A look into MCT, oils, fats, and all that!
As I mentioned in part 1: Edibles, cannabinoids are “hydrophobic,” meaning they repel water and thus cannot dissolve in it. Instead, they get really cozy with fats! This means that any good edible or infusion starts with a good carrier oil/fat such as MCT oil.
The past few years have seen a lot of debate and very little research regarding the best fat for carrying cannabinoids. However, all signs seem to point towards Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) being the ideal carrier, which is why most licensed producers extract their cannabis in liquid coconut oil or a similar medium. Medium chain triglycerides are saturated fats of medium length, meaning they’re not too large to pass into your brain but still large enough to provide a whack of energy to your central nervous system (and possibly even help you stay slim!) They’re also liquid at room temperature. In short, they’re real overachievers, and seem to carry cannabinoids exactly where they need to be.
With that in mind, the ideal fat is one high in MCTs, and so we look to four main candidates – liquid coconut oil, solid coconut oil, ghee, or butter.
Liquid Coconut Oil:
Liquid coconut oil is extraordinarily rich in medium chain triglycerides – they’re usually at least 90% MCTs by weight, with some achieving over 97% MCT composition! Liquid coconut oil is also vegan and liquid at all reasonable temperatures, making it one of the cheapest, most convenient, and most accessible options. Almost all health food stores (as well as some grocery stores and pharmacies) stock liquid coconut oil. You may also come across non-coconut derivative MCT oils, even up to 100% MCTs – these will work just as well, if not slightly better.
Unrefined Coconut Oil:
Despite the higher MCT content in liquid coconut oil, some people will prefer the sweet and delicate flavours (as well as the abundance of plant nutrients and polyphenols) found in the unrefined product. Although less impressive, unrefined coconut oil can still rest at 14-66% MCTs by weight
Preferred by some for the flaky and rich texture it provides baked goods, ghee will also pack a good punch of MCTs – as much as 12.5-25% by weight. Although research is murky, some studies have suggested ghee to possess “cardioprotective” effects on the heart by raising HDL, often regarded as the “good cholesterol.”
If butter is all you have lying around, all power to you! Butter is still composed of 10-15% MCTs, and will still have enough carrying capacity for most cannabis consumers. It’s also a) likely already on hand and b) much easier to acquire that most of the above. Just keep in mind that if you’re producing high potency infusions, it might not be quite up to the task.
I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow for Part 3, where we’ll discuss how to calculate potency and responsibly consume homemade edibles.
About the author
Lana Tong is an aspiring Endocannabinoid Psychopharmacologist and Squirrel Behavioral Therapist based in Victoria, British Columbia. She’s passionate about cannabis as a medicine, entheogen, food, fiber crop, and so much more. Lana hopes to one day swim in a pool filled with organic CBD-infused coconut oil – we all have dreams, right?