Decarboxylation: What Is It And Why Its Really Important?

Glass bottle and dropper CBD OIL, THC tincture and cannabis leaf on background. Laboratory Production of cosmetics with CBD oil.

The consumption of hard substances like cannabis and marijuana has been increasing. Still, many people have no idea how these substances work on the chemical level.

Few people have proper chemical knowledge of why cannabis must undergo heat to fully take effect. Simply put, very few people understand what decarboxylation is. In other words, unless you decarboxylate cannabis, your weed would not give you the high effect you desire.

Before infusing cannabis into oils such as coconut, butter, olive, and others, you must first perform a decarboxylation procedure. Decarbing is a common term for this crucial stage in preparing your foods, topicals, oil infusions, and more. So, what is decarboxylation, and for what reason is it necessary?

Cannabis does not naturally contain high amounts of cannabinoids (like THC or CBD). Instead, it contains carboxylic and cannabinoid acids such as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).

These cannabinoid acids cannot make a person buzzed until they get converted into THC, which can make them intoxicated. This conversion of acidic cannabinoids is done through heat. It could range from a little spark from a lighter, a vape pen atomizer, or even the heat from an oven.

The THCA cannabis plant contains an extra carboxyl ring in its chemical structure, which you can only remove through heating. The molecular structure of the carboxyl ring is made up of a benzene ring connected to a carboxyl group. This group consists of a carbon atom, two oxygen atoms, and a hydrogen atom. In other words, the heat decarboxylates (removes the ring off) the THCA.

Why Cannabis Require  Decarboxylation As A Necessary Chemical Reaction? 

Raw marijuana or cannabis may be healthy because it is nutritious in that form. But, getting the therapeutic benefit out of it requires the plant to undergo the decarboxylation process. Heating cannabis activates the chemical compounds it contains.

However, the absorption of these forms into the body varies. Significantly, one of the fastest and easiest forms of taking in and digesting CBD is by using the strongest CBD oil. Moreover, if you suffer from anxiety, nerve pain, seizures, and insomnia, you should take CBD oil for relief.

Without decarboxylation, all you are doing is only adding raw plant material to your recipe. While raw cannabis does have its benefits, most of us use cannabis mainly to get the benefits of THC and CBD. The anti-inflammatory and psychoactive effects are the real selling point of these cannabinoids. Hence, that is why it is important to decarb weed.

Anyone hoping to get high on edibles, oils, or tinctures needs to know this. Besides the psychoactive effects, the medicinal properties of decarbed THC and CBD are vast.

The effects include but are not limited to inflammation and anxiety reduction. We may readily take in THC and CBD, affecting our endocannabinoid system.  

THCA and CBDA, the raw acid forms of THC and CBD, exhibit fascinating but under-researched medicinal applications. You can mix raw and decarboxylated cannabis with homemade oils and salves for a full-spectrum, ultra-healing experience.

However, it takes heat and time to decarboxylate cannabis. So, the high temperature when you smoke and vaporize your weed causes its compounds to activate via decarboxylation. Hence, this allows your body to absorb it.

Consuming edibles does not involve heating as smoking weed does. But, making edibles still requires a form of decarboxylation to make the compounds contained in them effective.

When making edibles, you need to heat them and let them permeate into either butter or oil. Heating the buds in an oven causes decarboxylation, activating its THC content. This THC then infuses into the butter or oil and carries into the edible. You can then use the permeated butter or oil to make cookies, brownies, or any other form of edibles.

Decarboxylated Cannabis Vs. Raw Cannabis

In simple terms, raw cannabis is unheated or unactivated cannabis that has yet to undergo decarboxylation.

Aside from containing a certain amount of fiber, calcium, and iron, the cannabis plant contains over a hundred beneficial cannabinoids in its raw form. These include THC and CBD in their raw form, which would be the THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid).

However, these compounds remain inactive if unheated. They have very little to no psychoactive effects when consumed in that form.Notably, while raw cannabis requires heat to decarb, you can also do this through exposure to sunlight or even room temperature storage over time.

The amount of THCA and CBDA that activates solely depends on the intensity of the heat applied and the time it took.Raw cannabis cannot be classified as marijuana, as it needs to contain a certain percentage of THC (0.3%) at least to be considered a Schedule 1 substance.

Further, when taking the cannabis plant in its raw form, you should always use freshly selected fan leaves or blossoms. You may store raw marijuana, much like other leafy greens like kale or spinach, in the refrigerator for a period.

Maintaining constant vigilance over your raw weed is vital to forestall wilting and the development mold. It is usually the case for tightly packed buds with a high moisture percentage.

However, cannabis in its raw form is highly nutritious as it retains most of its nutrients since it has not undergone any decarb process.

