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As a Cannabis medicine maker and educator, I get asked all the time about the various machines on the market designed to make your DIY Cannabis remedies even easier and more potent.
So rather than answer each person individually, I thought it made more sense to compile all my thoughts here so that everyone could benefit.
I want to preface this post by saying what I tell all my students — that you don’t NEED any of these machines to make your own Cannabis remedies. People have been extracting cannabinoids for millenia without the aid of fancy technology, and we got along just fine. In fact, in my Cannabis Alchemy and Making Retail Hemp Products courses, I describe some other tried and true ways you can extract your flower into oil, alcohol, edibles, and topicals using equipment you more than likely already have at home.
But for those who plan on making a lot of their own infusions, investing in one of these machines makes a LOT of sense. They take a lot of the guesswork out, produce a more consistent finished product, and will actually SAVE you a ton of money in the long run.
So without further ado, let’s talk gadgets.
This was one of the first extraction machines to come on the market during the cannabis legalization wave, and it remains one of my favorites.
The Magical Butter Machine is basically the groovy love child of a super precise crock pot and an immersion blender. It has a number of temperature and time settings to help you fine tune your creations, ranging from no heat up to 220° F, and from 1 hour up to 8 hours.
Once you’ve fully decarboxylated your flower (more on that below) you simply add it to the machine alongside whatever liquid you’re choosing to infuse (my personal favorite is coconut oil, but you can also use any other oil, butter, alcohol, vegetable glycerin, etc.), pick a time and temp and the machine automatically starts up.
To add to the fun, it will start to flash a bunch of disco lights, and periodically make a loud whirring sound as the immersion blender breaks up your flower and agitates it alongside your oil.
One its finished, you simply strain out your oil and run the machine on its “autoclean” function, and you’re done!
What I love about it:
- It both heats and agitates your product: We know that generally both processes assist in more complete extraction, so being able to do both is a nice feature.
- It’s durable: I’ve had mine for many years, and even with frequent use it keeps on ticking.
- It breaks up your product for you: smaller particle size means more surface area, and more surface area means better extraction. Plus, breaking it up while it’s in the oil means that no trichomes are lost to your grinder.
- It’s one of the more affordable options: It’s still not as cheap as a crock pot, but it’s definitely less expensive than the other options below.
What I don’t love about it:
- The self-cleaning feature is okay, but I always have to go back and clean it more deeply afterwards. Some particles can get trapped in the little screws underneath the blender piece, so occasionally unscrewing and cleaning those out is needed.
- It doesn’t decarb: You get a little bit of a decarb while infusing, but it’s not complete, so you need to decarb your flower beforehand (which is a fancy word for “heating up the flower to change its chemical make-up” — its what transforms THC-A into THC, and CBD-A into CBD).
- It’s loud: Admittedly, it only makes sound every 20 minutes or so, but when it does it’s pretty noisy.
- The straining bag is not ideal: It comes with a nylon mesh straining bag, which is great for not absorbing any of your precious infusion. BUT the little folds in the bottom are hard to clean out fully, and the side material starts to crack after repeated usage. I get around this by just using a muslin straining bag.
- The Minimum line is a bit of limitation: you can’t do less than 2 cups at a time, which makes small batches impossible. However, you can fit up to 5 cups in it, which makes it one of the larger capacity machines out there.
THIS MACHINE IS FOR YOU IF: You’re planning to make lots of large batches (up to 5 cups at a time), are okay with decarbing separately, want control over the time and temp of your infusions, appreciate the benefit of grinding/agitation, and don’t have a ton of money to invest in your technology.
WHERE TO GET IT: Head here to buy direct from Magical Butter! And be sure to use coupon code CANNABOTANICALS to get 15% off your purchase! (Price = $224.95, $191.20 with coupon code)
This little machine was a gamechanger when it stormed onto the market a few years back. For those who dont know, decarboxylation is the process of heating up your Cannabis flowers to convert THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD, the “active” constituents (Side note: we know there are benefits to the raw cannabinoids, but most research and experience is with the decarbed versions).
Until the Nova was born, most of my decarb happened in the oven, which still gets the job done BUT it makes your house smell like weed. Not only can this be a problem if you have nosy neighbors, but if your house smells it means you’re losing valuable terpenes (the aromatic compounds that are actually a big part of the remedy).
