Have you been using cannabis long enough that a 10mg dose is low for you? Maybe you are coping with serious chronic pain and you just need to up your intensity with homemade edibles. Or maybe you love microdosing, but you want to infuse in something like honey, and you just need a little bit at a time—but you still want a nice, powerful cannabis punch.
Concentrates to the rescue!
Edibles are an important dosing option in the cannabis world, and they’re an absolute necessity for anyone who either can’t smoke or has respiratory issues. They’re also important for people who need to keep their cannabis use under the radar, for whatever reasons.
But it’s not that easy to make your own edibles, especially with flower. And buying them is truly expensive!
Infusing fats with cannabis buds is expensive and time-consuming. Most recipes for infused oil or cannabutter calls for at least a quarter of an ounce of flower—and that’s just to make half a cup of oil or a stick of butter.
There is an alternative, and it starts with cannabis concentrates such as live resin, shatter, distillate, RSO, and wax. You can use any of these awesome choices to make edibles, and when you do, you skip the part where you have to extract the THC from the bud yourself, because someone already did that. Really, you’re just ensuring the THCA found naturally in the flower is already decarbed and ready to go, and combining it with your edible.
Most dispensaries extract cannabinoids from flower using CO2 or butane to create concentrates. The most common shelf offerings among live resins, shatters, and waxes are made with butane hash oil (BHO).
Infusing oils, honey, cannabutter, or other edible basics with cannabis concentrates is even easier than working with flower. It also delivers much stronger results for the more experienced consumer.
In this post, we’ll show you how to infuse with concentrates, give you all the techniques, tips, and tricks you need, show you some great recipes to make it happen, and hopefully convince you to get started.
The Concentrate Stash
Confession: I have a drawer with partly used and unused cannabis concentrates in it. Sometimes I buy something to try and hate it. Other times I get a sample and feel…underwhelmed. Still other times, something just isn’t what I thought it was.
What a waste, right? But it’s not a waste, because this is how I use it—and I always do.
This drawer of aging, discount oils, waxes, concentrates and such always go to good use, even that awful Cactus Breath I found to taste terrible. (That went into a super garlicky salad dressing by the way—a perfect fit!)
It’s time to put your stash drawer to work. From infused honey in your tea to a more interesting salad at lunch, potent edibles are on your horizon.
What Edibles Do You Want to Make?
Obviously, one of the first steps here in matching a concentrate with a likely edible is flavor. What are you cooking or baking?
You can use any kind of cannabis concentrate to cook, bake, or create an edible. However, the variability in form, potency, smell, and taste from concentrate to concentrate will change which option produces the best results.
Concentrates like distillate, which is a crystalline extract, basically have very little flavor. Something like live resin or RSO, on the other hand, has a lot more plant taste to cope with—though less so than flower. This means if you’re eating a small dose of whatever it is, you may need a lot of cannabis per dose—and that will mean more botanical taste.
Sweet edibles, especially those with stronger flavor profiles, are excellent for using concentrates with stronger flavors. This means something like a brownie with both a sweetness and a stronger fudgy flavor will be better for hiding something like a full-spectrum extract such as RSO.
And obviously, high-fat foods generally should always be your target when it comes to cannabis infusions. Butter, ghee, oils, peanut and other nut butters, and other fats more readily accept concentrates.
Concentrates Are All Different
Newsflash: cannabis concentrates may all seem the same from an edible-making perspective, but of course they’re not. There’s more to it than THC levels, including flavor and consistency—although that is all related.
Semi-solid and solid concentrates such as badder, budder, live resin, sugar wax, terp sauce, and wax often contain high levels of THCA. This is the non-intoxicating acid found naturally in the cannabis plant that converts to THC with heat—and the reason why we either smoke, vape, or decarboxylate cannabis to use it.
It is far easier to work with some concentrates than others, typically due to their consistency. Crystal isolates, for example, sometimes come in dry powder form that makes it much easier to add them to an infusion—especially compared to a sticky puddle or blob of shatter or wax.
Distillate is that it’s odorless, flavorless, and ready for incorporation into the fat in any recipe. However it does have its downsides. For example, it is easy to work with because it is really just THC—but that also means all other desirable cannabis components and cannabinoids have been removed, so you miss the benefits from entourage effect you get from full-spectrum products with distillate.
RSO is similarly easy to use, because again, you don’t need to decarb it. The downside with RSO is that it is definitely a full-spectrum product, and imparts that sort of flavor.
As always, never make edibles from concentrates (or anything else) without third-party lab test results. It is essential to know what’s in your products.
Dosing and Potency
We’ve said it elsewhere, probably a zillion times, but that’s because it’s true: a good experience with edibles absolutely depends on starting low and taking it slow. This is even more important with homemade edibles, because they are unpredictable and tough to dose.
To calculate an approximate dose—and it’s just that, an estimate—you will need several things:
- the concentrate weight in grams;
- the concentrate potency expressed as % THC or CBD; and
- the number of servings.
