Updated: Mar 17, 2022
We are literally living in the Golden Age of cannabis. There are so many different products it can be difficult to choose which to use…or even which to try first. From gummies to blunts to tinctures to creams, you can get your marijuana in any and every shape and form.
On one end, you’ve got your well-known methods of consumption, like joints and bongs. On the other end, you’ve got your lesser-known forms of cannabis, like live resin and cannabis oil. It’s this latter form of cannabis — cannabis oil — to which we’ll devote our attention today.
Cannabis oil has been growing in popularity recently thanks to its ability to stop the growth of, and even destroy, cancer cells. It has other powerful medicinal effects (as you’ll see below), but its anti-tumoral properties are the thing that gets most people excited.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to make cannabis oil for yourself. That way, you can take advantage of all the healing without spending an arm and a leg. But before we get to the how-to, let’s take a moment and learn what cannabis oil is and what it isn’t.
All You Need To Know About Cannabis Oil
Cannabis oil is a special type of marijuana concentrate that has saved and improved countless lives. Cannabis oil is essentially pure THC or CBD which can be consumed in much larger doses than is possible by smoking, vaporizing, or ingesting raw cannabis flower.
First, gather your ingredients. You will need:
Three to four hours for the process from start to finish.
99.5% Isopropyl Alcohol. Use 2 gallons (7.57 liters) per pound or 2 cups (~500 ml) for an ounce of cannabis. We also suggest chilling your alcohol in a freezer overnight. It will separate the trichomes from the flower more easily.
Marijuana. Use shake and trim to make topical solutions for skin afflictions. However,only the choicest, trichome-laden, cannabis indica colas should be used to make Canna Oil for treating cancer. The amount of cannabis oil that each strain can produce will vary, but one ounce of good organic marijuana will typically produce about three to four grams of oil. Works best with larger amounts of cannabis.
Next, gather your supplies. You will need:
Two stainless steel stock pots or food-grade plastic buckets.
Long wooden stirring spoon or 2×2 piece of chemical-free lumber.
Stainless steel rice cooker. Caution: A rice cooker with a non-stick surface will leach chemicals into your oil. Stick with stainless steel only.
A common electric cooling fan and extension cord.
Empty clean plastic bottles.
Stainless steel measuring cup.
Now, here’s the step-by-step method for producing Rick Simpson’s Cannabis Oil.
Place your weed of choice in a steel pot or food-grade bucket. Dampen the plant matter with chilled isopropyl alcohol (your solvent), and then crush the mixture with a wooden spoon or 2×2 for about five minutes.
Add more alcohol until the plant matter is completely immersed. Again, crush and stir the mixture for a further five minute. The crushing action is technically called a “wash” because you are washing the trichomes from plant matter.
NOTE: Trichomes are the resin glands of the cannabis plant. They contain THC, CBD, and other medicinal cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, and CBT. These trichomes are the “thing” that gets you high, cures your insomnia, reduces chronic pain, and may even cure cancer.
Block the lip of the pot or bucket with a lid or your 2×2 and slowly pour the solvent into the second bucket. Try to keep as much of the marijuana plant matter in the first bucket for the next step. It’s okay if some gets through—you’re going to strain it later. But you want as much of the cannabis material left over in the first bucket as possible for the second round of washing.
Pour more chilled alcohol into the first bucket until the plant matter is again immersed. Crush the cannabis with your wooden utensil for five more minutes. This step is known as the second wash.
Again block the lip of the pot or bucket and slowly pour the solvent from the second wash into the bucket with the solvent from the first wash.
NOTE: The majority of the medicinal resins (75-80%) will be dissolved by the first round of washing. The second round of washing usually dissolves the remaining 20-25%. Because of that, a third round of washing isn’t necessary.
If you do choose to do a third round of washing, keep the solvent from that round separate from the first two rounds. The third-round solvent should be used for topical applications, while the first- and second-round solvents should be reserved for ingestion.
Leave the solvent to sit while you recycle any leftover plant matter into your compost. Once converted to super soil, you can use it to grow more organic marijuana.
Rinse out the first bucket.
Place a coffee filter inside a plastic funnel and insert the funnel through the mouth of a small plastic bottle. The size of your straining container will depend on how much solvent you used in the first few steps. You can also use a number of smaller straining containers instead of trying to find one large container.
Pour the mixture in the second bucket through the coffee filters to strain off any excess plant matter. Filter the solvent as many times as it takes to remove all the plant matter.
NOTE: At this point, the solvent will have taken on a dark yellow color. Don’t worry. The color comes from the healing resins which are now dissolved in the alcohol. The color and the smell are also influenced by the terpenes that are present on the cannabis plant.
Terpenes are the pungent oils that create the distinct tastes and smells of the numerous pot strains. These flavors can range from sweet and fruity to skunky and earthy to everything in between.
Set up the rice cooker and the electric fan outside or in a well-ventilated area.
