You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve seen this question. In the growing industry where cannabis is being added to food products there has been one big issue. The THC and CBD that is distilled out of cannabis are very hydrophobic. Whenever a food has qualities like this it limits the types of food that it can be added to. On top of that when using an ingredient like this you need to make sure it is consistent throughout the entire batch. There are certainly some tips to make sure this oil can be mixed easily and evenly distributed.
“What can I use to emulsify cannabis into foods?”
Emulsification is really amazing when you think about it. The ability to take two ingredients that oppose each other and make them work together in near perfect harmony. With emulsions we always need to touch on a few key points. First one is the HLB value, this is the hydrophilic-lipophilic value. This places items on a scale from 0-18 on whether it loves water, loves oil, or both. When the pure THC and CBD oils are distilled from the plant it is water insoluble. No matter what you do, it will not mix into water without an additive. So what is something that can be added to an oil that is insoluble in water?
First thing you can do is add the cannabis oil to another fat, such as a neutral flavored oil like vegetable oil. This helps thin out the very viscous THC and CBD oils. To do this gently heat the two oils together and allow them to cool to make sure there is no separation. Next you will need an emulsifier. So we need to find an emulsifier that works well enough to create a stable emulsion so that the oils are evenly distributed. The emulsifier we like to recommend is Polysorbate 80. Polysorbate 80 falls in a special category on the HLB Scale, not only is it great for oil in water emulsions. It has a HLB number of 15, which makes it a solubilizing agent. This means it helps the THC or CBD oils become more susceptible to being emulsified. The Polysorbate 80 will need to be added to the water in the emulsion. In emulsions the polysorbate 80 (surfactant) has two ends: a water loving end and an oil loving end. As the emulsion is created the oil is blended into extremely small droplets. As this happens the polysorbate 80 acts as a mediator between the two liquids by coating the tiny droplets of oil. This is how the emulsion stays together. One great thing we have found is that even through heating the polysorbate 80 hold onto the emulsion better than most other emulsifiers. The reason this is important is so the dosage remains consistent throughout the recipe. This works for any recipe; gummies, brownies, lozenges, and other baked goods. Make sure your emulsion is onpoint to prevent any sticky situations (pun intended).