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CBD absorption in the body can be enhanced by using a carrier oil such as medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. Learn how to make cannabis-infused MCT oil at home that can be used as a sublingual tincture or a base for many cannabis-infused recipes.

The perfect pairing: MCTs and CBD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil may provide functional benefits, and can also be used as a carrier oil to deliver CBD to the body.

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a flavorless ingredient that acts as a carrier oil while also offering a neutral odor and long shelf life. Widely used for its therapeutic properties 1 and antimicrobial 2 and anti-inflammatory effects, 3 MCT oil may be the ideal ingredient to elevate a brand’s CBD products.

As MCTs have become essential dietary supplement and personal care additives worldwide and consumers learn their benefits, an excellent opportunity exists for manufacturers in the CBD industry to invest in this ingredient. MCTs can be incorporated as a high-quality carrier or emollient in the formulation of natural CBD cosmetics and dietary supplements.

What MCTs are

As health trends have grown across the U.S. and around the world, MCTs have skyrocketed in popularity. Composed of six to 12 carbons that are fatty-acid esters of glycerol, their short length enables the body to absorb the oil efficiently. 4 MCTs passively diffuse from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract into the portal vein without requiring the modification that long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) or very-LCFAs do. 4

Sourcing MCTs

MCTs are produced in the U.S., Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of the world from vegetable oil fatty acids from natural sources. MCT oil is most commonly derived from palm kernel oil and coconut oil. With both sources, the extraction process is called fractionation and it separates MCT oil into a concentrate. The four types of MCTs include the commonly used caprylic acid and capric acid.

How MCTs are used

MCTs have many applications across the personal care, aromatherapy and cosmetic industries. MCT oil may be used as a stand-alone product or added to lotions, creams, foams, topical aerosols, ointments, cleansing oils, bath scrubs, makeup and CBD oil. MCT oil is a go-to carrier oil for CBD products and CBD tinctures, as MCT is absorbed into the bloodstream faster than longer-chain fatty acids. 4 MCTs are also versatile enough to be incorporated into food and beverage products, with the possibility to offer science-backed functionality.

The potential benefits of MCTs

Clinical research around MCT oil surrounds health benefits such as aiding in weight loss, 5 energy 6 and heart health, 7 and potentially playing a role in alleviating inflammation 3 and mitigating other issues. 8

Among MCT oil’s areas of influence, weight loss ranks high on the list because of the extensive amount of research. In clinical trials, MCT oil has been shown to promote the feeling of fullness, to help reduce body weight and waist circumference, to reduce or prevent obesity, and to help the body burn extra calories. 5

Excess body weight can contribute to heart disease, so by aiding weight loss and with the potential to help reduce inflammation, 3 MCT oil may bolster heart health. 7 A clinical trial around MCT oil consumption and metabolic profile suggested MCT oil is a crucial ingredient to help reduce the risk factors for heart disease, with the potential to aid in maintaining healthy blood pressure. 7

Research has also indicated a promising role for MCTs with specific issues, including epilepsy and autism. One study explored the ability of MCTs to offer increased seizure control. 8 Another study showed positive improvements for people with autism who incorporated MCTs into their diet, tracking results over six months. 9 Other studies have assessed MCTs’ ability to influence memory loss and help patients in an Alzheimer’s disease population. 10

Although more clinical research is needed to further prove any links between MCT oil and benefitting inflammation or other adverse indications, 3 it stands to reason that MCT would be a positive addition to the diet. It provides an immediate source of power for the human body through quick absorption, allowing for faster conversion to energy, according to a clinical trial led by researchers Peter Schonfeld and Lech Wojtczak. 11

The perfect pairing

CBD is a chemical compound derived from the hemp plant, one of 113 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. CBD is growing in popularity in the U.S. and around the world. According to a CBD report from Research and Markets, the global CBD industry is projected to reach US$13.4 billion by 2028.

CBD will not produce an impact unless it is accessible to the human body, which means a carrier oil can be essential for absorption. 12 In addition to helping increase the bioavailability of CBD, carrier oils can improve the stability of a formulation by making it easier to produce nanoemulsions with small droplet sizes. 12

For manufacturers in the food and beverage or personal care industry looking to incorporate CBD into their product line or bolster products they already have, high-quality MCT can be a seamless addition to natural formulations.

