Rick Simpson Oil (which we’ll be shortening to “RSO” throughout our article) is a marijuana extract often touted as a miraculous cure.
Its eponymous creator, seeking treatment for his skin cancer, turned to this cannabis oil as a remedy – his subsequent recovery has become the stuff of legend, and Rick Simpson, now a legendary cannabis activist in his own right, has done much to ensure his recipe can be spread as widely – and freely – as possible.
A cannabis concentrate, RSO is a highly-concentrated, full-spectrum THC oil (often applied as a tincture) made from Indica-dominant strains of the cannabis plant. Named after its eponymous creator, Rick Simpson, RSO has been claimed to have a wide variety of – often startling – health benefits.
As with most concentrates, RSO is produced via soaking cannabis plant material in a solvent; Rick Simpson is very clear on precisely which solvent to use, and though substitutions can be made with other solvents such as grain alcohol or a lesser-proof alcohol, there are benefits to sticking to the original Rick Simpson oil recipe as written.
If you’ve read any of our other articles on High There about making cannabis concentrates, such as
We’re going to outline below the original, official, as-stated-by-Rick-Simpson way to make RSO. We’ll also be adding in some of our own notes and recommendations as we go along – The official recipe as written was designed to be effective but accessible to those without much in the way of kitchen equipment, and we want to both respect that and offer smart alternatives for those who may have such access.
Let’s get started.
Note: All instructions contained in this article are here for educational and informational purposes only. This recipe includes flammable liquids that can cause deadly fires or even explosions if not handled properly.
RSO Concentrate Recipe
This recipe creates 60 grams (or 60 milliliters) of RSO. You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 450/500 grams of cannabis bud. Raw, high-quality is preferred, with the original recipe calling for either a pure indica strain or an indica-dominant variety (IE: no more than 10% sativa strain). Decarbed weed can be used; see our notes below.
- 8 to 9 liters of solvent. As RSO is designed to be medicinal, a 99% isopropyl alcohol solution is recommended. Other solvents, such as everclear or grain alcohol, are commonly used for making concentrates, but both Rick Simpson and us stick by 99% iso alcohol for RSO.
- A length of wood. This is to stir your cannabis/solvent solution – A wooden spoon will work but we recommend using something food-safe and non-porous (metallic, silicone, ceramic, etc.) if available.
- Two 20 liter buckets. Use whatever is available but if you have access to stainless steel this would be preferred.
- Small containers; for holding the initial solvent mixture – We recommend something glass, such as Mason jars.
- Coffee filters
- An electric rice cooker; other slow cooking or double-boiling techniques will work but will require more active watching and can pose a greater fire hazard.
- A large fan
- Measuring cups; Rick recommends stainless steel but any suitable measuring cup in your kitchen should work just as well.
- An oven; other forms of slow-heating methods can be used here – Rick also recommends a coffee warmer.
- Clear syringes, needles removed & cap available. A catheter tip syringe will work well for this purpose.
Before You Begin:
Your cannabis bud should be thoroughly dried and somewhat crunchy to the touch; though decarbing isn’t requested in the original RSO recipe (as the concentrate is decarbed later in the process), decarbed weed would work just fine here and be well-dried.
We also recommend grinding your buds prior to soaking; this increases the surface area of your plant material, allowing for an easier and more thorough soak and allowing you to remove any stems or seeds that may be present.
If at all possible, make as much – preferably all – of this recipe outdoors. If any portions of this recipe must be indoors, proper ventilation is a must – As a large part of this process relies on the evaporation of alcohol, fumes CAN and WILL easily ignite. Therefore, all windows in the area should be open, and if available other fans should be set up pointed to face the outside.
We also strongly recommend wearing some kind of air filtration mask, to avoid inhaling any of the alcohol fumes as they evaporate;
Lastly, please note: No matter your extraction method, your solvent used, or your evaporation technique, no home cannabis extraction can guarantee 100% removal of all solvents used.
