Cannabutter Water Method: How to Make Infused Butter or Oil with Water 

By  Cheri Sicard

Cannabutter Water Method on the Stovetop or in the Slow Cooker

Water in marijuana oil? Making cannabutter with water?  

Wait, what??? 

What exactly is the Cannabutter with Water Infusion Method?

Making cannabutter with water or adding water to the mix when infusing cannabis cooking oil might sound counter intuitive, but there may be instances when your edibles could benefit from this technique.

We don't see as much written about this old school infusing method these days but it does have some advantages.

 Although know that making infusions with water is entirely optional.  You can certainly get great results without adding water to the mix.  For other methods of making cannabis butter or marijuana oil, see the tutorials at the links.

Advantages of Adding Water When Making Cannabis Infusions

Marijuana Infusions made with the Mason Jar method

Including water, especially when cooking on the stovetop, insures the cannabis will never reach a higher temperature than the boiling point or 212 degrees F. which is well under the cannabis cooking temperature danger point.

More importantly, the chlorophyll, the part of the plant that gives it its color and adds to the green herbal flavor, is water-soluble.  Likewise, a lot of it will bind to the water during the cooking process.  In practical terms, this means less herbal flavor and green color in the finished marijuana butter or oil.

Some people dispute this fact.  I put it to a personal test in the infusions in the photo above.  The ones made WITH water in the mix (the two in the center)  not only have a lighter color and less pronounced flavor, they yielded back slightly more volume after straining.

All that said, even when making cannabutter with water, the finished product might still appear mighty green.  The amount will vary from strain to strain.  Some will come out pale green or almost yellow.  Others will take on a deep forest green color.  You can see the differences in the photo above where I used a different strain to make the different weed butters and oils pictured.  The visual difference is especially apparent in the butter, but keep in mind that color has nothing to do with potency.

Adding Water to Cannaoil

While I do occasionally see instructions online for making cannabutter with water, I rarely see instructions for adding water to cannaoil.  I have never understood why not.  The same principles, advantage, and disadvantages apply.  Cannaoil might be slightly more problematic to strain, but it is not difficult (see below).

More Volume and Increased Potency When Using the Cannabutter Water Method of Infusing

Without water in the mix, the plant material tends to absorb more of the butter or oil during the process of infusion.  This means usable product is going into the trash.  However, this problem is reduced when water infusion method (see the straining directions below for why this is).

The increased liquid volume also gives cooks the option to add more plant material in order to make more concentrated infusions if they wish.  If you are infusing a small amount of liquid, say a cup or less, there is only so much cannabis that can be used.  Adding water gives more liquid for the plant material to float in.

Personally I am a big advocate of strong infusions because you can use less of them to get the dose you need in your finished edibles.  Less infusion in the recipe means less green flavor and that is usually a good thing.

Disadvantages of Adding Water When Making Marijuana Infusions

Adding water is definitely more work when it comes to draining and straining.  You need to separate out the water from the fat.  

As butter will harden into a solid, it's easy to just lift if off.  How to separate cannaoil from water is a but more tricky, but not difficult oil (instructions below).

The other disadvantage is, if you leave even a drop of water behind it has the potential to grow mold.  This is not an issue if you use the infusion quickly.  If not store in the freezer to be safer. Or use the technique outlines in the straining section to get rid of ALL traces of water.

One other tip: NEVER ADD LECITHIN when using the Cannabutter Water Method

Some people (I am not one one of them) like to add lecithin when making marijuana butter or oil.  

NEVER DO THIS WHEN USING WATER!  

Lecithin causes fats to bind to liquids and you will likewise be left with an unusable mess if you make this fatal error

See this link for more information on lecithin and cannabis cooking.

Dosing for Marijuana Butter or Cannabis Oil

You will need to adjust the amount of cannabis used to make butter or oil depending on the potency of the plant and what parts of it you are using.  Check out the Dosing Dilemmas page for additional information on how to determine dosing in your cannabis butter and edibles.

For this article and others on this website, I’ve listed the amounts I use to test the recipes for this blog as well as those in The Easy Cannabis Cookbook.  You can and should alter the suggested amounts to meet your needs, but these will give you a starting guideline.

For the base dose calculations for recipes on this site, I am assuming you are using 14 grams of 10%THC cannabis to make 1 cup of butter.

If that sounds confusing to you, no worries, I have a FREE online dosing class that explains all. Sign up here. And if you don't like doing math, my invaluable Dosing Calculators (the best $5.00 you'll ever spend) do all the math for you, calculate the per serving dose of your homemade edibles (even if you are not using lab-tested cannabis), and make it simple to adjust dosages to your needs before you make your edibles.  No more dosing surprises.  Check out the dosing calculators here.


OK Let's Make Some Marijuana Oil or Cannabutter  with Water in the Mix

To Make About 1 Cup Marijuana Butter or Oil at the dose tested on this site (see links above to adjust for YOUR NEEDS):

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter or oil of your choice
  • 1/2 ounce (14 grams) average quality decarboxylated dried bud
  • About 4 cups water
making cannabutter with water

Marijuana oil infusing in the slow cooker.


  • Slow Cooker Method (best choice): Add butter or oil, plant material, and water to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.  I know some cooks who cook their butter for as much as 2 or 3 days in the slow cooker.  Feel free to do so if you choose.  It seems like overkill to me and after having tested longer cooking times, I found no improvement in quality or potency.  In fact, I noticed a stronger herbal flavor and not much else.  You can actually cook for less time, just make sure your mixture has time to come to a full simmer.

