Which Cannabis Infusion Machine is Best? Comparing the Magical Butter, Nova, and Nova FX (Updated 2021)

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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 course, 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.

 

The Magical Butter Machine

 

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 lots of 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)

 

The Original Nova Decarboxylator by Ardent 

 

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)

 

Nova FX

 

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.

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.
  • LOTS of additional accessories. Over the years they’ve added other internal accessories like the Lifter, which allows you to create little shelves inside your FX to multiple kinds of decarb and infusion, and the Vessel which doubles as an airtight stash jar for your future creations.
  • 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: 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. I haven’t tried the Vessel insert, but my guess is this would remove this issue for anyone who also has a sensitive nose.
  • 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)

 

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!

Best,
Stephanie

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.

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36 thoughts on “Which Cannabis Infusion Machine is Best? Comparing the Magical Butter, Nova, and Nova FX (Updated 2021)”

  1. I’m still learning from you, but I’m trying to reach my goals. I certainly enjoy reading everything that is posted on your website.Keep the information coming. I liked it!

      1. Dan Broshears

        Stephanie thank you for the great article. I had a question about black women being well needed in the industry. Isn’t that racist if you recognize people for the color of their skin? Should it not be, “we need more energetic people” or something that doesn’t denote one’s color? It’s kinda degrading to think “hey let’s include some black people.” Kinda like the black lives matter movement. Most of them are white money grabbers. I grew up in the South we’re people down here, not white people or black people. That’s like calling someone storming our border with their hands held out getting better benefits than taxpayer’s, “illegal aliens.” Isn’t that what they are? But we shall not call them that. Please understand this is out of respect. Thank you.

      2. 1) It is not racist to call for more inclusion and equity in an industry (and a world) that has systematically denied those things to entire groups of people based on the color of their skin. As Petiri Ira writes: “Racism is a historically rooted system of power hierarchies based on race — upheld by institutions, society, and culture — established to benefit White people and oppress BIPOC.” Check out her whole article to learn more.

        2) To say “we’re people, not white or black” is to speak from an immense amount of privilege. I’m going to assume you are white, which means you have had the privilege of not being treated differently or unfairly based on the color of your skin. That is not everyone’s experience, and to try to erase color without acknowledging the very different lived experience of BIPOC is equivalent to sweeping the problem under a rug. Here’s another article that addresses this.

        3) It makes me feel so sad that you would look at another human being who is attempting to access a better life for themselves and their families as “illegal aliens.” No human being is illegal. And they are humans, not aliens. I would encourage you to question the narrative you’ve been fed about them receiving better benefits than taxpayers, as you say. That narrative has been purposefully constructed to pit us against one another and reinforce power hierarchies, not so different from thee narrative that portrayed Mexicans and Blacks as evil and depraved in the early 20th century in concert with the demonization and criminalization of Cannabis. I recommend checking out Martin Lee’s Smoke Signals for more on that history.

        4) I debated not approving your comment because it did not at all seem respectful (or relevant to the blog post) — in fact it simply repeats tired old arguments that have been used to uphold racist structures and beliefs. But I don’t believe it’s your intention to do this. If you want to continue the discussion after checking out those resources let me know, I’m here for it.

    1. Hey Mohamed! So I haven’t personally done it since I prefer to do cold infusion on my alcohol tinctures. The infuse cycle peaks at 176 F, which is higher than the temp that alcohol evaporates, so i wouldn’t risk it.

      1. Hi Stephanie,
        I’m all new to this. Want to star playing around and experimenting with making some oils with.
        Can you use a pressure cooker? If so, what kind of liquid would you use. And can I use the leaves of the plants I have instead of flowers?

      2. Hey Alessandra! I haven’t used a pressure cooker personally, but I know someone who tried it and ran the test results — it performed pretty poorly.

        You can absolutely infuse the leaves of the plant, but they are much lower in cannabinoids than the flowers. The sugar leaves closest to the flower will be the most potent.

  2. Are there any alternatives to the Nova unit? I purchased a few many years ago, and customer service was TERRIBLE. Design flaws & breakdowns necessitated returns, which were not honored. Also, I had to wait many months to get replacement unit. Has their customer service improved since 2015? Are there any competitors (please!). If not, why not? Thanks.

    1. Hi Diane! Magical Butter has a decarb box that you use in your oven, but I haven’t personally tried it. The Levo II supposedly has a decarb function as well, but I’ve been underwhelmed with that machine’s infusion ability.

      I’m sorry to hear your customer service experience with Ardent was bad. For what its worth, the Nova FX seems to have improved on the design flaws of the original design. I haven’t had a difficult time contacting them until recently — I think they’ve been overwhelmed with demand, plus the challenges of COVID.

  3. Hello, I’m new to this, i appreciate your reviews and recommendations. Which machine would you recommend as a start up and long term investment. I want to make butters and oils.

