Since I first posted the Definitive Green Dragon 6 months ago, I have received many great comments, answered many questions, and gained more expertise with the extraction myself. I decided it's time to update my recipe and combine my other posts. The biggest change is increasing the extraction temperature from 150-165°F to 170°F.
Below is the original recipe (updated). Tips and techniques follow.
Thanks for all the feedback and interest.
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.
1/8oz high quality cannabis
2 oz Bacardi Rum – 151 proof
1. Chop cannabis very fine (coffee grinder works great)
2. Place in a shallow pan (a sheet of aluminum foil works great) and bake at 325°F for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and place cannabis in 2 oz of 151 proof rum (use a small wide mouth 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.
One milliliiter (one full eyedropper) is very nice. Two puts you in space. But you must self-titrate (test it on yourself) as each batch will be slightly different. Effects take up to 1.5 hours to begin (at least in myself) and lasted for 5 hours (1 dropper) to 7-8 hours (2 droppers).
I place one eyedropper (1ml) of Green Dragon in a small glass. I then add a small amount of water (1-2 ml) and drink. Do this on an empty stomach for best results (about 20-30 minutes before eating a main meal is good).
Process details—references and rationalizations:
1. Chop the cannabis
More surface area gives means a faster and more efficient extraction.
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 http://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 325°F is used. Between four and five 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.
3. Use the highest proof alcohol available.
Where I live this is 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.
5. Strain and store.
When you are finished with the extraction you will be left with about 1oz of green dragon tincture after you have strained the extract. Notice that one ounce of the alcohol has evaporated. See the tips below for a good way to strain the tincture.
A standard eyedropper will transfer about 1ml (or 1 gram) of liquid. There are 29 milliliters in one ounce. So you should end up with about 30 or so full eyedroppers (30 milliliters) of Green Dragon.
The liquid should be dark brownish-green and smell like cannabis.
6. Dosage. Titration.
Everybody is different. It takes me between 30-90 minutes to feel the effects of Green Dragon (depending on how much food is in my stomach).
I had tried a tincture someone had made using the cold extraction method with the same amount of cannabis and found that 5 ml (5 full eyedroppers) did pretty much nothing.
Using my Green Dragon technique I find that one dropper will bring effects on in 30-90 minutes and last 5 hours with 1.5 hours of lingering aftereffects.
Two droppers gave me a "spiritual dose" (as strong as any brownie I ever had). Effects lasted 7-8 hours with lingering effects for 2 more hours.
This means that 1/8oz of good cannabis yields about 30-34 doses of tincture (1 dropperful is really all I need). For me it is much more pleasant than smoking (I've stopped smoking entirely).
This link might be helpful.
Metric Conversion: http://www.worldwidemetric.com/metcal.htm
Combined Tips and Techniques
Below are the combined tips and answers to questions that have accumulated over the last 6 months.
1. Baking Temperature/Time.
I use 325 Farenheit for 5 minutes. Although this will change depending on the type of pan you use. With a gas oven and aluminum foil (no pan cookie sheet) 5 minutes was fine. However with an electric oven, a cookie sheet, and baking parchment, I needed a few more minutes. Keep a close eye on it.
Note that OKSmokey uses 20 minutes at 200°F. I haven't tried this but he has had good success with this temperature.
2. Double the Recipe?
Sure, why not. It should be fine. But I prefer to err on the side of caution and would probably do the extraction twice with a self-titration in between runs.
You will have to figure dosage with each batch. And you must test it on yourself. The way to do this is through titration (a fancy chemical term that means to determine the concentration of a solution). The concentration of GD will change based on the strength of the starting material, the amount of alcohol you boil off during the extraction, the efficiency of your pre-bake, etc.
Start with one or two full dropperfuls (not drops!) and swallow them down. Check the time and note when you first feel effects, when you peak, the intensity of the peak, and how long it lasts. Make sure you can reproduce your titration (empty stomach, time of day, diluted in water?, etc). If you like what you feel, great. If too much or not good enough try again tomorrow with a different amount. With two points (high and low) you should have a pretty good idea of how it works on your body. Of course it might be different on someone considerably bigger or smaller.
For instance one batch I made was unbelievably strong--1 dropperful and I was flying. The next one took 3 dropperfuls for same effect (but the solution was more dilute as I ended up with 1.75oz instead of 1oz of final GD, the pot wasn't as good, and my pre-bake was a bit too short since I was using an unfamiliar oven and a baking pan instead of just aluminum foil).
4. And as always--don't put the stuff in your eye ;-). And don't put it under your tongue because it burns. I now place the GD in a tablespoon (or so) of water--yum. I actually like the flavor as it is sort of floral. I also store mine in the fridge, but don't really know if this matters.
5. How much is in an Eyedropper
An eyedropper holds about one milliliter of liquid, depending on how hard you squeeze the little bulb. For water based solutions one milliliter weighs about one gram. Thus each full eyedropper contains about one gram of liquid. Since there are about 29 grams in one ounce, you get about 29 full eyedroppers in every ounce. The eyedropper I initially used measured 34 full droppers in an ounce.
Also I use the nice blue two-ounce dropper bottles from the health food store that are used for essential oils, tinctures, and/or other extracts.
6. 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.
7. When is it Ready
Right away. That is one of the nice things about this extraction process.
I find that after a week in the fridge (that's where I store mine) the flavor seems to mature into a heady, slightly floral elixer with bud overtones. I find it rather pleasant.
9. Isopropyl Alcohol
DON'T USE IT!
10. Using an Ounce
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.
11. Pre-Baking the Pot - Color Changes and Vapors
Bake the pot at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes. I chop mine in a mini-prep (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.
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).
12. Extraction Temperature (revised)
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.
13. Green Dragon Final Color and Smell
The green dragon should be a greenish-brown color (more brown than green). If it is emerald green and smells like grass (from the cholorphyll), it will be weak. Emerald green indicates that the pre-baking was not sufficient. The GD should smell like bud, somewhat floral.
14. How To Recover The Green Dragon
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.
Next (this is the cool part) I use a garlic press to squeeze the remaining leaves. My preference is a Zylis Garlic Press because it has a plunger mechanism, but any press should do. I then put the squeezings into the plunger in batches, and squeeze the holy GD out of it. This trick has increased my overall recovery by about 15%.
There ya go Green Dragonsters. Good luck and Enjoy.