What is Cannabis Decarboxylation?
Decarboxylating cannabis is vital to experience everything your cannabis has to offer, especially if you intend to make edibles. If one consumes cannabis that has not been decarboxylated, they will not encounter the high-like effect, as raw cannabis does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but rather tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).
The raw cannabis plant consists of cannabinoids, but in their acidic form. When one states that cannabinoids are in their “acidic form,” they are referring to the chemical structure of the compound itself. A cannabinoid in its acidic form has a carboxyl group (-COOH) attached, making it not readily available to interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), as it cannot act upon the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
When tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not decarboxylated, it is THCA. Although THCA possess therapeutic effects, like “anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective qualities,” it is not in its most beneficial or psychoactive form. “There are cases where medical cannabis patients have been happy with the results when they drink raw cannabis smoothies, proving that it is definitely NOT useless.”
Techniques to Decarboxylate Cannabis
Two main techniques are used when decarboxylating cannabis, drying (time), and heat. Drying or allowing the cannabis to age can lead to the some of THCA reacting to produce THC, but this typically yields a low THC product. On the other hand, using heat to decarboxylate cannabis is much faster and has a higher end product. The heat acts a catalyst (something that speeds up a chemical reaction) in the process of converting THCA to THC. “Smoking and vaporizing will instantaneously decarboxylate cannabinoids due to the extremely high temperatures present, making them instantly available for absorption through inhalation.”
Please note, these methods also pertain to other cannabinoid compounds in cannabis, like CBD.
Decarboxylating Temperatures for Cannabinoids
Each of the cannabinoids decarboxylates at different temperatures. It is recommended that when decarboxylating your cannabis, to err on the side of caution and use lower temperatures, which ensures that some compounds are not degraded. Below is a list of the various decarboxylation temperatures of cannabinoids:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – 314.6-degree Fahrenheit
- Cannabidiol (CBD) – 320-356-degree Fahrenheit
- Cannabinol (CBN) – 365-degree Fahrenheit
- Cannabichromene (CBC) – 428-degree Fahrenheit
How to Decarboxylate Cannabis?
Decarboxylating cannabis can be done at home using a few methods:
Materials: oven, baking sheet, parchment paper, oven thermometer, and cannabis.
- Preheat the oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ensure that your oven thermometer is reading accurately, if the temperature is off by a few degrees, the cannabis can burn.
- Obtain parchment paper and cover the baking sheet with it.
- Spread the cannabis evenly throughout the baking sheet.
- After the cannabis is in the oven for 20 minutes, stir. Repeat this at 30 minutes.
- Take cannabis out after 40 minutes and allow to cool.
Pros: Cheap and easy.
Cons: The temperature in an oven is typically inconsistent, and as each cannabinoid has a specific temperature it decarboxylates at, this can yield irregular results. Also, due to the heat in oven varying, it has “been shown to get only 70% decarboxylation.”
Materials: pot, water, heat resistance bag, thermometer, and cannabis.
- Place cannabis in heat resistance bag and seal it.
- Put water in the pot and bring to a boil.
- Place the bag in the boiling water for 90 minutes.
- After time passes, remove from water and allow to cool.
Pros: Cheap and easy. Using water allows for the temperature to be more consistent than it would be in an oven.
Cons: The time it takes to decarboxylate the cannabis. Also, due to the prolonged exposure the heat can damage some of the cannabinoids.
Levo Oil Infusers
Magical Butter Infuser
- Pros: Allows for the most potent form of your cannabis. The device is straightforward to use, and does not leave behind a strong smell.
- Cons: The NOVA device can be costly.