with something as impure as butane is a foolish one. That pounding in the back of your head after taking homemade shatter is not “a good high”…it’s the unpurged butane dancing around in your system. “Dabbing” is the moniker for the act of using BHO and it requires a rig or bong that must be preheated with a blow torch. Trendy as it may be I am not a fan of BHO or dabbing and I believe it is a burden to the progression of cannabis legalization and not an asset of the cannabis culture. It is by far the most difficult to make of concentrates and extracts and also the easiest to screw up. But hey….if ya’ want to be the trendiest with your THC you better learn to blast some shatter. If you are not concerned with being trendy then spark up a joint and wait for the trend to pass.
XII. ROSIN & LIVE RESIN – At the beginning of this article we spoke about some concentrates need frozen trim while others use dried trim. The BHO or butane blasting process can use the dry or frozen trim. When trichomes and terpenes go through the drying and curing process before being turned into BHO the end result is called shatter. However, capturing and freezing the resin right after harvest allows the terpenes to be captured and used while they are alive…thus, live resin. Using frozen trim and extracting using the butane blasting method creates a product called live resin.
Rosin, on the other hand, is a shatter that is made with only heat and pressure. Thankfully for those of us who wish to see sucking on unpurged butane become a little less trendy Rosin is quickly overtaking BHO as the trendy THC treat to have around. I too am all for rosin. If you got to have that rig and blow torch then, by all means, …go for it. But you’ll be doing your body a favor if you torch rosin as opposed to BHO. Rosin also can be made solventless with no chemicals or solvents and can even be made with household items. The most popular method is to use a hair straightener. That’s right … a hair straightener. Simply take some bud and place it in a piece of folded parchment paper. Place it in a hair straightener on high temp setting. Press and heat the bud until a syrup or oil like fluid emits from the weed. Let this cool then rip it off the parchment paper and dab away. You can dab rosin on your trendy rig and you can even use your blowtorch….without the worry of sucking on butane.
So there you have it, your cannabis kitchen now has the basic recipes to launch your canna-culinary adventures. Without sounding too cliché or mushy that’s just what awaits you in your canna-kitchen…adventure. Just like regular cooking, there is no “right way” to cook with cannabis. Add ingredients, experiment, make mistakes and try new things. Remember, your cannabis journey is just that…a journey, not a destination.