My dear wife Felicity has been having more than the usual amount of trouble sleeping lately. Although her daytime cannabinoid requirements have not changed (one or two capsules still get her through the day), she’s been needing higher doses at night due to higher amounts of stress. Since we generally make our capsules fairly “light”, this means she’s been gulping 4 or 5 at a time, though spread out among strains. A few times, she’s had to use some of our rare and specialized Black Mamba capsules (those will be a story themselves one fine day).
So I decided to look around the cupboard to see what I had in stock. I found a jar of coconut oil that had been infused with some LA Confidential strain when I was putting the Magical Butter Machine through testing. Although the contents of this jar would make lots more usable capsules, I wanted to see if I could increase the strength of what was in there by processing it again and adding some more cannabis. I rummaged around some more and located a jar of tincture I had once made from LA Confidential. Eureka!
I carefully poured out the liquid tincture and now had quite a large handful of somewhat damp marijuana. Even though a certain amount of THC had been dissolved into the alcohol and now was in the tincture, that much weed added to the oil should be enough to make it much stronger…and it was the same strain too!
Alas, it was too good to be true. While my logic was impeccable, there was only one cup of oil in the jar, and as everyone knows, the Magical Butter Machine needs two to tango. What to do?
I went more carefully through my goodies drawer. I found 1/4 ounce of Mr. Nice, 1/8 ounce of Afgoo, a gram of really hard GDP hash, the few odd grams of Skywalker, and even a half-eighth of OG Kush. You know. The usual.
But it was all indica, or at least indica-leaning hybrid…just what Felicity needed.
So I threw it all into the Magical Butter Machine, after first melting the coconut oil in the microwave (and adding another cup of fresh coconut oil, of course). For the hash, I cut it into little pieces with a paring knife, and crushed the pieces as much as possible. Then I had a bit of a heating problem to figure out.
Some Like It Hot…But How Hot?
See, I had two competing desires here. The marijuana from the tincture was damp due to the alcohol all over it, and I wanted that to evaporate. It’s drinkable ethanol (Everclear), of course, but Felicity is now sensitive to alcohol, and besides we might want to cook with some of this oil. Alcohol boils at around 170°F. As I’ve mentioned many times, you must decarboxylate your cannabis before cooking, which takes temperatures anywhere from 200°F to 315°F. But heating ethanol to those temperatures could create flammable alcohol vapors to come out of the non-sealed MBM at high pressure…not my idea of a safe scenario for the kitchen!
Here’s what I did. First, I set the MBM to 160°F for an hour. Even though we don’t know much about the internal workings or processes in the MBM, we do know that 160° shouldn’t cause the alcohol to get too hot. But I’m cautious, so I stuck around and paid attention.
The MBM program starts off by heating the mixture, presumably to melt anything that’s still solid in there (for instance, when you make butter, you can just throw sticks of butter in, although you’re probably better off melting them in advance). After a few minutes, I saw quite a bit of white alcohol vapor coming out from under the top of the MBM. I’d expect some of that, but I heard some rather frenetic boiling, so I unplugged the MBM at the outlet (do not just take the top off, because that could cause a spark when you break the electrical connection) and checked things out. The contents were boiling merrily, and my laser infrared thermometer claimed the liquid was around 145°F. I put it back together, plugged it in with the same settings, and ran it again for awhile. Same thing happened, and then I repeated it a third time.
The third time, I heard no more boiling, so I let the Magical Butter Machine continue running its one-hour program at 160°F. Done! But I still wasn’t finished, so like I’ve told people before, I ran another hour at 220°F to decarboxylate the mixture. When that was done, I thought some more.
How Do You Know It’s Decarbed?
From getting lots of reader responses on the previous MBM articles, I knew that the newer versions of the Magical Butter Machine have a decarb setting, but they still recommend decarboxylating separately. I wanted to make sure this was strong enough, especially because we aren’t adding lecithin anymore due to health concerns, so I wanted to make sure this mix was fully decarboxylated. So I had one final idea.
I know that decarboxylating cannabis gives off carbon dioxide as well as boiling off residual moisture, and I was aware that some good folks up in Oregon talked about seeing it happen directly in oil, so I decided to give it a shot. I turned up the temperature all the way to 250°F, and set it for one hour.
But I was thinking way outside the box here. I convinced myself that my own brain was way more powerful than the microprocessor inside the MBM, and I had decided to be in control of things. So I set the handy-dandy timer on my phone to 7 minutes (a wild guess based on published decarb times of around 21 minutes at 250°F and easily divisible into 3 periods), and when the time was up…I simply unplugged the MBM. If I could do it in an emergency, I could certainly do it at my own convenience!
I took the top off, and bubbles were merrily coming to the surface. But this time the liquid was not boiling. The ethanol had long since evaporated, of course, and there was no water in there, only oil, and we were a good 100 degrees below the smoke point of coconut oil. What I was seeing was either residual moisture from the cannabis, or carbon dioxide, or both. Since I don’t have a $250K gas sampling apparatus laying around, I didn’t care which, so I put it back in for another 7 minutes at 250°F, and after that there were no bubbles. So I concluded that, at this point, everything was finally and properly decarboxylated.
I gave Felicity about a capsule’s worth of this stuff (which got her to sleep just fine, BTW), and she made up about 100 capsules herself while waiting for it to kick in. It’s much darker and stronger than the original oil, and because it was made from recycled “spare parts”, I think I’m going to call it…Frankenstein Oil.