I have a stash box full of cannabis concentrates—it’s a hodgepodge of old oils, discount concentrates that were too cheap to pass up, gifts from friends, and the like. And while I always aim to put them to good use, sometimes months pass before I remember I even have them. I try and smoke one only to find it’s harsh and tasteless; back in the stash box it goes, to be checked on a few weeks later when I’m running low. It’s an endless cycle of hot nonsense.
After some research, I realized there’s a better use for old concentrates: cook them into edibles!
If you didn’t know you could use your leftover concentrates to make potent edibles, break out your stash box and get ready to cook.RelatedHow to make edibles: Leafly’s guide to cooking with cannabis
Consider the dish you’ll infuse
The first step in cooking with concentrates is to give some thought to the final product—are you making, say, a plain salad dressing? You may want to opt for a distillate rather than RSO as RSO’s concentrated form may leave a bitter aftertaste.
“All types of cannabis concentrates can be used in cooking,” said Jay Denniston, director of science at Dixie Brands. “However, the myriad of different types of concentrates, with variability in potency, form, flavor, and aroma, can create difficulty in choosing the right type of product to use in an infused dish.”
“Full extract cannabis oils like RSO will deliver a heavier botanical flavor and aroma than crystalline extracts,” continued Denniston. “If a food will be consumed in small concentrated doses, like olive oil, the cannabis extract flavor will be present to a higher degree.”
Consider using concentrates with stronger flavors (like RSO or full-spectrum extracts) in sweet edibles, where the flavor can be more effectively masked.
Denniston also suggested opting for high-fat foods like peanut butter, olive oil, or ghee as they more easily accept concentrates for infusion.RelatedAre edibles for everyone? What to consider before ingesting cannabis
Choose your concentrate
Know your concentrate before infusing it.
“Concentrates that occur in semi-solid to solid states, such as live resin, terp sauce, budder, wax, and especially sugar wax, have the potential to contain high amounts of THCA,” said Denniston.
For those of you wondering what THCA is, it is the non-intoxicating compound that converts to the euphoric THC over time or when heat is applied.
Some concentrates are easier to work with than others. Crystal isolates, for instance, often come in the form of a white powder that’s easy to manipulate.
“The main advantage of using distillate is that it’s flavorless, scentless, and completely ready to be incorporated into the fat component of your chosen recipe,” said Troy Ivan, CEO & Founder of ExtractCraft.RelatedCannabis oil distillate concentrate: pure THC
Distillate, then, has a lot of appeal considering its potency and the fact it doesn’t need to be decarboxylated. However, each choice comes with its own unique challenges as well.
“The disadvantage [with distillate] is that all other cannabinoids and desirable cannabis components have been purposefully removed,” said Ivan. “Any synergistic and ‘entourage effect’ benefits contained in full-spectrum oil are not present in distillate and many would argue that it’s less medicinal with a lower efficacy.”
Others, like Brandin LaShea, chef and host of the digital cooking show Pot Pie, prefer to go the RSO route for its ease of use.
“I sometimes prefer to use certain concentrates like RSO because you can skip the decarboxylation step, and add them directly to your favorite recipes, which makes the process a lot easier for someone just starting out,” said LaShea.
Make sure you only use concentrates that have third-party lab test results. You want to be absolutely sure of what’s going into your edible.
How to make edibles with cannabis wax
While lighting up a bowl of your favorite bud may be your go-to, it’s time to take your weed to the next level with food, and we aren’t talking about smoking a J with breakfast.
With the health benefits and all around feel-good benefits of weed, the idea of adding it into your food and drinks was sure to become popular . The wide range of edibles on the market today have climbed to the top of the cannabis industry, creating a trail of tricks and tips for the home grower to begin making products with ingredients like cannabis waxes or dabs.
What is cannabis wax?
With so many different methods of extraction, it’s important to understand how cannabis wax is made, and how it can be used.
In short, cannabis wax is a concentrate pulled directly from buds or flowers, with the name wax coming from the color and how it looks like earwax. (Yeah, we know, strange name origin.) The wax is most often a dark yellow to orange color, and the important part is that it holds 40% to 80% THC or THCA. Compared to the average joint which is between 8% to 30% THC with some good strains being a bit higher, that’s quite a focus of THC.
THC vs. THCA
It’s important to know if your wax has THC or THCA, which should be labeled if purchasing it pre-made.
If you’re making it yourself, you need to be sure to decarboxylate your weed prior to extracting. THCA is what’s found in the cannabis plant naturally, and has no psychoactive effects. When it’s heated while smoking or baking, it releases the carboxylic acid, releasing the acid, i.e. the (A), and leaving you with THC, which is the most prominent psychoactive element of weed.
