Guide to Making Cannabis E-Juice at Home

Published : 03/3/2020 16:27:34
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Guide to Making Cannabis E-Juice at Home

Vaping has become one of the most popular methods of consuming cannabis. It's portable fast-acting, and discreet. Unfortunately, cheap vape liquids can be full of harmful impurities, and high-quality cannabis e-liquids aren't available everywhere due to legal restrictions. 

Even if you're lucky enough to have access to expertly-manufactured vape products, the cost of premium cannabis vape juice can be prohibitive. Making your own cannabis e-liquid can save you around 30% off the price of ready-made vape products. Another advantage of homemade cannabis-liquid is that you can customize the blend. 

Making cannabis e-juice consists of two basic steps: 

  1. Extracting the active ingredients in the cannabis

  2. Combining the cannabis extraction with a vape medium

Making Cannabis Extracts for Vaping

There are many methods for creating cannabis extracts. Some procedures use solvents to manufacture cannabis concentrates. Common solvents include:

  • Alcohol

  • Vegetable glycerin

  • Butane (BHO)

  • Carbon dioxide

Alcohol and vegetable glycerin are the most regularly used solvents for making herbal extracts at home. It's not recommendable to make DIY butane extracts. Butane is highly flammable and can explode. Plus, most readily available butane— like the bottles used to fill lighters— is impure. The butane in these bottles contains other chemicals that will contaminate your e-liquid. Carbon dioxide extractions are cleaner, but they're too complicated for home-manufacturing.

The cleanest way of making cannabis extracts for vaping avoid the use of solvents. Two common solventless extracts are rosin and bubble hash. 

Cannabis Vape Mediums

Most commercial vape liquids use a combination of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG). They typically come in ratios of 70%VG to 30%PG or 50/50. Vegetable glycerin is a sweet-tasting liquid used in alcohol-free herbal tinctures. Vegetable glycerin helps to dissolve the cannabis extract and produces thick vapor clouds.

Propylene glycol has a peppery taste and creates the throat hit that some users enjoy. Manufacturers add PG to cannabis vape oils to thin the vegetable glycerin. 100% VG mediums are available, but they tend to clog vaporizers and create equipment malfunctions.

However, some people are allergic to PG and prefer a pure VG vape medium.

Cannabis E-Liquid Method 1: Alcohol Extraction

Alcohol is the most common solvent for making herbal tinctures at home, including cannabis extractions. You can make alcohol extractions using cannabis buds, trim, leaf, or kief. You'll need to prepare your cannabis first by using a process called decarboxylation. Decarboxylation, or decarbing, activates the cannabinoids so they can be used more readily by the body. If you skip this step, your extract will be weak and ineffective.

Materials:

  • 1/8 ounce of cannabis flowers, 1/4 ounce of cannabis leaf, or 4 grams of kief

  • Grain alcohol such as Everclear or a high-proof vodka or rum. 

Never use rubbing alcohol!

  • Cookie sheet or glass casserole dish

  • Aluminum foil

  • Weed grinder or coffee grinder

  • Plastic or steel funnel

  • Coffee filter

  • 2 glass jars (Mason jars work best.)

  • A bowl and a spoon

  • Blunt-tipped syringe

  • Vape cartridge

Procedure:

Phase I: Decarb your cannabis

  1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees (F). 

  2. Break your cannabis flower or leaf into smaller pieces with your fingers. Spread the buds, leaf, or kief evenly upon a clean cookie sheet or glass casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil.

  3. Bake the cannabis for about 30 minutes.

  4. Remove your cannabis from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes before proceeding.

Phase II: Make a cannabis tincture

  1. Grind the cannabis into fine particles using a manual weed grinder or a coffee grinder. Ground cannabis does a better job of infusing into the alcohol. If you're using kief, you can skip this step.

  2. Place your ground cannabis or kief in a clean, glass jar. 

  3. Add enough alcohol to cover.

  4. Put the lid on the jar, and shake the mixture.

  5. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 24 hours, shaking occasionally. If you want a more potent tincture, let the mixture sit for a week or more. Remember to shake it at least once a day to distribute the trichomes evenly.

