Decarboxylate Weed: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide
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In today’s post, we offer to you the best guide to decarboxylate marijuana. I’m sure many of you have seen in movies how a guy eats a whole bag of marijuana, he is trying to hide it the cops are coming for him, and moments later he starts to feel strong psychedelic effects. His eyes widen like saucers, also he starts gasping for breath.
Well, the truth is that it doesn’t really happen that way, ingesting raw Cannabis is not the best way to get strong psychoactive effects. This is because if we do not decarboxylate the weed first, the effects we will be way less powerful.
Here, we will show you how to decarboxylate weed effectively and easily. Decarboxylating marijuana is essential to be able to consume it through different edibles. For example, biscuits, brownies, butter and other types of preparations.
What is decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation is to convert the cannabinoid THCA into THC using high temperatures. THCA is naturally present in marijuana, it is a cannabinoid with less psychoactive effects but with other anti-inflammatory effects, for example. When we want to consume Cannabis and feel its psychoactive effects, it is important to decarboxylate it before, to obtain THC, the most psychoactive cannabinoid.
Why is it important to decarboxylate marijuana?
All cannabinoids present in raw marijuana buds have an extra carboxyl ring or carboxyl group (COOH) attached to their chemical chain. THCA is the cannabinoid that is synthesized inside the trichome heads of freshly harvested cannabis buds. Therefore, it is the one found in marijuana and needs to be decarboxylated to enhance its effects when ingested.
If you do not decarboxylate marijuana, you should know that THCA has a number of benefits when consumed. Anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties are among them. However, it does not have strong psychoactive effects when ingested.
This is why it is so important to decarboxylate marijuana. With this process, we are able to convert the THCA molecule into THC, and we can feel psychoactive effects when we prepare to make edibles with marijuana. So now you know, if you are going to eat Cannabis buds in any kind of recipe, or in the wild, always proceed to decarboxylate the marijuana. Otherwise, you’ll hardly feel a thing.
What Causes Cannabis to Decarboxylate?
The 2 main catalysts to decarboxylate marijuana are heat and time. In other words, in order to decarboxylate cannabis properly, you first need to have marijuana that has been dried and cured over time. In fact, this drying and curing process is like the beginning of the process of decarboxylating cannabis, but we will discuss this later.
So now you know, use well cured cannabis for your cannabis recipes. This will be the best possible starting point for decarboxylating cannabis. This is why some Cannabis buds have small amounts of THC present along with THCA. But… You may ask, have I been smoking THCA all my life and I have been cheated?
The answer is no. When you smoke and burn marijuana, the THCA cannabinoids are automatically transformed into THC. In other words, it’s like a process of fast decarboxylating. Smoking and vaporizing Cannabis, due to the high temperatures achieved, makes the THC available in its absorbable form to our bodies, without the need to decarboxylate the marijuana.
While decarboxylated cannabinoids in the form of vapour and smoke can be easily absorbed by the lungs, the digestive tract does not follow this guideline. Thus, Cannabis edibles require a process of decarboxylating the marijuana in order for our bodies to absorb the cannabinoids during digestion.
Heating the cannabinoids at a lower temperature than combustion or vaporization allows the marijuana to be decarboxylated and transforms all THCA molecules into THC that is digestible by our stomach. In addition, it also guarantees the quality of the material we are using. Decarboxylating marijuana is all advantages.
At what temperature can I decarboxylate marijuana?
THCa begins to decarboxylate at approximately 100 degrees Celsius. In addition, it takes 30-45 minutes of heat exposure to complete the process of decarboxylating marijuana. In some cases, up to 1 hour. Many people choose to decarboxylate cannabis at lower temperatures and for longer periods of time in an attempt to preserve as many terpenes as possible.
This is because many terpenes are very volatile, as you may already know. This means that when decarboxylating cannabis they can evaporate leaving behind many of the exquisite organoleptic properties of Cannabis. This will cause us to lose aroma and flavour, so if this is very important to you in your Cannabis edibles, try to decarboxylate the marijuana over low heat.
