What is cannabutter?
As the name implies, cannabutter is a combination of cannabis and butter.
It’s most commonly used to make cannabis edibles, particularly baked goods like cookies and brownies.
Before buying or making cannabutter, you should decide what effects you’re hoping to experience.
Cannabis contains two main compounds known as cannabinoids — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is a psychoactive compound that leads to a high, while CBD is not mind-altering (1, 2Trusted Source).
Depending on its intended use, cannabutter may contain only CBD or both CBD and THC.
Cannabutter is cannabis-infused butter. It can contain only CBD, which isn’t psychoactive, or both CBD and THC, which gives it mind-altering properties.
Cannabutter can be used in any recipe that calls for butter, meaning you can have your cake and weed it, too. But start asking questions — how to make cannabutter, how to control the potency of your weed butter, what the heck is decarboxylation — and things get very complicated very quickly.
If you have a high tolerance, look for 20% THC or higher. When shopping for weed for cannabutter, high-tolerance cannabis consumers have a simple task: buy the most potent cannabis available. This flower need not be top-shelf since a lot of the qualities that define top-shelf — glistening trichomes, colorful hues, perfect bud structure — will be irrelevant once it’s in a vat of butter. But the flavors and effects of the strain will shine through, so don’t buy an energizing strain if you’re not looking to be energized or a lemon-scented strain if you’re not a fan of citrus.
May alleviate cancer-related symptoms
Many cancer treatments lead to undesired symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and pain, and a lot of research focuses on natural remedies to relieve them (3Trusted Source).
Cannabis has been used as a natural treatment for nausea and vomiting throughout history. In fact, its anti-nausea properties were one of its first discovered medical benefits (4Trusted Source).
Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids. They affect your body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates various bodily processes, including mood, memory, and appetite (4Trusted Source).
While THC has been most extensively studied, it appears that other cannabinoids, such as CBD, may also help treat nausea and vomiting (4Trusted Source).
However, keep in mind that excessive cannabis use can lead to the same symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to ensure you’re using cannabis safely and effectively (5Trusted Source).
Finally, cannabis is widely prescribed to help treat cancer-related pain (5Trusted Source).
Cannabutter can be incorporated into foods, making it a useful, smoke-free, edible option for people with cancer.
Cannabis offers many health benefits and is becoming more accepted as a natural treatment for various diseases and ailments.
Cannabutter is a smoke-free option and can be used in different edible cannabis products, making it a popular choice.
The decarboxylation debate
Read any cannabutter or edible how-to on the internet and it’ll tell you to decarboxylate your weed or don’t even bother. But it’s a little more nuanced than that. Decarboxylating, or decarbing, simply means heating cannabis flower in order to convert non-intoxicating cannabinoid acids into the cannabinoids most of us are familiar with. So, with a little heat and time, the THCA in raw flower turns into THC, CBDA turns into CBD, and so on. This happens automatically whenever you smoke or vape cannabis, thanks to your lighter flame or vape heating element.
Toasting your flower in the oven before simmering it in butter ensures your infusion will be chock full of THC, but that’s not necessarily the goal of every cannabis consumer. High-tolerance consumers who want to get every last bit of THC out of their flower should absolutely decarb. Brand new cannabis consumers would be wise to skip this step. And low-tolerance consumers might be happy going either route but should pay close attention to the math if they choose to decarb
How to make cannabis-infused butter (or ‘cannabutter’)
Butter is a delicious and versatile carrier for THC and other cannabinoids, although it isn’t the only one. You can also use coconut oil, olive oil, or any other fatty oil for your infusions. Just keep in mind, butter burns easily, so keep a close eye on your cannabutter as it cooks.
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 cup (7-10 grams) of ground cannabis, decarboxylated
The essential (and often missed) first step: Decarboxylating the cannabis
Before making your cannabutter, you’ll need to decarboxylate, or “decarb”, the cannabis flower you’re working with. Skipping this step will result in a weak or inactive finished product. Here’s why: Cannabis buds produce a non-intoxicating acidic cannabinoid called THCA. When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, the heat converts THCA into THC, the molecule that delivers euphoric effects. If preparing CBD edibles, this same process should be applied.
Some recipes may instruct you to decarb cannabis in the hot butter directly, but the less time you spend soaking the buds, the better your infused butter is going to taste. For this reason, we recommend decarbing in the oven first.
Basic cannabutter recipe
- Decarb the cannabis. Preheat your oven to 245ºF. Place cannabis buds on a non-stick, oven-safe tray. Cover the tray with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Insert the tray into the oven and set a timer for 30-40 minutes. Older, drier cannabis may require less time. (Tip: you can also set your oven to 300ºF and heat for 10 to 18 minutes, although low-and-slow is the recommended approach when decarbing to better preserve the cannabinoids.) Every 10 minutes, gently mix the buds with a light shake of the tray to expose the surface area of the buds equally.
- Grind. Grind the decarboxylated cannabis coarsely with a hand grinder.
- Melt the butter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of butter into a stock pot or saucepan. Simmer on low and let the butter melt. Adding water helps to regulate the temperature and prevents the butter from scorching.
- Add the cannabis. As the butter begins to melt, add in your coarsely ground cannabis product.
- Simmer. Maintain low heat (ideally above 160ºF but never exceeding 200ºF) and let the mixture simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture should never come to a full boil.
- Strain the cannabutter. Set a funnel on top of a jar and line it with cheesecloth. Once the butter has cooled off, pour it over the cheesecloth funnel and allow it to strain freely. (Tip: Squeezing the cheesecloth may push more bad-tasting plant material through).
- Refrigerate the jar of butter. If excess water forms at the bottom of the jar, you can remove the solid butter with a knife and drain the water out. (The butter will need to refrigerate for about an hour before removing the water.)
- Dose carefully. Refer to dosing information below before adding your butter to any snacks, dishes, or desserts.