The adventure of cultivating at-home has brought some exciting opportunities when we look at utilizing the entire plant. I was left with an abundance of trim after my harvest, and I decided the best use for it would be to make RSO (Rick SImpson Oil). This is the most potent edible and extract you can make from your plants and the results were amazing. The process to make Rick Simpson Oil has been listed many times, but we will get into the real details of extracting at-home. The biggest rule here is do not use the solvent alcohol near an open flame or in combination with a gas-top burner. This process uses alcohol, which is flammable, I am stating not to do this at home, I am not an expert, and take no responsibility for the danger or how your end results might vary. The process and equipment written about here are solely for educational purposes.
Let’s dive in with our trim material, which was gathered from ten plants at my last harvest and in total was about 3 ounces. I used mason jars as containers for the trim, and filled the jars with enough alcohol to cover my plant material. I used 99% isopropyl alcohol that is rated safe for both food and medical use to ensure I would be able to consume my RSO safely. I submerged my material and would shake it regularly over the length of 24 hours as I let my plant material soak. The alcohol extracts the various forms of cannabinoids and THC that we don’t usually get the benefit of, from simply smoking or decarbing then extracting to make butter or oil. After the initial 24 hours, I will strain the material using a cheesecloth then do a second pass with a coffee filter. I will check the liquid for any stray plant material and once strained completely, I will set the containers in the sun for at least one hour. To avoid your RSO being bright green and remove the excess chlorophyll, you must expose the liquid to UV light or the sun which degrades the chlorophyll without harming the other ingredients significantly,
Before I begin the final process using heat to remove the alcohol, I will first use freezing temperatures to help my end product. We will put our containers in the freezer for at least 4 hours, this is to winterize our liquid which will help reduce and remove some of the lipids and fats from the final product. These fats and lipids being removed can improve taste as well as eliminate any remaining chlorophyll which can cause an upset stomach in some people. My final extraction process of removing the alcohol by evaporation will be done using a lab ready, magnetic self-stirring hotplate. The CO-Z was around $60 and felt like a better choice than a rice cooker which some methods use. The rice cooker is a preferred method because the temperatures are limited to a maximum of 230 degrees fahrenheit. The boiling point of ethanol or our isopropyl alcohol is 173 degree fahrenheit so the hotplate felt safer to not scorch the RSO. I also bought some beakers for $8 dollars, the biggest of which is a 250ml size container which would serve as my primary vessel for extraction. I removed the containers from the freezer and poured my first 250ml then added my stirring element.
Working with any chemical, solvent, or heat always requires the highest priority on safety. I had my setup outdoors in a well ventilated area while also utilizing a standing fan aimed at our heating element. The temperature was set to 210 degrees fahrenheit, and the stirring mechanism was set to a low-medium speed. This hot plate has a probe to keep track of the temperature, and I made sure I had it as low as I could get it to best monitor the heat. The start of this process was similar to boiling any liquid which can be unnerving but is simply waiting for the liquid to heat up. As the alcohol begins to boil, it bubbles but stays relatively calm. As I was using a small beaker of 250ml, I needed to continually refill the beaker from my jars of liquid extract. In total, I needed 9 refills before I was on my final amount of the extract alcohol, which before I added it to the beaker I added a few drops of water. Water has a higher boiling temperature and would indicate when we are nearly finished with our RSO. Rick Simpson used the water to both “cleanse”(remove impurities) from the oil, and also to prevent the oil from scorching.
The final amount of alcohol to be evaporated was the most interesting as the content of these jars had slowly been condensing to this. The liquid had gone from a clear liquid with a green/brown tint to a thicker, almost coffee like substance that reeked of fresh cannabis. At 150ml, the liquid starts to bubble intensely with the water rising as it begins to boil as well. The bubbles went from large pockets of evaporating alcohol to small fizzy bubbles at 75ml and below. The end approaches rapidly and knowing when to cut the heat can be tricky, but use the end of the bubbling as an indicator. I turned the heat down to 200 degrees fahrenheit when the last few bubbles happened, then off completely when I saw the oil start to smoke. It stopped almost immediately, then I began taking the oil left behind into syringes which is safe as long as the plastic doesn’t touch the glass. In total, from what was 3 ounces of trim, I was able to yield 8.5 grams of RSO. The result is thick but viscous oil that is dark brown in color and smells like a joint; I eat about .5ml before bed which led to a happy, hearty sleep that left me refreshed but still a little stoned. The ease of extracting RSO at home can be daunting when dealing with boiling alcohol but it is no more difficult than preparing a sauce. Join me in future ventures into making our own concentrates using our homegrown cannabis.
Adrian Ryan was born in New Mexico and attended school since elementary in Arizona, his time growing up split between the two states. He hopes to work towards recreational cannabis, enjoys reading, writing, film, music, and also writing music.