When I was in high school my buddies and I grew Afghani skunk weed and we never knew what to do with the garbage bags full of buds we harvested besides smoke them.We would try to make brownies, cookies and whatever edibles we could dream up, but being young and inexperienced, we had never heard of “decarboxylation.” Heck, we probably couldn’t have pronounced it, let alone spelled it back then. We would toss the buds into butter, mash it up, and make whatever recipes were on the side of a box. Of course, we couldn’t feel any effects, so we would just smoke some more.
As you probably already know, decarboxylation is essential for activating the all-important CBD and THC components of cannabis. Technically, cannabis contains CBD-A and THC-A, which are the acidic precursors to CBD and THC. For the acidic molecules to drop off, cannabis must be heated, vaporized or burned — a process known as “decarboxylation.” This process activates the CBD and THC molecules so they can properly influence our neurotransmitters.
The amount of THCA does not convert to an equivalent amount of THC after decarboxylation — the conversion rate is around 0.88 per cent. To extract the cannabinoids, it’s important to cook decarboxylated cannabis into some kind of fat, because the chemical compounds are fat-soluble. But different types of oils are more or less efficient at this — coconut oil is considered one of the most efficient extractors. Find out as we go over everything you need to know about cannabis and coconut oil! Below, we’ll cover what makes this combination so great, how to make your own cannabis coconut oil, and the many ways you can use it.
The most common method of decarboxylation is by heating the cannabis slowly, at a low temperature in an oven, but this can be tricky because ovens have varying temperatures.
If you heat cannabis beyond 300 degrees Fahrenheit, you risk losing a lot of terpenes.
I suggest keeping the oven around 225 degrees Fahrenheit, and leaving it to bake for 45 to 60 minutes. For dryer flower, 40 minutes is usually enough, and for sticker, more resinous cannabis, 60 minutes should be good. Remember to turn the flower every 10 minutes or so while it is in the oven so it gets evenly toasted. To prevent the flower from burning, make sure to grind up the buds into pieces about the size of a grain of rice. Also, before spreading it out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, you want to crumple up the parchment a little bit and spread the cannabis on the sheet. This prevents the ground up flower from contacting the metal surface and burning.
Once you’ve decarboxylated your cannabis, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely, about 30 minutes. It can be stored in an airtight glass jar for up to a year, as long as kept away from direct sunlight and humidity. You can infuse your decarboxylated cannabis into an oil that can be cooked or baked into virtually any recipe.
Here is a recipe for a simple infused coconut oil. I’ve chosen to use deodorized coconut oil so you can use it to cook with or also in baking recipes.
As with with any edible, be careful when consuming. Start with a low dose and go slow, maybe ¼ teaspoon, and waiting an hour to see how you feel. Consuming edibles that are too strong can be a challenging experience…trust me!
And, another tip: I like using an Indica strain to make my edibles as I prefer the body buzz they provide. But use whatever flower you prefer.
Infused Coconut Oil
There are many reasons people like to combine cannabis and coconut oil, including the fact that coconut oil is basically an ideal carrier oil for cannabinoids and terpenes. Coconut oil features an extremely high concentration of healthy fatty acids. These fatty acids are known for their health benefits, but also happen to be a fantastic binding agent for cannabis compounds. Coconut oil has a saturated fat level of over 80%– compare that to another great carrier oil, olive oil, that has a saturated fat level of 20%, and you can see just how excellent coconut oil is as a medium for cannabis infusions and CBD infusions.
Makes 1 cup infused coconut oil
- cheesecloth (or fine mesh strainer)
- 7 grams decarboxylated cannabis flower, cooled to room temperature (see Tip)
- 1 cup deodorized coconut oil
- 1 cup water
Using a hand grinder, grind your decarboxylated cannabis flower into small pieces.
Combine water and coconut oil in a medium-sized pot. Bring mixture to a simmer or just until the coconut oil has melted. Add the ground decarboxylated cannabis. Stir to combine. Leave the pot on a low temperature for two hours. The temperature should not be higher than 160F. Use a thermometer if you need to, but the mix should never simmer — it should remain low. Stir the mix every 30 minutes or so to ensure the cannabis is evenly distributed and the oil is evenly infused.
After 2 hours, remove the pot from the heat. Line a funnel with cheesecloth and place the funnel over a jar. Gently pour the cannabis oil into the funnel and allow the infused oil to naturally drip through the funnel. Do not push on the flower or some of it will pass through the cheesecloth or mesh strainer. I recommend allowing the oil to sit in the funnel for up to one hour so it has enough time to naturally strain.
Refrigerate the oil in the jar until ready to use. Keep the jar away from sunlight and humidity, as both can cause the oil to go rancid. Label the jar so no one uses it by mistake, and keep out of the reach of children.