Pioneered in the early 2000s by its namesake, Rick Simpson Oil or RSO is a dark, greasy-looking, high potency cannabis extract. We’ll take a look at this seemingly fabled product and teach you how to make RSO yourself.
Originally formulated to address its creator’s skin cancer, it has since been touted by many patients as their go-to method of cannabis dosing.
What is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?
Rick Simpson oil is full-extract cannabis oil. This means that the oil contains all of the cannabinoids such as THC and CBD and all of the beneficial fats, lipids, and chlorophyll.
To simplify the Rick Simpson oil recipe, the dried cannabis flower is crushed together with high-proof grain alcohol, ethanol, or butane. After a period of soaking, the mixture is then strained and the resulting liquid is then carefully heated to evaporate any remaining solvent.
The final product is a dark and highly viscous cannabis concentrate that’s best stored in, and dispensed from a sterile syringe. Syringes also provide a low-oxygen environment, which helps to retain the potency of the extract.
RSO vs. distillate
You may have heard the debate of RSO vs distillate and while they may be similar in principle, their intent differs vastly. In short, RSO is considered to be a highly concentrated, medicinal cannabis, reserved for oral and topical use only.
Cannabis distillate, on the other hand, contains primarily activated THC, ready for vaping or oral consumption. It also does away with many of the medicinal components present in RSO, favoring pure, potent THC levels.
RSO benefits: What is RSO good for
Over the years we’ve seen many opinions on the benefits and side-effects of various cannabis products. Many have found themselves asking what is RSO good for? User reports have streamed in with benefits ranging from simply improving sleep, to completely mitigating seizures.
While the medical cannabis industry is working hard to catch up to conventional medicines through case studies and trials—millions of people are lauding the benefits of this plant. You’ll find many stories online of people who’ve been taking Rick Simpson oil for cancer.
There have been claims of RSO curing cancer but many users also find relief in the relaxing, sedating effects offered by its compounds.
Rick Simpson Oil for cancer
Since medical research into the use of cannabis products is still ongoing, there have been no conclusive answers to the question “Does cannabis cure cancer?”. There have, however, been promising results in studies done on animals.
THC has shown itself to stop the growth of tumors. A positive side-effect of cannabis ingestion also includes reducing nausea, bolstering appetite, and another one of RSO’s benefits, mild sedation.
RSO for sleep
A 2015 sleep health study has shown that between 50 and 70 million of all Americans have trouble falling asleep. With the recent increase in screen time across the board, these numbers can only be higher.
Users have found that moderate doses of RSO help regulate their sleep cycles, often without any of the morning grogginess that accompanies over-the-counter medications. So to answer the question, yes, you definitely can take RSO for sleep.
How to use RSO
While RSO is a completely natural product, all users are advised to discuss possible interactions with pre-existing conditions and medications. As with any natural remedies, use your discretion and monitor any side effects carefully.
Prospective users may be in the grey about exactly how to use RSO, and for many, the great news is that they don’t need to smoke it.
Rick Simpson outlined a pretty easy-to-remember regimen for taking RSO, which amounts to users taking a total of 60 grams (2.1 oz) over three months. The goal is that users increase their dosage sizes as their tolerance increases.
Due to the potency of RSO oil, a single dose consists of a minuscule amount of the product consumed at a time. Below is the outlined regimen showing all first-time users how to use RSO.
Kick off with taking three doses per day at 8-hour intervals. One in the morning, one before lunch, and another before bed. The recommended RSO dosage size during this period is a ¼ drop.
Weeks 2 to 5
Maintain your regiment of taking your doses every 8 hours, while doubling the RSO dosage size every 4 days. Users may want to take the doubled dose in the evening, before bed if they find that the effects are a bit overwhelming.
Mild lethargy and sleepiness are common effects reported by users during this time and shouldn’t be discouraging. The body soon builds up a tolerance and consumers will find the effects “leveling out” and becoming more manageable. You’ll also notice that the mild daytime sleepiness is a thing of the past by the 4-week mark.
Weeks 6 to 12
By the halfway mark, you want to be up to about 8 or 9 drops per dose. You’ll also note that the psychoactive effects are more than manageable as your body has adjusted to the higher RSO doses.
How long does RSO take to work?
For new users, it may take between 45 minutes and an hour for the body effects of RSO to begin kicking in. Some newcomers have reported feeling no effects for up to 3 hours, followed by a sudden onset of euphoria so, whatever you do, don’t double dose.
If you followed our guide on how to make RSO to the letter and still feel no effects, you may have a higher natural resistance. Simply increase the size of your next dose.
How long does RSO last
Considering that RSO is intended as a regimen, users generally feel the effects beginning to taper off after about 5 or 6 hours. If you find that the effects are wearing off a bit early, that may be taken as a sign that you need to up your dosage the next time you take it.
How long does a batch of RSO last? While there are ways to prolong the shelf-life, you’ll want a fresh batch of RSO for every 3-month regiment.
Why is RSO not working?
If you’ve smoked cannabis before, you may already be familiar with the effects of weed. As the smoke is absorbed into your lungs, the cannabinoids enter your bloodstream directly, leading to immediate effects.
