Despite its increasing appeal, the general public has a lot to learn about marijuana. Few are aware of the chemical reasons why cannabis must be heated – or decarboxylated – before being consumed.
Let’s just say that if you ingested a bag of raw cannabis, the effects would be minor. The major phytocannabinoids in cannabis (THC and CBD) are decarboxylated to create active molecular forms that can impact our neurotransmitters. Marijuana would actually have very little – if any – of its medical and recreational benefits without decarboxylation.
When cannabis is heated, its activity increases. The flowers must be decarboxylated before using marijuana for edibles. You’re just adding raw plant material if you don’t decarb your weed. Raw cannabis is as nutritious as it is delicious, but it doesn’t contribute much to the effectiveness of the finished product.
Raw Cannabis vs. Decarboxylated Cannabis
Cannabis that has been neither dried nor cured is known as raw cannabis. A little amount of decarboxylation takes place after the plant material is cured. The majority of the transformation occurs when the plant substance is heated – or combusted – to temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, marijuana in its natural, uncured state possesses several advantages. THC and CBD – the two most active cannabis components – are acids before curing and decarboxylation (THC-A and CBD-A). These acids have anti-inflammatory benefits similar to those of vitamins and minerals found in other plant-based meals.
If you’re smoking raw cannabis, go for the fan leaves or blossoms that have just been plucked. Raw marijuana may be kept in your refrigerator for as long as other greens, such as kale or spinach. However, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your raw cannabis since it can wilt and mold. This is especially true of densely-packed blooms with a high moisture content, which are prone to wilting and molding.
Over time, the active compounds in cannabis will decarboxylate if left alone. However, full decarboxylation of THC-A and CBD-A in raw plant material would take years. The chemicals decarbxylate rapidly when exposed to heat.
What Is Decarboxylation?
Raw (carboxylated) cannabis, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effect. In other words, it will not make you feel high. To obtain the complete benefits of marijuana, it must be heated – or decarboxylated.
As previously said, the drying and curing process might release a few psychoactive chemicals. In comparison to the number of cannabinoids released during decarboxylation, however, this is nothing.
The chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl (COOH) group from THC-A and CBD-A is referred to as decarboxylation. As a result of this process, carbon dioxide is released. Marijuana may be decarboxylated simply by heating it. But how much heat is required? Alternatively, what temperature does marijuana need to decarboxylate?
Later in this essay, we’ll address this issue. Before moving on, take a look at some of the additional benefits of decarboxylation. Apart from that, it produces chemically active phytocannabinoids.
Advantages of Decarboxylation
One of the most prevalent blunders that individuals make while creating marijuana edibles is neglecting to decarb their cannabis. It’s critical to use an oven to heat the plant material and release activated THC and CBD unless you plan on baking your edibles (pot brownies, cookies, etc.) before eating.
Botulism is a potentially fatal illness caused by a nerve toxin produced by the botulinum bacteria. When you don’t follow the instructions carefully, spores of these bacteria can quickly develop in items like cannabutter and canna-oil.
Every time you smoke a joint or vaporize your marijuana, you are decarbing it automatically. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can bind to cell receptors in the body if it lacks its carboxyl group. Does cannabidiol (CBD) need to be decarboxylated as well?
Why You Need to Decarboxylate CBD Strains
You may believe that decarbing CBD is not required. After all, why would you need to decarb a strain that isn’t intoxicating in the first place?
The notion that decarboxylation occurs at a lower temperature for CBD than it does for THC is simply false. Raw cannabis, like raw marijuana, contains the acid form of CBD (CBD-A), and these must be decarboxylated to release their active effects. It’s been suggested that if you eat CBD-A, your body will metabolize and break it down into CBD on its own.
The bioavailability of CBD is increased during decarboxylation, making more of it accessible to the body’s cells. Cells, on the other hand, must work harder to break down CBD’s carboxyl portion. Furthermore, a substantial amount of the active component is lost as heat during exothermic transformation. To put it another way, doing so independently would be quite ineffective.
When you expose the plant material to sufficient heat, CBD is immediately decarboxylated, as outlined above. CBD oils and CBD gummies have already been decarboxylated. This is why you may eat them straight from the bottle without having to cook them first.
How to Decarboxylate Weed
Aside from smoking or vaping, there are a variety of techniques to decarboxylate marijuana and obtain its therapeutic and recreational advantages. We’ll teach you how to do it the simplest way possible. You’ll need the following items:
- An oven
- A baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Cannabis flower (trim, nugs, kief, etc.)
If you’re using nuggets, grind them coarsely before proceeding with the recipe. We used 40 grams of flower in this example to make coconut canna-oil.
Step 1: Preheat the oven:
Set the oven to its lowest temperature of 120 degrees Celsius. Spread your marijuana flower over a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 20 minutes. If required, break up larger pieces with your hands.
Step 2: Bake for approximately 40 minutes:
This should be enough time for well-dried marijuana. However, if you’re using weed that is more moist, it might take 90 minutes or more to dry.
Some people invest in a hygrometer to ensure that the amount of moisture in their cannabis is correct. It’s simple to use; just place the cannabis in an enclosed container with the hygrometer. Allow the weed to completely cool after it has been dried sufficiently.
Step 3: Remove and let cool:
After 30 minutes, take the baking sheet out of the oven and leave it to cool down. The decarboxylation process is now finished, and the majority of THC-A and CBD-A should have been changed into THC and CBD.
Decarboxylation Temperature for THC and CBD
You’ll find that most people have their own unique method for decarboxylating cannabis. When you ask twenty different marijuana users what temperature they decarb their herb at, you’re likely to get a variety of answers. The chemical procedure takes longer as the decarboxylation temperature decreases. However, few individuals are aware that if decarboxylation temperatures are maintained for too long, active components in the plant can be destroyed.
