This at-home potency tester takes the gamble out of making edibles

tCheck can tell you the THC or CBD breakdown of your flower, concentrates, and homemade infusions in a matter of minutes.

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Making weed edibles — or, really, consuming them — can be a dicey business. Are you going to be blissfully chilled out for an afternoon after eating that cookie, or will you be panic-watching The Great British Bake Off for eight hours in hopes their wholesome banter will beat back your feeling of insurmountable terror? Who’s to say!

At least, that’s how my brain works. I love cannabis, though. It’s a critical part of my chronic pain management routine and ingesting it orally is often the best option. The key is getting it right. As it turns out, there is (of course) a device specifically designed to solve this problem. (Note: I’m a registered medical marijuana recipient and all products described here were legally obtained.)

The tCheck is a potency tester about the size of a portable phone charger. It costs about $280 for the starter kit and comes with a little plastic slide for your test samples. The device pairs with a smartphone app to instruct you through the testing process and display your results. You can test raw flower with it, something particularly useful for growers, plus concentrates and infusions (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or alcohol).

And after playing around with tCheck a bit, I’m relieved to say it hasn't done me dirty yet.

Welcome to my laboratory. Cheyenne MacDonald / Input

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Getting started

While it might seem like tCheck is just a plug-and-play sort of deal, you’d do well to read up on what it can and can’t do before you waste time and materials. It is simple once you’re acquainted with the process, but there are little details that can lead to wonky readings if you’re not aware.

Most important? Stick. To. The. Script. The app and the box and the website all say exactly what substances it works with, so don’t be surprised if you try to test a CBD-dominant unknown-oil-based infusion from the dispensary as a control sample and tCheck can’t get a proper reading (OK, it was me, I did this). The FAQs also note that the device doesn’t support lecithin, a popular additive in edibles. You can’t just plunk anything in there, and it took me a couple tries to realize I was the problem, not tCheck.

When you’re ready to test the product, gather all your materials and hit the “Run Test” button in the app. From there, you just have to pair your device and follow the prompts. Are you testing weed-infused coconut oil? There’s a button for that. A solid concentrate? There’s a button for that too, plus instructions on how to prep it for testing. From the moment you begin the test sequence and pair your phone, there are clearly delivered instructions telling you what to do next.

Take your pick.

I’ve got to give it up to the company for really hand-holding the user through every step and possible misstep. Upon opening the app, you’ll be presented with a list of YouTube tutorials explaining how to use each testing feature, how to dilute your liquids if they’re too dark, and so on.

The website, as well, has detailed articles to help you understand your test results and how to use them for proper dosing.

It’s refreshingly comprehensive, as, from my experience, cannabis-related companies have a tendency to assume the user knows the ins and outs of every consumption method. That’s just not the case, and increasingly isn’t as legalization opens marijuana up to people who have never touched or even considered it before.

This is what the app looks like when you open it. Look at all these tutorials!Cheyenne MacDonald / Input

Testing, testing...

The actual analysis only takes a few minutes, varying depending on what type of material you’re testing. The slide goes in, tCheck works its magic, and then, if all goes well, you should have a number to work with. How does it work? Per the company:

Under the hood, tCheck is a photo spectrometer. It works by shining various wavelengths (colors) of light through your infusions. The darker the infusion, the more potent it is. The difficulty is that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are not visible to the naked eye. You can only “see” them under ultraviolet light.

The company says its accuracy is about +/- 1.5 mg/ml for infusions and +/- 3% for flower and concentrates and, while I was a bit skeptical at first, I so far have no reason to doubt that.

In my tests, I found its number results to be pretty much in line with what I expected based on the amount of flower and oil I’d used. When I measured out a dose based on tCheck’s numbers — and with my typical dispensary doses in mind as a benchmark — I was about as elevated as I expected to be. I also made a “strong” batch and a “weak” batch specifically for the purpose of comparison, and the tCheck results reflected those differences. Not bad!

Cheyenne MacDonald / Input
The results for one of my infusions, shown in mg/ml.
The same results but shown in mg/tsp.

tCheck lets you see your potency results across different units of measurement, so you don’t get tripped up doing things like converting milliliters to teaspoons. It does that work for you. There’s also a dose calculator built into the app so you can easily add your infusions to recipes. Honestly, it’s pretty great.

In time, I may even trust the results the first round and save myself the effort of double- and triple-checking. Maybe.