What is decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation (also known as “decarbing”) is activating raw cannabis into an enhanced potent form. Cannabis is heated so that the chemical structure of the acid cannabinoids changes to a neutral (non-acid) form. THC and CBD are the neutral forms of THCA and CBDA. The vast majority of public interest and research is focused on the non-acid cannabinoids, there is still the potential for therapeutic benefits of the acid (or raw) cannabinoids such as:
Therapeutic Potential of Acid Cannabinoids:
- THCA: Anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-convulsant, fat-storage reducing, metabolic regulator, stress reducing.
- CBDA: Anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, painkilling, anti-nausea, anti-convulsant.
Therapeutic Potential of Neutral Cannabinoids:
- THC: Anti-nausea, weight gain in anorexia and AIDS, anti-inflammatory, painkilling, neuroprotective, muscle relaxing, and more.
- CBD: Anti-epileptic, anti-anxiety, anti-depressive, anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, antispasmodic, reduces insulin resistance.
If you are interested in trying CBDA or THCA, try boiling some raw cannabis flower in water for about 15 minutes for maximum effect. Some doctors even suggest steeping a small amount of fresh cannabis bud in your morning tea.
How to Decarboxylate cannabis?
Various cannabinoids and terpenes respond to distinct temperature ranges- some beings activated, altered or even destroyed at different temperatures. The key takeaway is that the best way to decarb cannabis is low and slow. The 230-250 degree range is the sweet spot, you’re converting the THCA into THC while still preserving beneficial terpenes and other cannabinoids.
The good news? It’s a very simple process, especially if you do it the oven method. Since the basic idea behind decarboxylating cannabis is to heat it, there are definitely many ways you could decarb cannabis. Some people say to heat it on the stove, in a double boiler, or in a crock pot- however those methods do require more hands-on monitoring and could end up in over heating or unevenly heating your cannabis. The only easier and odorless options are an automatic decarboxylator like the Nova, LEVO or the Magical Butter device.
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Also, keep in mind that this is will make your house smell strongly of weed for a few hours. You’ve been warned.
- Line a baking sheet or glass baking dish with parchment paper. This makes it easy to collect and package everything after baking.
- Choose your cannabis of choice.
- Rip the buds into small pieces. See the photos below for scale. Some people grind their cannabis for decarboxylation, but I don’t find it necessary.
- Now, decarboxylate the cannabis on 250°F for 25-30 minutes. You could also use a lower temperature for slightly longer time to preserve more terpenes (e.g. 230°F for 45 minutes). Refer to the chart above.
- Some people cover their baking pan of cannabis with foil or second baking sheet upside down on top, in order trap any cannabinoids or terpenes that may volatilize in the process.
- When the time is up, remove the tray from the oven and allow the cannabis material to fully cool. It should have changed from green to light brown.
- Transfer the decarboxylated cannabis into a glass air-tight container with a tight-fitting lid, such as a mason jar.
- Finally, store the jar of decarbed cannabis in a cool dark place, like you would with other cannabis. Plan to use it within 3-6 months.
Not too hard right? Hopefully this article gives you some peace of mind when you decide to venture into the world of making your own edibles!
Please remember to be careful the consuming homemade cannabis products, because without proper lab testing it can be difficult to determine potency so it is best to start with small amounts and go slow.