Making the RSO:
Place your cannabis bud into your first container, followed by your solvent – Adding in your bud first will help prevent the solvent from sloshing out as if done the other way around.
If you did not pre-grind your bud, add only a bit of solvent to help dampen the weed, then crush it with your stirrer of choice. Then, add more solvent slowly until your plant material is completely covered and “loose” in the alcohol.
Using your stirring implement (wooden spoon or otherwise), now begin to crush and stir your marijuana. Think of this motion as muddling a drink (a rather true metaphor given the alcohol involved) – You’re attempting to infuse the alcohol-based solvents with the THC-bearing oils inside the marijuana by breaking it further apart and stirring it into the liquid. Work this mixture back and forth for a minimum of three to four minutes.
Once done, carefully pour the infused solvent/oil liquid into your second large container (IE: bucket), leaving as much of your original material behind in the first bucket as possible.
The looser your plant matter, the more difficult this will be, so consider using a cheesecloth-lined strainer when transferring from the first container to the second.
The Second Wash:
Now repeat the above process with the same cannabis, essentially giving it a second rinse with your solvent. This second wash is less potent overall than the first wash but is still quite effective, and when combined with the first wash, it gives your Rick Simpson Oil a fairly complete spectrum of the cannabinoids present in the plant material.
Working carefully, pour the alcohol/oil solvent mixtures into your smaller (preferably glass) containers, which should be topped with coffee-filter-lined funnels.
This solvent will slowly drip down through the coffee filters into the vessels below, further straining out any potential impurities or plant material left in the solution.
This may take some time, and the process will go faster with the more filters/containers you use. Once the mixture has been completely strained through, an additional quick rinse with solvent can clear off any remaining THC oil left on the coffee filters.
Pour your strained solution directly into your rice cooker – A rice cooker is recommended due to its auto-temperature control settings, preventing your oil from overheating. Fill until at roughly the three-quarters mark; not over-filling will lessen the risk of hazardous splashes.
Turn your rice cooker on and let the solution begin to heat up – As it heats, the alcohol solvent will turn into fumes and evaporate, leaving behind a virtually pure cannabis oil concentrate.
While your solution is heating, make sure your fan is on and close to the cooker, blowing over its top – This will both help speed up the evaporation process, and help dissipate the harmful alcohol fumes.
Again, this should be done outside if at all possible, or with open windows and ventilation at a bare minimum; these fumes can and will easily ignite.
Finishing Your RSO:
The rice cooker will automatically switch off before bringing the RSO up to a temperature that will cause it to burn, meaning you can let this sit for as long as you like, though two cycles of power (IE: high to low to high again) is recommended.
Given the temperatures involved (bringing your concentrate up to roughly 220 F this has the side benefit of decarboxylating the THC concentrate as well (hence the lack of need for decarbed weed). No matter what method you use during this step in the process, your RSO should remain between 210 – 230 F.
After this, the recipe recommends using either a coffee warmer or an oven to heat the oil to roughly 250 F for 30 minutes to an hour for additional decarboxylation and to help remove any remaining water & solvent. Once this final step is complete, your RSO is ready to store.
Storing Rick Simpson Oil:
Though this oil can be stored in any number of ways, the traditional method is via syringe to accommodate for easier dosing. Any clear syringe will work, so long as the needle has been removed and a cap is available for the tip.
Tip: Using a warm syringe will help make the extract pull easier through the nozzle; a few minutes near a heating pad would suffice nicely for this purpose.
Place the end of the syringe into the oil and, drawing back gently on the plunger, fill with material to the desired amount. Repeat as needed.
And there you have it. In a lot of ways, RSO is similar to many other cannabis concentrates, though very precise in its technique and methodology. Note that RSO should be kept in a cool, dark place, completely air-tight. If sealed and stored properly, your RSO should retain potency for years to come; if not, expect a maximum beneficial life of roughly 4 – 6 months.