Calculate dose with this equation:
- (weight x THC% x 1,000)/number of servings
In other words: multiply the weight in grams of the concentrate by the THC percentage as a decimal. So a concentrate that is 75% THC would be .75, and if I started with 1 gram of it, the top of the equation would look like this:
- For example, 1 gram of a 75% THC potency concentrate is (1 x .75= .75) x 1,000 = 750, so this should produce about 750mg of THC.
Now all that is left is to divide by serving size:
- Let’s say I’m infusing that gram into half a cup of oil, and then using it to make a pan of brownies. If I cut that pan into 24 pieces, that’s 750mg divided into 24 servings, or about 31.25mg of THC per piece.
Of course, this relies on things like good mixing and even distribution.
Cannabis concentrates work so well in making edibles because it’s so easy increase potency without losing flavor. Even relatively cheap and less high-end concentrates tend to range from 60 to 70% potency per gram—and that means about 600mg to 700mg of THC per gram of concentrate if you infuse it well. It just makes sense.
Although your intuition may tell you to consume edibles on an empty stomach to maximize their effects, this is actually not the best way. Ideally, you should aim to slow down how fast your GI system is moving food through it to get more from your edibles, and that means having plenty of normal food to eat, too.
Typical rates for gastric processing vary from 60 to 240 minutes—up to two hours. Slowing the rate down a bit can help your body absorb more THC from your edibles, so do make sure and have a decent meal.
As you already know from reading the rest of our advice, you always need to decarboxylate your cannabis before cooking with it. If you’re using concentrates, this is usually still true. Decarboxylation converts THCA, the non-intoxicating precursor to THC, so without that step your edibles will disappoint.
However, overheating cannabinoids can destroy them, and the same is true of other phytonutrients and compounds such as terpenes. Instead, be slow and steady at low temperatures as you decarb, whether you’re working with concentrates or flower.
With concentrates you have the added challenge of texture, because in general they are sticky messes. Removing them from whatever container they came in can even be a challenge. (More tips on this below.)
Decarb concentrates like this:
Materials needed for oven decarbing (you can also use a dedicated device):
- BHO concentrate such as badder, budder, crumble, shatter, or wax
- Parchment paper
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Oven thermometer
- Preheat the oven on the lowest setting, but no more than 200°F or 93°C. Test the temperature before exposing your BHO to the heat.
- Line the baking sheet with the parchment paper and place concentrate at the center.
- Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Avoid overcooking, watch closely. It is ready once it has melted and begins to actively bubble.
- Remove from oven.
- Allow to cool just enough to work with safely.
Materials needed for oven decarbing (you can also use a dedicated device):
- Parchment paper
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Oven thermometer
- Preheat the oven on the lowest setting, but no more than 200°F or 93°C. Test the temperature before exposing your kief to the heat.
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and spread kief evenly toward its center.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, gently stirring kief about 10 minutes into the process.
- Remove from heat and allow kief to cool.
You don’t need to decarb either RSO or distillate.
Choosing a Fat
It is ideal to infuse oils with high saturated fat content. That’s because they hold onto that THC and remain both liquid and stable at room temperature. We love to cook with both coconut oil and avocado oil, across the board, for all purposes. They are vegan and can be used for just about anything.
Animal fats like lard and dairy-based butter are harder to work with and less shelf stable overall. Other plant-derived oils like canola and olive oil are also do-able, but they have lower saturated fat contents. This is awesome for your health, but less desirable for infusing—although they do work!
Why Coconut Oil?
Overall, it is tough to go wrong with coconut oil, and that’s where we start. Coconut oil can be used as a substitute for butter and in cooking almost any kinds of recipes.
As a butter alternative, it’s important to choose an oil that cannabinoids can bind well with. Coconut oil is very high in saturated fats compared to other butters or oils available, so it fits the bill. You can also combine MCT with other ingredients to make capsules, topical creams, you name it.
If you’re worried about a coconut taste, avoid virgin coconut oils which often do have a coconut flavor, and instead opt for MCT oil. That kind is processed to remove any coconut taste.
Infusing Coconut Oil with Cannabis Concentrate
Follow our instructions for infusing coconut oil here, but with these tips:
- Melt the coconut oil on low heat first.
- Add your decarbed concentrate to the melted oil and stir it in to blend, slowly.
- Monitor the temperature constantly with a thermometer; it should not exceed 240°F.
- Heat the concentrate and oil mixture, stirring occasionally once they are blended, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The total cooking time will depend on the amounts of oil and concentrate, but if decarbing is already done, one hour should be plenty.
- Remove from heat and cool for at least 5 minutes.
- Pour it into a container for storage and cool the container in the freezer for a few minutes.
- Store the oil at room temperature or in the fridge.
Infusing Butter with BHO
Making cannabutter with BHO is far less messy than flower, not to mention quicker and less stinky. Here’s how it works.
What You’ll Need:
1 gram of BHO
1 stick of butter (8 ounces or 1 cup)
A silicone baking mat or parchment paper on an oven-safe dish—you want a surface that can handle both heat and stickiness
Metal fork or skewer
Torch or other heat source—but not a match, that burns up too fast
Decarboxylate your BHO either on the silicone baking mat or parchment paper on the baking dish according to the directions above.