Wax or bud that has THCA is intended only for hot uses above 220 degrees Fahrenheit, limiting you to your uses. Wax or bud that have THC on the other hand, can be used hot or added cold into salads, drinks, or refined to be used with tinctures and other wellness products.
Regardless if you’re ready to use waxes, growing your own bud, or buying your favorite strain and wanting to turn it into wax, it’s important to understand how wax is extracted from your weed.
The extraction process is placed into two major categories, solvent-free extractions and solvent extractions known as hydrocarbons. Technically speaking, waxes are a stronger extract taken with hydrocarbons, while pressing for home use would be considered a rosin, but it’s important to understand your at-home potential.
Solvent extractions use a chemical to break down the pores of the cannabis bud, ultimately deteriorating the wax compound within the flower. The solvent is then removed leaving you with a pure substance, but these methods can be dangerous for at-home use since the solvents are flammable. Many of these methods also use pressurized chambers, and if a metal container being pressurized wasn’t dangerous enough, gasses being pressurized allows them to no longer be flammable, but instead be explosive.
So, as you can guess, we’ll stick with explaining the solvent-free extraction for your in-home use:
- The first step is to change your bud’s THCA to THC. You’ll need a baking sheet and some baking parchment paper. Carboxylic acid is known to release somewhere between 180 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit, so to be safe you can set your oven to 240 degrees.
- Get a piece of parchment paper larger than your baking sheet, and crinkle it into a ball. Spread that piece back out and lay it on your baking sheet. The metal sheet will get hotter than the oven temperature, so this will help lift your bud so it doesn’t overheat.
- Break your flower down into smaller pieces and lay them out across the paper, and place it into the oven on the top rack for about 40 minutes. Just enough time to pack a bowl and take a break. It’s good to stir your bud every once in a while, too.
- Once you’ve reached 40 minutes, turn the oven off and allow everything to cool. That’s it, your THCA has been converted to THC and can be used with cold applications.
For the next step, you’re going to need a specialized press for making extracts.
- First you will place your bud into 120 micron bags specifically made for rosin. This will allow the thick liquids to flow while holding all actual bud solids inside.
- Place inside a folded piece of parchment paper and place in a press set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, at a pressure of 700 material PSI. This will be pressed for 120 seconds, and you will literally be able to see the rosin seep out.
- Once the pressure lifts, remove the bag and using a scraper spoon, remove the rosin from the paper.
Cooking with wax
In each process of extracting wax, heat will be used because when the wax is cold it becomes more of a solid, and as it begins to heat up it becomes more of a liquid. This will be important for how you use your concentrates.
It’s also important to remember that wax is just a name derived from how it looks, in reality it’s a concentrate that can be mixed in and used to add THC or CBD to nearly anything.
Consider the potential of making cannabis butter or oil.
To make canna-butter, warm butter up to around 200 degrees fahrenheit and measure the temperature with a probe. Allowing the heat of the butter to heat up the wax, continue to stir until it is fully mixed. If the butter begins to harden too early, add warm water to the mix. Placing the bowl in the fridge, the butter and water will separate as the butter cools, making it easy to remove.
To make cannabis oil, follow the same steps using any oil you would like, being warmed on a double boiler.
Concentrates such as waxes tend to have a very strong weed aroma and flavor.
They become a great replacement for other herbs you may be using in your cooking such as Basil or Oregano. This natural earthy flavor is a refreshing addition to meats, pastas, and really any other meal where a depth of flavor is important. Be sure you want this flavor in your cooking before adding a large amount of wax.
When you add concentrates into your cooking, you want to add them to your wet ingredients and mix them in fully.
If possible, add this into your cooking a bit warm, around 200 degrees at most, as it will be easier to mix in. Wax is extremely sticky, and you may find it hard to get off your utensils. If this happens, consider mixing it in with a bit of oil or butter, as the fats help bond to the wax and allow it to soften. A bit of heat can also help the wax become more liquified, but heat with caution and overheating could cause bitter flavor or a loss of THC as it vaporizes.
Concentrates are known for having extremely high levels of THC or CBD. With levels up to 90% THC, it’s important to build up your use within your meals. This will also give you a chance to better understand how much you enjoy within a meal.
Wax can also be added to any drink — well, any non-alcoholic drink. Generally waxes don’t dissolve well mixed into alcohol and may leave you with a glob of wax in the bottom of your cup. They do pair really well with a morning cup of hot tea or coffee, and can be mixed into a cold drink as well with a lot of stirring. If your set on the alcohol THC mix, consider looking into distillates and other canna oils.
As much as you want and know you’ll enjoy cannabis added to your meal, remember it is a pretty potent psychoactive drug, so make sure to double check that everyone eating your meal knows what’s in their meal and wants to ride the wave with you.