If the difficulty of access and exorbitant costs are preventing you from enjoying the many and varied health benefits of CBD, help is at hand with this easy step-by-step guide for how to make CBD oil at home.
Reasons To Make Your Own
Despite the recent down-scheduling of certain CBD products from Schedule 4 (Prescription Medicine) to Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only Medicine), obtaining and benefiting from CBD oil in Australia is still a somewhat challenging undertaking.
And that’s even before you consider the sometimes prohibitive price of medical cannabis products, with higher concentration, high-quality varieties of CBD oil costing as much as 300 AUD.
Is It Difficult To Make CBD Oil at Home?
You don’t have to have a master’s degree in chemistry to make your own CBD oil. All you need is one or two simple kitchen utensils, access to a heat source, and a few hours to produce your own, tailor-made, high-quality CBD oil.
It really is that simple.
But before we begin, it’s important to understand the raw material you will be working with, the cannabis plant, and its relation to the end product, CBD oil.
The Cannabis Plant
The cannabis plant is a genus of flowering plants that belongs to the Cannabaceae family. The varieties or strains of cannabis plants can vary quite widely, with some like the Sativa strain containing higher levels of THC, while others like Indica tend to major in CBD.
To be clear, THC is the element associated with a marijuana-like ‘high’, whereas CBD is better known for a more full-bodied, calming effect. Higher levels of THC are often responsible for the distinction in classification between marijuana-derived CBD products and hemp-derived CBD products.
Under Australian law, the THC of any CBD product must be no greater than 0.3 percent, while the overall CBD quantity cannot exceed 2 percent.
Worth bearing in mind.
How To ‘Extract’ CBD Oil
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of making your own CBD oil at home.
Assuming that you’ve got hold of the perfect strain of cannabis plant with just the right ratio of CBD and THC for your particular needs, the first thing you need to concern yourself with is the extraction of these compounds.
There are three accepted ways of removing CBD from a cannabis or hemp plant.
- Supercritical CO2 method.
- Alcohol method.
- Oil method.
The first supercritical CO2 method, though widely considered to be the best, in that it produces the purest form and highest quality CBD, is essentially an industrial process and has no real place in a DIY guide.
This leaves options two and three, namely the alcohol and oil-based methods.
Activating CBD (Decarboxylation)
Regardless of which method you select, the cannabinoid compounds will need to be ‘activated’ before you can begin in earnest.
This is done by heating the cannabis plant matter in an oven at low to medium heat (230-250 degrees Fahrenheit) for approximately 30 minutes to transform it from its benign ‘acid’ state into something much more potent, both in medicinal and psychoactive terms.
This process is called ‘decarboxylation’ and is a vital step. By doing this, you will ensure THCA and CBDA elements will become the more familiar THC and CBD and ready to use in your homemade CBD oil.
It’s worth noting here that, although in theory you can ‘decarb’ at a later stage of the process when the oil is being heated, this method of doing it in advance is considered more failsafe and ensures that both the THC and CBD are perfectly primed.
- Baking tray.
- Double boiler (failing that, a makeshift equivalent such as a heatproof bowl placed on top of a steaming saucepan.)
- Or a slow cooker, aka crockpot.
- Glass bowl.
- Glass jar with lid.
- Syringes (only for the alcohol method.)
The Oil-Based Method
The oil-based method of extracting CBD is both practical and safe enough to do at home. What’s more, it doesn’t require any initial costly financial outlay to purchase equipment and can be completed in a single day.
You’ll need 1 cup (250 millilitres) of cannabis plant matter (10 grams) decarboxylated and ground down, plus 1 cup (250 millilitres) of carrier oil—coconut ‘MCT’ oil, olive oil, etc.
Why Do I Need a ‘Carrier’ Oil?
CBD extract is dissolved in a ‘carrier oil’, such as olive oil or coconut oil, to improve its bioavailability to be better absorbed by the human body. Put differently, CBD is fat-soluble and is more effective when digested alongside fat.