What Can Rick Simpson Oil Be Used For?
First and foremost, this is a very stout, high-THC-content cannabis concentrate, so above and beyond anything else, and it will get you high – Smoked, eaten, vaped, RSO is about as pure a true “weed concentrate” as it gets. And, more and more, cannabis enthusiasts are looking to
But beyond the most dedicated of potheads, most people don’t turn to RSO to get blazed; most seek this oil out for its potential medical benefits.
What is RSO good for? Well, what else is cannabis supposed to help with? Without trying to sound glib or casting any shade on the legacy or effectiveness of RSO, right now, it’s difficult to say with any true scientific validity exactly what cannabis does help with.
Some of the reported
- Multiple Sclerosis
And many more. What we do know for sure is that cannabis has shown promising results in clinical trials for treating a wide array of ailments, ranging from seizures to migraines to cancer.
Does RSO Have Side Effects?
RSO is a high-grade, high concentrate cannabis product, and with that comes the same side effects as partaking of any THC-bearing product. Possible negative
- Motor control & memory impairment
- Low blood pressure
And others. However, it is important to note that these side effects should only last for a few hours at most – and, if seeking to decrease the wait time for your side effects to diminish, remember that CBD is one of the few known effective ways to
Dosing, as with any cannabis product, is a tricky topic to discuss. Unfortunately, any website that claims to give you hard and fast dosing rules when it comes to cannabis products is full of hot air. Sorry-not-sorry.
Proper dosing of cannabis requires not only properly measured concentrates (which most home extractions cannot reach) but also information about the person consuming them; their weight, height, and even genetic makeup can all make a difference on how much cannabis they need to consume for a specific benefit.
Long story short, neither we at High There nor any other non-medical professional can give you solid advice on how much RSO to dose. Instead, we recommend speaking to your health provider about cannabis use, to see what a proper dose for your specific needs might be.
And note: Though
Ways to Use RSO
Typically RSO is seen as a topical ointment, and though it can be ingested we do want to give a particular word of caution when it comes to smoking or vaporizing Rick Simpson Oil.
As mentioned above, RSO (or any cannabis concentrate) made at home cannot have a guarantee of the removal of all solvents. While your RSO may look pure, there could be toxic, highly flammable solvent remaining in your concentrate – we likely don’t need to detail out further why exposing this to high temperatures could end up very poorly.
Again, RSO is typically applied as a topical solution, directly to an area that the user wishes to treat. And while neither us nor any other website can offer truly clinical advice on dosing cannabis products, we do have some very loose suggestions we can offer:
- Apply 1-2 Drops on the Skin: The traditional use of RSO, most users report a simple one-to-two drops on the skin; no more than to coat the afflicted area.
- Apply 2-3 Drops Under the Tongue: Though RSO is meant as a topical, RSO can be used as a tincture when held under the tongue. This method of ingestion is meant to absorb the THC more directly into the bloodstream, and should produce a noticeable high more quickly than if eaten.
- Apply 3-4 Drops to any Edible: If taken as an edible, expect the onset of effects to be much longer, but likely more noticeable over a longer timeframe.
How to Cook With RSO
Thankfully, cooking with RSO is very similar to using other cannabis concentrates for the same process. If looking how to
Does Rick Simpson Oil Cure Cancer?
As mentioned in the intro, Rick Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma). No stranger to using cannabis for medical ailments, and an engineer by trade, Simpson used his knowledge of cannabis to create the highest grade medicinal product he knew how to apply it as a tincture to the area of his cancer. According to his claims, within four days, all cancer cells & related growths disappeared and have been without cancer since.
He is not alone. There are hundreds of similar claims, all saying that usage of RSO has helped with not only their skin cancer but also other forms of cancer patients and many ailments beyond that. But there’s a reason we use the word “claims.”