The decarboxylation reaction can occur if the raw cannabis plant is stored in a cool place over time. However, this process can take years to occur under such conditions. On the other hand, the right amount of heat activates the cannabis in an instant.

Decarboxylation: What is it?

Although raw cannabis hasits own benefits but it lacks intoxicating benefits as it has not gone through a particular process. Researchers call this process decarboxylation.

Decarboxylation is a chemical process that activates the psychoactive compounds in cannabis. Doing so enables it to have the “high” effect. You can achieve this decarb process through heating.

In its raw form, cannabis contains THCA, which needs to be de-acidized to get rid of the acid in its content. THCA may not get you high in that form.

However, decarboxylation removes the acid, turning it into THC. It gives it the psychoactive quality needed for cannabis to trigger your cannabinoid receptors. Hence, you can get that intoxicating effect.

The drying and curing of cannabis might release a very tiny quantity of psychoactive compounds over time. But, you cannot compare it to the number of cannabinoids released by decarboxylation. Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that eliminates a group of carboxyls to release carbon dioxide (CO2).

Benefits Of Decarboxylation

Aside from activating cannabinoids and giving that psychoactive effect, decarboxylation has other benefits.

Decarboxylation is important in making edibles because there is no heat process in its consumption. Decarbing aids the activation of the plant’s most vital cannabinoids (THC and CBD).

For moveable cannabis, decarbing is less required. Smoking requires heat which decarboxylates the plant immediately.

You risk botulism when you do not go through the right process to decarboxylate weed. Botulism is a type of food poisoning due to bacteria growth. If not done properly, botulism-causing bacteria can grow on things like canna-oil or cannabutter.

THC and CBD also act as partial agonists or agonists for some cannabinoid receptors, especially the CB1 and CB2. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating many body functions.

When activated cannabinoids come in contact with the cannabinoid receptors, it alters the release of neurotransmitters into the brain. Hence, this leads to several effects, such as relaxation and pain reduction. It is why decarboxylating cannabis is important for marijuana patients who rely on the impacts of these active cannabis compounds.

Since lupus is a disease that causes the body’s immune system to turn on its organs and tissues, THCA may play a role in treating this illness.

Swelling and inflammation of one or more joints are common symptoms of arthritis, and THCA may help ease these symptoms. As a result, THCA may one day be used to treat neurodegenerative illnesses, as it has neuroprotective qualities.

Aside from all that, the process of cannabis decarboxylation has been shown to have antioxidant characteristics. Even though CBD flower buds are safer at the end of their growing cycle, pathogens may still infect cannabis buds while you store them.

But, proper decarboxylation makes cannabis flowers less susceptible to microbial infection. Doing this extra step helps ensure a successful harvest.

Why Decarboxylating CBD Strains Is Necessary? 

To some in the cannabis community, CBD decarboxylation may seem pointless, and we can forgive you for thinking that. After all, why bother with the decarboxylation of a non-intoxicating strain if you don’t need to?

Decarboxylation is the same for CBD as it is for THC. It would be best if you cooked CBD strains to unleash their active characteristics since raw weed includes CBDA, which is the acid form of CBD. It also provides health benefits similar to those of THCA.

If you ingest CBDA, your body will break it down and metabolize it. While CBD’s carboxyl component is easier to break down, cells must work harder to break it down.

Further disadvantage of the exothermic reaction is that it results in a substantial loss of the active compounds in the form of heat. In other words, it would be inefficient for your body to decarboxylate CBD independently.

Decarboxylation of CBD occurs when you subject a plant material to high temperatures, as discussed above. Cannabis products such as CBD oil or CBD gummies already contain decarbed weed. Because of this, you do not need to cook them before eating them.

To put it another way, you must decarboxylate cannabis to reap the cannabis plant’s advantages. Cannabis that has not been decarboxylated will not get you high and will not give the same medicinal advantages as decarboxylated cannabis.

Another benefit of cannabis decarboxylation is that the heating process destroys most bacteria within. Heating, curing, and drying cannabis minimizes the plant’s moisture content. Hence, it prevents bacteria and other toxic elements from growing.

How To Decarboxylate Weed? 

Bear in mind that there are several methods for weed to give you that intoxicating effect without necessarily smoking it. These methods vary depending on the cannabis decarboxylation temperature you use and the time it takes to carry out the process.

Each approach to decarboxylating cannabis has subtle variances, but they come from years of practice and personal choice. Hence, you must keep in mind that this is not a perfectly regulated procedure, and neither does it need to be in a controlled atmosphere.

Cannabis plants are unique and contain a wide range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemicals.

Consistent results are difficult since the cannabinoid and terpene composition differs from plant to plant. Moreover, each cannabinoid decarboxylates at a different temperature.

