Cannabis stems. Twigs, sticks, tree branches at the bottom of the bag. Often seen as an undesired waste product, many times these overlooked parts of the cannabis plant end up destined for the bin. It’s a shame, as these stems still have plenty of cannabinoids to offer!
Instead of throwing your stems away, why not put them to good use? At the same time you’l be reducing your waste and stretching your stash! Learn more about the many surprising uses for cannabis stems in our article below; from kief to composting, there’s bound to be a home for your leftover stems!
How to Extract THC From Stems
Note: Before we begin, for many of the below methods on what to do with weed stems, it is important to decarboxylate or “decarb” your smoking stems before you start, especially if you wish to make use of the all-important THC content. Decarbing is a fairly simple process but one with some important details to know; we’ll go over the basics below, but for a complete write up on how to decarb your weed stems, please visit our full article for an in-depth guide.
THC is the most popular psychoactive element found in a cannabis plant. This compound notorious for producing what we know as the “high” sensation. THC can be consumed via smoking cannabis flowers and through the use of edibles, oils, capsules, tinctures and more. It has also been reported as helping with muscle spasticity, pain, insomnia, glaucoma, low appetite, anxiety and nausea.
Importantly, however, THC is not naturally found in the cannabis plant. Instead, the similar molecule THCA, a psychoactively inert (IE: will not get you high) cannabinoid is found in cannabis plants and must be turned into THC via the application of heat. Enter, decarbing.
Although the name decarboxylation may sound complicated, it’s an extremely easy process that involves heating the marijuana stems to a specific temperature. It is this heating of the plant material that transforms the THCA in cannabis into THC, which makes weed stems an ideal component for hash, hemp wick, tinctures, edibles, extracts and more.
To decarboxylate your weed stems, take a baking tray, and spread the leftover stems evenly on the surface of the tray before placing them into the oven for an hour. The oven needs to be heated to a temperature of 230°F. Once your items have been decarboxylated, you can use them to make a variety of substances!
14 Ways to Make Use of Your Weed Stems
There are many creative ways to make use of old weed stems. From homemade creams to cannabis-infused butter and oils to cannabis tea, cannabis tincture, and more, we’ve listed a handful of options below to inspire you!
1. Smoke/Vape If You’re Low On Flower
We’ve all been there – opening up what was once a bag of beautiful weed only to realize stems are all that’s left. But if you can’t get out to the dispensary immediately, then you can still vape or smoke the stems to get your fix. The experience won’t be as potent or smooth as consuming flower, but stems can be a lifesaver when you’re running low on material.
2. Make Homemade Creams
Switch creams and lotions brimming with chemicals for natural cannabis topical ointments and balms crafted out of stems. To create homemade creams, you will need olive oil, coconut oil and beeswax. The rest is up to you, with plenty of variations to play around with!
Two top tips: To create a soothing cream, add lavender oil. For a more uplifting concoction, add peppermint oil or other brightly-scented essential oils.
3. Cannabutter or Cannabis-Infused Cooking Oil
Stem butter, just like cannabis butter, is enjoyed by many across the globe, with the main difference being that stem butter is typically slightly less potent than if using freshly decarbed bud.
The methods to make the two variants are also very similar – you just need to make sure you have enough weed stems! Once you’ve gathered at least a quarter of a pound that should be efficient enough. We’ll go over the process in brief here, but for more details click here to read our full walk-through on making cannabutter at home.
Begin by grinding the stems. The easiest way to do this involves placing them in a blender. Once blended, place a butter of your choice into a saucepan, and add the weed stems to the mix. Allow the butter and stems to simmer until the stems appear golden; this should take around 45 minutes.
Once fully steeped remove your cannabutter from the heat and strain the liquid, using either cheesecloth or a coffee filter. You can either serve the butter immediately or store it in a cool cupboard or fridge for use at a later date.
4. Make Kief
Kief, otherwise known as cannabis crystals, are collected when your cannabis flower is ground; for this exact reason, most grinders boast kief collectors, which sit at the bottom of the grinders.
Adding kief to grinds (especially if you’re low on cannabis flower components) is an ideal way to add additional potency. This will avoid creating a product that boasts very little THC. And, while not as much keif can be collected from weed stems, there’s still plenty of goodness left behind after the buds are gone.
To make kief out of weed stems, begin by breaking the stems down, either by chopping with a knife or using a spice grinder of some sort. Make the pieces as small as you possibly can and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
Once sealed, place the plastic bag into your freezer. You can keep adding to this collection over time. When you do, remember to shake the bag every time, as this will remove any frozen crystals from the weed stems.
5. Hash Oil
Converting weed stems into hash oil is an extremely easy process. Begin by grinding the weed stems, then place them in a Mason jar. For best results, use isopropyl alcohol, as this will help to remove the cannabinoids.
The next step? Give the mixture a good shake for just under three minutes before straining the substance using a coffee filter or sieve. Finally, once all alcohol has evaporated, remove the leftover resin.
This mixture can be consumed, cooked with or used topically. Only a few drops are required.
6. Brew Your Own Weed Stem Tea
Had a long day? Need to unwind? A warming cannabis brew could be just the ticket. It is also one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to make use of your unwanted cannabis stems.
