Decarbing weed is a vital process that must never be missed when cooking with cannabis or making topical salves. You can think of it as the magic transformation that converts your flower from being inactive into a highly psychoactive and extremely potent product!
Perhaps you’ve tried baking your edibles using oil/butter infused with raw cannabis? And your end product offered lackluster effects like a mild high that probably only lasts a few minutes? Well, that’s because you didn’t decarboxylate your cannabis. Descarba–what? Don’t sweat it.
This article will explain the mystery of your ‘weak product’ and go over what cannabis decarboxylation is. We will also explain why it is a necessary process to enjoy the psychoactive effects of cannabis. And finally we will teach you how to decarboxylate weed.
What is cannabis decarboxylation?
Growing or freshly cut cannabis does not contain most of the compounds (CBD and THC) that it is wildly celebrated for. Instead, it contains all cannabinoids in their inactive forms, for instance, CBDA and THCA. THCA, short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, possesses an extra carboxyl ring (COOH), making it too big to fit into the receptors in our endocannabinoid system (ECS).
If you know anything about THC, it’s that it delivers its psychoactive and therapeutic effects by attaching directly to the CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system. Cannabidiolic acid, aka CBDA, also contains the extra carboxy ring in its molecular structure and hence cannot interact with the receptors the same way as CBD.
Cannabis decarboxylation, also referred to as decarbing weed, is the process of activating raw cannabis into a potent and highly effective form. It involves altering the chemical structure of the cannabinoids found in raw cannabis plants to remove the extra carboxyl group (COOH). This process is what converts THCA into THC and CBDA into CBD.
What causes decarboxylation?
There are two main factors that serve as catalysts for cannabis decarboxylation to occur: time and heat. Edibles baked with raw cannabis can provide mild and short-lived psychoactive effects. That’s because some slow and partial decarboxylation occurs over the time of drying and curing cannabis, providing the flower with small amounts of THC.
Decarbing weed is not required if you’re vaping or smoking cannabis, because the heat instantaneously decarboxylates the cannabinoids, allowing you to inhale high levels of THC/CBD.
But this is not the case with edibles, oils, and topical salves. These products require the activated cannabinoids to be present before consumption so that our bodies can absorb them during digestion or on application.
The best way to decarboxylate weed is by heating the cannabinoids at low, slow temperatures over some time. This activates the cannabinoids while preserving the integrity of other natural cannabis compounds like terpenes.
You can conveniently infuse the decarbed flower into your preferred products like cookies or gummies.
Why is decarbing weed necessary?
All cannabinoids in raw cannabis exist in their acidic and inactive forms like THCA. Although it possesses some known benefits like anti-inflammation and neuroprotective properties, THCA is non-psychoactive and must be activated into THC before any significant effects can be felt.
Similarly, CBDA also has some promising therapeutic benefits, but it is nonintoxicating and must be decarbed into its active form CBD before any effects can be experienced.
The medicinal benefits of CBD and THC have been touted for ages now, and recent scientific studies have proven these effects, including alleviating inflammation, pain, stress, anxiety, helping with epilepsy, cancer symptoms, and more.
Seeing as in their acidic forms CBDA and THCA also provide medicinal benefits, users looking to experience the full-spectrum, ultra healing power of cannabis may consider combining raw and decarboxylated weed in their homemade products.
What is the best temperature for decarboxylation of cannabis?
The most important thing to note is that cannabis plants contain a boatload of beneficial compounds like cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. While terpenes are highly volatile, they provide your edibles with a lip-smacking flavor. Additionally, different cannabinoids decarboxylate at distinct temperature ranges.
Slightly high temperatures will destroy or evaporate terpenes, and higher temperatures will degrade some of your cannabinoids. Therefore, the trick to a successful decarboxylation of cannabis is to use optimal temperatures that won’t degrade or combust your weed.
Experts advise that you decarboxylate weed on low, slow heat, between 230-250°F. These ‘sweet spot’ temperatures are ideal for decarbing weed while preserving the integrity of terpenes and other compounds.
How to decarboxylate weed?
There are various ways to decarboxylate weed, for instance, in an oven, double-boiler, or Mason jar. The good news is that each of these methods is pretty fast, effective, and straightforward to do at home! The primary focus is to heat your weed at the ideal temperatures noted above to activate the cannabinoids.
Some people prefer to add flower directly in their meals or infused oil as part of the final cooking process. But please note that this method requires you to be extremely cautious as your weed can easily overheat or decarb unevenly. We’ll show you different methods of how to decarboxylate weed below.
How to decarboxylate weed in an oven
Because oven temperatures fluctuate often, you’re advised to use an oven thermometer to read the exact temperatures in the oven.
What you need to decarboxylate weed in an oven
- Freshly dried and cured weed
- Baking tray
- Aluminum foil
- Oven mitts
- Oven thermometer (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 240°F and sit the oven rack in the middle as temperatures may be a bit higher at the top or much lower at the bottom. Keep in mind that the pungent smell of weed will linger in your house for a few hours.
- Line the baking tray with aluminum foil so that you’ll easily collect and package your flower after baking. The foil also protects flowers from combusting as it doesn’t conduct heat as fast as a baking sheet.
- Break some high-quality and potent buds into smaller bits (don’t grind too fine as it can burn). For the best results, ensure your weed is properly dried and cured.
- Spread the broken buds so that they don’t overlap and cover them lightly with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake the weed at 240°F for 30 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, your activated weed should have changed color from green to a pleasant light brown. Allow it to cool completely before storing it in an airtight glass container like a mason jar for future use.
- Store the container in a cool dark place and consider using the decarbed weed to make edibles, infused oil, salves, and more within 3-6 months.
- Although weed doesn’t go bad, THC will naturally degrade to CBN over time. CBN is well known for making users very sleepy.
How to decarboxylate weed in a Mason jar
The best thing about decarboxylating in a mason jar is that it eliminates all the pungent odor of weed while protecting your terpenes from evaporating. The idea is that any evaporated terpenes will stick to the sides of the jar instead of evaporating into thin air!
In addition, mason jars protect your weed from combusting, promoting perfectly activated golden-brown buds.
What you need for decarbing weed in an a Mason jar
- Mason jar with a tight-fitting lid
- Freshly dried and cured weed
- Oven mitts
- Baking tray
- Kitchen towel
- Begin by preheating your oven to 240°F and then sit your oven rack in the middle.
- Break your high-quality weed into smaller pieces and put it in the mason jar. Replace its lid lightly.
- Slightly dampen the kitchen towel, fold it, and lay it over the baking tray. Carefully place the mason jar on the towel. The towel prevents the jar from rolling over.
- Bake the weed at 240°F for one hour. Consider removing the jar every 15 minutes to toss the weed, allowing it to heat evenly.
- Remove your activated weed once the timer goes off, and let it cool enough before storing it in a cool dark place for future use.
Pretty easy, right?
Decarbing weed is a vital yet easy step that you must never miss when making edibles, infusing oils, or any cannabis-infused products at home. It provides you with the highest medicinal/therapeutic benefits of your top-quality weed.