OR

  •  Stovetop Method:  Place butter or oil, cannabis plant material, and water in a large lidded Dutch oven on the stove top.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low and simmer for about 2 hours.  Take care and monitor the liquid level often, adding water as necessary to always keep at least 3 cups in the pot.  Be aware, simmering marijuana on the stovetop is very aromatic.  If you’re worried about nosy neighbors, choose another method.

Straining IF You Used Water While Infusing

straining cannabutter with water

Draining and straining marijuana oil

The method of draining is the same for stovetop and slow cooker methods.  Place a cheesecloth lined strainer over a large pot or bowl and strain the liquid through this.

WAIT!

Before discarding plant material, pour a large kettle full of boiling water over the full strainer in order to wash through any extra butter clinging to the plant material.  This step is what will give you a slightly greater volume of finished product than you will get without using water in the mix.

Give the marijuana butter an extra rinse with boiling water to extract as much as possible.

Give the marijuana butter an extra rinse with boiling water to extract as much as possible.

Allow to cool then squeeze out as much liquid as possible.  Discard the plant material.

Now chill the rest, water and liquid butter or oil.  The fats will rise to the top.

Butter will harden into a solid when chilled making it easy for you to simply lift the piece off of the water below and discard the water. Rinse the butter chunk with cold, fresh, water to wash off any of the canna-water or plant material left on the butter.  Dry the solid cannabutter thoroughly to remove all traces of excess water and/or cook again as outlined above to prevent mold.

In most instances, oil will rise to the top of the water but won’t solidify.  No problem.  You can use a spoon to skim the oil off the the oil that floats to the top.

Gravy Seperator


Even better is a kitchen gadget called a gravy separator that looks like a small pitcher with the spout originating on the bottom.  This unique design allows the water to be poured out while retaining every drop of the oil floating at the top.  During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, gravy separators are sold everywhere, otherwise find them at gourmet shops or online.  You can also find extra-large gravy separators year round at restaurant supply stores.

Now it’s time to strain one more time to remove as much sediment as possible.  Place a double layer of cheesecloth over a strainer and pour the oil through.  To strain butter or solid oils such as coconut oil, melt it, strain, then chill again until solid.

How do you remove excess water from cannabuter or marijuana oil?

Because water left behind after straining can encourage mold growth, I usually add an extra step after straining to make sure ALL water is gone.    

Place the strained marijuana infusion in a small saucepan on the stovetop.  Stir constantly over very low heat for 3 to 5 minutes to make sure any traces of water have evaporated off.  Then store the infusion in the fridge or freezer until ready for use.

Refrigerate infused oil or butter until ready to use or freeze for even longer storage.

You’re now ready to start cooking!

Can I do anything with the leftover infusion water?

I appreciate the thrifty spirit!  Get the answers you need here.

Does the Color of Butter Matter?

Why are some butters darker than others? Does the color matter or affect potency? The video below answers all.

About the author

related posts:

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Weed Infused Cheesecake Recipe
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  • Cheri, your info is so much clearer and detailed than most, and has answered all the questions I had about making oil, except one – Does this process make oil for adding to pg/vg for vaping or is it purely for ingestion? Thanks, I really appreciate it.

    • Welcome Gerie. You have come to the right place. There are tons of free resources and recipes at this website. You might also want to check out my online courses at Cannademy.com. They are especially helpful for newbies, in particular my “Crash Course in Cannabis.”

  • First time making stovetop butter in water it has hardened overnight in fridge and I have drained off water but there is a sludg attached to the bottom of the harded butter. Not sure if this is to be scraped off? Help please.

    • That can happen with water. What I do is heat gently over low heat to melt, I stir and simmer for a minute or so to evaporate off any stray water droplets, then strain again through fine mesh or cheesecloth which will get rid of any sediment. Hope this helps!

  • I just want to make cannibis oil for pain, in a slow cooker. Very new to this so need all the help I can get. Dont even know a lot of the terminology.

  • Thank you all this info is very clear and helpful! One question I have is: Should I add more water if I plan on using 28 grams and twice the butter?

    • That is a pretty big mistake and probably not salvageable. Lecithin functions to bind water molecules to fat molecules, now in certain cooking applications this is great and much needed, but when making an infusion it is what you absolutely do not want. Sorry.

  • I am so very grateful to come across your blog. I made butter the other day and I said I wanted to do it with oil and I was told to repeat the process but use oil. However all the online boards said to use a mason jar. Plus I put my water and oil together and the weed on the top in a panty hose so that the plant matter doesnt make such a mess. Then freaked out, finally with enough key words I come across your blog. Very happy I did. Thank you for posting

    • No. I do not care what other websites say. The Instantpot is NOT a good way to decarb. The temperature does not get hot enough. I did research on the various Instant Pot temperatures. None of them get to the recommended decarb temperatures.

  • Hi Cheri! Thanks for the article. I’ve been using the water mix method for years with coconut oil. But always wondered if it would work with olive oil being lighter. After straining, In the filtering (refrigerating) process with coconut oil I just flip the hardened oil disc over and shave off the sediments. Will this work with olive oil as well? My worry comes from the fact olive oil melts faster kn room temperature than coconut oil I think.

    • I am not sure why that would be as butter hardens. Hopefully you did not add lecithin? You can skim it off or use a gravy separator of liquid, but that makes no sense.

  • Would the herb not decarb while in the almost boiling water? Years ago I made pretty potent butter but didnt decarb before putting into water

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