What Is the Difference Between Weed Oil and Cannabutter?
And where does CBD oil fit in?
With 4/20 around the corner and more legalized recreational marijuana than ever before, both heavy stoners and first-time tokers are asking the same question when it comes to weed in the kitchen: What is the difference between weed oil or cannabis oil and cannabutter (aka marijuana butter, cannabis butter, or weed butter)? While they do have a lot of similarities, confusing the two can have serious consequences—getting uncomfortably stoned, ruining a pan, or even wasting your weed. To truly understand their unique and similar qualities, we need to look at how they’re made, how they’re used, and where you can get them.
How They’re Made
While historians have found recipes involving weed dating back to 15th century Europe and even 10th century India, pot brownies were introduced to pop (or should we say “pot”?) culture in the 1968 movie “I Love You Alice B. Toklas.” Objectively, the most common way to make weed-laced snacks is marijuana butter, but baking with cannabis oil can be even more effective. While these two products have many similar uses and come from the same cannabis plant, they’re produced and used in very different ways.
Cannabutter/Marijuana Butter (and Cannabis-Infused Oil)
Beyond Pot Brownies The History and Evolution of Cannabis Cookbooks Part of weed culture since the 1960s, weed butter (or whichever other name you want to call it) can be made in a variety of ways. The process begins with some version of decarboxylation—or activating the THC. (Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the psychoactive chemical compound of cannabis—what gets you stoned and what separates marijuana from hemp.) Decarboxylation can be done a multitude of ways, but typically involves cooking the weed at a low temperature for a prolonged period of time in butter or oil. Keep in mind, however, like any other dish you’re making, too much time in the oven or too much heat will torch the ingredients—rendering the THC ineffective.
While weed butter is best for baking in my experience, vegans and the health-conscious can rest easy knowing that using olive, vegetable, canola, or coconut oil for the process will produce a very similar product (which is cannabis-infused oil). One thing to consider in choosing your oil or butter is fat content—the higher the fat content, the more THC it’s capable of absorbing.
Finally, strain the weed from the oil or butter using a cheesecloth. The finished product is a potent and effective weed-infused ingredient, perfect for nearly any cooking application—minding any food preparation processes that could burn the THC.
Ivan Stajkovic / EyeEm / Getty Images
Now that we’ve gone over cannabis-infused oils, let’s dive into their similarly monikered cousin: cannabis oil. Similar to olive, vegetable, or coconut oil, cannabis oil is made through a chemical extraction process. There are a variety of methods that the marijuana industry uses to extract oil, resulting in similar but unique products. Most cannabis extraction methods involve a solvent, like butane or CO2—or extreme heat and pressure—to extract the cannabinoids. These processes can be time-consuming and usually involve expensive laboratory equipment. Without proper training and the right tools, extracting THC from weed using certain methods is downright dangerous. Unless you’re using a solventless method, the excess yield—or product that isn’t cannabis oil—needs to be removed in order for a clean, non-toxic final result. For those of us who aren’t chemistry experts, most methods of this process should be left to the professionals.
Another potential point of confusion: CBD oil, which is not the same as cannabis oil. CBD-only products, which have skyrocketed in mainstream popularity, do not contain any THC—meaning they won’t have any of the psychoactive effects of THC/marijuana, but are widely touted for the health benefits of CBD (or cannibidiol), such as treating chronic pain, and helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
And then there’s hemp oil, which contains neither THC nor CBD, but is widely used for all sorts of products from soap to supplements. For the purposes of this article, that’s all we’ll say about CBD oil and hemp oil—so back to cannabutter and cannabis oil.
