When it comes to botanical body care it's all about the base oils
This is because lipid cannabinoid compounds are insoluble in water. In order to effectively extract the most beneficial bits of your bud it is critical to use a non-polar solvent (also known as a menstruum) that is high in fat. Fortunately for us, these menstruums tend to be delicious, deeply nourishing, and fantastic for the skin. The following guide describes a few of the most favored solvents in the industry and the best buds to put in them.
First Things First: The best buds for you base oil infusions
13) Cannabis Trim
for average cannabis product
High quality organic cannabis trim or 'shake' is perhaps the most favored ingredient in the cannabis kitchen. These are the trichome covered sugar leaves of the cannabis plant that have been trimmed away from the tightly clustered flower buds.
If you live where the law allows I encourage you to grow your own cannabis at home. You will soon find that you have more trim than you know what to do with. If at home cultivation is not an option you can often buy trim from your medical cannabis caretaker at a discount.
15) Cannabis Buds
for excelent cannabis product
For the average Joe, locating a good source for cannabis trim can be tricky. But never fear, whole cannabis flowers or 'buds' are considered to be even better because they contain the highest concentration of trichome resin glands. About an ounce of high quality organic flower from your local dispensary should get you off to a good start.
Whatever you choose, be sure to prepare your cannabis properly before infusing.
16) Cannabis BHO
For luxury cannabis product
Most high quality topical and edible products on the market today are made using organic Co2 or BHO Cannabis extraction. Not only does this eliminate the issue of color and smell leaching into the infusion, it is significantly easier to manage. Without the raw plant material there is no messy cleanup or staining concerns. It is also much easier to calculate dosage. You can pick up a Gram of high quality organic Co2/BHO extract at your local dispensary but it will certainly be at a top shelf price.
The top 12 Menstruums for your cannabis kitchen
1.) Rubbing Alcohol
for topical liniments
Isopropyl alcohol is a favorite for cannabis liniment and topical tincture because it has the ability to dissolve a wide range of non-polar compounds. It also evaporates quickly, leaving nearly zero oil traces, compared to ethanol, and is relatively non-toxic. A good 90% is always helpful to have on hand and easy to find at your local super market. But remember, rubbing alcohol is for topical use only and not to be ingested.
2.) High Proof Liquor
For Tincture and cordials
Good old fashioned Vodka and Everclear are both fantastic solvents for almost any herb you can think of. In addition to extracting a wide range of beneficial compounds alcohol causes the mucus membranes in the mouth to become more permeable. This makes it easier for the medicine in the form of tincture to bypass the digestive system and head directly for the blood stream. If you want to get real fancy pick up some Organic Grape Alcohol from Alchemical Solutions .
For your sweet tooth
Glycerin is a thick, sweet-tasting, colorless, liquid with a high boiling point making it ideal for cannabis candies and sweets. It is often used as a substitute for those who have a harder time processing alcohol. However, it is important to note that at saturation, glycerin only holds 33% cannabis compared to an alcohol extract by volume. This means that you will need about three times the amount per dose.
4.) liquid oil of Coconut
For massage oil base and lubricant
As the name suggests, fractionated coconut oil is a fraction of the coconut oil from which almost all the long chain triglycerides are removed, thus leaving mainly the medium-chain triglycerides, an absolutely saturated oil. This saturation gives it a very, very long shelf life and greatly increased stability. In addition, fractionating raises the comparative concentration of Capric acid and Caprylic acid, for an antioxidant effect.
Fractionated coconut oil is often the main ingredient of cannabis lubricants and massage oils but buyer beware...Coconut oil can degrade the integrity of latex and polyurethane condoms so handle with care.
5.) solid oil of Coconut
For salves, lip balms, and food stuffs
By now I'm sure you've heard the gospel of coconut oil. It's used by just about everybody for just about everything from hair conditioner to heart health. In fact, if you don't already have a bucket in your cupboard I strongly suggest you go out and get yourself one. Just be careful which one you choose.
Unrefined coconut oil has not been processed in any way and is ideal for cooking and baking. On the other hand, if you're making topicals or body care products consider an unscented refined version as it's processing does not affect the functionality of the oil through the skin. Either is suitable for your favorite botanical butter infusions.
6.) Fatty Cooking Oils
For cooking and conditioning
If you plan to get into cannabis cooking at all you are going to want to invest in some high quality, high fat, organic cooking oils. Not only are they ideal for infusing with lipid compounds, they are also extremely delicious! Consider the awesome that is cannabis vinaigrette or pasta.
