Marijuana PSA: Don’t Toss Your Stems and Shake

Perry Santanachote/Thrillist
Perry Santanachote/Thrillist

Nobody likes smoking stems or shake, but that doesn’t mean they should be tossed in the trash the minute the buds are picked clean. Waste not want not, as they say. Especially when that waste can get you high. Here are six easy and great ways to maximize your stash. No crazy apothecary skills or witchcraft needed.

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Vape it up

While you definitely don’t want to smoke a bowl or roll a joint with these leftovers, they’re perfect for vaping. Just toss them in your grinder and pulverize the best you can. It’s enough for a few bowls typically, and vaping should help smooth out any harshness associated with the debris. Honestly, it’s not going to taste all that great, but let’s not pretend we expect that from our stems and shake. Feel free to save the leftovers for cooking or salve, too (see below).

Become a master chef

While stems typically have low THC content compared to shake and the stuff at the bottom of your bag is too messy to smoke in a bowl -- but is just as potent as the nugs it came with. Take advantage and grind those up, then infuse it into oil or butter and bake it into pretty much anything.
Be sure to decarboxylate (heat it up!) before infusing (vaping will do that nicely) and pre-soak your stems and shake in water the night before -- this will rinse off some of the chlorophyll responsible for the more aggressive weed taste. After that, you can take the concept of “easy bake” to any level you see fit. (Check out a handy recipe right here)


Make infused booze

If you’re looking for a more discreet or more potent medication method, ignore that cookie nonsense and go buy some high-octane liquor. We’re talking 100-proof or higher here, though remember that Everclear tastes just as bad under your tongue as it did as a shot.
Once you’ve picked your 100+ proof liquor, grind, decarboxylate, and rinse your stems and shake, then pick a glass jar with a screw top and fill it up with your leftover weed. Pour enough booze to cover all the plant material and seal. Keep in a cool, dark area and shake daily for two+ weeks. After that, you’ve got the basis of some delicious cocktails. Or some really gross shots.

Turn it into a salve

In news that should surprise no toker, warm, just-been-extracted plant material is rich in essential oils, making it a cheap way to combat dry skin patches and other minor dermatological ailments. Hang onto to those stems and that shake from your infused oil process and apply liberally to problem areas. Mind you, it won’t get you high, but be sure to shower off before work the next day. Here's a quick and easy way to get in touch with your inner apothecarian

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Brew some herbal tea

Provided you’re good with dairy, infused tea takes minutes to make. On range, stir in ¼ cup decarboxylated stems/shake with one cup half and half, and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, watching closely while stirring. Then take it off range, strain it through cheesecloth (we're sure you have some of that just laying around, right?), and add to whatever tea you’ve already selected. Raw sugar, honey, and/or more tea will help dilute the plant taste. If you want to get even fancier, Leafly has a more intense but also more delicious recipe here

Grind it up and smoke it down

We're really not advocating this, unless a) you're extremely desperate or b) you hate yourself and everyone you’re with. It’s tastes like a tree, won’t burn clean, and is sure to cause a headache. That said, if you're in an extreme pinch, grind up your leftovers finely and let roll the dice. It'll do the trick, but we're not necessarily sure it's a trick worth doing. 

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Tyler Hurst once wrote a story that produced eight death threats, three client threats, one public encounter, an online impersonator, 2,000 words of insults, and five+ months of reader reaction. Follow him to vitriol @tdhurst.