Decarboxylation. DO NOT let the long scientific name intimidate you and scare you off from reading this article. If you use cannabis and ESPECIALLY if you cook with cannabis, this tutorial on marijuana decarboxylation is vital information you need to know in order get the most out of your cannabis.
Decarboxylation is the process of removing a carboxyl group (a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom) from a molecule. In the cannabis world, this process occurs when a carbon atom is removed from a carboxylic acid (namely THCa, and CBDa).
There is little to no naturally occurring THC/CBD in the plant prior to decarboxylation. It is an essential process whether performed by the LP or the patient. Heating your cannabis (via vaporizing, smoking, or by cooking) will cause a chemical bond to break off of the THCa molecule and convert it to THC. The same thing occurs when CBD is formed from CBDa.
Once your cannabis has been decarboxylated it can be consumed in its present state. Any capsule or oil based products from your licensed producer have already been decarboxylated. Your non-decarboxylated herbal cannabis however must still be heated to receive the full medicinal effect. This is usually achieved by vaporization.
Part of the reason vaporizing is recommended over smoking is due to the decarboxylation process. Vaporization allows for even heating at a specific temperature. This can be important because the temperature settings on your vaporizer can allow for more efficient decarboxylation than smoking, which ultimately means you will likely use less product.
The temperature at which you want to do your decarboxylating will depend on how much time you want to spend in the decarboxylase process. The decarboxylation cannabis temperature will also depend on the kind of flavor you want your weed to have. If you use lower temp for a longer time, you will preserve more terpenes, which gives your weed its smell and taste.
This method is the most common approach used to start the reaction that removes the carboxyl group from your THCA to yield THC:
- Preheat your oven to 220 – 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Break your cannabis into smaller pieces with your hands.
- Spread your weed out onto your baking sheet.
- Heat the weed up for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Your weed will be browned, hard, and crumbly. Use your hands, a grinder, or food processor to further grind the weed to a coarse grain but not a powder. Now your weed is bursting with available THC, ready to be used for your favorite recipes.
Our non-cooking cannabis users have testified that decarboxylation can be done in a microwave. This is a non-preferred method as one cannot be sure the microwaves will not zap some of your cannabinoids or terpenes, but when you smell the result, it is clear that plenty of strong cannabinoids and terpenes remain. Just put in the microwave for 1.5 to 3 minutes on high and you’re done. An advantage of this method is there is far less chance you will burn any of your weed in the microwave. Also, it’s much quicker than other methods.
Sous Vide Decarboxylation Temperature
The Sous Vide method is the brainchild of Sir Benjamin Thompson, an American British physicist. One of his experiments involved even-cooking a mutton shoulder using this method. In short, the weed is vacuum sealed in plastic, then a water-circulating heating element is placed in a pot of water to heat the water evenly. Next, the vacuum sealed weed is placed inside and slow cooked to decarboxylate fully and evenly.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Vacuum sealing machine
- Weed grinder
- Sous vide precision cooker
- 10 quart pot
Grind your weed up to a coarse grain but not a powder, being sure to collect any kief produced.
Seal your weed in heat-safe plastic with your vacuum sealer.
Place your sous vide precision cooker in your pot filled with water and set the temperature to 200 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the water reaches the correct temperature, add your sealed weed and cook for 1 hr 30 mins to 1 hr 40 mins.
The advantage of this method is that the water circulates to produce an even temperature, all of the weed is cooked evenly and thoroughly providing a consistent amount of THC and CBD throughout. This process also protects your weed from burning on the outside.
You do not need to decarboxylate your weed before smoking it because smoking it decarboxylates it. However, some claim by decarboxylating it first, they get a more potent smoke. However, decarbing in the oven makes the weed too dry and the smoke harsh. Therefore, they heat it gently in the microwave or use the sous vide method so they get a nice decarbed weed which is not extra dry and the smoke is not harsh. If you want to try this method, just heat the weed in the microwave till the smell is extra potent, from 1 to 3 minutes.