Decarb weed: What is decarboxylation and why is it important?

Decarb weed: What is decarboxylation and why is it important?

Most of us take for granted how the things we use every day are produced. Marijuana is no exception. All we really want is to roll a fat doobie and fly away. But what if we want to bake some pot brownies? Can we just pick a fresh bud, grind it up, and put it in the mix?The quick answer, no, highlights the importance of knowing how marijuana products are produced and how they are made to do what they do.

To fully understand how to get the most out of our cannabis, we have to understand decarboxylation.Yeah, we know it’s a big word that can be a bear to pronounce, but it’s an integral part of the marijuana experience. The fact that we’ve dedicated an entire article to the process should tell you just how important decarboxylation really is.And don’t worry, we’ll keep our explanations simple so you come out understanding everything you need to know about decarboxylation (even how to pronounce it correctly).So let’s dive right into the whys and hows of the decarboxylation process.

Raw, or freshly picked, marijuana buds are the beginning of our journey toward understanding decarboxylation. But before you grind up those buds for smoking or cooking, there’s something you should know: raw marijuana will not get you high. Sad but true. The reason freshly picked weed won’t get you high has to do with some really big words and some basic chemistry. Let’s take a look.

Dried buds

Think of drying as nature’s way of giving you a good trip. In fact, drying cannabis is probably the original way that early ganja aficionados activated their weed. They didn’t have our fancy ovens or climate-controlled rooms. They just hung the herb up to dry in the sun.

During the drying process, the heat from the sun caused a small amount of THCA and CBDA to chemically transform into THC and CBD. It was a natural process that prepared the cannabis for the next stage: consumption.

Drying bud is still an important step in the process of producing the cannabis we’re used to today. That said, drying doesn’t release the full potential of the cannabinoids. For that we need another step: decarboxylation.

Decarboxylation is the magic that makes cannabis a potent additive to food.Simply put, it’s a chemical reaction that is achieved through heating up raw cannabis to a temperature at which it releases a carboxyl group and becomes psychoactive.THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is the active component in raw cannabis, and it’s not a psychoactive compound by default.Through decarboxylation, we’re essentially applying heat to plant material so that the THCA gets converted to THC, enabling us to get high.

Decarboxylation is the magic that makes cannabis a potent additive to food.Simply put, it’s a chemical reaction that is achieved through heating up raw cannabis to a temperature at which it releases a carboxyl group and becomes psychoactive.THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is the active component in raw cannabis, and it’s not a psychoactive compound by default.Through decarboxylation, we’re essentially applying heat to plant material so that the THCA gets converted to THC, enabling us to get high.

Chemistry of decarboxylation

Cannabinoids in raw cannabis have an extra carboxyl ring in their molecular structure.For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the two most prevalent: thc and cbd.This extra carboxyl group gets removed in the process of decarboxylation due to the effect heat has on their chemical structure.Once enough heat has been applied, the molecule will release a carboxyl group. That carboxyl group then gets replaced with a hydrogen molecule.

Decarboxylation chart

As with any other chemical process, there are certain things that need to happen in order for chemical compounds to change their structure.Decarbing is a process that involves both temperature and time, so it’s all about balancing the two.Luckily for us, there is a chart for that.

This is called a decarboxylation chart and it allows you to see how you can reach the desired THC by baking the buds on a specific temperature for a set period of time.As this chart was based on a strain that can reach a maximum of 15% THC, you can see that the easiest way to reach that amount is by baking cannabis in an oven for about 7 minutes at 300°F (148°C)—or for 20 minutes at 250°F (121°C).

How to decarb weed (in 6 steps)

So far, we’ve learned that decarboxylating cannabis is a needed step in making super-potent edibles and that cannabis can be decarbed in several ways, depending on the temperature and the time you bake it at.

We also found out that the easiest way to decarboxylate cannabis is to bake it at a relatively low temperature for about 30 minutes. Now, here’s a step by step guide:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250℉. The light should turn off once the oven has reached the temperature.
  2. Break up your cannabis into small chunks. Don’t grind it, just break it into smaller bits and don’t leave any nugs out.
  3. Spread the cannabis on a piece of baking paper. Make sure there are no overlapping pieces of cannabis.
  4. Bake the cannabis at 250℉ for 25-30 minutes. Make sure not to open the oven too often. Decarbed cannabis should change its color from green to light brown.
  5. After 25-30 minutes, check your cannabis. It should be light to medium brown and should be very dry. If it’s not, put it back in the oven for an extra 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
  6. Remove cannabis from the baking sheet and let it cool for a while. Careful, it’s going to get very crumbly at this point.

That said, don’t do this thinking you’ll save time. You won’t. The edible won’t be cooked and all the good stuff from the cannabis will be gone.Bottom line: don’t worry about reducing the psychedelic or medicinal effects of the ganja when baking or cooking with cannabis-infused ingredients.The only real risk you’ll face is decarboxylating your weed all by itself. Just stick to low temperatures and you’ll be fine.

If this sounds complicated, you can always get a special machine  and skip all of the steps above, as the machine does everything for you in under an hour.Now, once your cannabis has cooled down sufficiently, you can put it in a food processor and pulse until it’s thoroughly ground (like oregano). If you’re going to use your decarbed weed in smoothies or drinks, you should continue grinding until you turn it into powder. For food, there is no need to do this.

Decarboxylation temperature chart

Decarboxylation temperature is probably the most important factor when decarbing different types of material.As you can see in the image above, decarbing can be done in 3 different ways—the basic and most common way is by using an oven, but you can also do it in a hot water bath.

How to Make Rick Simpson Oil

To decarb kief or hash in an oven, bake it for 10 minutes at 300°F (149°C). Have in mind that, at higher temperatures, kief and hash tend to decarb faster than dried flowers.

High CBD strains tend to decarb a bit slower than those with high THC content:

  • Decarb high CBD strains by baking them for 15-25 minutes at 300°F (149°C)
  • Decarb high THC strains by baking them for 10-15 minutes at 300°F (149°C)

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