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What To Do With Your Leftover Cannabis Stems
3 min

What To Do With Your Leftover Cannabis Stems

3 min

Though cannabis stems may not be as compelling as the buds, or even the leaves, they still contain compounds that can get you high. If you're looking for ways to utilise your leftover stems, you've come to the right place. Here are our top suggestions for doing so at home.

It's easy to have a one-track mind when it comes to cannabis; we're quick to fixate on the buds and discard the rest. However, once our stash is spent, we can still be left with stems, which are arguably one of the most neglected parts of the cannabis plant. While you can't really smoke them, they do contain some cannabinoids, meaning there's still plenty of life in the stems. With that in mind, we've put together some ideas of what you can do with your leftovers.

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Make bubble hash, kief, or charas

A popular way to utilise leftover stems is to make bubble hash, kief, or charas. Note that the yield from stem hash or concentrates is going to be a lot lower than if you were to use buds, but you can still secure a good stash if you have enough plant material lying around. To make bubble hash, the trichomes are separated from the stems using ice-cold water. Special bags are used to filter the resin so it can be collected and compounded.

When it comes to kief, all you need to do is roll the stems between your hands over a collection bin, or agitate them over a screen, and watch your pile of trichomes slowly build. Building up a good store of kief this way will take time and patience, but perhaps consider it a meditative practice. Similarly, charas—a traditional Indian form of hash—can be made by rubbing the stems between the palms and collecting the resin that builds up, before compressing it into a ball. Although true charas is made using resin from live plants, that which is made from the stems can get pretty close to the real thing.

Make cannabutter

Make Cannabutter

Another fine way to make the most of your stems is to whip up some tasty cannabutter. By infusing the trichomes from your weed stems into a fat, buttery base, you can add a cannabinoid kick to all manner of recipes. While stem cannabutter won't deliver the same level of potency that you'd get when using buds, you can still experience a pleasant, mind-altering experience by adding a spoonful to baked goods and savoury dishes as you please.

One important thing to note is that the stems must be decarboxylated before the trichomes are separated and infused into butter.

Related article

Why And How To Decarboxylate Your Cannabis

Decarboxylating your stems

For those wondering, decarboxylation is the process of exposing your cannabis, in this case the stems, to heat. The heat releases the carboxyl group from the cannabinoid acids, thus turning them into “activated cannabinoids” like THC or CBD. Whereas decarboxylation happens automatically when smoking or vaping, you'll need to decarb your stems in an oven to unleash their cannabinoid goodness to use in your cannabutter. This can be achieved by placing your stems on a tray and heating them at 110°C for around 30–45 minutes. Once decarboxylated, your stems are good to infuse.

Brew cannabis tea

Brew Cannabis Tea

A true classic, cannabis tea is a great option when you want to use up those remaining stems without putting in a lot of effort. This can be as simple as adding a little of the aforementioned cannabutter to your favourite store-bought tea. Or, you can look to make your own tea concoctions with your leftovers. Just add the stems into a tea infuser, place inside your mug, and pour a little hot water in to get the brew going. From here, you can maximise the flavour by adding a little lemon, honey, or sugar into your cup. Perfect for an end-of-day treat, and especially popular in those autumn/winter months when you need a little cannabis pick-me-up.

Craft cannabis liqueur

Craft Cannabis Liqueur

While it's usually a case of either drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis, you can also experiment and make your own cannabis liqueur at home. To start, choose your booze—many opt for a versatile spirit, such as vodka, but don't let us influence you; if you're looking to create some stem-infused rum, you can do so. This is true for other spirits as well. All you need to do is decarboxylate your stems, and then grind and soak them in your chosen alcohol. This can be achieved by using a Mason jar. Leave it for several days (longer if looking to infuse more) in a cool, dark place, then strain your stem-infused liquid through a fine sieve, removing any remaining remnants. Once ready, you've got a cannabis-flavoured liqueur that's perfect for making cocktails or serving as a little aperitif for friends.

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Cannabis Cocktails: For A Less Alcoholic World

Make mulch

Up until this point, our suggestions have centred around ways to ingest the lingering cannabinoids in your stems. However, there are some other practical applications for your leftovers. One idea is to make mulch with your plant material. Doing so is an incredibly environmentally friendly way to help retain water in the soil, and is a real life-saver during those summer months when moisture can be scarce. All you need to do is chop up your remaining stems and combine them with your chosen soil. It really is as easy as that.

Create topicals

Create Topicals

Hemp and CBD are fast becoming popular ingredients in the world of skin care and cosmetics, and you can get in on the action by producing your own at home. You'd be surprised by just how easy it is. While more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of cannabis-infused topical creams, it's incredibly rewarding to create your own and add them to your daily routine.

You'll first need to create a stem-based oil. For topicals, it's suggested to use coconut oil instead of normal cooking or olive oils. Place your decarboxylated and ground stem pieces into the oil and let it infuse for a number of days. Once ready, remove the remaining stem pieces with a sieve, and you'll have a ready-to-use coconut oil concoction. Now you have the choice of combining the oil with your favourite cream or lotion, or you can look to add some beeswax to create a salve. The choice is entirely up to you!

Related article

Understanding Cannabis Topicals And How They Work

Make the most of your stems

Make The Most Of Your Stems

That concludes our top suggestions for using the leftover stems from your cannabis buds. As mentioned, it's not uncommon to get hung up on the flowers and disregard any additional material, but cannabis features other components that are worth your while. So before you look at discarding the stems, think of this article, and you too can make the most of your stash.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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