Date: 15 Apr 1993 19:01:39 GMT

A FOAF did some kitchen chemistry exploring the potential for making and using an ethanol marijuana extract. In brief, his experience was that it's easy to do if you are careful -- it produces a novel if otherwise unremarkable beverage -- and it shows great promise for converting a large batch of weak weed into a small batch of pretty decent stuff. He'd be interested if others have had better luck with the beverage end of things, as the original motivation was to share the fun with friends who cannot smoke.

ATYPICAL DISCLAIMER: Be careful whenever you are dealing with an extraction process -- remember that you can concentrate the bad as well as the good. He is not a chemist, nor does he play one on TV, so please... also, obvious precautions apply whenever you're heating potentially explosive liquids in your kitchen (yes, alcohol can let go with quite a kick)... and of course, I do not advocate anything illegal nor do I take any responsibility for anything, not even my own actions half the time.

The following text details a fairly careful, kitchen-table exploration of the preparation and use of an ethanol-based marijuana extract. The resulting tincture has been consumed and produced a mild and pleasant effect that can last, as well as such things last, for several hours. An unexpected success in using this extract to concentrate cheap, nasty weed into something useful was a nice bonus.

This technique first came to the attention of the locals via the following net posting (a portion is reproduced here).

>Subject: FAQ-Mj-consumption
>Author: (Michael Litchfield)
>Last Update: 6 Jun 91 19:30:02 GMT
>    One may extract the active ingredients from marijuana using alcohol and
>then use this tincture to make a potent drink. The highest proof alcohol
>available should be used, preferably 190 proof grain alcohol, since the water
>in the alcohol will dissolve other chemicals in the marijuana that one
>wishes to avoid. Some suggest soaking the grass in warm water for a period to 
>remove those chemicals but that presents a whole host of other and is not
>really recommended. One may simply place the marijuana into a bottle of grain
>alcohol and let the canabanoids leach out, but this takes 2-3 weeks of time. A
>faster method is to heat the alcohol to sub-boiling and stir in the marijuana.
>Great deal of care should be taken if this method is chosen as the alcohol is 
>highly flammable. The resulting tincture, often called "Green Dragon", is a
>light to emerald green liquid, which can be drunk straight, but this is not
>recommended. Highly lauded is a drink of 3 parts lemon lime soda, 1 part green 
>dragon and a dollop of honey served over ice.

The first, careless attempt was done using poor-quality weed and the best vodka at hand - Devil's Springs, weighing in at 150 proof. The results were unimpressive. Short cooking times (5-10 minutes) were probably a factor.

A quick trip to a PA liquor store produced a liter of 190 proof grain alcohol -- it actually says "Ethanol USP" on the label -- and several careful attempts were made, as follows.

A quantity of pretty good weed -- about twice what one person might smoke, maybe half or 2/3 a cc of the stuff -- is broken up into tiny pieces and placed in a handy 500 ml empty glass liquor bottle with a plastic screw-on cap. 15cc of 190 proof ethanol (about a shot) is added.

On the kitchen stove a saucepan half-full of simmering (not boiling) water is prepared, and with the stove set on low the bottle is lowered into the uncovered pot. It is important to note that the plastic cap is screwed quite loosely on to the bottle.

NOTE: We used an electric stove -- I would not try this over a gas burner. Ethanol can actually explode with enough force to break glass, so wear something over your eyes and be careful...

After a moment, the alcohol begins a gentle boil. With a minimum of screwing around, they were able to carefully regulate the boiling as follows:

  1. When you hear a hissing sound, the stuff is too hot, vapor is blowing out the top and might ignite if you ignore it.
  2. If the alcohol stops simmering it's too cold.
  3. If the alcohol is simmering in the center where the bits of weed are, but is not boiling around the edges, it's just right. No pressure will build up in the bottle and you are applying the maximum amount of heat possible with this apparatus.

    Cool the bottle by sliding the pan off the burner a bit or changing the position of the bottle in the simmering water. Only tiny changes are necessary and it's pretty easy to get it just right. Needless to say you will blow up like Richard Pryor if you screw the cap on too tight or leave it unattended.

    Remember that ethanol boils at about 180f and water at 212f.

After about 5 minutes of boiling, the alcohol began to take on a pleasant jade-green color, but several attempts have shown that 30 minutes of boiling seems to be optimal. (It is sort of interesting to note that the weed used in all cases was brown, without a hint of green, yet this lovely color occurred every time). You may notice a dark green ring forming around the edges of the liquid -- swirl the bottle every now and again to return it to solution.

After 30 minutes, filter out as much of the liquid as you can. You'll be looking at about a shot of emerald vodka, slightly cloudy and with a strong smell of fresh grass, not at all unpleasant if you like that sort of thing. Remember that is is still 190 proof and do not drink it straight.

Those who sampled it did so mixed with very scientific plain water. About a half hour later, maybe a bit sooner, a nice 'second beer' buzz kicked in, leaving them fully functional, happy, talkative, horny, and fun to be around. Driving would not be a good idea at this point but they felt like they could -- I mention this not as a hint but as a means of expressing the depth of the effect. Frankly, we had hoped for more.

Drinking more of the stuff made them no higher but prolonged the effects, including the sort of a next-day hangover normally associated with a serious amount of smoke.

The issue of if, and how, this stuff will keep was not explored. Traditionally, herbal tinctures are stored at room temperature in small, full, dark bottles to protect the solution from air and light. I suspect it probably will not keep very long.

A further experiment to explore a the concentration process was performed as follows:

A palmful of very weak weed was extracted into about 30cc (2 shots) of grain alcohol as above. Two joints were rolled from the same stuff and a drying rack, consisting of a wire oven rack held 3 inches over an electric stove set on low, was constructed.

Each joint was dipped for a count of five into the very dark, almost black liquid that resulted, then placed on the rack to dry. Drying took an unexpectedly long time (several minutes) and the thinner of the two joints proved to be the most satisfactory. After several dips, about half the liquid was absorbed into the now green, sticky joints and the remaining liquid was set aside.

Several hours later the smaller joint dried to a weird dark olive-drab color that looked suspiciously military. It's taste was distinctive and not unpleasant -- it might not have been fully dry -- and it worked out just fine, a gain on the subjective scale from Barely Smokable to Pretty Good. As there are only two higher levels (Damn Good and F*cking Outrageous) which cover the understandably large top end of the ratings, I found this to be terrifically successful.

Possibly all that we have done here is to reinvent 'hash oil' a pleasant enough substance that was notorious for rapidly degrading over time. Indeed, we found that after a week these things became worthless.

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