How to Decarboxylate Cannabis
In this piece, we’ll walk through decarboxylating cannabis, what it means, why it’s necessary, and what it’s for — including the necessary steps for you to decarboxylate cannabis at home!
What is Cannabis Decarboxylation
In the simplest sense, decarboxylation (also known as “decarbing“) allows the marijuana plant to get you “high.”
In its raw form, cannabis contains an abundance of non-psychoactive THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). Decarboxylation is necessary to convert that THCA into THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the cannabinoid that creates the classic euphoric “stoned” effect for consumers.
Think about it like this, when you regularly consume cannabis flower — you use a lighter to ignite the bud. The heat of the flame releases the THC in the weed instantaneously – essentially decarboxylating the weed. But when you plan to cook with or create a tincture from marijuana flower, you must first decarboxylate it by heating the plant over an extended period of time.
Why You Need to Decarboxylate Cannabis
If you plan to make your own edibles or tinctures from marijuana, you’re going to have to decarboxylate the flower first.
Typically, decarboxylation occurs in an oven when making edibles or tinctures at home. You will heat the buds until they are dry and the THC is released.
Once this step is done, you have a decarboxylated cannabis flower. Then you can easily infuse the bud with a medium of choice, such as butter, oil, alcohol, glycerine, or Medium-Chain Triglyceride oils. Cannabutter, anyone?
Depending on your end goal, you may want to infuse a variety of mediums—for instance, this article contains advice on concentrates for tinctures.
How to Decarboxylate Marijuana
Decarboxylation is easy to do at home using simple tools and your oven. Here’s what you’ll need to decarboxylate your marijuana:
- Fresh cannabis buds – Try OG Kush a popular, easy to find, high THC strain
- A kitchen oven
- A cannabis grinder (optional)
- Parchment paper
- A baking sheet
Next, you can decarboxylate your cannabis. Just follow these directions:
- Preheat your oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Break the cannabis into small pieces. If you have one, you can use a grinder; otherwise, use a cheese grater.
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spread the ground cannabis evenly across the parchment paper.
- Bake the marijuana for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure the herb is baking evenly.
- When the cannabis reaches a rich, dark color and looks dry, remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cannabis to cool at room temperature. (Cannabis that has decarboxylated will be dry and crumbly to the touch).
- Once the cannabis has cooled completely, transfer it to a food processor. Pulse the marijuana in a food processor until it’s coarsely ground (like coarse coffee grounds). Avoid processing the marijuana too much or it will be hard to sift.
- Once the marijuana is ground properly, store it in a plastic zip bag or an airtight Tupperware container for use in extractions and homemade edibles.
Tips for Effective Marijuana Decarboxylation
In order to ensure you’re decarboxylating your marijuana correctly, follow these tips:
- Decarboxylate all cannabis you plan to cook with. Because active (post-decarboxylation) CBD and THC have a myriad of health benefits, you should decarboxylate your entire supply that you plan to cook with. While raw cannabis is great for inhalation, decarboxylated cannabis is the go-to marijuana form for cooking.
- Use an oven. While it may seem like a faster process, do not try to decarboxylate your cannabis flower with a lighter or torch. This will cause uneven heating and may burn your weed. Always use an oven when decarboxylating to ensure even heating, a high-quality end product, and an easier process for large quantities of marijuana.
- Allow the marijuana to cool completely. Allowing decarboxylated cannabis to cool completely once it has left the oven preserves the terpenes and makes the weed easier to handle.
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