How They Can Be Ingested
Marijuana Butter (and Cannabis-Infused Oil)
Marijuana butter and cannabis-infused oil can be ingested in a variety of ways. Once you’ve created the product, it can be used as a cooking ingredient for any recipe—minding that most baked goods work best with butter. However, one thing to consider is the temperature of the dish you’re preparing—heating the marijuana butter or oil to temperatures exceeding 245 degrees Fahrenheit will burn the THC. For a more simple application, the butter can be used as a spread on toast or even just dosed orally by itself. Some choose cannabis-infused oil as a medicinal ingredient in topical salves, lotions, and ointment, as it can be absorbed through the skin once it has gone through the decarboxylation process.
Cannabis oil extracted via heat and pressure can be used in topicals or ingested by itself orally, but the taste and consistency leave a lot to be desired. The most common way to consume cannabis oil, also known as “concentrate” or “dab,” is by vaporizing or smoking it, but it can also act as an ingredient for an easier method of making weed butter. By simply melting the dab with some butter or oil at a low temperature, mixing them into one substance, you’ve made marijuana butter! Keep in mind, however, that cannabis oil needs to adhere to the same temperature cap of 245 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize the destruction of the THC. One downside to cooking with butter derived from cannabis oil versus marijuana is the stickiness of the product—certain types of oil can leave behind a difficult residue on cookware. (For those reading this tip too late, try rescuing your pan with 99 percent isopropyl alcohol! It’s super effective.)
However, making marijuana butter with concentrate is not the same as using traditional bud. Firstly, depending on how the oil is extracted, the THC can be already activated. This means you can skip the process of heating it up—it’s already ready to be used or ingested. Usually dispensaries can direct you to types of dab that have and haven’t undergone the THC activation process. Second, and perhaps more importantly, cannabis oil is an extremely concentrated (hence the nickname!) form of marijuana and can be much more effective than using regular Mary Jane. A good way to measure a comfortable dose is by simply doing the math. If a gram of cannabis oil is 70 percent THC (dispensaries usually disclose this information on the package), that means it contains 700mg of THC. With 48 teaspoons in one cup of butter, each teaspoon serving would boast 14.5mg of THC if you melted the cannabis oil gram with the butter. Most dispensaries have edibles in individual 10mg THC pieces, which is a great starting point for seeing what is comfortable. Another major difference is flavor: Some types of cannabis oil have intense flavors which carry over to whatever you’re cooking. Pick your concentrate carefully, as it can really affect the taste of the dish.
Differences in Accessibility
One major difference between marijuana butter and cannabis oil is their accessibility. In states where marijuana is legal, cannabis oil can be readily found at nearly any dispensary. In one-gram packages, cannabis oil comes in a plethora of consistencies, including shatter, wax, crumble, cake batter, sauce, diamonds, and more. While dispensaries in legal states aren’t hard to find, marijuana butter can be. While many shops carry a mass-produced industrial edible marijuana oil or butter product, other shops only carry smokable cannabis oil and traditional bud. It can be a niche product, and I’d suggest calling ahead to check availability. As someone with the privilege to access legal weed, I’ve still found the most consistent way to have marijuana butter is to make it myself. For those in less marijuana-friendly states, cannabis oil can be impossible to find and using the traditional method of making a personal batch of weed butter is their best bet for experiencing edibles this 4/20.
All in all, they’re not so different—but they’re definitely not the same. Cannabis oil can be used to make marijuana butter, but not all marijuana butter is made from cannabis oil. While nearly anyone with cooking experience can make marijuana-infused oil or butter, making cannabis oil should be left to the chemists, and while weed and cannabis oil are mostly readily available in legal states, pre-made marijuana butter can be hard to find—leaving both legal residents and those getting their bud on the black market in the same boat: making it at home.
Or Leave It to the Pros
How Cannabis-Infused Edibles Evolved Into High Art & Exacting Science
Disclaimer: This article is about cooking with cannabis, which may or may not be legal in your area. Neither Chowhound nor its parent company encourage or endorse any irresponsible behavior or illegal activity. If you choose to use cannabis , please do so responsibly and only where permitted by law.
Header image by Chowhound, using photos from Getty Images and Shutterstock.What is the difference between THC weed oil and cannabutter? And how do you use them?
