How to Calculate The Potency of Homemade Edibles
Making and eating edibles is a journey of discovery. Although it's hard to eliminate all of the uncertainty, it is possible to make an informed estimate of how strong each serving will be. Read on to find out how to calculate the potency of your homemade edibles.
How is the potency of edibles measured?
First, it’s important to note that, unlike with bud, the potency of edibles is measured in milligrams of THC, rather than expressed as a percentage. Converting the percentage of THC in your bud to milligrams isn’t too difficult, but it does require some accurate maths.
Before we explain just how to calculate potency, it’s important to understand that, especially in the home environment, it can be quite difficult to accurately estimate how much THC an edible contains. This is due to several factors:
• Not knowing the exact THC content of the weed used
• Not evenly mixing the cannabis into the mixture
• Not knowing how efficient the decarboxylation process was
Given this ambiguity, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. If you make edibles at home, you can’t truly know how strong they are. So start with low doses and wait for them to take full effect before taking more. You can always increase your dose—you can’t reduce it.
Factors that affect the strength of edibles
The concentration of THC present in cannabis edibles is not the only factor that will determine their effects. Of course, THC is the main factor, but a person’s individual physiology and experience will also affect the high.
For instance, smaller people tend to feel the effects of drugs at lower doses compared to larger people. Likewise, those with faster metabolisms often feel the effects of drugs faster and harder, but find them to wear off more quickly too.
And, of course, a person’s tolerance to THC also plays a major role in determining the perceived effects of edibles. If you use cannabis on a regular basis, you can expect the effects to be less strong than for somebody who rarely uses cannabis. Although, when ingested, most of the THC (more accurately, delta-9-THC) becomes 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more potent. For this reason, even regular users will find edibles unusually potent.
Another important consideration is how much a person has eaten besides the cannabis edible. If you take edibles on a full stomach, you can expect them to have a slower onset and less potent effects compared to if you took them on an empty stomach.
How do I find out how potent my herb is?
Unless you have access to laboratory THC testing, it’s not feasible to find out exactly how much THC your bud contains—unless you already know.
If you’ve grown it yourself, from commercial seeds, the seed bank should indicate how strong the resulting plant is likely to be. In this case, you can use the advertised THC concentration as a guideline. And if you live somewhere where you can purchase cannabis legally, the exact amount of THC is likely to be displayed on the packaging.
However, for the many of us who live in places where cannabis is illegal, how can we know how strong it is?
The reality is, we can’t. Cannabis bought on the street can range from around 10% to 25% THC (on average). Therefore, it’s probably best to estimate high and risk creating weaker edibles than you intended. At the very least, assume your bud has around 15% THC and work from here. If you’re inexperienced with cannabis, assume 20 or 25%, just to be safe. This way, the edibles won’t turn out to be much stronger than you desire.
How to calculate mg per edible
Now that you understand a little about edibles and potency, let’s look at how to actually calculate the potency of edibles. The maths is fairly simple, but must be followed properly in order to render accurate calculations. Below, we’ll break the method into four steps to make it clearer.
In each step, we’ll show the maths for cannabis herb that contains 10, 15, and 20% THC, as these are the most likely numbers you’ll be working with. Likewise, we’ll use one gram (1000mg) of cannabis flower for our weight.
Convert the potency of your herb
First off, you must convert the THC percentage of your herb into milligrams. This is pretty easy, so long as you know the exact weight of your cannabis. It’s worth weighing the cannabis yourself, as illegally bought weed is notorious for being weighed inaccurately.
To work out the amount of THC in your bud, start by dividing the weight (in mg) by 100. Then, multiply this answer by the THC percentage. This number will tell you how many milligrams of THC is in your bud.
For instance, for 1000mg (one gram) of cannabis containing 10% THC:
• This gram contains 100mg of THC
• This gram contains 150mg of THC
• This gram contains 200mg of THC
Now you have an estimate for the amount of THC in your cannabis.
Account for decarboxylation
Before cannabis is heated up, it predominantly contains THCA, not THC. THCA is a precursor compound that converts into THC via a process known as decarboxylation. “Decarbing” basically entails heating, which happens automatically when cannabis is smoked or vaped. However, for cannabis that is ingested, decarbing must occur before consumption. The most common course of action is to put the cannabis flower in the oven at a low heat for 45 to 60 minutes.