CAUTION: Make sure that there are no “sparks, open flames, or red-hot elements” in your workspace because the alcohol fumes that you will cook off in your rice cooker are highly flammable and toxic to inhale.
Set up your fan so that it circulates air towards the vents on the bottoms of the rice cooker. See the picture above for a simple illustration of the cooker/fan arrangement. The reason for the fan is that it will prevent the alcohol fumes from condensing to a point where they can ignite.
NOTE: Rick Simpson adds, “I have used this same process hundreds of times and have never had a mishap. But for your own safety, please follow the instructions and make sure the area is well ventilated.”
NOTE: At this point, you may be wondering why you are using a rice cooker instead of a crock pot or just a pan and the stove. Rest assured that there’s a very good reason for this choice. We’ll outline the benefits of the rice cooker before we move on to the next step.
Separate the alcohol from the dissolved cannabis oil.
Decarboxylate the cannabis oil.
The vaporization (or boiling) point of isopropyl alcohol (the solvent you used in the first few steps) is around 181℉. The vaporization point of cannabis oil is a little over 300℉. The decarboxylation temperature for cannabis is in the low two hundreds (210-230℉).
Why do you need to know all these numbers? Because you have to maintain just the right temperatures so that your solvent boils off, your oil doesn’t, and the leftover oil is decarboxylated.
So why the rice cooker? Rice cookers are automatically set to maintain temperatures in the decarboxylation sweet spot. These temperatures are enough to get your solvent boiling but not enough to vaporize the oil. Crock pots often exceed 300℉ and a pot on the stove can be difficult to maintain a consistent low two-hundreds.
Now that you know why you’re using a rice cooker, we can move on to the actual separation process.
Set the rice cooker to its highest setting to boil off the alcohol solvent. Be sure the fan is running and is aimed at the rice cooker so the alcohol fumes don’t condense and explode.
As the liquid level in the rice cooker drops, pour in any remaining solvent but don’t exceed three-quarters full. This step depends on how big your rice cooker is and how much solvent you produced in the first few steps of the process. If you only have a small amount, you may not need to keep adding solvent.
When you’re done adding remaining solvent to the rice cooker, and the level in the cooker is reduced to about two inches, add ten to twelve drops of water to mix. The water will help the remaining solvent boil off and will cleanse the oil of solvent residue.
Hold the rice cooker with oven mitts and swirl it’s oily contents while the last traces of alcohol boil completely off.
When the process is near completion, you will notice three things:
The leftover oil will emit a crackling sound.
The oil will begin to bubble (that’s the source of the crackling sound).
Steam will start to escape from the oil. It may look like smoke, but don’t worry, it’s dark steam.
When those three criteria are satisfied, the separation process is almost done.
Wait for the rice cooker to switch to the low setting and then turn it off.
Let your fresh cannaoil mixture cool for about five minutes.
NOTE: Rick recommends that you proceed with the next step even though some strains of cannabis can produce an oil that is finished and ready to use at this point.
Pour the mixture into a stainless steel measuring cup, and place the cup on a coffee warmer to completely remove any water remaining in the mixture.
This process can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more. It all depends on the terpenes and flavonoids found in the strain you used to make your oil. The terpenes and flavonoids can cause the oil on the coffee warmer to bubble for quite some time.
You know the water has been vaporized when all bubbling has ceased. Remove the measuring cup from the coffee warmer and set it aside to cool.
Some oily residue will remain behind in the measuring cup and the rice cooker. There are a number of options for dealing with these leftovers.
You can soak it up with a piece of bread and consume it as medicine later. Keep in mind that the effects of edibles can take an hour or more to kick in. Be careful how much oil-soaked bread you consume.
Wash the cup or the pot with a small amount of alcohol. This creates a hemp oil tincture that varies in medicinal value depending on the amount of oil the alcohol contains. You can use the isopropyl alcohol you used in the first few steps, but don’t drink this mixture. Use the isopropyl alcohol tincture on your skin instead. For a tincture you can ingest, wash the rice cooker with a small amount of high-proof drinking alcohol like vodka or Everclear.
Leave the leftovers in the rice cooker for the next time you make cannabis oil. Mixing the oils from different strains can have many beneficial medicinal effects.
Place a small amount of loose tobacco in the rice cooker and heat until the oil is absorbed. The cannabis oil reduces many of the harmful properties contained in the tobacco.
After the oil has cooled, draw the warm mixture up into large needleless syringes and allow the mixture to cool into a thick grease like substance that you can easily squeeze out of the syringe. Place the syringe in a cup of hot water if you have trouble squeezing it out after it has cooled.
If you’re not going to use your cannabis oil right away, store it in a dark bottle with a lid or a stainless steel container and place that container in a dark, cool place. This keeps air and sunlight from damaging your valuable creation and helps the oil maintain its medical potency for a long time.
“At first, it may seem daunting for some to try to produce their own medicine,” Rick Simpson says. But in reality, the process is extremely simple. Simpson also strongly suggests mixing your favorite varieties of good indica-dominant buds to make your own custom marijuana miracle potions.