To use this gadget, all you need to do is drop your flowers into the stainless steel chamber, push a button, and wait a few hours. Voila — your flowers are now completely and perfectly decarbed, without so much as a whiff emerging from the inconspicuous little gadget.
AND with the addition of the infusion sleeve, this machine also doubles as an infuser for small amounts of oil!
What I love about it:
- It decarbs AND infuses: This dual functionality makes the Nova a powerhouse when it comes to small batch infusions.
- It retains valuable terpenes: By trapping the odor it also increases the potency of your finished product.
- No need to grind: When I decarb in the oven I grind first to make sure particle size is even. No need with the Nova!
- AWESOME company with great customer service: Ardent is a fantastic company founded and run by a black woman (so needed in the cannabis industry), and they have a great warranty on their machines. Mine got a crack on its side recently, and even though it was technically past warranty they sent me a brand new machine at no cost.
What I don’t love about it:
- It’s tiny: While this is great for small batches, it maxes out at 1 ounce of flower for decarb, and around 6-8 ounces of liquid for infusion. Those wanting to do bigger batches will find this machine pretty useless.
- It doesn’t agitate your flowers: Although the testing data released by Ardent shows great extraction even without this.
- It has a little design flaw: It has a tendency to crack along the side of the unit where the cap latches on, but as I mentioned above, Ardent has been generous with warranties when this happens.
- Only one time/temp setting: They’ve got it dialed in for decarb, but it runs a little hotter than I would like for oil infusion.
THIS MACHINE IS FOR YOU IF: You like to make small batches, want precision in both your decarb and infusion processes, and don’t want your house to smell like a college dorm room.
WHERE TO GET IT: Head here to buy direct from Ardent! And be sure to use coupon code CANNABOTANICALS to get $30 off your purchase! (Price = $260, $230 with coupon code)
Another device by Ardent, this machine was released in March 2020, and overcomes most of the limitations of the original Nova!
The FX is also both a decarboxylator AND an infuser but with a MUCH larger capacity. It’s able to hold up to 4 ounces of flower, and up to 28 ounces of liquid. Similar to the original Nova, it’s as simple as putting your flower in the machine (again, no need to grind), and pushing a button.
But HERE’s where it gets even more interesting. Research has shown that CBD decarbs at a different rate than THC, and the FX has TWO different decarboxylation settings to account for this, making it’s decarb even MORE precise.
Once your decarb is done, you can seamlessly infuse without the need for an additional infusion sleeve OR you can use the FX infusion sleeve for easier clean-up, simply adding your oil and pushing the Infusion button, which is a separate (lower) temp than either decarb setting. T
AND since Ardent has been experimenting with being able to bake right inside their machines (yes, seriously) they’ve added a fourth setting, a high temp Bake setting where you can make little cakes without ever turning on your oven — they even have a whole slew of recipe kits to make this the Easy Bake Oven that both your inner child and your 21+ self will delight in.
Ardent really excels at the accessories game overall, and some of my favorite recent additions include the Infusion Press – a french press style straining accessory that makes dispensing a breeze — and an extra Scent Shield with a carbon filter for catching the tiny bit of weed smell that the super sensitive noses will pick up.
What I love about it:
- Bigger capacity, and no minimum: This was a major limitation of the first Nova, and this machine more than makes up for it. It’s still not as large as the Magical Butter, but it gets close. And a big bonus? You can still decarb and infuse smaller amounts in it — there’s no minimum capacity to run the machine.
- No need for a separate infusion sleeve: You can decarb and infuse right in the same place.
- It’s dishwasher safe! None of the other machines can boast this, and it makes clean up a breeze.
- Multiple temp settings: Not only does it make the operations more precise, but leaves some room for creativity and experimentation.
- Comes with a cute carrying case! This is functional, too — the case protects it during travel which is something none of other machines have. Pretty important for an investment like this, I’d say.
- Access to the Ardent Owners Club. When you buy the Ardent, you’re not just buying a machine. You’re also getting access to an insider club that gives you early access and discounts to new accessories and kits as they’re released, as well as a private Facebook group!
