The Definitive Green Dragon (Revised)
Here is the very successful result of a considerable amount of research into the elusive and magical Green Dragon.
This is a simple and efficient 4 Step process.
5 gr Good Bud
3 oz bacardi 151 proof / grain alcohol The highest proof liquor you can get.
The recipe should scale nicely from 1/8 to whole ounce. But, unless you have experience with smaller batches I'd recommend sticking with the recipe as written. It would be a shame to have something go wrong with a large batch. I strongly recommend making the GD a couple of times before trying to scale up.
1. Chop cannabis very fine (coffee grinder works great)
2. Place in a shallow pan or aluminum foil and bake at 200°F for 20 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and place cannabis in 2 oz of 151 proof rum (I use a mason jar)
4. Simmer in a water bath for 20 minutes. Maintain temperature of the rum/cannabis mixture between 170°F.
5. Strain the mixture and store.
Process details—references and rationalizations:
1. Chop the cannabis
More surface area gives means a faster and more efficient extraction.
-Leaf vs. Bud
I have not tried the extraction with leaf. But you would obviously need loads more. The problem is you will also need much more alcohol. My guess is you should use somewhere on the order of 10 parts alcohol to 1 part leaf. Then once you are finished you will want to remove the spent leaf, and then concentrate the alcohol by boiling off most of it (using the water bath of course) until you have one ounce of GD remaining.
2. Bake the cannabis.
This converts THCA to THC via a decarboxylation reaction.
In whole-plant cannabis, THC content is expressed as THCA (tetrahydrocannabolic acid) prior to decarboxylation into THC, which takes place when cannabis is heated during cooking, and smoked or vaporized ingestion. THCA is a mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory but does not have good affinity with our CB1 receptors, so in order to make a THC-rich tincture that has many of the same therapeutic effects as smoked ingestion (including rapid absorption, quick relief and ease of self-titration), we must convert the THCA in the plant matter into THC prior to extracting it through an alcohol soak. (from Vancouver Island Compassion Society hxxp://thevics.com/cannamist.htm)
THC vaporizes at about 380°F. We want to heat the cannabis to convert THCA to THC, but keep the temperature under 380°F. That is why 200°F is used. At 20 minutes your oven (and house) will start to smell very strong. This is the time to remove the cannabis from the oven.
Notice also that there is considerable misinformation regarding heating the cannabis. It is true that you don't have to heat it to extract both THC and THCA, but the amount of THC in whole plant preparations is relatively small compared to after decarboxylation of the THCA. So if you want to maximize the strength of your tincture you must heat the cannabis prior to extraction.
Bake the pot at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. I chop mine in a mini-prep/ coffee grinder (or chop by hand) until it is quite fine. Then I spread it out on a piece of aluminum foil which is placed directly on the oven rack. If you place the foil on a baking pan you will need to account for the additional mass of the pan which will increase your baking time. Pre-baking should stink up the house. I turn on the stove vent fan. I also do all my cooking at night after neighbors are in bed. Keep a close eye on it!
I look for two indicators that the pot is properly pre-baked. First, I look for the pot to change color from it's initial shade of green to a much darker greenish-brown (or brownish-green). I assume this represents not browning (burning) of the leaf but rather the denaturation of the chlorophyll in the leaves.
Second, I look for a slight amount of vapors to rise off the pot. Since the temperature is well below the vaporization temperature of THC, these vapors probably consist of compounds that vaporize at lower temperatures (like water).
3. Use the highest proof alcohol available.
Where I live this is grain alcohol or Bacardi 151. The more alcohol the more efficient the extraction will be.
4. Simmer the mixture.
This is one of the areas that seems to be most debated. Many recipes call for placing the cannabis (unbaked of course) into the alcohol and waiting 2 – 6 weeks. The main concern with heating the alcohol is that it is “explosive” (not exactly true...it is however flammable).
The purpose of the simmering is to heat the alcohol mixture to improve extraction rates and efficiencies. Heating during extraction increases the motion of the molecules (basic physics/chemistry) and drastically decreases extraction times. The boiling point of pure ethanol is 173°F (78°C). We will use the water bath to heat the rum/cannabis mixture to just below the boiling point of ethanol.
Heating the alcohol mixture can be done very safely using a hot water bath. You will need an accurate candy or quick read thermometer. Place about 1 inch of water in a wide, vertical-edged pan (9” diameter x 3” high). Bring the water to a low simmer. The rum/cannabis mixture should be in a small (1 pint) mason jar. Do NOT cover the jar.
Put the thermometer into the mason jar and place into the simmering water bath. Bring the temperature of the rum/cannabis mixture to about 170°F. The alcohol should be just barely boiling.
You should have the oven fan on high. You will notice that any alcohol fumes are mixed with water vapor from the water bath and vented out the fan. This combined with the fact that you are trying not to boil the ethanol makes the process quite safe.
I've had good success with extractions at 170 degrees fahrenheit. You'll note that my initial recipe called for maintaining temperature between 150 and 165. At 170 the alcohol mixture will be slightly boiling. Note that this is alcohol boiling not water boiling. Alcohol boils with very fine bubbles as opposed to the rolling boil of water. After 20 minutes the alcohol should be reduced by about half.
5. Strain and store.
When you are done extracting you will have one ounce (or so) of GD. But it is mixed up with the 1/8 oz of spent plant material. Here is how I recover the maximum amount of my extract.
First, I strain it through a regular kitchen mesh strainer. I use the back of a spoon to force out as much GD as possible.