What To Do With Leftover Marijuana Stems
When it comes to cannabis, having leftover stems is just part of the package. Here’s how to use them.
In this current era, saving some cash is more important than ever, especially when it comes to weed. And one hack for sticking to a budget is reusing and recycling, like harvesting kief from a grinder, or coming up with creative ways to use your stems. Once you see that stash get down to the stems and dregs, you’re bound to wonder, is there THC in stems? Though smoking stems remains a possible choice in using them up, it isn’t the biggest hit for your buck. Stems, while they hold the same risk for your lungs as smoking the bud itself, hold less THC value. Instead of the high you’d expect from ground flowers, you’ll get a taste of wood chips and likely, a nasty headache.
Instead, learn how to extract THC from stems, and feel confident in your savvy and earth-wise approach to using the whole nug from the bag.
When looking to reduce, reuse, and weed-cycle, it’s important to know the answer to the question, do weed stems have THC? Once you know that, the options are endless for reusing the stems. But start with something easy, like brewing tea. Try this simple recipe:
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup stems (either ground or broken up, brewer’s choice)
- 3 cups water
- tea bag of choice
- coffee filters
- 2 to 3 teaspoons a favorite alcohol
If you prefer to stay away from alcohol, try a 1/2 cup milk (dairy, almond, soy, or coconut) or half teaspoon of butter or coconut oil. Remember that in order for bud tea to work, it’s necessary to decarboxylate the cannabis.
First fill a kettle with the water. Then, add the milk or butter or oil, but if using alcohol, wait until after the water is boiling and off of the burner to incorporate into the water. Add broken down stems to boiling water and stir for ten minutes, infusing the liquid. If using ground stems, consider a reusable tea bag to make the straining process easier. If not, simply place the coffee filter over the kettle’s spout. Then after mastering how to extract THC from stems for tea with this recipe, try something more advanced with your stems like Bud Boba or Matcha Green Tea. Have a tea party, and your friends won’t even have to ask, “Do weed stems have THC?” because they’ll be blazed off your brew.
Infuse Your Booze
Though the weed market today offers an assortment of bud beers or wines to try, learning how to extract THC from stems to infuse in your booze is a great DIY project to use up leftover stems. Recipes for infusing with ground flowers provide a reasonable foundation to follow for infusing alcohol with THC from stems. Simply increase the amount by a quarter cup for a deeper high, if desired.
Alternatively, if you want the cheater’s method and you’ve the time, take a bottle of strong clear alcohol, such as everclear or vodka. For every ounce of liquid, grind up 1.5g of stems. Let the bottle sit in a dark room for three weeks, occasionally shaking to stir up the contents. Because of the intense taste, consider taking 1/4 or 1/2 shots of the finished product at a time to see how it will affect you. Also try blending it with your favorite mixer, like bloody mary mix. Then, when you have weed-minded guests over for a gathering, give them the low down on the question they’ll surely be asking of your stem-infused cocktails, “Really? Is there THC in stems?”
Extract Bubble Hash
Even the most experienced bud smokers wonder if weed stems have THC. Is it worth the experimenting and time to find out? If you decide to make some bubble hash, it may very well be worth your while, and you’ll never wonder if there is THC in stems again.
Start first by gathering broken down stems or putting them into a blender (amount is to preference, just remember it should be almost double what it would be with just flowers). Put them into a mason jar with 90% isopropyl alcohol. Shake the closed jar for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Strain with a coffee filter into a pyrex glass container, like a brownie or casserole dish. Adjust a fan to blow onto the mixture and wait until all the liquid evaporates. This waiting period could last over 3 hours, but it may be best to wait a full 24 before indulging the in the product. Once the waiting process is done, simply scrape and smoke. Now you know how to extract THC from stems to make hash.
Baking to Get Baked
Finally, knowing the answer to “is there THC in stems” opens up a world of opportunity in baking. Stuck with leftover stems, you can experiment with new recipes, made with cannabutter or cannaoil from stems. Simply adjust your recipe by increasing the amount of stems in lieu of the ground flowers. Remember to adjust your flavoring and seasoning depending on what you decide to make. The stems will have a more potent, woody taste than regular flowers. Learning do weed stems have THC may make your edibles cheaper and more effective than ever.
Get Crafty: What To Do When Not Extracting THC
Sometimes knowing is there THC in stems doesn’t matter. Getting crafty with your stems doesn’t have to stop at how to extract THC from stems. Stems grouped together can make for a workable screen or filter for a piece. Depending on their size, they can also be woven or glued together to make baskets. Or carve them sharp for skewers for your next dank cannabis cookout. Though knowing that the answer to do weed stems have THC is yes, it may seem a waste of a valuable high not to use them up through infusion, baking, or brewing. Nonetheless, by committing to using the whole product, you’re enjoying your green while keeping the earth a little greener too.
8 Creative Ways to Use Your Stems
M ost cannabis consumers, at one point or another, find themselves wondering what to do with the leftover stems once their stash has been picked clean. And some save those stems, even if they’re not sure what to do with them. Well those instincts are correct, there are several uses for pot stems, from extraction for a little more THC, to crafting materials.
- How to Decarboxylate Concentrates
- How to Get the Most from Your Cannabis Trim
- Do You Really Need to Grind Your Weed?
- 5 Amazing Uses for Cannabis Stems
In this article we feature some of the best ways to use weed stems once the flowers are gone.