Further, we all have various kitchens with different tools at our disposal. Ovens differ substantially in their ability to maintain consistent decarboxylation temperatures. It is not, however, meant to discourage you. You can preheat the oven if that helps.

A mason jar filled with cannabis is all you need to make this happen in your kitchen, and it is as easy as baking it in the oven. Here is one of the most common methods for making decarbed weed:

You will require the following pieces of equipment to carry out this decarb process:

  • Oven with a functional thermometer or a slow cooker
  • Baking sheet or baking paper
  • Raw cannabis flower
  • Parchment paper

Step By Step Guide

  1. Preheat the oven thermometer to about 220°F to 250°F. To be on the safe side and avoid risking the chance of burning, we advise leaving it at 225°F. A standard conventional oven would suffice for this so that you can get the specific temperature.
  2. Break the buds of your raw cannabis flower into smaller pieces. You do not want it to be too small so avoid grinding. The idea is to get them in little chunks, so try not to overdo it.
  3. Spread out the chunks of the cannabis flowers on the baking sheet and avoid overlapping any piece.
  4. Bake at the recommended temperature for about 25 to 30 minutes. As much as possible, avoid opening the oven too frequently during baking.
  5. When employing fresher marijuana with higher moisture content, it may take up to an hour and a half to have the desired effect. Some consumers may take the extra step by purchasing a hygrometer. A hygrometer measures the amount of moisture in their weed accurately. Using one is fairly straightforward. Place the cannabis in an air-tight container with the hygrometer, and you are all set.
  6. When it has been over 20 minutes, check if the cannabis has changed color. Normally, decarboxylated cannabis should change color from green to a light or medium brown color.
  7. It should also become very dry. If that does not appear to be the case, then put it back in the oven for about five more minutes. However, remember to keep an eye on it so it does not burn and go to waste.
  8. When you are done baking, transfer the cannabis from the baking sheet into something else and allow it to cool. Dried and cooked cannabis can be quite brittle, so be careful to avoid making a mess.

At this point, the majority of the THCA and CBDA are now converted into THC and CBD.

THC And CBD Decarboxylation Temperature 

Different members of the cannabis community may admit to decarboxylating cannabis at different temperatures. However, the fact remains that a low temperature corresponds to a longer weed decarbing time.

However, exposing the cannabis to a very high temperature for a long period is very risky as it can ruin the cannabis plant’s active component.

Decarbing cannabis is mostly about knowing how to balance the temperature and time. However, the temperature is usually the more important factor.

In other words, heating cannabis for the right amount of time but at the wrong temperature will not yield the desired results. Decarboxylation temperatures higher than 300°F could lead to degradation.

CBD decarboxylation temperature is the subject of debate. Research estimates it to be about 230°F.

No matter what temperature you use, neither THC nor CBD will decarboxylate instantly. The carboxyl group must be broken down into water and carbon dioxide over a longer time – generally between 40 and 60 minutes.

You should note that the boiling points of flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids vary greatly from their decarboxylation points. Researchers have investigated the decarb temperatures of these compounds more carefully than their boiling points.

Below are the boiling points for the constituent chemicals for cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytosterols or flavonoids.

Cannabinoids

  • The boiling point of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is 314⁰F or 157⁰C.
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin, often called THCV, has a boiling point of 428⁰F (220⁰C).
  • Cannabinol, sometimes abbreviated as CBN, has a boiling point of 365⁰F (185⁰C).
  • Cannabichromene, most often abbreviated as CBC, has a boiling point of 420⁰F (220⁰C).

Terpenes

  • The boiling point of the linalool is about 388⁰F or 198⁰C.
  • The boiling point of limonene is 348.8⁰F or 176⁰C.
  • Myrcene has a boiling point between 330 to 334⁰F (165 to 168⁰C).
  • The boiling point of alpha-pinene is 312⁰F (156⁰C).

Flavonoids (Otherwise Known As Phytosterols)

  • The boiling point of quercetin is 482⁰F (250⁰C).
  • Beta-sitosterol boils at 273⁰F (134⁰C).
  • Apigenin boils at 352⁰F (178⁰C).
  • The boiling point of cannflavin A is 359⁰F (282⁰C).

To ensure terpene retention, it is best to maintain low decarboxylation temperatures. Higher temperatures cause certain substances to become volatile and hence evaporate.

The result is an unpleasant odor and flavor. So, keep the temperature between 200 and 300⁰F to maintain the terpene retention.

A reasonable amount of greater heat is the key to quicker decarboxylation. Thus, the procedure should be simple. As it turns out, things are not quite as simple as that. It would help if you tracked decarboxylation temperatures because of the presence of another process.