To read additional articles on the CBD niche, visit the “ CBD seeks red-hot status ” digital magazine.

Mike Efting has been a senior executive in the chemical distribution industry for more than 35 years and an entrepreneur for well over a decade. He is the current president and founder of Viachem , a specialty chemical food additive and ingredient distributor, and American Pure Products, a wholly owned subsidiary of Viachem that includes premium personal care brands spanning hand sanitizer to CBD.

References

1 Ulrich H et al. “Parenteral Use of Medium-Chain Triglycerides: A Reappraisal.” Nutrition. 1996;12(4):231-238.

2 Khoramnia A et al. “Improvement of Medium Chain Fatty Acid Content and Antimicrobial Activity of Coconut Oil via Solid-State Fermentation Using a Malaysian Geotrichum Candidum.” Biomed Res Int. 2013;954542.

3 Yu S et al. “Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil Affects the Immunophenotype via Reprogramming of Mitochondrial Respiration in Murine Macrophages.” Foods. 2019;8(11):553.

4 You N et al. “Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Long-Chain Triglycerides, or 2-Monododecanoin on Fatty Acid Composition in the Portal Vein, Intestinal Lymph, and Systemic Circulation in Rats.” JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2008;32(2):169-175.

5 St-Onge MP and Jones PJH. “Greater Rise in Fat Oxidation with Medium-Chain Triglyceride Consumption Relative to Long-Chain Triglyceride Is Associated with Lower Initial Body Weight and Greater Loss of Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue.” Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003;27(12):1565-1571.

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6 St-Onge MP et al. “Medium-Chain Triglycerides Increase Energy Expenditure and Decrease Adiposity in Overweight Men.” Obes Res. 2003;11(3):395-402.

7 St-Onge MP et al. “Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil Consumption as Part of a Weight Loss Diet Does Not Lead to an Adverse Metabolic Profile When Compared to Olive Oil.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2008;27(5):547-552.

8 Chang P et al. “Seizure Control by Ketogenic Diet-Associated Medium Chain Fatty Acids.”Neuropharmacol. 2013;69:105-114.

9 Evangeliou A et al. “Application of a Ketogenic Diet in Children with Autistic Behavior: Pilot Study.” J Child Neurol. 2003;18(2):113-118.

10 Augustin K et al. “Mechanisms of Action for the Medium-Chain Triglyceride Ketogenic Diet in Neurological and Metabolic Disorders.” Lancet Neurol. 2018;17(1):84-93.

11 Schönfeld P and Wojtczak L. “Short- and Medium-Chain Fatty Acids in Energy Metabolism: The Cellular Perspective.” J Lipid Res. 2016;57(6):943-954.

12 Leibtag S and Peshkovsky AS. “Cannabis Extract Nanoemulsions Produced by High-Intensity Ultrasound: Formulation Development and Scale-Up.” J Drug Deliv Sci Technol. 2020;60.

Easy Cannabis-Infused MCT Oil

Published: Feb 16, 2021 · Modified: Jul 25, 2022 by Emily Kyle · This post may contain affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This easy, step-by-step beginner’s guide will teach you how to make cannabis-infused MCT oil at home. This oil infusion can be used as a sublingual tincture or a base for many cannabis-infused recipes.

Features

  • Just 2 simple ingredients needed: cannabis flower & MCT oil.
  • No special equipment required! You just need a basic crockpot and some mason jars. (Check out this guide if you want to use an Instant Pot, instead.)
  • Dietary Features: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Cannabis-infused MCT oil is a popular type of cannabis oil infusion made from 2 simple ingredients: cannabis flowers and MCT oil.

MCT oil is a type of fat extracted from coconuts. They are rapidly digested and absorbed by the body.

MCT oil remains liquid at room temperature, is completely clear, and has no flavor, making it one of the reasons it is so popular in my Well With Cannabis Community.

Many members love this infusion can be used two ways, either sublingually (held under the tongue) and/or in edibles.

In this guide, I will show you my super easy process for infusing MCT oil and talk about some important tips and tricks to help you on your cannabis journey.