Don’t even think about decarboxylating marijuana above 140°C, as the integrity of all the cannabinoids and terpenes will be severely compromised. They will most likely end up disintegrating in your oven. So take good note of this.
Heat and time can also form other forms of disintegrating cannabinoids when decarboxylating cannabis. For example, CBN is formed through the oxidation of THC, a process that can occur alongside the process of decarboxylating cannabis. And as many of you know, CBN produces a much more sedative and relaxing sensation than THC.
In other words, we can use the decarboxylation temperatures to play with the cannabinoids we want to be present in the cannabis. We can also decarboxylate marijuana to promote certain psychoactive effects over others.
How to Decarboxylate Marijuana at Home?
The ultimate tool you will need to decarboxylate marijuana is an oven. To decarboxylate marijuana at home, you ned some good material. That is, a good few buds and, as mentioned above, well dried and cured, which already has the occasional THC molecule in its composition.
1. The oven
Simply preheat the oven to about 100 degrees Celsius. Take the tray out of the oven and place a baking sheet on top of it. Gently grind your Cannabis and place the buds neatly and without crowding them. Finally, let the heat hit them all equally. Let the marijuana decarboxylate for 30-40 minutes, or longer at a lower temperature if you wish.
Some people choose to put the buds in a glass jar suitable for the oven so that the heat does not hit them directly. It is important to monitor the oven temperature throughout the decarboxylation process. As we have explained, a few degrees higher can spoil some cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis. So keep this in mind.
2. In a cooker
You can also decarboxylate cannabis in a slow cooker. However, you will need to introduce a solvent such as cooking oil or lecithin. This way of decarboxylating cannabis is great for creating a variety of infusions and recipes, including Cannabis capsules. Thus, containing decarboxylated cannabinoids, they will be effective in any way you choose to consume them.
Simply place the marijuana in a heat-safe bag in a pot of water when the water is at 95ºC. Leave it for 1 minute and that’s it! Your marijuana is now decarboxylated.
Other Ways to Decarboxylate Marijuana
In addition to the oven and pot, you can use other methods to decarboxylate marijuana. If you don’t have an oven or don’t want to spend so much time on decarboxylation, we suggest you take a look at the following methods.
1. In the microwave
If you don’t have 45 minutes to decarboxylate, your best bet is to use a microwave. To do this, gently grind your weed into smaller buds and place them in a microwave-safe container or tray. Set the microwave to maximum power for 9 minutes. Extract the marijuana and smell it. It should smell strong, but not burnt.
Although it is true that this form of decarboxylation is more complicated than in the oven. This is because we do not have exact temperature control. This means that we have to do things a bit by eye. If you are worried about burning the herb, simply turn the microwave down and experiment until you get the desired result.
This is probably the safest way to decarboxylate marijuana after the oven. However, you will need a vacuum machine with its respective low temperature cooking machine, although you can avoid this if you have a pot of water and a thermometer to check the temperature of the water.
The process will be to chop the buds until the desired texture is obtained. Place them in the vacuum-sealed bag. If you have a slow cooker, set it to 95º C and put the buds in the airtight bag for an hour. If you do it in a conventional pot, set it on high heat and when it boils introduce a thermometer, when it is at 95º C, introduce the bag with the herb for 1 hour.
3. Natural way
As we mentioned, marijuana can begin to decarboxylate on its own during drying and curing. Exposing the Cannabis buds to air is enough to start converting THCA to THC and THC to CBN. However, the problem with this process is that it is extremely time-consuming if you want to finish it without introducing any methods to make it quicker.
Now that you know how to decarboxylate marijuana, the next time you see a movie about someone passing out from eating a bag of raw marijuana, you can laugh while enjoying your freshly baked biscuits of fully decarboxylated Cannabis.
If you liked this article, we recommend you read The best cooking cannabis guide and Discover all the Terpenes in the Cannabis Plant.
Images via Growweedeasy and Leafly