🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
Homemade edibles offer an effective way to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant. Eating cannabis provides an alternative to smoking or dabbing, and can be an even more reliable way to medicate. However, if you don’t know the cannabinoid content of your edibles or tinctures, it can be difficult to anticipate and control each dose, making the experience less reliable (and potentially less enjoyable!).
So how can you calculate the THC content in homemade edibles? While lab testing edibles is the only sure way to find out the total cannabinoid content in your homemade cannabis concoctions, there is a way to approximate the potency. Most labs use a process called High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), which is a process that separates and quantifies a given mixture of chemicals in liquid solutions.
While we can’t replicate this precise and technical method at home, we can lean on some basic math to gain a better understanding of the strength of our homemade edibles.
It all starts with the THC content of the cannabis source material. THC content is generally measured as a percentage, reflecting the amount of THC contained by the dry weight of the cannabis flower. Assuming that we’re using dried and cured cannabis flowers as our starting material, knowing the THC percentage of these flowers is the starting point to calculating the THC content in homemade edibles.
Here are four steps you can work through to determine THC content in homemade edibles.
Step 1: Convert the THC percentage of flowers into milligrams per gram
Ideally, you can get an exact measurement of THC content in cannabis flowers by getting them tested at a lab. However, this is normally not feasible when a batch of homemade edibles or tincture is all you’re looking to create. Lab testing is generally reserved for commercial operations.
That said, it’s okay to estimate the THC percentage in your starting material, considering that 20-25% THC is a common range for high-quality home grown buds. 25% THC is a pretty fantastic percentage to hit if you’re growing at home, so let’s use this approximation in our example.
The first thing we’ll do is convert this assumed 25% THC into milligrams per gram of flower. Multiplying the percentage by 10 will tell us how many milligrams of THC are in 1 gram of flower:
25x10= 250 milligrams of THC per gram of flower
Step 2: Adjust for THC content lost during decarboxylation
Decarboxylation is the process of converting the acid form of THC (THC-A) into the non-acid form. THC-A isn’t psychoactive, therefore decarboxylation is a way to unlock one of the most desirable effects of the plant. And it’s easy to do, because decarboxylation happens naturally with exposure to heat.
Learn how to prepare your flowers for making edibles through decarboxylation in our article How To Decarb Cannabis.
Decarboxylation does, however, slightly reduce the overall THC content in the plant, or around 20%. This leaves 80% of the original THC content.
We can take that into account with the following calculation:
250 milligrams x .80 = 200 milligrams of THC per gram of flower remaining after decarboxylation
Step 3: Determine the potency of the infused butter or oil
At this point, you can determine the potency of the infusion, which is essentially the carrier of the THC which you’ll use in the formulation of the edibles. For example, if you’re making gummies, then the infusion will likely be coconut oil. The first step is to infuse the coconut oil with THC, then you can add that coconut oil to the other ingredients in order to complete the gummies recipe.
Read more in our article How To Make Cannabis Gummies.
Let’s say you’re going to infuse 12 ounces of coconut oil with 7 grams of decarboxylated flowers. First, let’s account for some loss of coconut oil which will happen with exposure to heat during the infusion process.
Assume we burn off around 15% of oil during infusion, so we’re left with approximately 10 ounces of coconut oil (it’s actually 10.2 ounces, but we’ll use round numbers for the simplicity of illustration).
We know that our cannabis contains 200 milligrams of THC per gram of flower. And for this example, we’ll use 7 grams of flower for the coconut oil infusion.
7 grams of flower = 7x200 milligrams of THC = 1400 total milligrams of THC for the 10 ounces of coconut oil infusion
If you want to find out the THC content in every teaspoon of coconut oil, you can use the following:
1400 total milligrams of THC divided by 10 ounces = 140 milligrams of THC per ounce of coconut oil. There are 6 teaspoons in every fluid ounce, therefore:
140 divided by 6 = 23.3 milligrams of THC per teaspoon of infused coconut oil
Step 4: Calculate milligrams per dose
Finally, we can figure out how many milligrams of THC will be in every gummy. If we used 20 teaspoons of coconut oil in our batch of gummies, then we know that there are 467 total milligrams of THC in the entire batch (23.3 x 20).
Then, if there are 15 total gummies in that batch, we know that each gummy contains approximately 31 milligrams of THC.
Whew! So there we have it. While it’s definitely much easier to read THC content on the back of a label of store-bought edibles, these calculations are straightforward. With some basic math, you can estimate the THC content of your homemade edibles, and even figure out the potency of each individual dose.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How is THC content measured in cannabis flowers?
THC content can be measured as percentage or as total milligrams in a given amount of flowers.
How do you convert THC percentage into milligrams of THC?
Multiply the THC percentage by 10 to get the total milligrams per gram of THC.
How do you know the THC content of your home grown flowers?
Lab testing is the only way to know THC content with certainty, but estimations are okay too. 20-25% THC is common for many home growers to achieve.
Do you have to decarb cannabis to make edibles?
While not completely necessary, decarbing cannabis is a good idea for making edibles, because it activates the THC molecules.