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How to Decarboxylate Cannabis

Introduction: How to Decarboxylate Cannabis

If you’re wanting to make edibles or tinctures from cannabis, decarboxylation is a crucial step! Decarbing the cannabis you use in medibles and tinctures will make them safer and more effective.

Decarboxylation happens very slowly when cannabis is cured, but we can use an oven to speed up and complete the process. Decarbing your cannabis allows you to convert the THCA found in your dried buds and trim to THC. This will allow your medibles and tinctures to be more potent and take effect more quickly. Decarbing most often occurs when cannabis is smoked, so this process doesn’t have an opportunity to occur when making butters, oils and tinctures – you have to do it beforehand!

Beyond turning the THCA found in cannabis to THC, decarboxylation also has one other awesome benefit: lowering the risk of botulism in your medibles. If you don’t properly decarb your cannabis, the moisture from it can cause botulism bacteria to grow in your tinctures, butters or oils. And I’m assuming you probably don’t want that on top of why you’re medicating with cannabis already. 😉

For more information on decarboxylation and also a nice scientific experiment, I recommend reading this article.

In this instructable I’ll cover how we choose to decarboxylate cannabis – there are loads of ways to do it, but this is our preferred method.

Step 1: Tools + Materials

To do this you’ll need:

  • an oven set to 220 F/105 C
  • a baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • sugar leaf trim, ground bud, or kief

If using sugar leaves or kief, no other processing is necessary. If you’re using full buds, grind them roughly before proceeding. You want things to be broken down well so the cannabis releases all the moisture it’s holding.

Today I’m decarboxylating 40 g of Doctor Who trim – we’re going to turn it into coconut canna oil.

Step 2: Prep

Preheat the oven to 220 F / 105 C.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on your baking sheet and spread your cannabis out over it. If you see any large pieces, break them up with your hands.

If you have more cannabis than will fit nicely on one sheet, divide it in half. You just want one fairly thin layer. If you crowd it it will not dry out properly.

Step 3: Decarboxylate

Place the baking sheet in the oven and let it hang out for 25 minutes.

For well dried trim, kief, and bud this should be long enough. However, if the cannabis you’re using is more fresh you may want to take it an additional 25 minutes.

A hygrometer can be useful for double checking to see how much moisture is left, too – just put the cannabis in a closed jar or bag with it.

Once the cannabis is nice and dry, let it sit out on the counter until it’s entirely cooled. Now you can use it for whatever medible application you’d like!

How to Decarboxylate Cannabis: If you're wanting to make edibles or tinctures from cannabis, decarboxylation is a crucial step! Decarbing the cannabis you use in medibles and tinctures will make them safer and more effective.Decarboxylation happens very slowly when cannabis is cu…

Keys to decarbing weed

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Contents

  1. What is decarboxylation?
  2. Why you should decarb your weed
  3. How to decarb your weed at home
  4. How long should I decarb my weed?
  5. Bottom line

Many cannabis newcomers wonder if you can eat the raw cannabis plant and feel its intoxicating or psychoactive effects. Pop culture references to eating a big bag of raw weed and getting super stoned have no basis in the reality of how cannabis works, specifically how cannabinoids elicit effects in humans. For example, to exhibit the intoxicating effects associated with the cannabis high, THCA must be transformed into THC through a heating process called decarboxylation.

THCA must be transformed into THC through a heating process called decarboxylation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Here is a quick summary of everything you need to know about decarbing weed — what decarbing is, when you should decarb, and how to best decarb your weed at home.

What is decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that results from two main factors: heat and time. When a cannabinoid decarboxylates, it loses a carboxyl group, which gives it the ability to interact with the body’s receptors through which therapeutic and recreational effects are elicited. Over a long period of exposure to the elements, cannabinoids will decarboxylate on their own which is why proper cannabis storage is so important. Without airtight storage in a sufficiently sturdy container, cannabis will lose potency as cannabinoids slowly decarboxylate and activate prematurely.

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that results from two main factors: heat and time. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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To speed up the decarbing process, you’ll need to activate cannabinoids such as THC by heating them. When cannabis is smoked or vaporized, for example, the THCA loses a carboxyl group and converts to THC. Likewise, the cannabinoid CBDA must decarboxylate to turn into CBD.

