What’s the Best Oil for Marijuana Edibles and Topicals

For years, I’ve got the following question:

“What’s the best oil for making edibles?”

And in the past, I’ve had to break that down into two answers.

  1. I like coconut oil because it’s so versatile and can be used in edibles, topicals or as an on the fly weed lube.
  2. Scientifically… I dunno.

For the longest time, we didn’t have enough data to really answer the question: What oil extracts most of the good stuff from your plant material?

That all ends today.

Yesterday, I talked to Shanel over at Ardent Cannabis and she passed on some really interesting data that answered that question and more.

So today’s post is for those of you who are ready to geek out on cannabis infusions. We’re going to cover:

  • The oils that extract the most THC (with lab testing!)
  • The limit of how much flower you can infuse into an oz of oil (with lab testing!)
  • And what you can do to make easy potent infusions that have 100% decarb and 80%+ extraction rates

If you just want to learn how to make CBD oil, Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil or an MCT Cannabis Tincture, click those links.

But if you’re ready to get nerdy about cannabis infusions, read on to find out more.

What’s the best oil for extracting THC and CBD?

If you’re here, we might be the same brand of weird. Do you like reverse engineering childhood cereals to make them healthy? How about talking about weed lube like it’s going out of style? Well, then… this chart may make your brain very very happy…

I’ve poured over this chart for a couple of days now and while more questions came up as I thought about it, it gives some pretty compelling answers.

Here’s what I took from it:

  1. Most oils are really good at extracting cannabinoids. You can safely assume that your oil will infuse at 80%+ when doing dosage math.
  2. If you look at the first three tested, with the highest percentages, they used a smaller amount of plant material in the 1 oz of oil. When you put ½ gram into 1 oz, all three oils/butter tested at over 90%.
  3. But when you look down the chart, you’ll see that the MCT oil lost about 4% of cannabinoids when the amount of cannabis was increased to 4 grams of plant material into the same amount of oil (1oz or about 1/4 cup of oil). I don’t think this is anything to be concerned about, but it shows that you can get a LOT of cannabinoids from your plant material into a VERY small amount of oil without losing much. My guess is that you could extract those “missing” cannabinoids by making high chai out of the leftover plant material.

And the winner is?

Butter lovers rejoice! On the chart above, butter did better than the other two tested with the smaller amounts of cannabinoids.

I wish they would have tested coconut oil with the same amounts as butter so we could have answered this age old question of butter vs. coconut oil, but maybe in another life.

There’s another chart from Ardent that showed EVOO infusing up to 96%, using 2 grams of plant material in 1 oz of oil. So technically, according to these tests, the winner is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

BUT, when they bumped the plant material up to 4 grams in 1 oz of oil, it infused at just 83%. So clearly, there’s a lot of variation and smaller amounts seem to infuse at higher percentages.

The takeaway is that fat-based infusions work great! I love different oils for different recipes and uses.

MCT is awesome when you’re on the go.

EVOO is great for savory things like salad dressing and everything that Racheal Ray cooks.

Coconut oil is so versatile and can be used in salves, edibles, capsules, suppositories, etc. etc. etc.

And butter is butter. If you’re not a vegan and don’t have issues with dairy, it improves the flavor of everything it touches and makes a great carrier for cannabinoids.  

How much cannabis can you infuse into oil?

These tests show that if you’re not concerned about losing 4-12% of your potential cannabinoids and you infuse 4 grams into every 1/4 cup of oil, you can make very potent oil in small amounts (up to 58mg/tsp).

That means that in about 1/4 cup of oil, you can infuse upwards of 670mg.

As a HUGE proponent of microdosing, I would caution that having oil that’s this potent isn’t for everyone. It’s quite rare that you would need large amounts of THC and regular use of high THC dosages can throw off your whole endocannabinoid system, leading to more issues down the road.

So I would recommend balancing your ratios of CBD:THC and cutting the oil if it’s too strong before incorporating it into recipes.

The best way to decarb and make potent cannabis oil

All of these tests were done in the Nova Decarboxylator. You may have heard me mention the Nova before because I’ve used it to decarb everything I’ve made in the past 4 years.

For a long time, you couldn’t infuse directly in the device so you’d have to dump the decarbed material into an MB2, mason jar or crockpot and infuse it there.

Thankfully, the folks at Ardent came up with a simple and economical solution that makes the Nova the ONE device you need to make small-batch, potent infusions. They developed a silicon sleeve that you can decarb and infuse in.

So now you just:

  1. Put your plant material in the device. Hit the button. The light will turn red. (if you’re using high CBD plant material, do this step twice)
  2. When it turns green, add your oil and hit the button again.
  3. When it turns green, strain out the plant material and store or add to your favorite recipe.

Get your Nova from the Wake and Bake shop here!

This is the best deal on the Nova anywhere and you get the added bonus of the sleeve that makes it an all-in-one infusion solution.

This week, I’ll talk a little bit more about the sleeve and infusing oils in the Nova, so let me know if you have questions about decarboxylation, infusion or using the nova to infuse.

