Despite its continual rise in popularity, the general public is yet to learn much about marijuana. Although many individuals are familiar with THC’s psychoactive effects, few are aware of the chemical reasons why cannabis must be heated – or decarboxylated – before being consumed.
Let’s take a look at how decarboxylation affects the components of cannabis. When we smoke raw marijuana, we usually consume it in a form that has been cooked and dried. The effects would be extremely minor, to say the least. Decarboxylation transforms phytocannabinoids (THC and CBD) in cannabis into active molecular forms that can affect our neurotransmitters. Marijuana would lose most – if not all – of its medical and recreational advantages without decarboxylation.
Decarboxylation: A Requisite Chemical Reaction for Cannabis Edibles, Oils, and More
When cannabis is heated, its components are activated. The flowers must first be decarboxylated if you want to make edibles with marijuana, for example. You’ll get a lot more out of your bud if you decarb it correctly.
Raw Cannabis vs. Decarboxylated Cannabis
Cannabis plants that are grown in soil, whether outdoors or in an indoor garden, produce “raw cannabis.” When the plant material is heated to temperatures greater than 200 degrees Fahrenheit after being uncured, the rest of the decarboxylation occurs. The plant is combusted at higher heat levels (greater than 300 degrees Fahrenheit), resulting in raw cannabis.
However, marijuana in its raw form still has a number of applications. Before curing and decarboxylation (THC-A and CBD-A), THC and CBD are acids. These acids have anti-inflammatory qualities similar to those seen in vitamins and minerals present in other plant-based meals.
Raw cannabis may be eaten as a tea, but only the fan leaves or flowers that have just been picked should be utilized. Raw marijuana can stay in your refrigerator for as long as other greens like kale or spinach. However, it’s important to keep an eye on your raw cannabis since it’ll wilt and grow mold if not handled properly. This is especially true for highly-packed blooms with a lot of dampness content.
The active components in cannabis will decarboxylate over time if they are not disturbed. THC-A and CBD-A, on the other hand, would take years to completely decarboxylate in raw plant material due To the compounds’ decarboxylation taking place instantaneously when exposed to heat.
What Is Decarboxylation?
Raw (carboxylated) cannabis, despite its nutritional advantages, is completely non-intoxicating. In other words, it will not make you high. It must be heated – or decarboxylated – in order to obtain the whole impact of cannabis.
The Drying and Curing Process Can Release a Few Psychoactive Compounds. However, when compared to the amount of cannabinoids produced during decarboxylation, this is nothing.
The process of decarboxylation is the conversion of cannabis and cannabinoids (THC-A and CBD-A) from their carboxylic acid (COOH) form to their non-carboxylic acid (COOH) form, which liberates carbon dioxide as a byproduct. All you have to do to decarboxylate marijuana is apply heat. But what temperature is sufficient? Alternatively, if we put it another way, at what temperature does marijuana decarboxylate?
The health benefits of CBD oil are well-known, but what about the negative effects? We’ll address this question later in the piece. Before we get into it, there are a couple of additional CBD oil benefits to consider. Aside from the fact that it generates chemically active forms of phytocannabinoids, decarboxylation has a few more advantages.
Advantages of Decarboxylation
Failing to decarb cannabis is one of the most prevalent blunders that people make while creating edibles from marijuana. Unless you’re going to bake your edibles (pot brownies, cookies, etc.) before eating them, an oven will be required to heat the plant material and release the activated THC and CBD.
When you decarb marijuana for edibles, you also reduce the likelihood of botulism. Botulinum bacteria can quickly develop in items like cannabutter and canna-oil if you don’t go through the process correctly.
It’s true that, as soon as you light up a joint or vaporize your cannabis, the THC in it is being decarboxylated. Cells may bind tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) without the presence of its carboxyl group. But does cannabidiol (CBD) need to be decarboxylated?
Why You Need to Decarboxylate CBD Strains
You might believe that decarboxylation of CBD is not required. After all, why would you need to decarb a strain that isn’t intoxicating in the first place?
The decarboxylation process for CBD is identical to that for THC. Because raw cannabis contains the acid form of CBD (CBD-A), it must be heated to enable its active effects to be released. It’s been thought that if you eat CBD-A, your body will metabolize and break it down into CBD on its own, just as it would with THC-A.
CBD’s decarboxylation improves its bioavailability, making it accessible to the cells. Cells, on the other hand, must work harder to break down CBD’s carboxyl component. Furthermore, a significant amount of the active ingredient is lost as heat during the exothermic reaction. In other words, doing it yourself would be extremely ineffective because you lose so much of the active component in the process.
CBD is rapidly decarboxylated as a result of being exposed to sufficient heat, as previously stated. CBD oils and CBD gummies, on the other hand, have been decarboxylated previously. This is why you can take them in their natural form without having to cook them first.
How to Decarboxylate Weed
Aside from smoking or vaping, there are numerous techniques to decarboxylate cannabis and acquire its therapeutic and recreational benefits. We’ll go through the most basic method. You’ll need the following items:
- An oven
- A baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Cannabis flower (trim, nugs, kief, etc.)
If you want to make coconut canna-oil, grind the nugs coarsely before proceeding with these steps. We used 40 grams of flower in the following example to make coconut canna-oil.
Step 1: Preheat the oven:
Set the oven temperature to 235°F (120°C). Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and then lay your marijuana flower on it. If necessary, use your hands to break up big pieces.