It varies from oven to oven how long and at what temperature you need to decarboxylate weed. However, if you have a fairly average fan oven, preheat it to 110ºC and then place your ground weed in for 45 minutes. This should convert most of the THCA into THC.
If you want to create CBD edibles instead, then you can use the same temperature, but it can take around 90 minutes for CBDA to decarboxylate into CBD. The numbers given here are, to our knowledge, the most efficient. However, you needn’t stick to them perfectly.
Alternatively, you could also use POT by NOIDS. The POT is specifically designed to decarboxylate cannabis in order to infuse oils. It is perfectly optimised for this purpose, and as such is as efficient as decarbing can get.
It’s important to note that this process is not 100% efficient. Though numbers vary, we can assume that we lose about 10% of the THCA to decarbing. Therefore, when estimating the strength of edibles, it’s worth taking around 10% off the weight of your sample during the above-mentioned equation.
So for the above examples:
• 100mg becomes 90mg after decarboxylation
• 150mg becomes 135mg after decarboxylation
• 200mg becomes 180mg after decarboxylation
If you’re not working with easy round numbers, then you can multiply the total amount of THC (in milligrams) by 0.9, and this will give you the total amount after decarboxylation.
This step will make your estimation more accurate, but it can safely be skipped. This is because if you miss this stage, you will overestimate the strength of your edibles, and won’t take more as a consequence.
Calculate the strength of your infusion
It doesn’t end here. For THC to be effectively infused into edibles, it must be extracted and stored in lipids. In reality, 100% of the cannabis in your flower will not be extracted into the lipid you are using (such as butter). However, as you can’t know how much has been extracted, then it’s safest to assume 100% anyway.
So calculating the strength of your infusion is fairly easy. If you decarbed a gram, and you calculated that decarbed gram to contain 180mg of THC, then that’s what you’ll find in your edibles.
In fact, it will be less than this, sometimes even significantly less, depending on a range of factors. But you can’t realistically determine this at home. Once again, using POT by NOIDS will help to make the entire process as efficient as possible, meaning that your edibles will contain as much THC as possible.
Now you know roughly how much THC there is in your cannabutter/total edible mixture.
Split the total strength across servings
Almost there! The final step is to divide the total amount of THC in your edibles by the number of portions you wish to create.
Assuming the butter/oil is spread evenly throughout your mixture, you can use the following maths to determine how many servings you can make from your mixture.
Average doses range between 2.5mg and 10mg of THC. Therefore, take the total amount of THC in your mixture and divide it by your desired dose. This will give you the number of doses available to you.
• 108/10= 10.8
What is an average edible dose?
As mentioned, the average edible dose ranges from 2.5mg to 10mg. For those with little experience with cannabis, taking lower doses of around 2.5mg is recommended. This will allow you to assess your reaction to the experience without committing to a very strong high.
For larger people, or those with more experience, an average dose could be around 5mg. This will produce significantly stronger effects compared to a 2.5mg dose.
For those who have a high tolerance, or those after a very strong high, doses can increase to around 10mg. Unless you are very experienced with edibles, though, it is recommended not to take doses of this size.
Tips for managing edible potency
No matter how much effort you put in, the calculations you make about the potency of your edibles will always be a rough estimate. Therefore, you should not rely on them entirely, and should take some other precautions surrounding consuming your edibles.
Mix your infusion evenly
When cooking your edibles, it’s very important to thoroughly mix the infusion to ensure an even spread of THC. If you don’t do this, some portions will be extremely strong while others may not produce any effect at all. No matter how good your calculations are, they’ll be totally inaccurate if you don't mix your infusion properly.
Test a single portion first
However strong you think your portions will be, always make sure to test a single serving first. Many times have people estimated their edibles to be a particular strength, only to discover that they are much stronger than expected. Don’t fall for this trap!
But also, don’t fear too much. Whilst taking too much THC can be overwhelming, you can’t overdose and you will soon sober up and feel okay again. Most likely if you take too much, you’ll just find yourself glued to the sofa for a few hours!
It can take an hour or longer for cannabis edibles to take effect, so don’t be tempted to eat more if nothing has happened after 30 minutes. Wait at least two hours before dosing again.
Try our dosage calculator
Alternatively, you can use our dosage calculator to do all the work for you. Simply enter the details, and it will churn out the necessary numbers.
Making edibles is highly rewarding, but the process has many steps, and getting any of these wrong can throw off your calculations. POT by NOIDS perfects the process, ensuring reliable results.