What kind of oil to choose is up to you. Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants making it a heart healthy, anti-inflammatory option to add to your arsenal. Another anti-inflammatory is Avocado oil which is choc full of naturally occurring vitamin E making it easy to digest as well as being deeply nourishing to the skin. When in doubt buy both. You really can't make a wrong choice.
7.) Butter or Ghee
For Cooking and Baking
Butter is probably the most common infusion medium because it can be used in baked goods as well as savory dishes. But the idea is to get the most bang for your buck by choosing a brand that is high in butterfat. This typically results in a more potent infusion. If you can't find a fancy high fat butter you can always make a Ghee by clarifying some quality organic butter to remove the milk solids and water, enabling it to absorb THC more efficiently.
To make ghee, gently melt your butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. As it cools, the butter will separate into three layers. Foam will appear on the top layer, the milk solids will migrate to the bottom of the pan, and the clarified Ghee will float in between.
8.) Soy Lecithin
For Giving you butter a boost
If you've ever read a nutritional label on your favorite snack you've probably seen some form of lecithin on the ingredient list. Lecithin is naturally occurring phospholipid found in most organic cell membranes. It's job is to create a barrier that sort of locks various agents within the cell walls. This makes it an excellent emulsification agent most commonly used to keep water and fats from separating.
Many people use lecithin to improve the bodys ability to absorb THC. At a ratio of one tablespoon per cup of liquid butter it is thought to make edibles 'kick in stronger and last longer'. Lecithin can also be used to stabilize topical products like lotion, helping to keep them thick and creamy.
9.) Organic Honey
For body care and candy
Not only is honey excellent in tea and baked goods, it is fantastic for face masks, body scrubs, and moisturizers. You can make an infusion of honey in much the same way as you would infuse a base oil. Just put your prepared parcel into a jar, submerge it in honey, and pop it into a crock pot lined with a wet towel. Set the whole thing to low and let it do it's thing until you've reached your desired potency.
Straining it is the fun part. Be sure that your honey is warm enough to be malleable but not too hot to handle. After you've poured as much honey as you can off of the top, lightly squeeze the cheesecloth parcel of decarboxilated cannabis before using it as a giant tea bag in a nice pot of strong Chai. Enjoy!
10.) Bees Wax
for salves, lip balms, and massage candles
Although beeswax is not necessarily a solvent you will find yourself using it all the time. It can be easily absorbed by the skin and it is ideal for firming up soft salves, lip balms, and massage oil candles. To use beeswax just melt down about a quarter cup of 'tears' per 16oz of oil. You can do this in your double boiler over medium low heat. Once all of the wax has liquefied add it to your warm base oil before allowing the whole mixture to cool.
11.) Vitamin E Oil
For Shelf Stability
You’ve probably already heard of the benefits of Vitamin E, which include boosting your immune system, preventing stroke-induced brain damage and protecting against certain cancers. But vitamin E can also work wonders when it comes to your hair, skin and nails. I like to keep a 1oz bottle of Vitamin E on hand for my botanical body care items with the general rule of thumb of 2 drops per fluid ounce of product. Make sure you get a high quality brand with at last 10,000IU.
12.) Epsom Salt
For your achy body
So you're obviously not going to be infusing magnesium sulfate with cannabinoids any time soon. That being said, there are many different at-home remedies that call for the use of Epsom salt to treat cold and flue symptoms, sooth sore muscles, or create gifts and goodies for your DIY spa. Of course all of these things could be ten times better with the addition of cannabis infused body oil. Grab yourself a bag at your local grocery store today and I promise you yo will not regret it.
And remember, What You Pour In Pours Out
Personal care is important
The things you choose to put in, on and around your totally beautiful body become a big part of how you feel and who you are. If you are going to go to the trouble to make your own medicine at home treat yourself by making them with high quality organic solvents and solutions. You are worth it! I promise. Not only is it better on the environment but it is better for your health and in many cases it reduces the amount of busy work your body will have to do to get to the benefit. I order all of my my base oils from trusted local sources like Star West Botanicals and Mountain Rose Herbs. They are a one stop shop for all of your botanical beauty and body care needs. You can also find high quality solvents at your local health food store, natural grocer, or organic co-op.
About Mary J Poppins
Hello, I'm Mary J Poppins, herbalist, cannabis connoisseur, and founder of the Sativa Science Club. Armed with 10 years experience in the herbal medicine industry, a deep love of nature, and a passion for education I'm out to do what I love to do best; get people to geek out on plant medicine.
Keep an eye on my blog, Cannabis for Curious Creatures for product reviews, DIY tutorials and scientific insights. Even better, join us at an upcoming class or pop up party in PDX!