Part of the beauty of the cannabis plant lies in each part being functional. In other words, it’s not just the smokeable flower that has value. All the plant material, everything from the leaves to the stalks and stems, has a purpose – or at least, can be repurposed to make something new and worthwhile.
This article looks at what to do with weed stems – after you’ve harvested all those lovely buds, of course. Growers, recyclers and DIY fans, this ones for you.
Table of contents
Can you Smoke Weed Stems?
The short answer here is yes, you can smoke the stems of your cannabis plant – but you really shouldn’t.
You can smoke pretty much any plant matter as long as it’s not poisonous. If you can burn it, you can smoke it. However, there are several good reasons why you probably shouldn’t smoke the stems of your cannabis plants.
Stems contain small amounts of cannabinoids like THC, but not in quantities sufficient to get you superbly buzzed. You may feel a buzz of sorts, but it’s not a good buzz. Smoking weed stems will likely result in little more than a headache.
The number one, two, and three reasons why you shouldn’t smoke cannabis stems are all health-related. Stems differ from flowers in that they’re of a much more coarse nature. You can grind them, obviously, but they won’t grind the same as cannabis flowers. You’ll still be left with the same hard material in much smaller chunks. Smoking cannabis stems is, therefore, quite hazardous to your health – your lungs especially. Stems won’t burn the same as buds, and you’ll have a much harsher smoke that can be painful on the inhale. So, while you can technically smoke weed stems, we wouldn’t advise it.
Make a Tea from Weed Stems
If you insist on wringing out every last drop of cannabinoids from your plants – and we can’t blame you – there is a much safer route than trying to smoke your stems. You can brew a lovely cannabis tea using the weed stems. Here’s how:
½ cup of weed stems (grind them first, as best you can)
3 cups of water
A tea bag (your favourite)
A tea strainer or coffee filter
Remember, you’ll have to decarboxylate the weed stems first. Check Seedsman’s guide to decarboxylation for instructions.
Boil your water, then add your ground-up stems. Stir for a good few minutes to infuse the mixture, then add the tea bag or leaves of your choice. Allow another minute or two for the tea to infuse, then pour your boiling water mix through the strainer or filter to remove particles (because nobody wants to drink the particles), and voila – you have a nice cup of stem tea. Bear in mind it won’t be as powerful as tea brewed with cannabis flower, but you’ve used your stems and made a somewhat potent beverage. Feel free to add ingredients to improve the flavour to your liking.
Make Edibles from Weed Stems
In the same way you would use cannabis flower to infuse your edibles, you can also cook with weed stems. Again, due to the lower THC content of stems, your edibles will have a lesser potency, but you can add more of the stems to the recipe. Make sure you decarb them and grind them up finely before adding them to your recipe – you don’t want to crunch into weed stems in the middle of your pot brownie.
Cannabutter with Weed Stems
While you can add ground-up stems straight to any old recipe, you may find it more pleasing to the palate to make cannabutter with your stems first. This lends itself to recipes in a far more palatable manner. All you need is the following:
A 50/50 mix of stems and butter (for example, 5g of stems and 5g of butter)
Sugar, if desired
Put the butter in a pan and melt over low heat. Then, add the ground stems, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, and you’re in business. Use your cannabutter to make tasty, potent muffins, brownies or whatever your heart desires.
Make Kief with Weed Stems
Kief – also known as crystals – the stuff that gathers at the bottom of your grinder, is a potent topping for any joint. Did you know you can maximise your use of the cannabis plant by extracting kief from the stems? It’s a quick and easy process to set up, but you’ll have to have patience as the stems freeze.
Break your weed stems into smaller pieces, then stick them in a freezer bag. Put the bag in the freezer for a few hours, which will help loosen those trichomes – resin crystals – from the main stems. Remove the bag from the freezer, take out the stems, put them in a sieve, and give it a real good shake over a bowl. This will free off the kief and allow it to drop below, where you can gather it up and use it top future joints. It stands to reason that you’ll want to have a good amount of stems to do this to make it worth your while – so make sure you have a lot of stems. Otherwise, you’ll have a tiny amount of kief you can’t do a lot with.
Make your own Skincare Products
That’s not a typo – using your stems to make topical skincare treatments is possible! Grind up your stems, add them to some coconut oil and heat the mixture on low heat for some time. You’ve just made a soothing skincare treatment using weed stems! Add some essential oils to the mix – such as peppermint or lavender. You can have a pleasant-smelling muscle rub into the bargain.
Alternatively, search online for any cannabis topical lotion recipe and simply substitute cannabis flower for stems. Make sure you use around three times as many stems as flowers.
Bottle up your final product, and apply as you wish.
Make Hemp Wicks
If you want to avoid those nasty butane fumes you get from a lighter, you can make your own hemp wicks using weed stems. The process for this one is fairly simple, too. Take the longest stems at your disposal and carefully (very carefully, please) strip them with a sharp blade or knife until you’re left with fibre strings. Once you have that, twist those fibres into a sort of rope/string. Fold it, then repeat the twisting. Dip those twisted fibres into some beeswax, then give it time to dry before using it.
These are just a few easy and practical uses for your leftover weed stems – the list goes on, and the only limit is your creativity. Leftover stems can be put to good use for everything from cannabis tinctures and cooking to arts and crafts if you have the skill and patience to put them to use. You can, of course, discard your weed stems – but wouldn’t it be great to use them for something else?
Do you recycle your weed stems? Let us know how you use them in the comments!