Planning to make homemade edibles or topicals using weed? If so, the first thing that you need to do is to ensure that your weed has been decarboxylated which will make the edibles, oils etc. more powerful. Since the raw cannabis flower contains cannabinoid acids that are devoid of psychoactive effects, decarboxylation helps convert cannabinoid acids into THC. You very well know what THC can do – it can get you high.
After harvesting the cannabis and when it is put for drying and curing, a natural decarboxylation process takes place but if the weed is exposed in the open for a long period, the weed starts degrading and causes partial decarboxylation. To decarboxylate the weed thoroughly, you need to expose the weed to some form of heat.
So, how would you decarboxylate weed at your home? The simple answer to this question is by heating the cannabis in your microwave oven. This post will give you an overview of the term decarboxylation, why it is important and provide you with detailed steps to decarboxylate weed at your home.
So, what’s all the wait about? Let’s dive in!
What is Decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation, also referred to as “decarbing”, is the process that activates compounds like THC and CBD in raw cannabis. Scientifically speaking, the process entails physically altering the chemical structure of cannabis compounds found in the raw cannabis plant.
When growing a fresh cannabis plant, the cannabinoids contained within the trichomes of the raw weed flower have an extra carboxyl group attached to its chain. Getting rid of this extra carboxyl group helps in converting THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBDA to CBD.
Basically, what happens in the decarboxylation process is that the decarbing methods target the inactive cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA present in the plant’s trichomes. Once you start heating the cannabis, the effect is felt on the chemical structure and the extra carboxyl group gets removed in the process. Finally, activating the THC and CBD compounds in the raw cannabis. This is how the decarboxylation process works.
Why is Decarboxylation Important?
Decarboxylation of cannabis is necessary if you’re planning to consume edibles or tinctures infused with cannabis. Through decarboxylation, the cannabis plant’s varieties of cannabinoids get activated. Particularly, it activates tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) of the cannabis plant.
A harvested cannabis flower contains excess cannabinoid acids which doesn’t have much or no psychoactive gain. Unless you heat the flower, these cannabinoid acids remain inactive and don’t get converted to THC and CBD.
Having said that, there are some benefits while consuming raw cannabis. Raw cannabis contains nutrients and vitamins. However, consuming in a raw form doesn’t give you any psychoactive effects.
Now, this is because the THCA and CBDA have an extra carboxyl group that doesn’t bind with our brain receptors. This explains the devoid of psychoactive effects when consuming raw cannabis.
However, when you heat your raw cannabis, the THCA and CBDA convert to THC and CBD. Once you consume your decarboxylated cannabis, it works wonders with our brain receptors and releases neurotransmitters in the brain that gives us psychotropic effects.
What Causes Decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation of cannabis takes place when one of the two, i.e, heating or curing occurs. In the curing process, when decarboxylating the weed, there are chances of the weed getting partially decarboxylated. On the other hand, if you expose your weed to heat, you can expect full decarboxylation of the weed. In this article, our focus will be on decarboxylating weed through heating.
Here’s how both of these methods work:
Partial Decarboxylation by Curing
During the curing process, when the cannabis is kept in the open, the cannabinoid acids gradually convert into active forms. However, if it is kept for a longer period in the open, the plant gets degraded and causes partial decarboxylation.
Decarboxylation Through Heating
When you expose your marijuana material to heat, you can expect full decarboxylation. Experts allude that heating the marijuana material anywhere between the temperatures of 230 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be the sweet spot for fully decarboxylating the weed.
Smoking and vaporizing will instantly decarboxylate the cannabinoids because it is burning at high temperatures. But when making edibles, heating the cannabinoids anywhere between 230 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit is required to decarboxylate the cannabinoids.
If you say that “we can decarboxylate the cannabinoids while baking”, it is not possible because the internal heat of the cannabis-infused baked goodies will not reach the optimum temperature that is required for decarboxylation. Due to this reason, many, advice to first decarboxylate the weed flower and then add it to the edible foods.
At What Temperature Does Weed Need to be Heated?
As you’re aware of the fact that to decarboxylate cannabis, you need a temperature of anywhere between 230 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The decarboxylation process begins after exposing the weed to the heat for about 30-45 minutes.
People do tend to choose to heat their cannabis for a much longer time to preserve the terpenes. Now, if you consider heating your cannabis at higher temperatures, say over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, then at this temperature both the cannabinoids and terpenes will get damaged. So, it’s advisable to heat the cannabis at the appropriate temperature.
How to Decarboxylate Weed at Home
If you have freshly grown your weed at your home or purchased it from a local weed store, either way, you can easily decarboxylate your weed in your kitchen room. All you need is a microwave oven and you’re set to decarboxylate your weed. Below, we’ll discuss the tools that you require for the decarboxylation of your weed and also lay down the detailed step by step process to decarboxylate weed.
It’s a given that you don’t require complex tools to perform decarboxylation of the weed. All you need for the decarboxylation process is simple tools that are readily available in your kitchen room. Here are the two methods that you can use to decarboxylate your weed.
