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  • Writer's pictureMichael Bryden

Unlocking Potency: Mastering the Art of Cannabis Decarboxylation

The process of decarboxylation involves changing the chemistry of cannabis. The most important thing to know about decarboxylation is that without doing this process, cannabis would have little, if any, of the effects we’re looking for. 


Keep reading to learn more. The following article looks at what decarboxylation is, how it works, and why it's imperative for anyone making edibles, oils, or topicals infused with cannabis.


What is Decarboxylation?


An image capturing cannabis evenly spread on a baking sheet, poised for the decarboxylation process in the oven, symbolizing the initial step in enhancing its potency.
Decarboxylation


Decarboxylation is used to activate raw cannabis to enhance its potency. When raw cannabis plants, such as hemp and marijuana, are decarboxylated, their chemical makeup alters. 


The molecules of cannabinoids that are currently growing or newly harvested from cannabis plants contain extra carboxyl rings or groups (COOH). Cannabinoid molecules lose this carboxyl group when they are decarboxylated. Raw CBDA is converted to CBD and THCA into THC through this process.  


During the drying process and curing after harvest, some decarboxylation takes place. The cannabis decarb reaction is triggered the quickest and most effectively with heat. When cannabis is smoked or vaporized, decarboxylation is virtually instantaneous.


Temperature and Decarboxylation


Cannabis should be decarboxylated low and slowly. For decarbing cannabis, it is recommended that the temperature is above 200 degrees or optimally between 230 and 250°F. THCA converts to THC within that range as well as many other beneficial cannabis compounds and terpenes. The chemical reactions will vary with time.


Why Decarb Cannabis


Cannabinoids that have not been decarboxylated or are raw are frequently referred to as "acidic" compounds, like THCA or CBDA. Besides being the acidic precursor to potent CBD, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) also has non-psychoactive effects. The more well-known compound THC is created when tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is converted. The psychoactive effects of raw cannabis are very mild. As soon as cannabis is decarboxylated, it becomes psychoactive. 

If you're going to consume cannabis edibles, oils, tinctures, or other products, you will want to feel the psychoactive effects. However, the benefits go far beyond just feeling high. THC and CBD possess powerful healing properties in their decarboxylated forms. These properties include reducing anxiety, pain, inflammation, and more. Our endocannabinoid system interacts easily with THC and CBD because they are readily absorbed in our bodies. 

However, THC and CBD in raw acid form (THCA and CBDA) also have some potential therapeutic benefits but have been less thoroughly studied. In the case of homemade oils and cannabis salves, those seeking a full-spectrum, ultra-healing experience may opt to incorporate raw and decarbed cannabis.

Ways to Decarboxylate Cannabis

If you are smoking your cannabis, just lighting up a joint or vaporizer automatically decarbonizes your cannabis. 


However, if you are using cannabis for edibles, you must heat it first. The good news is that decarbing cannabis can be done very quickly. In particular, using the oven is a good choice! There are many ways you can decarb cannabis at home because decarboxylating cannabis involves heating it. A crockpot or a double-boiler can do the job, heating it on the stove. The final cooking phase can include adding it directly to food or oil. 

The latter method requires continual stirring and monitoring. Furthermore, cannabis is easily overheated or unevenly heated if you aren’t careful. In addition to destroying many beneficial ingredients, excessive heat can also decrease THC production. Decarbing cannabis in the oven is incredibly easy, precise, and accurate but the magical butter machine will do all the work if you want the easiest way to decarb your cannabis.

DECARBOXYLATION OF CANNABIS IN THE OVEN


  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Note: your house will smell strongly of marijuana for a few hours.

  • Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet or glass casserole dish. 

  • Decide which cannabis you want to use. We suggest using the fluffy, loose buds for this application. It is best to use a strain high in both THC and CBD if you want to make well-balanced and healing oils or salves. Be sure to dry and cure your strain before using.

  • Chop the buds into small pieces before drying and curing. It's not necessary to grind cannabis for decarboxylation.

  • Now, there are two ways to decarboxylate your cannabis. Either quickly at higher temperatures, or if you want to preserve more terpenes longer on a slightly lower heat, we suggest the latter. Quickly: 250°F for 25-30 minutes. 

 Slowly: 230°F for 45 minutes


  • In contrast to decarburizing THC, CBDA takes longer to convert to CBD. If you're attempting to make CBD oil or salve out of a strain high in CBD, try doing it twice as long at the temperature you decided to use above. 

  • To trap cannabinoids or terpenes that may volatilize during baking, some people cover their baking pan with foil or put a second baking sheet on top upside down.

  • Remove the tray from the oven when the time is up, and let the cannabis materials cool entirely. The cannabis materials should be pale brown.

  • Make sure to place the decarboxylated cannabis in a sealed mason jar. 

  • Last but not least, you should store the jar of decarbed cannabis in a cool, dark place, similar to how you would keep cannabis during its curing process.

  • Within 3-6 months, plan on making oil, salve, or edibles from your decarbed cannabis. Although it won't go wrong, the THC will degrade into CBN over time - a sedative cannabinoid that causes sleepiness.

  • Using this method, you can decarboxylate cannabis as a base for oil infusions, edibles, or recipes that call for decarbed cannabis! 


Decarboxylation is the key to unlocking the full potential of cannabis. Understanding and applying this process effectively transforms the raw plant into a powerful ingredient, whether for medicinal purposes or recreational use. From edibles to oils and topicals, decarboxylation is an essential step for anyone looking to maximize the benefits of cannabis. By carefully regulating temperature and time, you can ensure the preservation of valuable cannabinoids and terpenes, making your cannabis products more effective and enjoyable. Remember, decarboxylation is not just a process, it's an art – one that enhances every aspect of your cannabis experience.





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