When decarboxylating your cannabis in an oven, it’s important to remember that the temperature dial on an oven is more of an average temperature than an exact one.
Ovens can fluctuate in temperature by 20 or more degrees, so keep an eye on your cannabis. If it turns brown too quickly or smells like it is burning, turn the oven down. An oven thermometer is a good investment if you’re going to be using your oven regularly for cannabis cooking.
Many cannabis newcomers wonder if you can eat the raw cannabis plant and feel its intoxicating or psychoactive effects. Pop culture references to eating a big bag of raw weed and getting super stoned have no basis in the reality of how cannabis works, specifically how cannabinoids elicit effects in humans. For example, to exhibit the intoxicating effects associated with the cannabis high, THCA must be transformed into THC through a heating process called decarboxylation.
- Baking tray (preferably Pyrex)
- Aluminium foil or parchment paper
- Set your oven temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and place the oven rack in the middle position. Ovens are hotter at the top and cooler at the bottom, placing it in the middle will ensure that you are decarboxylating at the ideal temperature.
- Cut a piece of aluminium foil to the size of your baking sheet and lightly crumple it, then lay it across the baking sheet. This will minimize the direct contact of the cannabis to the baking sheet, which conducts heat better than aluminium foil and will get hotter than the air in the oven.
- Lightly break up the cannabis until it is about the size of a grain of rice, too fine of a grind increases the risk of burning. Spread the cannabis across the aluminium foil, then lightly lay another piece of aluminium foil on top. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes at room temperature. The cannabis should look lightly toasted and golden brown.
- When it is cool enough to handle, carefully put your decarboxylated cannabis into a storage container to use for future cooking.
Here is a quick summary of everything you need to know about decarbing weed — what decarbing is, when you should decarb, and how to best decarb your weed at home.
What is decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that results from two main factors: heat and time. When a cannabinoid decarboxylates, it loses a carboxyl group, which gives it the ability to interact with the body’s receptors through which therapeutic and recreational effects are elicited. Over a long period of exposure to the elements, cannabinoids will decarboxylate on their own which is why proper cannabis storage is so important. Without airtight storage in a sufficiently sturdy container, cannabis will lose potency as cannabinoids slowly decarboxylate and activate prematurely.
To speed up the decarbing process, you’ll need to activate cannabinoids such as THC by heating them. When cannabis is smoked or vaporized, for example, the THCA loses a carboxyl group and converts to THC. Likewise, the cannabinoid CBDA must decarboxylate to turn into CBD.
A crucial step in making edibles or cannabis topicals at home is decarbing weed to make sure all the cannabinoids you want to experience are fully activated. When cannabis is cooked or baked, its active cannabinoids are absorbed through digestion. Decarbing weed also helps reduce the risk of microbiological contaminants. When weed decarboxylates, it loses moisture, which in turn decreases the chance of bacterial growth. Weed is dried and cured for the same reason, though some unwanted activation of cannabinoid, and therefore loss of potency, is inevitable during the curing process.
Why you should decarb your weed
In a nutshell, weed won’t get you high unless it’s decarbed. Marijuana’s most sought after cannabinoids — THC and CBD — need to be converted from THCA and CBDA over time to deliver the coveted recreational and therapeutic benefits. When making edibles and topicals, decarbing improves the function of these products by allowing for faster cannabinoid absorption. Edibles in particular have a reputation for delivering incredibly potent, long-lasting effects, but an edible won’t be as potent as its reputation suggests if the cannabis inside isn’t decarbed properly.
How to decarb your weed at home
There are a variety of methods for decarbing weed at home, and the method you choose depends largely on what you want to do with your weed. Here are a few of the most common methods of decarbing and when you might want to try them:
If you’re baking edibles, your best bet for proper decarbing may be making cannabis oil or cannabutter to infuse into the final product. If you, it won’t need to be decarbed because it’s already been through the process. Well-made cannabutter, which involves heating butter and cannabis together, will decarboxylate the cannabis material while ensuring that active cannabinoids bind to the fats in the butter.
The Sous-Vide method is optimal for decarbing dried plant matter without releasing an odor that could get you in hot water with your landlord or neighbors. To decarb your weed Sous-Vide, grind your cannabis and enclose it in a heat-safe, vacuum-sealed bag. Then, fill a large pot with water and place it on your stovetop. Insert a Sous-Vide precision cooker into the pot and set the temperature to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110 degrees Celsius. Once your precision cooker reaches the right temperature, cook your sealed cannabis for 1½ hours.
To make a cannabis-infused oil, you can decarb weed using a slow cooker and coconut or olive oil. For this recipe, you’ll need 64 ounces of dry cannabis plant matter and 433 milliliters of olive oil. Cover the ingredients and cook them on high in a slow cooker for 1 hour, then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 2-3 more hours. Let the mixture cool, then strain it through a cheesecloth.