Beginner’s Guide to Cooking with Cannabis Oil (and Cannabutter)
I love cooking. One of the only things I love more than a big meal is a big bowl of weed.
Naturally, I’m interested in cooking with cannabis.
Who wouldn’t want a kitchen full of delicious THC-infused foods?
For many of us, that’s as far as the thought goes. Cooking with cannabis can seem so complicated and intimidating. Even if you’re a kitchen maven, you may have questions about adding marijuana to your spice rack.
The first thing you’ll need to know is how to make cannabis oil and cannabutter. So let’s look at a few quick recipes and how you can plan ingredients and dosage for your next homemade edible.
How to Make Cannabis Oil & Cannabutter
Before you can start cooking with cannabis, you’ll need to learn how to make (or where to buy) cannabis oil or cannabutter.
The easiest option (and the most accurate for dosing) is to use ready made oil or butter that has been tested for potency per serving. Unfortunately, these can be exceptionally hard to find even among the many Boulder and Denver recreational dispensaries.
That means you’ll need to make your own cannabis oil or cannabutter.
Tip: Some kief cooks prefer to use marijuana flower directly in their recipes. While that method can work if the recipe also includes butter or oil to extract the cannabinoids and terpenoids, it introduces additional variables that can reduce the strength of your finished product (or spread out the cannabinoids less evenly).
Cannabis Oil [Recipe]
Before you can make cannabis oil you’ll need a few ingredients… namely cannabis and cooking oil.
You’ll need 1 cup of cooking oil for every 1 cup of marijuana flower. Depending on the density of the bud you’re using, 1 cup of ground-up flower is about 1-2 ounces.
Alternately (and my favorite), you can use CO2 cannabis oil in place of flower. You can replace 1 ounce of flower with 2-6 grams of cannabis oil.
Not only does this remove a few steps (grinding and straining the plant material), but it also removes chlorophyll from your finished product.
Of course, you can scale this recipe down if you only have a few grams of bud or if you want a milder finished product.
Step 1: Grind the cannabis (but not to a fine powder)
Step 2: Combine 1 cup of your chosen cooking oil for every 1 cup of cannabis flower (or 2-6 grams of THC/CBD hash oil).
Step 3: Place the cooking oil and cannabis mixture in a slow cooker on low heat—no higher than 240-245 degrees—for about 6-8 hours (stirring occasionally). This activates the THC in the flower without burning it—a process called decarboxylation.
If you don’t have a slow cooker or double broiler, you can use a saucepan—the oil will be ready in just 3 hours, but you’ll need to stir frequently to avoid scorching.
It’s also worth noting that many DIY cannachefs prefer to let their cannabis oil simmer longer to extract more cannabinoids.
Step 4: Strain the oil through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a heat-resistant container to filter out remaining plant matter. You won’t need to strain if you used THC or CBD oil in place of flower.
Storing the Oil: You can store cannabis cooking oil for more than two months (and longer in the fridge).
Cannabis Butter [Recipe]
Making cannabis butter is just as easy as making your own cannabis oil. Well, it has a few more steps. But they’re all easy ones! And knowing how to make your own cannabutter opens up a LOT of delicious recipes.
To start, you’ll need about 4 sticks of butter for every ounce of weed (adjust to taste), a cheesecloth, and a strainer.
As a somewhat lazy chef, I prefer to use about 4 grams of CO2 cannabis oil in place of one ounce of flower. It eliminates several time-consuming steps, including decarbing and straining. It also removes chlorophyll and finely ground plant material from your finished product (without needing a strainer or cheesecloth) for a more flavorful cannabutter.
Step 1: Decarb your weed. If you’re using CO2 cannabis oil instead of flower, you can skip to Step 2.
– Preheat your oven to 240 degrees.
– Place the cannabis plant material on a baking sheet in a single layer.
– Heat the cannabis for 40 minutes—rotate a few times for even heating.
When you’re done, the weed should be dry enough to crumble.