Again, there is promising scientific evidence for using cannabis as a treatment for a wide variety of issues (cancer and beyond), including the original
… but. While there is importance in being honest about the validity of information, saying that science “doesn’t know” means exactly that – RSO’s effectiveness is unknown, meaning neither medically proven nor disproven. And while there may still be needed scientific research to be done before cannabis can be quantified as a legitimate medical treatment, that doesn’t mean that colloquial evidence should be completely ignored in the meantime. If someone who is suffering believes cannabis can help ease that suffering in any fashion, seeking whatever relief and remedy they feasibly can is only natural.
All of this said, as with any sort of medicine, speak to your medical professional before adding any kind of supplement to your existing treatment plan, and make sure medical marijuana is right for you and your healing process.
Can I Make CBD Rick Simpson Oil?
You absolutely can – In fact, Rick Simpson himself discusses this as a viable alternative for those seeking cannabis remedies without the highs of THC. Though the original recipe for RSO calls for buds from Indica-dominant strains, any strain of cannabis can be substituted to excellent results in the end concentration; CBD-heavy hemp strains are no different.
To make CBD RSO, just replace the cannabis in the above solution with CBD-rich hemp strains. That’s it, nothing else to it. RSO is, essentially, a high-grade cannabis concentrate, so as we said above, any strain you care to use will ultimately work to make a CBD oil at Rick Simpson standards.
CBD Oil vs. RSO
The first and most notable difference between RSO and CBD oil is the presence of cannabinoids other than CBD. CBD is a non-intoxifying substance, and unlike THC,
Though CBD may have a myriad of benefits on its own, it cannot and will not offer the same qualities as THC – the two substances interact with the human body and neurological system in completely different fashions.
RSO vs. FECO vs. QWISO
This gets sticky, so give us just a moment.
QWISO is part of making RSO, and FECO can be RSO, but RSO should not be FECO even if sometimes it is.
Still with us? Let’s try back up a minute.
QWISO, which stands for “Quick Wash ISOpropyl”, uses solvents to “wash” cannabinoids away from plant matter. And… yes, that is exactly part of what we described for making RSO above. However, most QWISO methods excise the precise cooking methods described in making RSO, meaning that QWISO is really only the first step in making RSO.
FECO, on the other hand, can refer to any number of cannabis concentrates made with a variety of different solvents. Most often, FECO (or “Full Extract Cannabis Oil”) is made with ethanol, which can be seen as a “safer” product to use for extractions than isopropyl alcohol.
However. RSO as defined by Rick Simpson is not made with ethanol, nor grain alcohol, nor any substance other than 99% isopropyl alcohol. It is this difference that makes RSO… well, RSO. And though RSO itself IS a full extract cannabis product, that does not mean that all “full extract cannabis oils” are RSO.
In short: Almost all home extractions will be full-extract cannabis products. The solvent used to make them is what often separates them from each other, and typically does not affect the actual cannabinoids carried away from the plant material during extraction.
Where Can I Buy RSO?
Finding genuine, to-the-recipe RSO itself can be a bit tricky; though many individuals and dispensaries may have products labeled as RSO, that doesn’t mean they were created using the original recipe as written by Rick Simpson.
Rick Simpson himself does not sell RSO, and attempts to contact him regarding the purchase of RSO are not advised. And while we would love to be able to say that you could easily buy RSO from your local dispensary, as said above there’s little-to-no guarantee that the end product was made to the original recipe.
Unfortunately, if you want confirmed, 100% authentic RSO? The only way to be sure is to make it yourself, or be a part of the process regardless.
We hope our article on how to make Rick Simpson Oil has helped you learn more about this useful THC concentrate. So many medical marijuana patients have looked to the simple, easy-to-follow instructions of Rick Simpson to make this oil, and we hope we’ve done him justice in our write-up.
Have you ever tried Rick Simpson Oil? Or know of any interesting variations on his technique? We’d love to know! So until next time, take care and happy smoking!