How to Properly Dose Homemade Marijuana Edibles
Published on 1/30/21
For years, we've known that cannabis and cooking go hand-in-hand. After countless batches of too-weak or astronomically strong magic brownies, marijuana home chefs have only recently started wondering how to test THC content in butter and using an edible dosage chart or a potency calculator to determine the near-exact strength of infused treats. Now, with the help of advancements brought on by legalization and the continued mainstreaming of marijuana culture, every aspiring home chef can easily predict the amount of THC and CBD that go into that next batch of sativa Snickerdoodles or chocolate chronic cookies.
Why Is Edible Strength So Much Different Than Flower?
Before we break out the calculators and start cannabis math class, it is important to know how edibles interact with your body and why eating marijuana often results in an extended and more intense high than smoking or vaping.
Instead of traveling from the burning ember of a joint into your lungs and bloodstream like smoking, the cannabinoids in an edible are processed through your stomach and liver. Our body's digestive processes transform THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a stronger, longer-lasting and sleepier version of marijuana's most common psychoactive component.
To make edibles at home, it takes a little more effort than just mixing an eighth of your favorite flower into some Betty Crocker brownie mix. First, you'll need to decarboxylate the cannabis at 230 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes to convert as much THCA as possible to fully active THC. Once you decarb the weed and let it cool out of the oven, it's time to pick your infusion ingredients.
Cannabinoids are picky when it comes to infusions and do their best work when bound to a fatty oil like butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil. Once you've decarbed your bud and settled on a recipe, it is important to remember that both decarboxylation and your oil infusion will not capture the entire breadth of THCA that was present in your raw cannabis flower. As we move forward and learn how to measure THC in edibles when baking, you must calculate and take into account these conversions.
How To Calculate Cannabutter Dosage In Homemade Edibles
Alright, time to answer the million-dollar question; how to make precisely-dosed edibles. Before we go over the most popular method for determining a relatively accurate potency estimate for your home-baked edibles, it is important to remember that any calculations done while cooking with cannabis flower are not exact, and can vary widely depending on ingredients and process. What we will be calculating are the highest possible dosages that your cooking could produce.
No matter what you plan to cook and what kind of flower you are using, the most important step in determining the potency of your edibles. Most cannabis sold in legal dispensaries is tested and labeled either with a percentage of THC or THCA, but if your state does not have legal retail shops, you can assume the THCA content of low-grade cannabis is in the 8-10% range, although most THC dominant cannabis sold these days averages around 15-20% THCA, with high-grade bud clocking in at 20-25% THCA. For this example, we will calculate as if we are using cannabis bought from a dispensary and tested at 20% THCA. To make the numbers as round as possible, we will also calculate potency using a classic edible recipe that requires one ounce (28 grams of weed) for every cup of butter or oil.
To break that bud into edible terms, the math becomes a lot easier if we convert THCA percentage into total weight, measured in milligrams. Every gram has 1,000 milligrams, so our flower would have 200 milligrams of THCA per gram. Multiply that number by 28 for our recipe, and the amount of raw THCA entering our kitchen is 5,600mg. During the decarboxylation process that converts THCA to THC, only about 88% of the original potency remains. To keep our numbers clean and estimate the highest possible outcome, we'll round up to 90% potency retention. Multiply our 5,600mg of THCA by that 0.9 retention rate, and our post decarboxylation flower potency is now 5,040mg.
Next, it is time to infuse. Unfortunately, not all of your freshly decarbed THC will make its way into your edible batter. Depending on your infusion method, the fat will retain anywhere from 30-60% of the THC used. Pulling out our cannabutter dosage calculator and once again erring on the side of caution, multiply our 5,040mg of THC by the maximum 0.6 infusion rate, and the highest possible potency infused in our one cup of butter is 3,024mg.
In edible form, that's a whole lot of THC. If you wanted to batch your edibles into 50mg doses, you could produce 60 brownies. If you wanted to make a lower dose brownie at just 10mg, you could make more than 300 individual treats. For those of you who aren't ready for full-strength edibles or don't trust your scale, try using low-THC, high-CBD strains that will allow you to experiment with dosing cannabutter without going overboard.
Different Fats and Oils Will Change Your Average Edible Dose
To add one last wrench in the edible potency equation, the strength of your homemade treats will also depend on the fat saturation content of your infusion base. The higher the content of saturated fat, the more THC it will be able to retain during infusion. We noted earlier that oils typically infuse 30-60% of the imputed THC, and where your edibles fall on that spectrum is entirely dependent on your oil.
Butter is the most popular base for amateur edible production. Thanks to its relatively high saturated fat content, it also makes for some incredibly potent infusions. If you want to make vegan edibles, vegetable oil and olive oil will work. Keep in mind that these oils have lower saturated fat contents, so they will produce a weaker final product. Lately, edible makers have traded both butter and basic cooking oil for coconut oil, a vegan alternative with an incredibly high saturated fat content. No matter what kind of fat you use, as long as you follow the proper steps for decarboxylation, infusion and baking, you should have a good estimate of your edible's potency and prepare yourself for a fun experience.
Do you use any secret tricks to measure or test the potency of your homemade edibles or have a famous made-from-scratch brownie recipe? Let us know in the comments below!