Step 2: Melt the butter in about 1 1/2 – 2 inches of boiling water. This will keep the marijuana (when it’s added in the next step) off the floor of the pan and help avoid burning.
Step 3: When the butter melts completely, add the marijuana flower or oil. Turn down the heat to a very low simmer to avoid burning the bud. Let the marijuana butter cook for about 3-4 hours until the top of the mix turns thick and glossy.
Step 4: Place a layer or two of cheesecloth over the top of the container and secure it in place with a piece of string, tape, or a rubber band. Now strain the marijuana butter into a large storage container. When you’re done, grab the cheesecloth by the corners and give it a gentle squeeze to get any remaining butter.
You won’t need to do this if you’re using kush oil instead of flower.
Step 5: Place the strained butter in the fridge for about an hour to let it cool. As the butter cools, the cannabis-infused portion will rise to the top and form a solid layer.
Step 6: Scrape off the solid layer of butter with a knife then flip the butter to scrape off any remaining water.
Storing the Butter: Your cannabis butter should last as long as any other butter. Just pop a lid on the container and toss it in the fridge.
How Much Cannabis Oil or Butter Will One Ounce of Marijuana Make?
The density of different strains means there won’t always be an easy way to calculate exactly how much cannabis oil or butter you’ll end up with.
In practical terms (and with the recipes in this post), you can expect an ounce of weed—or 3-6 grams of CO2 oil—to give you about 1-2 cups of infused cooking oil or 4 sticks of cannabutter.
That’s enough to make up to 48 high-potency pot brownies or 96 marijuana-infused cookies!
How Can You Calculate THC Potency In a Homemade Edible?
Even big labs have to work hard to check edible potency. First, not all THCA converts to THC (a rate of about 0.88). And depending on the butter or oil used when cooking, you may end up extracting as little as 30 percent of the cannabinoids and terpenoids.*
This can make it hard to calculate actual potency in a homemade edible—and calculating exact serving strength is almost impossible. It’s easier if you’re using pre-packaged cannabis oil or cannabutter with 5-10mg per serving. But if you’re making your own oil or butter, you could end up with a finished meal that’s significantly stronger (or weaker) than you anticipated.
To keep THC levels more consistent, try the following:
- Check the weed label: is it THC or THCA?
- Portion butter carefully—measure portion sizes with a scale or ruler and scoop vertically
- Stir like you’ve never stirred before (the more homogeneous the mix, the more even your serving sizes)
- Expect different doses and eat slowly
- Keep in mind the strength and type of weed you plan on using. If you’re making THC-infused butter to spread on your toast in the morning, you might try a mild sativa. If you need a strong cooking oil to make pot brownies, grab a strong indica.
No matter how careful you are in the kitchen, the only way you can be sure about potency in a homemade edible is to test the finished product. And most of us don’t have the resources or equipment for that.
Give yourself a bit of extra time to eat and relax the first time you try a marijuana-infused recipe so you can see how it affects you. And, remember that marijuana edibles can take time to take effect. Try to give yourself at least 30-60 minutes between servings to avoid getting too much THC.
And if you depend on extremely accurate dosing of your THC or CBD, you can shop our best-in-Boulder selection of precisely dosed edibles.
Ready. Set. Cook.
Once you know how to make your own cannabis oil and cannabutter, your kitchen opens up. Grab a bit of your favorite bud, scale the recipes in this post to fit the amount of weed you have, and enjoy a world of THC-infused delights.
Need a little shake to get started? Or would you rather skip the cooking and just start eating? Browse our best-in-Boulder selection of clean-grown cannabis flower (including $48 ounces of shake) and delicious infused edibles.
While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates, edibles, salves and tinctures, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week and month to month. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter for an up-to-date list of edibles, concentrates and buds available.Before cooking with cannabis, you'll need to know how to make cannabis oil and cannabutter. Here are a few tasty recipes and dosage tips. ]]>