RSO on the other hand needs to make its way through your digestive tract before it can be metabolized. People with slower metabolisms or digestive systems may need to wait a bit longer for the effects to kick in. For this reason, be sure to give it a few hours before you start telling yourself that your RSO is not working.
If you’ve been on the regime for a few days, you may have built up a tolerance to some effects and can safely increase dose sizes.
Does RSO get you high?
Cannabis indica is the strain that Rick Simpson originally outlined as the best one for making his oil. Indica is generally known for its relaxing and euphoria-inducing effects. If you take too much too soon you’ll quickly find that RSO does get you high.
The Rick Simpson oil recipe also maximizes cannabinoid extraction, and thus it tends to contain far higher THC levels than similar extracts. While the original intent of this product was not to merely get users high, you could expect quite a trip from larger doses.
How to make RSO?
Many extraction methods like bubbling or pressing may entail a lot of labor, specialized equipment, and a larger degree of skill. One of the reasons why RSO is a popular option for medicinal cannabis users is the simplicity behind it.
Below we’ll outline the steps and requirements for extracting the maximum amount of cannabinoids for a potent batch of RSO. Before we share how to make RSO, here’s a quick list of everything you may need on top of a clean and very well-ventilated area:
- 1 Pound of dried cannabis flower (yes, you’ll really need a pound to make a batch of RSO)—As mentioned before, cannabis indica is the preferred variety but, you may have something else on hand, which is completely fine.
- 2x clean 2–3 gal Buckets
- 2 gallons of isopropyl alcohol or ethanol
- A square of cheesecloth or a coffee strainer
- A wooden or non-metallic spoon for mixing
- A pair of sharp scissors
- Cooking thermometer
- 4–5 sterile catheter-tip syringes
- A 3-gallon rice cooker, induction plate or electric hot plate, and a 3-gallon pot Considering the highly-flammable nature of the vapors you’ll be cooking off, steer clear of a gas or any naked flame.
Next, we’ll break up the process on how to make RSO into two parts, the first being the initial extraction, followed by the cooking process.
Step-by-step to make RSO
Now that you have your supplies together, your work area prepared, and your schedule cleared for the next 2 hours or so, it’s time to start making RSO.
Making the extract
For this Rick Simpson oil recipe, begin by breaking your cannabis flower up into smaller chunks as you throw them into the bucket. You may employ some scissors to make the job of breaking the buds up a bit easier.
Add the first half (1 gallon of IPA or Ethanol) to the bucket and mix it thoroughly, breaking up any chunks of flower you may have missed.
Continue stirring until you see the majority of the cannabis has dissolved into the mixture. You’ll want to stir for at least 3 minutes at a time, resting in between. The liquid should be a deep green with very little loose cannabis floating around.
When learning how to make RSO, many users tend to rush this part and the truth is, you can’t overmix this, so take your time and do it thoroughly.
Prepare your second bucket with the cheesecloth secured over it or, have the coffee strainer ready. Carefully pour the mixture over, and return the strained cannabis back to the empty bucket.
Add the second gallon of solvent to the strained cannabis and repeat step 2, making sure you get the most from your extraction. Finally, drain the mixture into the second bucket once you’re sure you’ve got the last bit of green out of the buds, and discard the depleted flower.
Boiling off the solvent
Now that you have your strained mixture separated from the flower, it’s time to create a reduction of sorts. Take your time with these steps and make sure to not overcook your mixture as that will lead to a ruined batch.
Ready your rice cooker or pot and heater combination and make sure the windows are open. If you have an extractor fan, now is the time to throw it on.
Be safe and keep in mind that IPA fumes are highly flammable so no smoking, candles, or anything that produces a naked flame. Learning how to make Rick Simpson oil can quickly become a lot less fun if you have to fight fires in the mix.
Place your solution into your rice cooker or pot. If you’re using a rice cooker, you may have the added convenience of being able to set a temperature-do that now and set it to 210–230°F.
If you’re using an electric stove, you’ll want to monitor the temperature with a cooking thermometer to keep it within the prescribed range. You can fill it ⅔ of the way for now, if you find that the solution is a bit too much for your cooker/container.
A common error from people who make RSO is that they let it dry out completely while cooking. Don’t entertain distractions and periodically check on the pot. Make sure the temps are good and that it doesn’t boil dry. You can also add any remaining solution little by little as the solvent evaporates.
As the liquid reduces, you’ll notice the color shifting from green to amber then, dark brown color. It should have the consistency of thick grease, indicating that it’s ready to be siphoned out.
Allow the oil to cool until it’s safe to handle and using your syringes, draw the oil up directly from the cooker or pot until they’re full. Make sure to squeeze out any air that may be trapped inside. Store your syringes in a cold, dark place, safe from kids and pets, and dispense as required.
A magical reduction
There’s been a remarkable shift in the cannabis industry with more companies investing research dollars to validate the claims of products like Rick Simpson oil. While lawmakers and scientists hash things out, there’s no denying that countless people have found relief in cannabis products.
If you’re feeling industrious, you may want to start a self-sufficient grow and make RSO from your very own crops. Homegrown Cannabis Co. has a huge variety of sativa-dominant hybrids, perfect for any Rick Simpson oil recipe.
About the author: Parker Curtis
Parker Curtis has around a decade of cannabis-growing experience, specialising in soil-less and hydro grows. He’s mastering outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor grows.