As with all such recipes, you’ll first need to decarb your weed stems. Secondly, source tea bags or a coffee filter, place the stems inside and bring a pot of water just barely to a boil.
Once you reach boiling temperature, drop the heat to its lowest setting – you don’t want bubbles forming when you add in your stems (as your cannabinoids can boil away and evaporate).
Finally, let the stems steep in the warm water for just under ten minutes (between seven and eight minutes is the ideal length of time). You can serve the tea as it is or with half and half (or even coconut oil) to taste.
You have to be a fan of the “green” taste of cannabis to truly enjoy this method, but brewing tea in this way is a great way to make use of old stems lying in the house.
7. Make Cannabis Tinctures
You can also make cannabis tinctures out of weed stems, with nothing more required beyond a high-proof grain alcohol and a Mason jar.
Begin by adding the weed stems to the glass jar (for best results, add as many as will fit), then pour the alcohol over the stems and let the mixture sit.
Next, place the jar in a dark, chilled place and shake once a day for an entire week; this will result in many of the cannabinoids being extracted from the stems.
Remove any unwanted plant matter by straining the mixture and voila! You can enjoy your homemade cannabis tinctures as and when you please. These will last up to a few months, and are best stored in a dark glass jar or medicine bottle.
8. Make Your Own Weed Stem Paper
Do your bit for the planet and make your own weed stem paper! Alright, alright, we’d be lying if we said this was the easiest stem recycling program on our list but it deserves its spot based on cool factor alone. Just think how awesome you’ll be when you send your stoner friend a birthday card made out of (former) stems!
You’ll begin by combining paper scraps (such as old envelopes and magazines) and weed stems in a food processor; this helps the stems bind together more easily, and serves as a good base for your paper.
To ensure the mixture is evenly blended, add a little water – avoid going overboard on the water, though, as this can cause the paper to disintegrate. Once the fibers begin to separate, cease blending the mixture.
The next stage involves investing in a deckle or French press and pouring the substance over this flat surface. If you don’t have one of these instruments on hand, a wooden frame and a cut pair of old nylon stockings can work as your drying area. Leave to rest for 24 hours before writing on your homemade plant material paper!
9. Make a Hemp Wick
The health-conscious are big fans of crafting hemp wick out of old weed stems. Why? It’s a great alternative to lighters that produce damaging butane fumes. The entire method only takes a few minutes and involves using the most lengthy weed stems you have to hand.
Begin by stripping your elongated stem down to reveal its fibers, then twist them into a rope-style form. Finish by dipping your weed stem ropes into beeswax, and there you have your wick, ready to light!
10. Bubble Hash
Hand hash, a cannabis concentrate occasionally referred to as “charas”, comes in the form of a super concentrated hash paste. To make this form of bubble hash, make sure your hands are clean.
Take a handful of plant stems and rub them between your hands in a brisk motion. Do this over a container to ensure you don’t lose any product. This will create a putty from the stem’s residue.
11. Infuse Your Alcohol
Just as you’d infuse liquor with botanicals or different flavors, weed stems can also be used to add flavor to your favorite alcohol or drink.
Much like with creating a tincture, simply let your finely-ground cannabis stems steep in alcohol for a minimum of a month, shaking your container every few days. Once soaked to your liking, simply strain and serve!
Although a challenge to grind, weed stems are a great addition to compost once ground. For best results, shred the stems to a length that doesn’t go over one inch. Alternatively, add the weed stems to a bucket complete with water and let it sit for a couple of weeks.
At this point, add fresh water to dilute the mixture and add to your watering can. You can then feed the mixture to your plants. You can add the remaining contents in the bucket to your compost pile.
13. Turn Your Cannabis Stems into Mulch
If you’ve got more weed stems than the average bear, did you know you can use your stems to grow additional weed? You will need to invest in good-quality soil and (assuming you have enough) a wood chipper to break down the stems. This method will help you to transform the stems into a quality mulch.
Once broken down, you can add this substance to your mulch, which can then be added to other soils to promote growth in plants and flowers. They also provide a beneficial habitat for insects.
Can you smoke weed stems?
Yes! Smoking weed stems is definitely possible, and they can be lifesavers when you’re running low on flower. However, weed stem smoke can be harsh and lack flavor. For this reason, we’d only recommend you smoke stems when you really don’t have any other options.
Can you boil cannabis stems in milk?
Yes, you can, although if using the likes of milk, oil, or butter, add this to the saucepan before bringing it to your desired temperature – and, as mentioned above, absolutely avoid boiling. Also, avoid using milk if you are using alcohol as a binding agent, as this can lead to both curdling and a risk of explosions, neither of which are very tasty.
Can weed stems get you high?
Weed stems won’t be as potent as cannabis flowers as they don’t contain much THC. If you smoke weed stems, it can definitely get you high, but you’ll likely have to smoke a larger volume than you typically would with flower.
From doing your bit for the environment to getting crafty, there are many creative ways to make use of your unwanted stems. Some take a matter of moments and require zero equipment, while others take may take a little longer but can be worth it in the long term.
With so many different options to choose from, comprising cannabis topical lotions to teabag products, hemp paper, and edibles, there is something to suit all.
We hope you’ve enjoyed your cannabis education and learned more about what unwanted stems can be used for – Until next time!