easy as pie: how to make cannabis oil

If I were to vanish from the earth on any given day—get hit by a bus or by someone texting while driving, take a fall down the stairs, get into a car wreck—I think to myself, how might Calvin survive? It’s not an unwarranted worry of mine because, unlike typical children who could carry on with life after the death of a parent, without harm or peril to their physical selves, if I died, it would take a huge and focused effort for Michael to take over everything medically related to Calvin just to keep him alive and buffered from the specter of life-threatening seizures. He’d have to know Calvin’s every medicine, their doses and time of administration, know how to refill them and get prior authorizations from the insurance companies and know how to make Calvin’s cannabis oils.

So, in the interest of recording my methods in the simplest way for Michael (no, I'm not planning on keeling over anytime soon) and, too, for other parents out there considering making cannabis oils for their children, here’s the nitty-gritty of it all. It’s as easy as pie once you get over the initial intimidation of trying something new:

THCA cannabis oil:
This will give you some idea of what to expect, but I highly recommend you study the original recipe I use before you begin, which is in much more detail and downloadable from Epsilon Apothacaries. I've included several links so you can visualize and/or purchase some of the items you'll need, many of which you can buy at your local hardware or kitchen store.

  1. Start with one ounce of high THC(A) cannabis flower, trimmed well, dried and cured. I use an indica dominant hybrid. Mainers, I get mine at Remedy dispensary in Auburn; they are awesome.
  2. Grind the dried bud by hand (wearing thin plastic gloves if you like) or with an herb grinder over a sterile stainless steel bowl. Note: sterilizing instruments is easiest by steaming them, rather than boiling; I found this out the hard way.
  3. Transfer the crushed bud to a large sterile mason jar, cover and freeze overnight and ...
  4.  Pour 8 to 10 ounces of organic grain alcohol into a second sterile mason jar, cover and freeze overnight. I use cane alcohol from Alchemical Solutions but some folks use Everclear.
  5.  The next day, pour the alcohol over the crushed bud and let sit, covered, in the dark for up to 30 minutes (some people recommend as short as 5 minutes), agitating the mixture several times by shaking or stirring.
  6. Dump the soaked bud into a medium or large sterile stainless steel sieve placed over a sterile 4 cup glass measuring cup with spout, and press out as much liquid as possible using a sterile spatula, spoon or other tool. Discard or compost the strained plant matter. You can also have it tested to see how complete your extraction was.
  7. Push a sterile 75 micron nylon mesh bag partway into a sterile mason jar. Pour the liquid from the measuring cup into the bag (which is partway inside the jar) to strain out further plant matter.
  8. Cover the jar and freeze no less than 24 hours. This process is known as winterizing and will remove some of the chlorophyll.
  9. Place a sterile 25 micron nylon pressing screen over another stainless mason jar and depress its center to catch the liquid. Secure it with a rubber band or string. Pour the "frozen" liquid into its center while keeping the jar in the freezer so as best to extract the frozen plant matter, which has settled to the bottom of the jar. This straining goes very slowly, so it will need to be done in stages. Keep both jars in the freezer while you wait for the liquid to pass through the screen. The screen will catch a light brownish silt and your liquid will be clear and likely green.
  10. Pour the well-strained liquid into a sterile 9 x 13 flat-bottom glass baking pan and place in a darkened, light-tight room (I put mine in the basement, the windows covered to keep out the light).
  11. Cover the pan with a rectangle air filter, secure it and place it near a fan positioned at a slight upward angle to aid in evaporation. Some people suggest sterilizing the fan and its blades.
  12. After a day or two the alcohol evaporates off and you’re left with a thin layer of golden resin.
  13. Procure a sensitive scale, such as a jeweler’s scale, to accurately weigh the resin to at least a tenth of a gram.
  14. Place a small sterile glass jar on the scale, which should be set to grams. Make note of the jar’s weight in case something goes amiss or the scale turns off, then tare to zero.
  15. Using a scraper and/or razor blades, scrape the resin from the pan into the jar while it sits on the zeroed scale. The resin will be black and tarry. (See tip below.) Make note of the total resin weight in grams.
  16. Using a sterile 50ml glass measuring beaker for ease, add 30 mls of edible oil to each gram of the resin and agitate to dissolve over the course of hours/days. I use MCT oil, which is made from palm or coconuts, but I may be changing to a pure liquid coconut oil instead. Many people use olive, safflower or black seed oil. Keep the jar in a dark place, such as a cupboard, away from heat while it dissolves. I usually yield close to 4.5 gms of resin which, by adding 30 mls of oil to each gram, gives me about 140 mls of tincture lasting Calvin about two months at roughly 2 mls per day in divided doses. As of this post, Calvin weighs 57 lbs.
  17. Transfer the oil to an amber bottle or bottles easiest to draw up each dose with a dropper or a syringe, depending upon the dose. I like these syringes which can be put in the dishwasher without the numbers washing off; choose white plungers so you can see and measure the oil easily. I use leftover Onfi bottles, which look something like this, their plastic bottle adapters made to accommodate various oral syringe sizes and can also be purchased online or gotten from your pharmacy. I label and date my batches, which are tested by the good folks at two local laboratories, Tested Labs and Proverde
To give you some idea of concentration, I start with flower that has about 18% THC. When all is said and done, using the recipe above, I get an oil that is between 21 - 26 mg THCA per ml with roughly 1 - 2 mg THC per ml.
CBD cannabis oil:
Procure dried, cured high CBD cannabis flower (I use a strain also from Remedy). The first step is to bake the bud in a mason jar (or two) with a slightly loose though well-thread lid at 240 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, agitating every 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature with the lid just finger tight. (In my opinion, this is the most straight forward way to decarboxylate your bud, but not necessarily the optimum method. I recommend researching and asking an expert, but it has worked fine for me.) Then, continue with the same steps as above, starting with step number 2, however ...

In my experience, the high CBD strain yields less medicine, so I add 13 mls of oil to each gram of resin instead of 30 mls, and I come up with a concentration of around 43 mg CBD per ml and about 2 mg THC per ml. I continue to fiddle with the potency. You can test your resin before adding the oil to have better control over the final product, but the labs need a fair amount of resin, which is why I test the end product instead and adjust Calvin's dose accordingly.

For much more detailed and precise instructions, please refer to the original recipe, from Epsilon Apothecaries, which you can download. The entire process takes several days but less than a week. 

Tip: to coax the resin to dissolve more quickly into the oil, add 1 ml of oil to the alcohol mixture and shake well just prior to evaporating it in the pan. This will dilute your final resin some, but will make the scraping easier and the dissolving faster. Simply weigh 1 ml of oil so you know how much weight to subtract to get the net weight of pure resin. In my experience, 1 ml of MCT oil, for instance, weighs about 1 gm. For instance, if you add 1 gm of oil to the alcohol mixture and, after it evaporates, you are left with 6 gms of resin substance, subtract 1 gm to account for the oil and your total net resin weight is 5 gms. Make sense?

Disclaimer: I can't be sure you'll end up with what you want or with an oil that will help your child's seizures, but perhaps it's worth a try. Remember, keep things as sterile as possible throughout the process.

Best of luck!


  1. I don't know you, Christy, but I have so much admiration for you. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I am unfortunately unable to make use of it, as to date, cannabis remains illegal in my country. I do hope our government soon gets its wake up call!

  2. This is wonderful. Thank you for posting. Have you considered avocado oil instead of coconut? I ate coconut oil for years and was recently turned off of it after reading up on it online. https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/healthy-living/eating-right/1790-is-coconut-oil-bad-for-you.html