  6. Place the funnel into a second jar and line it with the coffee filter. 

  7. Strain the cannabis/alcohol mixture. Press gently on the plant matter with a spoon to extract all of the liquid.

Phase III: Evaporate the alcohol

The easiest and safest way to evaporate the alcohol out of your cannabis tincture is to pour it into a glass or steel bowl and let it sit for 24 hours. You can put the bowl in a pan of hot water to speed up the process. Do not apply direct heat to the alcohol mixture!

Phase IV: Combine the cannabis extract with your vaping medium

You can use a premixed VG/PG vaping medium or buy them separately to create a custom ratio. Use only "food-grade" vegetable glycerin. 

  1. Mix the cannabis extract with the vape medium in a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio, depending on how strong you would like your mixture. 

  2. Boil water in a kettle and place the hot water in a bowl. Put the jar with your extract and medium in the boiling water. Stir the mixture until it's homogeneous.

  3. Transfer your e-liquid to a clean vape cartridge with a blunt-tipped syringe.

Method 2: Extracting Cannabis with Vegetable Glycerin

This method takes about three months, but the finished e-liquid will be worth the wait. It's possible to speed up the process by heating the mixture in an oil bath. However, the technique isn’t recommended for beginners. It's easy to burn the terpenes out of the e-liquid or accidentally start a fire.

Materials:

  • 1/4 ounce cannabis buds

  • Food grade vegetable glycerin

  • 2 glass mason jars

  • Cheesecloth

  • Small wire-mesh tea strainer

  • Syringe

Procedure:

  1. Decarb and grind the cannabis as in the previous method.

  2. Place the ground cannabis in a mason jar. Stir in enough vegetable glycerin to thoroughly wet the cannabis. You don't want a lot of liquid because it will weaken your vape oil.

  3. Seal the jar in a cool, dark place. 

  4. After about three weeks, add another tablespoon or two of glycerin and stir the mixture. Return the jar to the storage location.

  5. Repeat step 4 at the two-month mark.

  6. After about three months, your vape juice will be ready to strain.

  7. Place a few layers of cheesecloth inside the strainer and put the strainer on top of the second mason jar. 

  8. Add the cannabis/VG mix and let the liquid drain into the jar. Press down on the plant matter with a spoon to completely capture the infused e-liquid.

  9. Transfer your strained e-juice into a vape cartridge and try it out.

Method 3: Making Rosin

The easiest way to make a solventless cannabis extraction is to create rosin. The rosin technique involves applying low heat and pressure to cannabis flowers. Rosin is fast becoming the most popular cannabis concentrate because it's safe and chemical-free.

Materials:

  • 1/8 ounce of cannabis

  • Electric hair straightening iron

  • Parchment paper

  • Dabbing tool or razor blade

  • Wax liquidizer, such as food-grade medical terpenes

  • Glass mason jar or Pyrex measuring cup

  • Small glass container

  • Blunt-tipped syringe

  • Vape cartridge

Procedure:

Phase I: Press Rosin

  1. Set the temperature on the straightening iron to the medium-high setting, which should be around 250 degrees (F).

  2. Cut a piece of parchment paper so that it's slightly larger than the iron's metal plate when folded in half.

  3. Place 1 or 2 grams of cannabis inside the folded parchment paper.

  4. Put the folded paper and cannabis inside the iron and squeeze as hard as you can for about five seconds.

  5. Remove the flattened bud. The parchment paper should be coated on both sides of the fold with green or brownish rosin.

  6. Allow the rosin to cool for a minute before scraping it off with a razor blade or dabbing tool. A rounded dabbing tool works especially well because you can roll the rosin into a neat little ball. Place your rosin in a small glass container. 

  7. Repeat the process with the rest of the cannabis, adjusting the temperature or pressure if necessary. You may need to experiment until you get the best results.

Phase II: Mix Cannabis Rosin with Vaping Medium

  1. Place the rosin in a glass mason jar or Pyrex measuring cup.

  2. Add two milliliters of wax liquidizer or medical grade terpenes for each gram of rosin.

  3. Boil a few cups of water in a small saucepan on the stove or in the microwave. Remove the boiling water from the heat source, and place the mason jar in the water. 

  4. Stir until the rosin and medium mix to an even consistency.

  5. Transfer the mix to a clean vape cartridge using the syringe and enjoy.

So, there you have it— three simple methods for making cannabis e-liquid at home. You can customize any of these recipes by varying the ratios of the ingredients. You might also want to try adding natural terpene flavorings to your mixtures to enhance the flavor.

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