Go Together Like Oil, Water….. and Cannabis? 

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The Struggle:

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?” 


More Than Just Special Brownies

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).


  • Hi, thanks for this awesome tip!!!
    What is the ratio of polysorbate 80 per gram of batch? in my case gummies and also for molded chocolates

  • carolyn sharp
    April 9, 2021 1:41 pm

    Can you bring it up to 240 (Pectin jelly recipe) with out falling out of emulsification?

    • Yes, we believe you can seeing as it doesn’t crash out of hard candies heated to 302F

    • Pedro murillo
      October 16, 2021 8:41 pm

      I’m trying to make a water based salsa and a oil base tinture. What would u recommend to emulsify it together.

      • We suggest Polysorbate 80, starting with the recommended usage ratios provided on the packaging! good luck!

  • Elizabeth LeBarron
    May 8, 2021 12:18 pm

    When using it in the hard candy recipe when do you suggest adding it to the recipe?

    • We would suggest adding it just before adding the oil. We recommend mixing it well and then adding the oil slowly and mixing very well to make sure it’s incorporated.

  • Hi Janie,
    I’ve made your perfect pectin gummy’s three times this past week. I love your recipe!
    Quick question, please. Should I add my oil at the time I do the isomalt, then polysorbate80 and bring up to 240 add CA and pour?
    I genuinely appreciate your help, I’ve been wasting resources dumping jellied gummies that won’t stick together, as I’m unsure where the oil and PS80 fit into your recipe. Thank you!

    • I would suggest adding the Polysorbate 80 into the recipe with the pectin, Then the oil can be added and mixed in right before the citric acid solution is added to set the gel.

  • Would this work for Italian ice?

  • I am interested in making mocktails with THC tincture which is oil based. How can I emulsify the THC oil.

    • Cole Whitney
      June 17, 2021 4:41 pm

      The best thing to use to emulsify cannabis oil into water is Polysorbate 80 using a high powered blender.

  • Is their a specific type of food grade polysorbate 80 that is required , or does all polysorbate 80 work?

    • we carry food grade polysorbate 80, we do not suggest using an other polysorbate 80 unless it is food grade.

  • Will this work if I simply emulsify cannabis oil into water with polysorbate 80?

    • It will depend on what you are making, but yes, Polysorbate 80 will emulsify the oil and water together.

  • Can I make thc oil with this ,like will it be fine if I hear it up

  • Hey making iced tea with distillate and just confirming that once the distillate is mixed with carrier oil and then infused with honey or agave and when I add that mixture to my water that’s when I add polysorbate-80 and blend?

    • Scott Guerin
      March 23, 2022 4:45 pm

      I would suggest adding the polysorbate prior to adding the honey or agave with the carrier oil.

  • How can I use emulsified THC oil in making chocolate. Wouldn’t it seize the chcolate?

    • Scott Guerin
      March 23, 2022 4:49 pm

      We believe a small amount of water in this will seize the chocolate. Commonly THC oil is added directly to the chocolate.

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