    1. So it largely depends on the volume you plan to make. I personally think the Nova FX is the best long term investment, although it is pricier. The smaller Nova is good for tiny batches, and the MB has the largest capacity but doesn’t decarb

  4. Hi Steph
    I live in a condo building so unfortunately the weed smell in the common hallway is my #1 concern as I try to determine the best fit. Which might be best, in your opinion, for my weed odor concern? Any input you could provide would be very helpful. I would be using it for small batches. Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Rebecca! Yes, the aroma is certainly an issue, especially when it comes to decarbing. For small batches and smell control, the original Nova is probably your best bet. It both infuses and decarbs and doesn’t smell a bit in my opinion. You can decarb up to an ounce in it, and infuse up to around 6-8 ounces of liquid. Just be sure to use it on top of a wooden cutting board when you run it — for some reason if you don’t have that to absorb the heat, it can develop a hairline fracture along the top that causes it to stop working properly.

      1. Parene Nelson Doubt

        Hello Stephanie Boucher,
        Relatively new to the infusion process, but not new to the flower game. I just purchased the Ardent Nova Flex I haven’t even really opened it b/c…I want to make sure I’m ready to “play” once I open it… any tips or suggestions?

      2. Hi Parene! My biggest piece of advice is to come at with an attitude of curiosity and playfulness! Ardent gives really clear directions, and it makes it so simple that it’s hard to screw up. If you’ve got flower and an outlet, you’ve already got everything you need!

    1. I haven’t heard of this one before! Looks interesting – I’m sure we’re going to see more and more of these kinds of devices on the market. It’s be curious to hear other people’s thoughts – what i like about Ardent is all the lab testing they’ve done to ensure their product does what it promises, and this device looks like it operates at a lower temp and shorter time… but it very well may be effective!

    2. Don’t buy it. There customer service is excellent I had 3 of them 2 replacements. I now use the magical butter machine.

  5. Hi Stephanie. Thanks for your reply here. I just received my activator today. I’ve looked and looked and cannot find any videos or youtubes on how to use it. I’ve read the directions, done all my due diligence research on this machine and other sous vide machines, as well as that Nova decarb machine. There’s a stark minimum of videos on the STX Activator. I guess I’m just going to have to wing it here and hope I get it done right the first time. The product that goes into the machine isn’t cheap, and testing it will cost, especially if I don’t get it right the first time…or second…or third…:sigh: From what I’ve learned is it’s better than the Nova machine, and costs less than half of the Nova. As far as the temp and time is concerned, I’ve researched it and found articles and posts recommending temps of 180 degrees F and times of one to two hours. This is for other machines, not for the Activator. It has a default time as follows on page 4 of its manual:

    “The Activation 420 has two settings:
    1. Default – 250°F for 1:00 hour
    2. DIY (Do It Yourself)/Manual”

    Basically my end goal is to make tincture with Everclear alcohol, thus eliminating the mess and odor of smoking the herb. I do not want butters, or oils or infusions, I just want a decent, and unsmelly psychoactive effect (aka, buzz). Boy, I sure wish I could get a little help with this, just for reassurance that I’m proceeding in the correct manner. Nonetheless, I will carry on.

    1. I wish I could help with this machine! I haven’t used it myself so can’t say mutch about it. The default mode you described is similar to the FX though, so I imagine it will work great!

      If you’re wanting to use it for infusing as well, I would contact the company before putting alcohol in that machine to make sure it’s compatible.

  6. I’m looking for a decarb. and infuser, but these prices are steep for me. I also can’t have a strong oder, hence the need for a decarbalizer. Can you infuse butter with the Nova or FX? Or are there two separate products, that work well (I’ve seen those decarb boxes with external temp gauges, but heard mixed reviews,) to decarb and infuse butter. I’ll also be making gummies, so I know it will do that

    1. Yes, you can infuse butter with any of the machines I describe. I agree they are pricey, although if you do a lot of infusion they pay for themselves in terms of money saved at the dispensary, or in lost potency.

      To reduce odor without these devices you could try decarbing in a mason jar either in the oven or using a sous vide, although that will build pressure inside the jar so you’ll want to be very careful to leave a lot of headspace…

  7. Hello,
    So I’m completely new to these machines, and I’m only looking to be able to make myself small batches of gummies. Typically less than 2 ounces of flower at a time. I’m unsure as to which infusers would work best for me, ease of use is a must, and preferably an all in one approach would be better. With the infusers that don’t agitate the flower can you stop the infusing process to do this yourself and simply restart the machine without complications?

    1. Hi Tony! I think the Nova FX would be your best bet. It can hold up to 4 ounces of flower (the smaller can only hold up to 1) and can both decarb, infuse and bake.

      I actually don’t worry to much about the agitation issue. If you wanted you could carefully pick up the unit and swirl it, but I wouldn’t stop/start it — that would mess with the cycle time and temp.

  8. I only used my Nova once. I found it overcooked the flower for my taste. It came out brown as opposed to the attractive green retained when decarbed in the oven. I wonder if unplugging it before the cycle completes might help, but no idea what time to try first. Any input or suggestions welcome.

    1. Hmmm, I’m sorry that happened to you! I wouldn’t unplug mid-cycle — I would actually reach out to Ardent to see what they suggest. I will say that often my decarb have a toasty look — but if they’re really dark brown you may have a malfunctioning unit.

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