A good carrier oil helps retain the goodness of CBD oil and makes it more palatable and suitable for certain therapeutic applications.
Making Your Own CBD With a Carrier Oil
There are two different methods to extract CBD using oil.
The Double Boiler Method
- Decarboxylate your cannabis by breaking up your plant into reasonably small pieces, spreading evenly on a baking sheet, and heating in an oven at 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit for around 25 to 30 minutes. Look for it to dry and turn light brown in colour.
- Add water to the bottom pan or compartment of your double boiler or makeshift device. Then add the cup of your chosen oil to the top section of said implement, and heat gently—if you’re using coconut oil, heat until it melts.
- Grind your decarboxylated cannabis and stir into the warm oil.
- Continue to warm and occasionally stir the cannabis and oil mixture over low heat. Do this for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. The key here is not to overheat.
As the cannabis matter has already been decarboxylated, try to avoid heating beyond 200 degrees Fahrenheit, the ideal being somewhere in the region of 120-180 degrees Fahrenheit. This is vital so as not to impair the already activated CBD and THC.
- Line a strainer with a cheesecloth and position it over a glass bowl. Then simply pour the cannabis oil mixture through cheesecloth and strainer into the bowl, being careful to squeeze out any excess oil from the cannabis as you do so.
(Remember when doing this that the oil will be hot. Using gloves at this stage is a very good idea.)
- Finally, transfer the strained cannabis-infused oil into your storage jar—remember the one with a lid—and simply store it in a suitably cool and dark place.
The Slow Cooker or ‘Crockpot’ Method
- Decarboxylate and grind your cannabis as described in the ‘double boiler’ method above.
- Use your slow cooker or crockpot to heat the oil at a low temperature.
- Add the ground cannabis and stir.
- Continue to heat at the machine’s lowest setting for approximately 3 hours. You can repeat the process several times if you wish to increase potency.
- Finally, simply strain, squeeze and store.
Making Your CBD Oil With Alcohol
You’ll need 1 cup (250 millilitres) of cannabis plant matter (10 grams) decarboxylated and ground down, plus some food-grade ethanol. Then follow these steps:
- Decarboxylate and grind your cannabis in the manner detailed above.
- Submerge the cannabis plant matter into food-grade ethanol and stir for 5 to 10 minutes. The idea is that the alcohol will extract the CBD and terpenes.
- Separate the CBD infused alcohol extract from the plant matter. Strain the solution through a piece of cheesecloth into your bowl below. At first, the CBD infused alcohol will have a dark green colour to it. Repeat the process until the colour is clear.
- Set up the double boiler (or the makeshift) and pour the alcohol extract into the top part of the appliance. Be careful as alcohol is highly volatile; avoid naked flames. Low temperatures are sufficient to evaporate the oil. It should only take 15-20 minutes. Look for a rich viscosity, a tar-like quality.
- Finally, store your full-spectrum FECO (Full Extract Cannabis Oil) concentrate in syringes or an airtight jar in a suitably cool and dark place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Despite the recent down-scheduling of certain CBD products from S4 to S3, buying CBD oil in Australia is still somewhat tricky.
To date, there are no registered over-the-counter CBD products available in pharmacies.
In the absence of a prescription or referral, you’re restricted to illegal but mostly reputable green market pathways in Australia or riskier black market pathways abroad.
For more information on CBD regulations, see our: complete guide to CBD Laws in Australia or our in-depth report on where to buy CBD products in Australia.
And that’s that. Once cooled, your bespoke homemade CBD oil is ready to use and is good for at least six months if you intend to keep it for that long.
So whether you wish to use it orally, or bake mouth-watering homemade cannabis edibles, or even apply it to the skin as a salve or a balm, you can now do so every day for many days to come—without the need for a prescription or breaking the bank.
What better way of truly benefiting from the many and varied health properties of cannabis-based CBD oils than from in the comfort of your own home and to your very own recipe.