Oven And Baking Sheet
Using a baking sheet and an oven is the most common way to decarboxylate weed. Many weed growers follow this approach to decarb their weed for one simple reason, that is, all the materials required for the decarboxylation process are easily available.
Although this method seems to be widely preferred by weed-growers to decarb weed, it’s for you to know that this method is by far the smelliest method for decarbing weed. While implementing this method, it’s best to have a fan with an attached carbon filter to subside the smell.
Here’s the list of tools that you need to use to decarb your weed.
- Microwave oven
- Baking sheet
- Parchment Paper
Step by Step Process to Decarboxylate Your Weed
Before getting into the decarboxylation process, a word of caution, you might get carried away and try to heat the cannabis at a higher temperature, a temperature above 310 degrees Fahrenheit will ruin the various cannabinoids in the flower and destroy the weed’s terpenes. Burning away terpenes will take away a weed’s unique flavor and fragrance. So, it’s advised to cook the weed at a lower temperature in the oven.
Here’s the step by step approach to decarboxylate weed:
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Break the weed flower into smaller pieces.
- Roll out the flower pieces on the parchment paper.
- Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake the cannabis for 30 to 45 minutes.
- When the cannabis changes into a brownish color, remove the baking sheet and put it aside to let the activated weed cool down.
- Finally, put the activated weed in a grinder to coarsely grind the flower. Now, store the weed flower in a mason jar until it is ready to use.
Oven And Oven Bags
Image SourceThe oven bag method is similar to how the baking sheet method works. Compared to the baking sheet method, this method doesn’t require you to put a lot of effort to decarboxylate your weed. Now, the best part of this method is that the smell of the weed when heated is not as pungent as compared to the other method.
Here’s the list of materials that you need to use to decarb your weed.
- Baking Sheet
- Oven Bags
Step by Step Process to Decarboxylate Your Weed
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Break your cannabis flower into small pieces and put them in the oven bag.
- Put a knot in the oven bag. By doing this the smell of the weed stays in the bag itself.
- Place the oven bag on the baking sheet without any parchment paper.
- Bake the cannabis at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes and remove the bag when the cannabis turns into a brownish color.
Does Decarboxylation Destroy CBD?
No, CBD or THC remain intact after decarboxylation. Though high temperatures singe the weed and make the bud unusable, consistent heat will convert the raw weed compounds into intoxicating weed. Infact, decarboxylated weed actually has a large amount of CBD and THC count.
Is There a Role for Decarboxylation in Smokable Products?
Vape pens and joints contain THCA and CBDA, when smoked these compounds instantly convert to THC and CBD. So, it’s not necessary to decarboxylate them.
Is There a Role For Decarboxylation in Edibles And Topicals?
Image SourceYes. If you have infused your weed flower in butter for example and then use it for baking edibles, there will definitely be some effects of THC during the baking process. But if you decarboxylated your weed flower before infusing it with butter then your edibles will be more powerful.
When making edibles or topicals like oils, balms etc. for medically applicable products, decarboxylation of the weed flower is important. The reason being, the decarboxylation process establishes the THC and CBD compounds in the edibles and topicals which provide medical benefits when consumed or applied to the body.
Manufacturers making edibles or topical for medical reasons cannot disregard the decarboxylation process. Although the decarboxylation process is natural, we can improve the process further by using the right tools to make delicious edibles.
Since the raw weed flower contains cannabinoid acids that do not possess psychoactive effects, the weed flower needs to be decarboxylated to get the psychoactive effects. Decarboxylation is the process that alters the chemical structure of cannabis compounds. It removes the extra carboxyl group contained in the cannabinoid acids that activates compounds like THC and CDB. When THC is activated it gives you the psychoactive effects.
A harvested weed flower contains excess cannabinoid acids which have to be removed to get the psychoactive effects. So, by heating your raw cannabis flower you can activate THC that gives you the intoxicating pleasure that you are looking for.
Decarboxylation occurs either by curing or heating. While curing there are chances of the weed getting partially decarboxylated. If left out in the open for a long period then you can expect the weed to get degraded and that causes partial decarboxylation. However, when you expose your weed to heat, you can fully decarboxylate your weed.
Now the question is at what temperature the weed should be heated? To decarboxylate cannabis flower, experts say that the weed should be heated anywhere between 230 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. When you expose your weed to heat for about 30 to 45 minutes the decarboxylation process kicks in.
A word of caution, don’t heat your weed flower beyond 300 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do so, many mono and sesquiterpenes will evaporate, leaving behind a bad aroma.
You can heat your cannabis flower in the comfort of your home. All you need is a microwave oven, baking sheets, oven bags and other few materials and you are set to decarboxylate your weed. There’s no requirement for complicated tools to carry out the decarboxylation process of the weed.
As a final thought, it is important to remember that before using the weed in edibles or topicals, you should first decarboxylate the weed using the appropriate materials and temperature to get the required benefits from the weed.