Decarb Your Stems
For cannabis to be effectively infused into anything, it must first be decarboxylated, or “decarbed.” Raw cannabis flower contains THC acid, or THCa, which cannot get the user high. The good news is that converting THCa into psychoactive THC is as easy as heating it up. Usually this happens when a flame is put to the flower, but if you’re infusing, it needs to be done at a lower temperature.
The easiest way to decarb any raw cannabis material is in the oven. Grind the cannabis stems, leaves, or flowers and spread them over a foil-lined baking sheet, then bake between 225° and 240° F for 1 hour. The cannabis should emerge brown and dry, but not burned.
Uses for Weed Stems
While there is THC in cannabis stems, it’s very little — about 2%. However, that means 1g of stems holds about 20mg of THC, or two edibles worth. Smoking plant material is still hazardous to (and hard on) the lungs, so it is not recommended that anyone smoke stems. Extracting that THC, on the other hand, opens up a few possibilities including homemade edibles, hash, and topicals.
The THC in stems can be extracted into butter or oil just as you would when extracting from buds. Our recipe for cannabutter works exactly the same with stems in place of flowers, or you could toss your stems in with the flowers next time you extract, to squeeze out every last cannabinoid and really take your bake to its full potential.
Cannabis topicals are an increasingly popular way to get targeted relief from pain and inflammation, and they’re relatively simple to make at home.
Coconut oil is the most common base because its high fat content allows it to soak up loads of cannabinoids. Once you have an infused base, it is mixed with beeswax or other oils like almond oil, depending on your desired consistency. Essential oils top off the aroma of your homemade balm.
Bubble hash requires some specialized tool — particularly the bubble bags — but once you have the materials, you’re ready to wring every last cannabinoid out of any part of the plant.
Bubble bags have mesh sieves of varying porosity in the bottom, which are then layered atop one another in a bucket so you can catch trichomes at every level as gravity pulls them through the screens. The bags are then filled with ice, water, and any stems, leaves, or shake you may have (of course this works with raw buds as well). Then the whole mixture is stirred up, and as the trichomes freeze or become brittle, they fall off the plant and float down through the sieves. The result is a paste that dries into smokable hash.
Note that you may want to grind your stems first using a coffee grinder or something similar so that the pointy stems won’t poke through your bubble bags and make holes.
Tea or Coffee
It is possible to brew your stems into tea or coffee, but remember: THC is fat-soluble, which means it needs a lipid, a fatty substance like cream or butter, to bind to. Brewing cannabis stems in water won’t do much except flavor it like weed, but if you add a little butter, oil, or cream to that water, it will absorb the THC.
This is the principle behind our cannabis coffee recipe. The boiling water releases the remaining cannabinoids from the plant, and the butter catches them. That boiled, buttery mixture was then transferred to a french press for a rich cup of reefer java. You can infuse milk or creamer with cannabis as well.
Cannabis tinctures have a rich history of medicinal use, and are still common today as a sleep aid and pain reliever. And thankfully, a rudimentary cannabis tincture is simple to make at home. Above, we repeated several times that THC is fat-soluble, and that’s true, but not the whole truth. Because of their similar polarities, THC is also soluble in alcohol.
To make a cannabis tincture at home, begin with a strong, but still drinkable, alcohol like everclear or vodka. Isopropyl alcohol is not safe to consume and should not be used in any kitchen recipes. Soak your stems, leaves, buds, etc. in a jar of alcohol for anywhere between 5 minutes to 5 weeks, then filter out the plant matter, and that’s it. What remains in an alcohol solution with cannabinoids.
To increase potency, just decrease the amount of alcohol it’s soaked in. If you choose to soak for a longer period, remember to shake the jar once a day. It’s normal for longer infusions to turn dark green.
A hemp wick is a natural alternative to a lighter. Holding a lighter to your bowl burns through butane and releases butane fumes onto your weed, and on into your lungs. A hemp wick still needs to be lit with a lighter, but once the flame has been transferred over, the wick will carry a small healthy flame that can be passed around with your bowl, or wait patiently for your next pull.
To make a hemp wick, slice your stems or stalks lengthwise into thin strips, then braid them together to form a single rope. Dip the braided rope in beeswax (found at a craft store), wipe it clean, and wait for it to dry.
A pen requires more stalk than stem, as the piece will need to be thick enough to drill a hole through, and fit pieces from a pen kit. Growers, especially, will have access to these kinds of stems. But if you’ve got a piece of cannabis wood destined for the trash (or preferably compost), then you could make a unique writing tool instead. These make for fun gifts too!
If nothing else, those old stems can be fed back into the growing process, be it cannabis or any other plant. Grind or chip any stems into small, coarse pieces and you’ve got yourself an effective mulch to spread over the top of your soil.
Any veteran gardener will extol the virtues of mulch: it regulates soil temperature, increases water retention (by preventing evaporation), it provides an environment friendly to insects and fungi, and prevents weeds from taking root. And as it decomposes, it releases more nutrients into the soil. So using cannabis mulch on a cannabis plant will feed those leftover nutrients right back into the next generation!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to use weed stems?
There is no best way to use weed stems because there are so many different options. Those who want to extract any remaining cannabinoids can do so in their kitchen with the methods above, and craftier users can make an assortment of DIY goods.
Is it safe to use weed stems to make edibles?
Weed stems can be extracted into butter or oil just as cannabis flowers can, though the cannabinoid content is much lower.
Do weed stems make weaker edibles?
While cannabis stems do contain THC, the levels are around 2%, compared to 15% or more in the flowers.
Can you make concentrate from weed stems?
THC and other cannabinoids can be extracted from weed stems, but the content is much lower.
What do you do with your leftover weed stems? Share your ideas in the comments below!