Step 2: Bake for approximately 40 minutes:
This should be enough time for well-dried marijuana. However, if you’re using wetter cannabis with more moisture,
Some people invest in a hygrometer to monitor the moisture level in their cannabis. It’s simple to use; place the marijuana in an airtight container with the hygrometer. Allow the weed to completely cool before removing it from the heat source.
Step 3: Remove and let cool:
Remove the baking sheet from the oven after 30 minutes and let it cool down while you wait for your cookies to bake. The decarboxylation process is now finished, with most of the THC-A and CBD-A being changed to THC and CBD.
Decarboxylation Temperature for THC and CBD
You’ll find a wide range of opinions on the subject if you ask twenty different cannabis consumers what temperature they decarboxylate their marijuana at. The chemical process takes longer as the decarboxylation temperature is lowered. Few individuals are aware, however, that excessive decarboxylation temperatures for an extended period of time may damage the active components in the herb.
The precise decarboxylation temperature of CBD is a point of contention. According to research, it appears to be approximately 230 degrees Fahrenheit (110 degrees Celsius).
At the precise decarboxylation temperatures, neither THC nor CBD will decarboxylate completely straight away. It takes a longer period, generally between 40 and 60 minutes, for the COOH group to decompose into water and carbon dioxide.
Furthermore, keep in mind that the boiling points of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are significantly higher than their decarboxylation temperatures. The boiling points of these substances have been far more extensively researched 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
Keep the decarboxylation temperatures on the low side to safeguard terpenes. Some chemicals are volatile and evaporation of these compounds occurs at higher temperatures. The result is an unpleasant odor and taste. To keep the terpenes, keep the temperature below 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that we understand the key to quicker decarboxylation is increased heat (to a point), it should be simple. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as simple as that. We must now regulate decarboxylation temperatures extremely precisely owing to the existence of another mechanism.
When we heat cannabis and convert THC-A to THC or CBD-A to CBD, we accelerate the rate at which THC is transformed into CBN. When THCA is converted to THC, it happens more quickly than when THCA is converted to CBN. In other words, as we approach 70% decarboxylation, THC levels start to decrease rapidly. For reference, see the chart above.
Graphs are a wonderful tool for displaying large amounts of data. However, there is always the risk of misinterpreting information because graphs only tell part of the story. For example, marijuana extract data is shown in the graph above. The temperatures used to decarboxylate kief, bud, or trim would be different. This graph was made in 1990 and involved heating a hexane extract on an open container on a hot plate to decarb it completely. It is possible to reach a 100% decarb without affecting your THC content with modern technology.
The efforts of ‘Marijuana Growers HQ’ went a long way toward solving the issue of which decarboxylation temperature is ideal. They compared cannabis trim and kief at 240 degrees for 30 and 60 minutes in 2012. The findings are tabulated in the table above.
During their study, they learned that the vapor point of all significant terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids was roughly 246.2 degrees Celsius. They took safe by staying a few degrees below at 240 degrees to ensure consumer-grade ovens are not so accurate when reading temperatures.
The trim and kief were decarbed in 30 minutes, according to the findings. The latter had achieved 90%, but the former was at 60%. Both were very near to 100% after an hour.
Decarboxylation Methods Investigated
Many people believe that the oven is the most effective approach to decarb, but is this really true? Keep in mind that most ovens fluctuate by 10 degrees either way. If the heat inside your oven is 10-15 degrees higher than what you intended, you could lose important chemicals as a result.
DID YOU KNOW? You could lose up to 33% of your THC via oven decarboxylation.
The crockpot/water-bath method is widely used since water boils at a relatively constant temperature of 212 degrees (depending on altitude). While the maximum temperature will keep all chemicals safe, it’s impossible to completely decarboxylate with this technique.
Because decarboxylation is not a one-step process, as the last stage of THC to THC conversion takes longer, this is the case. The weed is exposed to too much heat when you use boiling water, which causes it to decay.
There is a product on the market called “Nova” that claims to decarboxylate cannabinoids with 100% accuracy. It provides laboratory tests to back up its assertion. If you’re serious about maintaining the strength of your marijuana, it might be worth looking into.
The second disadvantage of decarb charts and graphs is the fact that they do not display information regarding the start point of the process. In other words,
How to Decarboxylate Kief
The substance that sticks to the surface of pure cannabis is known as kief. It’s essentially cannabis dust that serves as a bug repellant. Kief, which is produced when cannabis is consumed, is a popular by-product used in the culinary arts.
If you decide to try kief decarboxylation, grind the cannabis into flakes and sift the kief away from the plant parts.
The decarboxylation temperature of kief is lower than that of bud, allowing you to use a gentler method. Follow the instructions above after spreading it out on the baking sheet. Place the kief in the oven at 240 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (115-150 degrees Celsius) for 45-60 minutes. It should be fully decarboxylated after 45-60 minutes.
The term “decarboxylation” is widely used but seldom understood. The majority of the active components in cannabis must first be decarboxylated in order for the user to experience its full potential. THC-A needs to be converted into THC, CBD-A into CBD, and so on.
The conversion of cannabis to psychotropic THC takes place instantly when it is burned or vaporized. However, in order to ensure that their products are “molecularly active,” people who create edibles must go through a time-consuming decarb procedure.
Raw cannabis, on the other hand, has little therapeutic (or recreational) advantages when compared to decarboxylated cannabis.