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Ingredient Notes

  • MCT Oil – a clear, tasteless oil. You can learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of MCT oil below. If needed, you can purchase MCT oil here.
  • Cannabis Flowers – You will need your desired amount of cannabis flowers, ranging from 3.5 grams up to 1 ounce. Choose THC, CBD, or CBG dominant flowers. You can purchase them from your local dispensary or purchase hemp flowers from my online shop here.
  • Lecithin, optional: If you’re new to working with lecithin, you can learn more about adding lecithin to edibles here. If needed, you can purchase liquid lecithin or powdered lecithin. This ingredient is optional.

Note: a complete list of ingredients with amounts and printable instructions is located in the recipe card below.

The Step-by-Step Process

  • Step 1 – The goal is to create a water bath that stays at approximately 180-190° F for the cooking process. The printable instructions in the recipe card below are for using a crockpot to create the water bath.
  • Step 2 – While the water bath is heating in the crockpot, measure and decarb the cannabis flower. Learn how to decarb in an oven or decarb in an Instant Pot.
  • Step 3 – Evenly divide the decarbed cannabis flower and MCT oil between the mason jars you plan on using. If you plan on using sunflower lecithin, add it to the mason jars now.
  • Step 4 – Carefully place the jars into the water bath. Then, place the lid on the crockpot and leave it alone to infuse for 4 hours. After 4 hours, remove the jars from the hot water and allow them to cool.
  • Step 5 – Whether it be a paper filter and funnel, cheesecloth, French press, or a simple coffee filter, you will want to set up a straining station to separate the plant matter from the oil.
  • Step 6 – Once cool enough to handle, strain the prepared oil with your method of choice. You can save the leftover cannabis pulp for use in future recipes.
  • Step 7 – Return the prepared oil to whatever jar you would like to store it in; I use a small amber tincture dropper bottle.
  • Step 8 – Store the prepared oil in a cool, dry place. It will last longer if stored in the refrigerator and even longer if stored in the freezer.

Note: complete step-by-step printable instructions are located in the recipe card below.

Storage Instructions

Store your prepared MCT oil in a cool, dry place. It will last longer if stored in the refrigerator and even longer if stored in the freezer.

Is This MCT Oil A ‘Tincture’?

I’ve seen lots of people, including those inside my cannabis community, fuss over the terminology of a tincture.

Technically a tincture is an alcohol-based preparation, like this Green Drago alcohol tincture or a QWET alcohol tincture. That means this cannabis MCT oil will be considered an infusion.

However, you’ll often see people refer to MCT oil as tinctures simply because they are oftentimes held under the tongue for sublingual application.

This is the difference between holding an oil or tincture under your tongue vs. simply swallowing it. While the difference is small, the different effects can be quite noticeable from other application methods.

Sublingual Use for MCT Oil

Sublingual, meaning under the tongue, involves holding oil or tincture under your tongue to be absorbed by our mucous membranes into the body.

There is a dense concentration of capillaries under the tongue and around the mouth, so products held in the mouth are delivered directly to the bloodstream, making sublingual administration quick and easy (2).

Some people prefer this method due to the quick absorption rate and high bioavailability rate of around ~30%, producing a quicker, more effective absorption into the bloodstream.

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For this application method, it is recommended to hold the oil or tincture under your tongue or inside your cheek for as long as possible for the best results and most efficient absorption.

Many people like this method because the typical onset time starts fairly quickly, between 15-30 minutes. The typical duration time lasts for an average of 2-4 hours.

The cannabinoids in the oil or tincture are then absorbed into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the whole body.

This method bypasses digestion and the first-pass metabolism in the liver, unlike cannabis edibles.

Edible Use of MCT Oil

Unlike sublingual absorption, edible consumption is a bit more complicated.

Edibles, also known as oral cannabis consumption, involve eating cannabis that is then processed through the gastrointestinal tract.

You can consume cannabis orally in many forms, including capsules, tinctures, oils, brownies, cookies, coffee, tea, and even spice mixes.

This is because the ingested cannabinoids pass through the digestive system.

Once the cannabis is eaten and digested, the THC is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the liver, where it undergoes the hepatic first-pass metabolism.

During this process, enzymes hydroxylate THC (Δ9-THC) to form 11-hydroxytetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC), a potent psychoactive metabolite that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier (3).

