As I approach four years of writing this monthly hemp column, it occured to me that I’ve never written a DIY guide describing how to make hemp preparations. I’ve whined about the hemp industry, encouraged others to heed my advice and suggestions, and maybe even wasted your valuable time with my long-winded ramblings.
For the last 10 years I’ve made tinctures, topicals and other products out of hemp – and before that, medical Cannabis. Nerd that I am, I began by reading the science surrounding hemp, cannabinoids, extraction methods and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). And by science I mean original published scientific material, not some random website touting nonsense that isn’t true and doesn’t work.
So if you’re ready for some DIY hemp projects, keep the following information in mind:
If it works for pot, it works for hemp. And vice versa. If you know how to make medicated edibles, tinctures or topicals using Cannabis, the same techniques work using hemp.
Make a lot, not a little. If you’re making an edible, dosing can be a crap shoot. Make a lot of infused butter or oil, try a small amount, and calibrate up or down from there. Hemp has 0.3% THC or less, so intoxication shouldn’t be how you judge your results.
Raw hemp has CBDA not CBD. CBDA is the acid form of CBD with its own positive effects. Most people want CBD. Heat converts CBDA to CBD through a process called decarboxylation (decarbing). Heat raw hemp in a covered glass casserole dish at 245º F for 45 minutes. Allow it to cool while still covered.
Oil or alcohol. Take your pick. Cannabinoids like CBG and CBD, as well as terpenes, are soluble in oil and alcohol but not water. Try using butter, olive oil, or coconut oil if you’re making something to eat. Oils except butter are the base for topicals like salves or lotions. Put the oil and hemp in a Mason jar and put the jar in a hot water bath. If you’re making a tincture, use vodka or Everclear as your solvent. Allow it to soak unheated, shaking daily for two weeks.
Hemp on the cheap. Fortunately hemp is less expensive than Cannabis. As hemp becomes more popular, it’s getting easier to find. Contact local hemp farms near you. Ask for lab results listing how much CBD and other compounds you’re buying. Remember: The nose knows. If you like the smell, you’ll probably enjoy the results.
Maximizing your results. Hemp is inexpensive compared to Cannabis. Don’t be shy, buy a lot and use a lot. Saturation is the whole point, so don’t be stingy. Fill a Mason jar one-third full of hemp and top it off with high-proof alcohol, shake daily, and strain after a few weeks. Personally, I do my cold infusions from New Moon to Full Moon.
Bonus tips: Before you decarb all of your hemp, set some aside. Add the raw hemp with its terpenes intact to the oil or alcohol to add flavor and aroma, much like finishing hops when brewing beer. The raw portion adds another dimension to what you create. Cannabutter? Try making cannaghee. Clarifying butter removes the milk solids and milk solids aren’t a solvent – so ditch ‘em!
Start small, keep notes and learn as you go. Once you master making your own hemp-based preparations, don’t forget to share the results and the knowledge.
Pro Tips for Hemp Prep
- Glass and stainless steel are non-reactive. Avoid plastic, wood or bamboo.
- Mason jars handle both hot and cold well. Look for ones with ounce measurements on the side.
- Cheesecloth and coffee filters are both useful for straining. Cheesecloth for coarse materials, coffee filters to clarify.