Heating cannabis accelerates the conversion of THC to CBN by converting THCA and CBDA to THC and CBD, respectively. THC converts to CBN quicker than THCA converts to THC until you reach 70% decarb. That is to say, THC levels rapidly decrease after 70% cannabis decarboxylation.

While the data may be informative, interpreting it is always a problem. You would have to use different temperatures for kief, bud, and trim. Modern equipment makes it possible to decarboxylate cannabis up to 100% efficiently without affecting the THC concentration.

Kief

The work of Marijuana Growers HQ helped to solve the issue of the optimal decarbing temperature. As part of a research study in 2012, scientists heated the trim and kief from cannabis plants to 240⁰F for half an hour and a full hour. It is easy to see how things turned out from the above results.

All important terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids had a vapor point of 246.2⁰F throughout their study. Because of the unreliability of consumer-grade ovens in measuring temperatures, they erred on the side of caution and kept the temperature at 240⁰F.

According to the researchers, the findings show that 30 minutes is not sufficient to decarb the trim and the kief. The latter had achieved 90%, whereas the former had only gotten 60% through the decarboxylation process. After an hour, both had returned to near-normal levels of activity.

Decarboxylation Methods 

When it comes to decarbing edibles, most people feel that using an oven is the best approach. The temperature in most ovens may vary by up to ten degrees, so be prepared for that.

While baking at temperatures between 250 to 400⁰F, you may lose important chemicals if your oven temperature is 10 to 15° higher than what you have set it to.

Due to the constant temperature of boiling water, the crock-pot and water bath methods are widely used (depending on altitude). It is difficult to complete decarboxylation, even though the maximum temperature keeps all components in place.

Since decarboxylation is not a linear process, the last step of the transition from THCA to THC requires more time than the preceding stages. When you cook in boiling water, you expose it to high heat over an extended period, causing it to degrade.

Cannabinoids, according to the makers of a product called “Nova,” can be decarboxylated with a 100% success rate. Several laboratory experiments back up this claim. As a consequence, if you are serious about preserving the potency of your cannabis, it may be worth investigating.

Since decarb charts and graphs do not state when the decarboxylation process begins, they may be misleading.

As a result, the time and temperature statistics are always the averages. It is crucial to remember that you cannot put dry material in an oven and expect it to remain dry throughout the decarboxylation process.

Decarboxylation Of Kief

In cannabis jargon, kief refers to the crystalline formations that form on the dried flower’s surface after extraction. It is just cannabis dust that the plant sprinkles on its leaves to keep off insects and other pests.

When making edibles, kief is a typical by-product of cannabis use. Another name for kief is dry sift pollen.

Kief is made from the trichome glands of cannabis, which are white or amber. It is made up of plant fibers collected with trichomes. Waxy trichomes contain sticky resin, which you may feel while splitting a fresh bloom. Because of this, you may detect kief in the teeth, screen, and inside of a cannabis grinder after a few uses.

Trichomes include psychoactive cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The fragrant odors and effects of a psychoactive compound deter animals from eating the plant and attract pollinators.

Try crushing the cannabis into flakes first, then sieving out the kief from the rest of the plant’s components if you want to try decarboxylating the kief.

You can process kief at a low temperature since its decarboxylation occurs more quickly than that of buds. You may now follow the steps outlined earlier after you have spread it out evenly on the baking sheet.

Lay out the kief in an oven that has been prepared to between 240 and 300⁰F. Decarboxylation should be complete after 45 to 60 minutes.To maximize the potency of your edibles, you should decarb your kief.

Making your own cannabis edibles may save you money and give you greater control over the potency. It makes it a much better option than visiting a dispensary.

Conclusion: Decarboxylation: Is It Really Important? 

When it comes to cannabis jargon, decarboxylation is among the least known processes. Once cannabis decarboxylation has occurred, it is possible to take full use of its medicinal properties. To go from THCA and CBDA to THC and CBD, respectively, and so on, this conversion is vital.

Decarboxylation immediately occurs when you smoke or vape cannabis plant material. Individuals who produce edibles must perform a lengthy decarboxylation procedure on their cannabis plant material. It is to guarantee that their product is molecularly active.

You are now prepared to decarboxylate cannabis and use the result in any recipe that asks for decarbed cannabis. You can use the same process for CBD oil, homemade edibles, or other uses.

Making your own topical salve is a great way to put decarbed weed to use. You can also make your own cannabis-infused oil by following our guide.

Making edibles and other cannabis products at home can be dangerous, so please exercise care while ingesting them. We strongly recommend micro-dosing (taking just little doses) at first since it is difficult to identify the precise potency.

You can try several CBD Brands that offers legitimate products that are made up of high quality. Although there is some value in taking raw weed, decarbed cannabis provides much more medicinal and recreational advantages. We hope you found this post to be informative and educational.

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