What I don’t love about it:
- No agitation of material: But again, this just might be my inner herbal curmudgeon that wants all extractions to be agitated, because their testing data shows great results nonetheless.
- Slight smell: Again, this might be my super sensitive nose, but I feel like you can smell odor slightly more with this device than with the original Nova. But it’s really only when you’re standing right over it, so most of the terpenes are staying put. Luckily, Ardent has corrected this problem with the Scent Shield accessory.
- It’s spendy: It’s the most expensive of the infusion machines
THIS MACHINE IS FOR YOU IF: You’re serious about making amazing Cannabis medicine in your own home, have some money to invest in this, like easy clean up, and want the best all-in-one solution for both decarb and infusion (and baking!)
WHERE TO GET IT: Head here to buy direct from Ardent! And be sure to use coupon code CANNABOTANICALS to get $30 off your purchase! (Price = $350, $320 with coupon code)
To be honest, I had written off the Levo machine years ago after test driving the first generation machine. It didn’t decarb, and I didn’t love its infusion method. But I finally decided to give them a second shot and try out the Levo II this year.
I have to admit, the Levo II probably has the nicest interface of all of infusion gadgets. It has the look and feel of a high tech Keurig machine, with a digital display and fun little sound effects. And unlike any of the other gadgets, the Levo II has a unique push button dispensing feature that releases your finished infusions in a coffee maker style stream direct into whatever jar or cup of tea you like. In short, it feels fancy.
It also decarbs now, which is a HUGE advantage, and it seems to do a pretty good job at that with minimal odor.
That’s where my love of the Levo ends, unfortunately. The reservoir is small — bigger than the OG Ardent, but still only 16 ounces — and the flower needs to be packed into a separate pod that is magnetized to the side of the reservoir. What that means is that the flower doesn’t get the chance to really mingle with the oil, AND – more importantly – that your ratio of flower to oil is severely limited. Each PowerPod can only hold around 3.5 grams of whole flower, or 7 grams dried, and to get complete coverage you have to fill the reservoir to max capacity. Even with doubling up on the pods, this means it’s hard to get a ratio of less than 1:34, which makes for a pretty dilute infusion.
What I love about it:
- Beautiful Design: With a wide variety of colors (including brick red like the pics above!), a sleek silhouette, and a fancy interface, this is something you’ll want to leave on your countertop, without it even being obvious what it is.
- Incredibly customizable: One huge benefit of the Levo’s interface is the ability to dial in the exact temp and time of your decarb and infusion down to the degree and the minute. No other machine offers that flexibility.
- Magnetic stirrer: The Levo moves the oil through the flower with a magnetic stirrer, which is a pretty high-tech, lab-grade technology to have at home.
What I don’t love about it:
- Poor design leading to low ratios: Even with multiple PowerPods, Levo still hasn’t been able to overcome it’s main limitation, which is that it’s hard to make a strong infusion the way that it’s set up.
- Separation of flower from the oil: While it makes for a cleaner dispensing experience, I feel like trapping the flower in a little cage limits the ability of the oil to extract it.
- Sometimes leaks: Maybe this was operator error, but the downspout leaked oil while infusing. While I could catch it with a cup easily, this meant that my reservoir was losing height in the process, and some flower was no longer submerged.
THIS MACHINE IS FOR YOU IF: You’re a design geek that cares about the experience as much as the finished product, and you don’t need the most potent infusions. OR you’re planning to use it to infuse concentrates or extracts into oil or honey, in which case this machine would do a bang up job (and keep your infused honey warm on the countertop for your next tea party).
WHERE TO GET IT: Head here to buy direct from Levo! (Price = $289.99)
So there you have it, folks. There are a few other machines out there that aren’t included here, but these are the ones I have the most experience with and find to be the most helpful. Each gadget has its pros and cons, and so it really comes down to your preferences around medicine making and what’s going to be the best machine for YOUR lifestyle.
Any questions or comments? Have a different experience with any of these machines? Please comment below and share your thoughts!
P.S. Still confused about how to make the best Cannabis medicine at home, with or without these machines? Check out my 4-week online medicine making course: Cannabis Alchemy: a 4-week Journey to Masterful Medicine Making and Personal Transformation, where I share more details about how to craft personalized remedies that will save you a ton of money, and use these skills to transform your life in the process.