Turn off the heat and leave the BHO in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes to cool down and activate the THC more.
Chill the BHO in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, just to make handling it easier.
Melt your butter over low heat in the saucepan.
Lift your cold concentrate carefully with the metal fork or skewer.
With the torch or heat source, heat the concentrate—not directly! Just nearby in the air—to slowly melt it into your butter.
Gently stir the butter and concentrate together so it is evenly blended. Make sure there is even distribution throughout your butter.
Pour your cannabutter into a mold or jar and refrigerate. Remember, this is not a very strong-smelling infusion, but it’s still potent, so label your cannabutter! You don’t want to use this by mistake.
All that’s left is using your amazing and potent infusions in your food! If you know what you want to make, awesome. If not, check out our recipes.
Tips and Tricks for Making Edibles with Concentrates
Remember, concentrates can be sticky, and you’re working with heat. Your concentrates should only touch containers that are silicone or glass, and use tools that are silicone, glass or metal.
A glass container holding a concentrate can go in the oven—in theory—but not if it has labels on it, or anything like that. It’s always best to just remove your concentrate carefully from its container and place it in the glass or silicone dish you’ll be warming it in. Silicone spatula tools work best for this as they stick the least.
If you’re decarbing in a glass dish and your concentrate is so sticky that it’s just rough to work with, you can add just a little of your fat as it decarboxylates. That will help with transferring the concentrate.
Remember to mix everything thoroughly. Every serving should have as close to the same dose as possible, so it’s essential to mix the cannabis oil evenly throughout the fat, and the entire recipe.
One reason people like to make edibles with concentrates like RSO or distillate is that you don’t have to decarboxylate and you can mix them right into the recipe. This is true, but you have to do it correctly or it doesn’t work. For example, you can’t just dump a sticky concentrate or oil into your dry mixture if it’s not infused in fat. Instead, at it when it’s still very liquid to your wet ingredients to ensure more even distribution.
I love concentrates because they have so little flavor compared to flower. This means I can handle them in my honey, in aioli, in flavored butter on my bread, whatever. Once they’re decarbed, I just add them to whatever I like along with whatever I’m in the mood for: rosemary and black pepper cannabutter, or lemon zest and lavender canna-honey, for example.
Some concentrates are good for alcohol tinctures, such as shatter, but others such as wax, are not. Test a tiny drop of your concentrate if you’re not sure, but anything with a fatty or waxy texture will probably not work.
Some people use lecithin in edibles to help improve absorption and evenly distribute the cannabis into each dose, but lecithin tastes bad. For this reason, we don’t recommend it for home cooks.
As mentioned elsewhere, cannabis concentrates tend to boast 60 to 90% potency. This means each gram of concentrate has 600 to 900 milligrams of THC.
One gram of concentrate that is 80% potent has 800mg of THC. One gram of flower that is 20% potent has 200mg of THC, and you will not be able to extract all of them. But either way, you’ll need at least four times as much of that same flower to match that concentrate, so you may need to do the math as you shop to find the better deal.
As I explained elsewhere, you don’t need world’s best or freshest concentrate for this task, though. So I like to use up what I have or didn’t love, or buy discounted or less high end concentrates if I’m just making topicals or capsules. When I’m making a meal I want to love and taste, I might go for CO2 oil if I need no cannabis flavor interference. But if I can hang with some additional botanical notes, I might choose a bubble hash or live resin and put those terpenes to work. If I’m making gummies or just saving money, distillate or whatever is cheap.
Benefits of Using Concentrates for Edibles
There are so many reasons to use concentrates for edibles instead of cannabis flower, from simplicity to flavor, potency, and more.
Cannabis concentrates are much more potent, with THC and CBD levels of 60 to 80 and even up to 90 percent. All of the potency of those cannabinoids can be infused into almost any kind of edible, along with terpenes, if you use the right type of concentrate.
Cannabis edibles don’t need to taste like, well, grass. Using cannabis concentrates means all the potency and very little lingering cannabis flavor, if any. Concentrates take bitter chlorophyll out the equation, leaving a less bitter, lighter, cleaner flavor.
Removal of this plant matter does you the same favor with odors.
Cannabis concentrates are so much easier to work with than flower. No straining, squeezing, yuck. It’s also faster to work them into your fat or recipe once you’ve decarboxylated them.
You always have to decarb flower, and some kinds of concentrates need to be decarboxylated, but THC distillate and RSO don’t.
You dose more accurately with concentrates because you start with a lab tested product and then skip the part where you separate out plant matter. This means no guesswork about how much potency is lost.
Final Thoughts on Making Edibles with Concentrates
Basically, this is my go-to for edibles. I love working with concentrates, and I rarely work with flower anymore.
Concentrates deliver a more potent edible and they are easier to work with. They save me time and money as I create edibles at home, and I end up with much tastier, healthier cannabis edibles, too, that are different than anything I can get in any dispensary—even in a legal state.
I recommend making edibles with concentrates! And I’d love to hear how it works for you.