P.S. If you really want to get your geek on, you can read the full post from Ardent about infusion here: What We Learned From Infusing Oils and Testing THC Levels

With infused love,

Thank you for supporting this site with purchases made through links in this article.

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Tracy
    October 24, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    While I loved my Nova for the brief time I had it- it broke after 8-10 uses. When I contacted them they told me to make sure to cool the machine down in between uses. It broke after I double decarbed a batch of CBD (following your your directions). They told me that I needed to cool the machine down between uses.
    So… I would mention this in your posts so that others do not break their machines like I did by hitting that button again after the first decarb. This information is not listed anywhere on the Nova directions so I was pretty upset to have wasted my money (Since I don’t use the machine all that often- it broke just outside the 1 year warranty and they would not replace it).

  • Reply
    Denis
    October 24, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    will ghee work as well as unsalted butter?

  • Reply
    Georgette Koury
    October 24, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    If you watch Shanel’s Ardent Nova videos, she doesn’t use a FLUID ounce of oil. She weighs the oil. An ounce of oil is a quarter cup or so. Shanel uses ONE GRAM of decarbed flower in approx. a QUARTER CUP of oil … in a second decarb cycle. I’ve done this several times and the results are always stellar. (I use a 50ml Pyrex beaker instead of the silicon sleeve.) If I’m misunderstanding something in her videos, let me know…but I follow the Ardent Nova site pretty closely.

    • Reply
      Corinne
      October 26, 2019 at 10:11 am

      Thank you so much George! I’ll update the post to reflect this 🙂

  • Reply
    John Gray
    October 25, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Im sorry but I dont get the chart. What does the column tell us with 2g~400mg?

  • Reply
    Darrell Parker
    October 25, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Can I spray my plant material with high proof alcohol such as Don Q 151 rum in between decarb and infusion using the Ardent? I learned this step from a High Times lab test for oven decarb and crockpot infusion. It breaks down the chlorophyll, improving the flavor and helps a bit with better thc extraction. Just curious if I would be able to continue that step with the Ardent.

    • Reply
      Corinne
      October 26, 2019 at 10:14 am

      I don’t see why you couldn’t 🙂 I’ll test it out next time I make a batch.

  • Reply
    Randi
    November 5, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    How do you suggest preparing a sublingual delivery method? Infusion? Tincture? Something else?

  • Reply
    Ben
    November 11, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Hi Corine,

    Thanks for this post, my wife and I love the tips from your blog. We had a questions regarding options for making edibles without fats or alcohols whatsoever? My wife and I both don’t enjoy alcohol that much and at a recent doctor visit my wife had high cholesterol readings and with us trying to cut down on fats wanted to see if you had any recommendations to making edibles without alcohol or oils?

    Thanks!

  • Reply
    Lisa Hamilton
    November 11, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    Corrine, thanks for a great article. But I am in the same boat as John Gray, who asked on Oct 25 about the 2g~400mg. I also have no clue on how to read this column. Please help!

  • Reply
    Jim Gardner
    November 13, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    When Ardent tested the potency of the infused oils they used cannabis that tested 20% THC “after decarb” (THC=THCA*.877+THC). Before decarb cannabis is mainly THCA plus a small amount of THC. You decarb to convert the THCA to THC. In this process the THCA molecule releases a part of itself under heat to leave only the THC molecule. This results in about a 13% lose in weight (THCA*.877=THC)

    The Ardent chart uses cannabis tested at 20% THC after decarb. 1 gram @20% contains .2 grams THC (1g*20%=.2g), .2g = 200mg (1000 milligrams * .2 = 200mg). Therefore 1g decarb cannabis = 200 mg THC at 20% cannabis.

    When they quote 2g = 400mg what they are saying is when you have 1g cannabis that contains 200mg THC then 2g will contain 400mg THC or 2g=400mg.

    • Reply
      Corinne
      November 30, 2019 at 2:52 am

      Are you saying my math was wrong? That never happens. JK… it’s very likely, but I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I’ll circle back around and update the post 😉

      xoxo,
      Corinne

  • Reply
    Ru
    November 19, 2019 at 10:30 am

    What’s a good MCT brand? They are so varied in quality and price? I got the cocoa butter you recommend it’s amaaaahhhzing!!!! Thanks!!☺️

  • Reply
    jay
    December 3, 2019 at 3:13 am

    hello, i can’t find a reference for the conversion you speak of where 1ounce of oil by weight equals 2 ounces (or 1/4 cup) by volume. everywhere i look online indicates that one ounce of oil by weight equals on ounce of oil by volume. can you provide a source for this conversion? many thanks.

    • Reply
      Georgette Koury
      December 3, 2019 at 9:05 pm

      Watch the Ardent videos. Shanel uses an ounce of oil by weight. Not a liquid ounce. And as far as any conversion tables go, different oils are heavier.

    • Reply
      Georgette Koury
      December 3, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      Plus, I used my own scale to weigh ~40 ml of MCT oil since I infuse in a small (50ml) Pyrex beaker using the Ardent Nova. And yes, I weighed the empty beaker first.

  • Reply
    jay
    December 5, 2019 at 11:09 am

    hi! i found a reference for the fluid/dry weight question i had. love your blog!

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