There is a disagreement about the decarboxylation temperature of CBD. According to studies, it appears to be approximately 230 degrees Fahrenheit (110 degrees Celsius).
When it comes to the time frame, neither THC nor CBD will decarboxylate in a matter of seconds at their precise decarb temperatures. The COOH group takes longer to decompose into water and CO2, generally between 40 and 60 minutes.
While cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids have similar boiling points, their decarboxylation temperatures are significantly different. The boiling points of these components have been much more thoroughly investigated than their decarboxylation temperatures:
- CBC: 428 degrees Fahrenheit/220 degrees Celsius
- THC: 314 degrees Fahrenheit/157 degrees Celsius
- CBN: 365 degrees Fahrenheit/185 degrees Celsius
- THCV: 428 degrees Fahrenheit/220 degrees Celsius
- Myrcene: 330-334 degrees Fahrenheit / 165-168 degrees Celsius
- Limonene: 150 degrees Fahrenheit/177 degrees Celsius
- Linalool: 388 degrees Fahrenheit/198 degrees Celsius
- Alpha-pinene: 312 degrees Fahrenheit/156 degrees Celsius
Flavonoids and Phytosterols
- Beta-Sitosterol: 273 degrees Fahrenheit/134 degrees Celsius
- Cannflavin A: 359 degrees Fahrenheit/182 degrees Celsius
- Apigenin: 352 degrees Fahrenheit/178 degrees Celsius
- Quercetin: 482 degrees Fahrenheit/250 degrees Celsius
It’s best to keep decarboxylation temperatures low to avoid losing terpenes. Some chemicals dissipate readily at elevated temperatures, resulting in foul smells and a harsh flavor. To keep the terpenes, keep the temperature below 200°F.
It should be a simple procedure now that we know the key to faster decarboxylation is more heat (within reason). Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that easy. We must maintain precise decarboxylation temperatures because another method exists.
When cannabis is heated and the THC-A to THC or CBD-A to CBD conversion occurs faster, the conversion of THC to CBN happens more quickly. When we reach 70% decarboxylation, THC is converted into CBN faster than THCA is transformed into THC. In other words, when we go over 70% decarboxylation, THC levels plummet rapidly. To make things clearer, see the graph above.
Although graphs are extremely useful, there is still a risk of misinterpretation. For example, the graph above depicts marijuana extract data. The temperatures used for kief, bud, or trim would be different. The graph was produced in 1990 and showed a hexane extract that had been decarbed in an open container on a hot plate. It is now feasible to achieve a 100% decarbing without harming your THC concentration using contemporary technology.
The efforts of ‘Marijuana Growers HQ’ helped to solve the mystery of the ideal decarbing temperature. Cannabis trim and kief were tested at 240 degrees for 30 and 60 minutes in 2012. The findings are shown in the table above.
During their study, they discovered that the vapor point of all significant terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids was around 246.2 degrees Fahrenheit. They took a cautious approach by staying a few degrees below at 240 degrees as consumer-grade ovens aren’t always accurate with temperatures.
The trim and the kief were decarbed in 30 minutes, but the time wasn’t long enough to completely decarb either. The latter had achieved 90 percent, whereas the former only 60%. Both were quite close to 100% after an hour.
Decarboxylation Methods Investigated
Is it true that the oven is the best method to decarb? Consider that most ovens vary by 10 degrees either way. If the heat is 10-15 degrees higher than what you’ve specified in a 250-400-degree range oven, certain compounds may be destroyed.
DID YOU KNOW? You could lose up to 33% of your THC via oven decarboxylation.
The crockpot/water bath method is a popular one since water boils at a uniform temperature of 212°F (depending on altitude). While the maximum temperature will conserve all chemicals, the main drawback is that it’s difficult to fully decarboxylate.
Because decarboxylation is not a simple procedure, the final stage of THC-A to THC conversion takes longer. When you cook cannabis in boiling water, it is subjected to excessive heat for far too long, resulting in degradation.
Nova, a product on the market, claims to decarb cannabinoids with 100 percent effectiveness. It offers lab analyses to support this claim. As a result, if you’re serious about preserving the potency of your cannabis, it may be worth looking into.
Another disadvantage of decarb charts or graphs is a lack of knowledge regarding the beginning stage of the decarbing process. In other words, the times and temperatures displayed are always average. Keep in mind that you can’t expect dry goods to stay at a constant level while they’re encased in an oven.
How to Decarboxylate Kief
The word “kief” refers to the crystallized formations that adhere to the surface of pure cannabis. It’s essentially cannabis dust that serves as a defensive barrier against insects. Kief is a popular by-product of cannabis usage that is used in making edibles.
If you want to experiment with kief decarboxylation, begin by grinding the cannabis into flakes and removing the kief from the plant tissues.
Because of its quick decarboxylation, dry sift cannabis kief may be prepared at lower temperatures than bud. This means you can use a lower temperature. Follow the procedures described above once you’ve spread it over the baking sheet. Place the kief on a parchment paper and bake at 240 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (115 – 150 degrees Celsius). It should be fully decarboxylated after 45-60 minutes.
The term “decarboxylation” is one of the most misunderstood aspects of cannabis lingo. To get the most out of cannabis, almost all of the active components must be decarboxylated. THC-A needs to be changed into THC, CBD-A into CBD, and so on.
The process of decarboxylation occurs immediately when cannabis is combusted or used in a vaporizer. Those who make edibles, on the other hand, must go through a time-consuming decarb procedure to ensure that their items are “molecularly active.”
Although raw cannabis has some advantages, including a higher ratio of THC to CBD and less non-medical chemicals, it provides fewer therapeutic (or recreational) advantages than decarboxylated cannabis.