Decarboxylation

Cannabis decarboxylation is a necessary process that needs to happen prior to cooking edibles, or extracting oil from dried cannabis buds, and creating medicines. This helps you get better benefits from the activated CBD or THC.

This process is often referred to as ‘decarb’ or ‘decarbing’ cannabis, and it can be a very important step if you’re planning on cooking up some homemade edibles

Why is Decarboxylation important:

If you just eat a whole dried flower, the chances are that you won’t feel it’s full benefits, this applies to the THC as much as the CBD. Raw cannabis doesn’t naturally have high amounts of either CBD or THC. It does have cannabinoid acids, as we know these work with the Endocannabinoid system. 

Cannabinoid acids, commonly known as CBDA and THCA, amongst other things, have potentially positive health benefits, although they’re not necessarily intoxicating, in basic terms, they don’t generally get you “high”.

Decarboxylation helps to activate the CBDA and THCA cannabinoid acids, therefore, turning them into what we know as cannabis.

Decarboxylation happens when cannabis gets exposed to heat, light, appropriate solvents, or cofactors, all of which can be found within an average kitchen. 

There are many differing theories on how Decarboxylation should be done, most of these come down to personal opinions. Ultimately, everyone is after the same end result, to activate the CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids for the creation of homemade recipes.

It’s not always easy to work out the final percentage of a specific cannabinoid following Decarboxylation with high end lab testing, so strengths can be varied, sometimes stronger than expected, sometimes weaker, so do test the results carefully, otherwise you may be surprised. Don’t let this put you off though, it’s all a very basic process. 

Decarboxylation is something you can do really easily by baking dried cannabis in your oven using low temperatures, and taking a bit of time. The aim here is to heat the flower and to allow decarboxylation to happen, but not to destroy those beneficial parts of the plant, like the terpenes or flavonoids.

One highly recommended way is to bake the flower at 240° F / 115° C for 40 minutes. Another recommended, and also very common way is to bake it at these temperatures for 80-90 minutes. 

Many appear to believe that THCA begins to decarboxylate at around 220°F / 110°C somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes, with full decarboxylation generally taking longer. 

As always, the type of strain you are using will make a difference to the decarboxylation time and necessary temperatures.

We’ve included a few basic steps instructions here for you:

Materials –

Cannabis flower buds, leaf, trim, shake, or kief, this is all a matter of personal choice and preference. 

Equipment –

Digital Scale, Oven-Safe Baking Dish, or Oven-Safe Container.

Process –

Step 1 – Preheat your oven to 245ºF, 118ºC, once preheated, turn the heat down to your desired temperature (see above), it is very important to keep close control of the temperature. Yes, heat is the key factor in this process, but extreme temperatures can kill many of the important plant materials that you need. Individual terpenes all have their own therapeutic benefits, but they also have a sensitivity to heat, making temperature control an important factor, especially in a medical context. Other kitchen equipment can be used, for example, a crackpot, or a slow cooker, but still, keep a close eye on temperatures. 

Step 2 – Making use of a good quality digital scale, weigh out your cannabis flower, bud, keif, or to your desired weight. Also a matter of personal preference. 

Step 3 – Either break up the flower by hand, or grind it, keep in mind that the flower will cook differently if broken up loosely, or if ground. A uniform texture is the best, because then the bud will cook evenly. Although many will claim that grinding before decarboxylation will remove the trichomes, leaving them behind in your grinder and not on your plant material. Also, grinding will expose a lot of the surface areas causing more of the “green”, aka chlorophyll, to be absorbed into the final product, probably best to skip the grinder, and break break larger buds by hand, something around the size of raw popcorn is recommended. 

Step 4 – Place the ground, or broken up buds on a non-stick tray, (health and safety paranoia says that we have to point out this needs to be an oven-safe tray, but we’re sure you could’ve worked that out for yourselves). Cover this tray with greaseproof cooking paper. Put the tray on the middle shelf with a gas oven, bottom shelf for an electric oven, or middle shelf of a gas oven for 40 minutes for a THC-dominant flower or 80 minutes for a CBD-dominant flower, (other results are can be obtained with different temperatures and times, we have touched on these earlier on in this article). It is also possible to do this by using a slow cooker as well. It’s also thought that a sealed oven friendly container would be good for this part of the process, this sealed container will hold in many of the terpenes, which will make the final product even better, it also helps if you want to cut down the odour where you live.

About every 10 minutes, give the tray or container a little shake just to make sure the buds decarboxylate evenly. You are looking for a light golden brown colour and fragrant aroma when it is done.

Step 5 – Give this decarboxylated cannabis another really good grinding, depending on preferences. Also, store in an airtight container that’s kept in a cool and dark place.

Just as a passing cheat, if cooking, it’s possible to use your remaining keif, and this will decarboxylate along with the cooking process, depending on what you’re cooking and how long the recipe takes to cook.

Once you have Decarboxylated the raw flower, this can then be used in a number of different ways. It can be used in the same way dried herbs are used in cooking. Other people will make their own cannabis tea, it’s commonly used as an ingredient in making Cannabutter

This is where we refer you to our recipes page for ideas and inspirations.

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