Whether you’re using a Magical Butter Machine, Ardent Nova , or simply using an old school DIY method, you most likely understand the importance of an effective base when baking or cooking with cannabis. A base is an integral ingredient when making cannabis edibles for a simple scientific reason: cannabis is oil soluble. This basically means that desirable cannabinoids like THC, CBD and more will mix perfectly well with oil, but not so much with water. So how do you choose the best base for your recipe?
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Base
Easily the most important factor to consider when selecting your base is its fat content. Oils with higher fat are better because they lend to a more thorough absorption of your cannabinoids. But, depending on how nuanced you get with your culinary creativity, fat content is not the only attribute you’ll want to consider. Unless you’re a total barbarian (and if you are, respect; do your thing), flavor matters in your cannabis edibles. Translation: you won’t want to use olive oil to bake THC brownies. Finally, it’s important to consider the smoking point for a given base. The smoking point is the temperature that needs to be reached before your base begins to break down and smoke. For the purpose of cooking with cannabis, you want bases that have high smoking points. Of course, there are other considerations to take into account like price and availability, but we’ll just keep it simple and say you’re looking for a high fat content oil with the right flavor (or next to no flavor at all) and a high smoking point.
Some of the Most Popular Bases for Cooking with Cannabis
So, which base is the best for cannabis edibles? There’s really no correct answer, but coconut oil seems to be the most popular choice. However, each oil has its own flavor (or lack of flavor) and benefits, so we’ll take a brief look at some of the most popular choices to help you get those creative juices flowing.
- Coconut oil – Arguably the king of cannabis bases, coconut oil offers a very high fat content that’s perfect for an easy bonding experience. The refined variety is ideal for baking if you want minimal flavor contamination. However, the more flavorful organic cold pressed and liquid oil varieties can also be nice when creating cannabis edibles that are on the sweeter side. Coconut oil has a low smoking point at 350°F compared to a lot of the other bases covered here, but its other benefits seem to be enough for most kitchen mavericks to overlook this weakness.
- Avocado oil – Boasting one of the highest smoking points on this list at 520°F, avocado oil is also prized among culinary cannabis enthusiasts for its distinctive flavor.
- Sunflower oil – While this may not be the best choice of base for diabetics, sunflower oil boasts a fairly high smoking point of 450°F.
- Canola oil – One of the more cost-effective oils, canola oil also offers a modest smoking point of 400°F; not the best on this list but also not the worst. Its neutral flavor also makes it an ideal candidate for cooking with cannabis.
- Olive oil – Olive oil is one of the more variable base options on our list because it can be influenced by all manner of factors including extraction processes, olive quality, storage method and more. It’s often a favored candidate as a base when cooking with cannabis because of its flavor. Due to the variable nature of olive oil, it’s a bit more difficult to pin down its smoking point, but most options will fall in the relatively low to middle range of 374°F to 405°F.
- Glycerin – Glycerin is not an ideal base for most of your culinary cannabis endeavors but is perfect for infusing cannabis into sweet syrups. It also offers an impressively high smoking point of 554°F.
- Clarified butter – Clarified butter, also commonly referred to as ghee, is another favorite for its higher end smoking point of 482°F and its high THC yield as illustrated in some lab tests orchestrated by Elise McDonough for High Times.
While these are some of the more popular base choices, they’re just a hint at what else is out there. You can experiment with almond oil, cocoa oil, hemp seed oil, you name it. It can sometimes feel intimidating to experiment when you’re dumping a sizable amount of cannabis into your kitchen mission. If you’re on a budget, you may want to play it safe with some of the more popular choices on this list. But if you’re feeling creative, you may want to try your luck with some more exotic bases.