A crucial step in making edibles or cannabis topicals at home is decarbing weed to make sure all the cannabinoids you want to experience are fully activated. When cannabis is cooked or baked, its active cannabinoids are absorbed through digestion. Decarbing weed also helps reduce the risk of microbiological contaminants. When weed decarboxylates, it loses moisture, which in turn decreases the chance of bacterial growth. Weed is dried and cured for the same reason, though some unwanted activation of cannabinoid, and therefore loss of potency, is inevitable during the curing process.

Why you should decarb your weed

In a nutshell, weed won’t get you high unless it’s decarbed. Marijuana’s most sought after cannabinoids — THC and CBD — need to be converted from THCA and CBDA over time to deliver the coveted recreational and therapeutic benefits. When making edibles and topicals, decarbing improves the function of these products by allowing for faster cannabinoid absorption. Edibles in particular have a reputation for delivering incredibly potent, long-lasting effects, but an edible won’t be as potent as its reputation suggests if the cannabis inside isn’t decarbed properly.

When making edibles and topicals, decarbing improves the function of these products by allowing for faster cannabinoid absorption. Photo by: Gine Coleman/Weedmaps

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Cannabis is a complex plant with a wide variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds that contribute to its effects, including intoxication. But when it comes to the cannabis high, THC still reigns supreme. If you don’t decarb your weed, it won’t have active THC, which is a huge problem when making any cannabis product that isn’t immediately combusted and requires slow absorption through other avenues, such as the digestive tract.

How to decarb your weed at home

There are a variety of methods for decarbing weed at home, and the method you choose depends largely on what you want to do with your weed. Here are a few of the most common methods of decarbing and when you might want to try them:

Making cannabutter

If you’re baking edibles, your best bet for proper decarbing may be making cannabis oil or cannabutter to infuse into the final product. If you, it won’t need to be decarbed because it’s already been through the process. Well-made cannabutter, which involves heating butter and cannabis together, will decarboxylate the cannabis material while ensuring that active cannabinoids bind to the fats in the butter.

If you’re baking edibles, your best bet for proper decarbing may be making cannabis oil or cannabutter to infuse into the final product. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Baking

If you’re planning on infusing foods with dried plant matter, baking your weed is a sufficient decarbing method. Here are 4 steps to follow to bake and decarb your weed.

  • Step 1: Break your buds into small pieces and spread in a thin, even layer across a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Step 2: Cover the paper with aluminum foil.
  • Step 3: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 230 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110 degrees Celsius.
  • Step 4: Let your decarbed weed cool before using.

Baking your weed is a sufficient decarbing method. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Boiling

If you want to make potent cannabis tea, simply put your weed in a tea bag and immerse in simmering water. The temperature should be around 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can add a small amount of butter to help draw out cannabinoids.

If you want to make potent cannabis tea, simply put your weed in a tea bag and immerse in simmering water. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Sous-vide method

The Sous-Vide method is optimal for decarbing dried plant matter without releasing an odor that could get you in hot water with your landlord or neighbors. To decarb your weed Sous-Vide, grind your cannabis and enclose it in a heat-safe, vacuum-sealed bag. Then, fill a large pot with water and place it on your stovetop. Insert a Sous-Vide precision cooker into the pot and set the temperature to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110 degrees Celsius. Once your precision cooker reaches the right temperature, cook your sealed cannabis for 1½ hours.

Slow cooker

To make a cannabis-infused oil, you can decarb weed using a slow cooker and coconut or olive oil. For this recipe, you’ll need 64 ounces of dry cannabis plant matter and 433 milliliters of olive oil. Cover the ingredients and cook them on high in a slow cooker for 1 hour, then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 2-3 more hours. Let the mixture cool, then strain it through a cheesecloth.

To make a cannabis-infused oil, you can decarb weed using a slow cooker and coconut or olive oil. Photo by: Gine Coleman/Weedmaps

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How long should I decarb my weed?

The amount of time you let your weed decarb depends on the temperature at which you’re heating it. The lower the heat, the longer your weed will take to decarb. It’s always better to err on the side of slow decarbing, as too high a temperature will scorch your plant material. Heating cannabis over 300 degrees Fahrenheit will cause too much degradation too quickly. According to a 2011 study from the Journal of Molecular Structure, the optimal yield of active THC occurs when weed is heated at 110 degrees Celsius for 110 minutes.

Bottom line

Baking, boiling, and slow cooking are a few ways you can decarb your weed at home to release the full therapeutic potential of vital cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.

Keys to decarbing weed Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is decarboxylation? Why you should decarb your weed How to decarb your weed