This means that eating cannabis can provide stronger, more potent, or intoxicating effects in some individuals.

There are even anecdotal reports of people experiencing hallucinogenic effects when too much THC has been consumed.

This potent intoxicating metabolite, 11-OH-THC, causes potentially unwanted (or wanted) side effects for many unknowing cannabis consumers.

This is why with edibles, it is so important to be careful of accidental excess cannabis intake by overeating.

MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil

It is important to note some differences between MCT oil and coconut oil, primarily when baking or used in recipes.

While both are derived from coconuts, there is a noticeable taste and texture difference.

Coconut Oil MCT Oil
Derived from Coconut Derived from Coconut
Solid at room temperature Liquid at room temperature
Opaque when solid Remains clear
Refined has no flavor, unrefined has a slight coconut flavor Has no flavor
Easy to substitute in baked goods Not as easy to substitute in baked goods
Not great for sublingual application Great for sublingual applications
May cause digestive distress in large amounts May cause digestive distress in large amounts
High smoke point, 350° F, great for cooking Low smoke point, 284° F, not good for cooking

MCT Oil and Digestive Distress

One important thing to note is that MCT oil in large amounts may cause digestive distress in some individuals.

Many members of my cannabis community have reported that consuming too much MCT oil, either in an edible or sublingually, causes digestive problems.

MCT oil can cause significant gastrointestinal distress, such as diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, and cramping, because it is metabolized differently by the body.

Additionally, it is not recommended for individuals who have liver problems.

That is why it is important to start low and go slow, just like all things cannabis, that way, you can see how your body reacts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive in my Well With Cannabis Community about making infused MCT oil at home.

Yes, if you want a stronger, more potent infusion, you can make this MCT oil infusion with FECO. Follow the directions for making FECO here, including directions for mixing with MCT oil after cooking. You can also make infused MCT oil with other types of cannabis concentrates.

You may want to consider making a small test batch before making a larger batch. This recipe calls for 1 ounce of flower and 16 ounces of MCT oil, which will yield a large batch. If you want to make a smaller batch first to see if MCT oil infusions are right for you, use this cannabis flower to oil ratio guide.

How to Determine The Dosing

Want to get a more accurate guesstimate of the potency of your cannabis infusions and extractions? Try our popular edibles calculator!

Not sure what your perfect dose is? Learn more here.

Want To Make This Easier? Use A Machine!

If the process of decarbing and infusing feels like too much work, an all-in-one countertop device may be a perfect all-in-one solution.

My personal favorites? The LEVO and Ardent FX, but you can review the most popular infusion machines here.

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More Oil Recipes You Will Love

My Edibles Made Easy Online Cooking Course will teach you how to easily make cannabis edibles and topical recipes at home. This step-by-step video course will teach you how to infuse, extract, and create edibles with many different product types – all from the comfort of your own home.

Learn more and enroll today →

How to Make Cannabis-Infused MCT Oil

This easy, step-by-step beginner’s guide will teach you how to make cannabis-infused MCT oil at home. It can be used as a sublingual tincture or a base for many cannabis-infused recipes.

Equipment

Ingredients

  • ▢ 16 ounces MCT oil
  • ▢ 1 ounce decarbed cannabis flower
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon liquid sunflower lecithin

Instructions

Lay a clean tea towel down on the bottom of the crockpot. This will create a buffer between your mason jars and the crockpot, potentially preventing any jar moving or cracking during cooking.

Fill your crockpot with enough warm to hot water to cover the top of the mason jars you plan on using by an inch to create a water bath.

Place the digital thermometer into the water. Start the crockpot heat on high. When a temperature of 185° F is reached, turn the crockpot to low.digital thermometer

While the water bath is heating in the crockpot, measure and decarb the cannabis flower. Click here for a full cannabis decarboxylation tutorial, if needed.

Evenly divide the MCT oil between the mason jars you plan on using. You can either use pint-sized or half-pint-sized jars, it’s you’re preference, just be sure they fit in your crockpot. No matter the size, be sure to leave a ½ inch headspace from the top.

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Evenly divide the decarbed flower between the MCT oil filled jars. Stir well. Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean paper towel and place the lid on. Tighten the metal ring to finger-tip tightness, it does not have to be tightened all the way. Do not tighten too tightly.

After 4 hours, carefully remove the lid, followed by the jars from the hot water. Set them aside to cool.

Once cool enough to handle, you will want to strain the MCT oil through a paper filter and funnel, cheesecloth, or French press to separate the plant matter from the oil.

Save the leftover cannabis pulp for use in future recipes. Then return the prepared cannabis oil to whatever jar you would like to store it in. We use a small amber tincture jar.

Store the prepared cannabis MCT oil in a cool, dry place. It will last longer if stored in the refrigerator and even longer if stored in the freezer.

Notes

  • Yield: ~16 ounces / ~2 cups
  • Temperature Control: The water bath does not need to stat perfectly at 185° F the entire time. Any temperature between 170°-190°F is OK.
  • Safety First: I recommend you sanitize your jars by keeping them submerged in the 185° F crockpot for 10 at least minutes. This step is not necessary, but good practice for safety and hygiene.
  • Floating Jars: Sometimes the mason jar will float when placed in the water bath. This is no need for concern, simply put something heat and water safe over the top of the jar to weigh it down, a clean rock works well.
  • Alternative Carrier Oil Options Include:
    • Olive oil
    • Avocado oil
    • Hemp seed oil
    • Grapeseed oil
    • Coconut oil

    Nutrition

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    Reader Interactions

    Comments

    April 30, 2022 at 7:13 am

    Hi Emily, made your cookies and they were great!, I bought your 2oz MCT oil to make the store bought gummies. I am confused on how much flower to use when decarbing ?

    April 30, 2022 at 8:45 am

    Hello Linda! I am so glad you enjoyed the cookies. You can use my Flower to Oil Ratio Guide to help you decide how much flower you want to add to your infusion

    May 05, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    How do I determine how much Feco to fuse with mct oil?

    May 07, 2022 at 10:20 am

    Hi there, Anna. You would want to take your personal needs and tolerance level into consideration and go from there. The more oil you add, the more diluted and less potent the infusion becomes. For example, if you had 1mL of FECO with 750mg THC and added it to 30mL of MCT oil (a standard bottle size) you would divide 750mg/31mL to get around 24mg of THC per 1mL dopperful. If you doubled the amount of oil to 60mL, it would decrease the dose to around 12mg of THC per 1mL dropper. I hope this helps.

    May 31, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    Can I use a pot on a stove top or in the oven? I do not have access to a crockpot or instant pot.

    June 01, 2022 at 7:42 am

    It looks like in the picture that the entire mason jar is submerged in water inside the crockpot. I just want to make sure that thats how the mason jars are meant to be – fully submerged?

    June 01, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Yes, you can use the stove top, Nancy. Just get a pot large enough to hold your water and mason jars. Fill the pot with water to create a water bath and add your jar of goodies. Bring the temperature up to 160-190ish and keep it there for 4 hours for the infusion process. When you’re done, turn off the heat, discard the water, and proceeded as normal

    June 01, 2022 at 9:39 am

    Hey George! The *can* be fully submerged, but they don’t have to be. It will depend on how full your mason jar is. You will want to ensure the contents of the jar are covered by the water line.

    August 14, 2022 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you so much for your content! Wanted your opinion to see if I should grind up the flower after it’s been decarbed? I appreciate your input!!

    August 14, 2022 at 2:19 pm

    Hey Dawn! Thank you for your kind words I personally do NOT grind before or after decarbing. The process of grinding when making edibles just causes more trichomes to fall to the bottom of the grinder and releases more chlorophyll into the final product. I just leave it in popcorn sized pieces before infusing.

    August 24, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    Hi Emily, as always thanks for all the wonderful information! Is there a difference between using FECO to infuse my MCT oil and just infusing the MCT oil using the InstaPot method? I realize potency will be affected by amount of both cannabis and MCT but is there a health benefit to making FECO first? Cheers, Michelle

    August 24, 2022 at 9:25 pm

    Hello Michelle, you are most welcome! I think both options will provide you with the benefits of a full-spectrum final product and in most cases it just comes down to personal preference But if a higher potency is what you are looking for, making FECO first is certainly the way to go.

    Thanks for coming! Let me know what you think:

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