What is Decarboxylation and How Can Cannabis be Decarboxylated?

If you’re a cannabis lover, you have or will most likely come across a conversation about “decarbing” cannabis. It is a common practice that helps you experience the unique and intoxicating effects of the active components of the cannabis plant. 

Cannabis consumers can hardly avoid decarboxylating cannabis. If you’re a cannabis beginner or someone looking to learn more about a cannabis experience, this article is for you. The aim of this guide is to help you understand what is decarboxylation and how you can decarboxylate your cannabis.

The article is informational in activating cannabinoids within the herb, keif, trim and leaves of the cannabis plant. You will learn more about marijuana and why heating is involved in virtually all methods of consuming it. 

What is Decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation is the process of applying heat on cannabis matter to activate the cannabinoids within the buds, leaves, keif or trim. When you heat cannabis through conduction, convection or hybrid methods, you physically alter the chemical structure of various cannabinoids within the raw cannabis plant, including marijuana and hemp.

If you do not decarb your cannabis, it has very little therapeutic benefits to your body. Although in its raw uncured form cannabis is very nutritious, it is entirely non-intoxicating until it is cured or decarboxylated.

To get the full benefits of cannabis, it has to be heated or decarboxylated. The process of drying and curing the cannabis plant matter can release a small quantity of psychoactive compounds (cannabinoids), but they are significantly low compared to the quantity of cannabinoids activated through decarbing. 

Scientifically speaking, decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that is meant to remove carboxyl (COOH) compound group from the major cannabis acids (THC-A and CBD-A) that are known for their intoxicating effects on the cannabis users. The reaction releases carbon dioxide as a byproduct. 

To decarboxylate or decarb cannabis, all you need to do is heat it. Heat is known as the quickest and most effective catalyst that triggers the decarb reaction to remove COOH from the cannabinoid molecules. 

When cannabis is smoked or vaporized, decarboxylation is virtually instantaneous. Depending on the temperature range that cannabis is heated, some cannabinoids are activated, others are altered or even destroyed. Thus, if you’re looking to maximize cannabis therapeutic benefits, it is necessary that you’re aware of the most effective temperature range to decarb your cannabis flower.

According to experts or cannabis connoisseurs, the ideal temperature range to decarb cannabis is approximately 110-121°C. This is the sweet spot temperature. In that temperature range, THC-A is converted to THC without destroying the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes. 

Decarboxylation is a process that you cannot avoid if you’re a cannabis consumer. You need to master the skill of decarbing your cannabis flower to fully benefit from its psychoactive compounds. 

If you decarboxylate at the wrong temperatures, you risk reducing the medicinal or intoxicating benefits of cannabis. If you have been wondering why decarboxylation is a common term within the cannabis community, well now you know.

How to decarboxylate cannabis

There are different ways to decarb cannabis. The method you choose to decarboxylate the raw cannabis plant material depends on your medicinal or recreational needs. 

Moreover, the cannabis decarbing decision affects the quality of beneficial effects to gain. Some decarbing methods can have significant detrimental effects to your health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is more important to choose a decarbing method that maximizes the cannabinoids benefits and reduces the adverse effects of the reaction. 

The most common methods of decarboxylating cannabis include:

Smoking

smoking cannabis

Smoking is the traditional and most common way of decarbing cannabis. For smokers, decarboxylation happens automatically. Although it is a method that is less refined than more careful decarbing processes, it does not require much mastery or art.

Igniting your cannabis with a flame decarbs the cannabinoids and terpenes immediately, transferring the cannabis benefits directly into your body. Nevertheless, the excessive heat burning the herb destroys some of the psychoactive molecules. 

Doctors advise against smoking weed because the burning produces some adverse chemicals and tar that affects the smoker’s throat and lungs. 

Vaping

vaporizing cannabis

Like smoking, vaporizing cannabis automatically decarboxylates the intoxicating and medicinal components of the plant material. Vaporizing is a much more controlled process. Heating up of cannabis using the vaporizers activates THC, other cannabinoids and terpenes when temperatures rise to the boiling point, allowing you to absorb nearly the full dose of cannabis.

Decarboxylation through vaping and smoking is particularly natural through the toking process. Nevertheless, there are much more advanced and carefully selected methods of decarboxylating cannabis to maximize the effects from the cannabis compounds.  


Decarboxylating cannabis is more of an art that requires careful choosing of the method, tools and material. If you’re not confident with what you’re doing, you should avoid starting with a premium flower. Perhaps you need to practice more before staking your top-quality cannabis herb.

Most cannabis connoisseurs use one of the two prominent methods to decarb their cannabis flower; either baking or sous vide.

Baking

baking cannabis

Baking is the most basic method of decarboxylating cannabis and gaining its therapeutic and recreational benefits.

To bake cannabis to catalyze activation of cannabinoids in the bud, you need the following equipment and material:

  • An oven
  • A baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Cannabis flower (trim, nugs, kief, etc.)

or

DECARBOXYLATOR MACHINE

Traditional Decarboxylation method

Preheat the oven

The first step is to heat up the oven up to 93-112 degrees Celsius. Extremely high temperatures may burn your bud. If you start with a very low temperature, the process will take longer. 

Make sure that the oven reaches a consistent temperature before adding the flower on the parchment paper placed on the baking sheet. Inconsistent temperatures make it difficult for the flower to decarb evenly.  

Once you achieve a consistent temperature, place the parchments paper on the baking sheet and spread the cannabis flower over it. If there are larger pieces of the bud, break them down into smaller pieces.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes

Baking for 25-40 minutes will see the cannabis flower turn darker but still have a green shade. This time is sufficient to ensure you have carefully dried cannabis. Nevertheless, if you are using freshly green cannabis flowers with a lot of moisture, the baking process may take up to 90 minutes to have a well decarboxylated bud.

If you’re afraid that your house will have a cannabis smell that will make your visitors or neighbors frown, then you can reduce the smell by covering your recipient with an aluminum foil.

You can use a hygrometer to measure the moisture level in the herb during baking. It is simple to use a hygrometer. Once the cannabis material is dry, leave it to cool.

Remove the cannabis material from the oven and let it cool

After about 30 minutes after stopping the baking, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the dried cannabis flower cool down. Once this step is complete, then the decarboxylation process is done. By now the THC-A and CBD-A content in your cannabis should have been converted to THC and CBD. 

Sous Vide

Sous vide is much more sophisticated process to decarboxylate cannabis than baking. This method combines water or steam.

To complete decarbing cannabis using the sous vide method, you need to have the following equipment and material:

  • Sous vide precision cooker
  • Kettle
  • Heat-safe plastic bag
  • Grinder 
  • Cannabis

Grind the flower

The first step is to grind the flower into smaller pieces and put it into the plastic bag. Proceed to seal the bag as tight as possible with as little air inside as possible. 

Covering the bag with water

Once sealed, put the bag in the pot and cover it with water. Then put the precision cooker in to prepare for heating. 

Heat the cannabis for a little over an hour

Set the temperatures to about 110 degrees. Give the heating process about 60-75 minutes. This is adequate time to allow cannabis to decarboxylate. Since the flower material is in the bag, the cannabis smell is reduced.

If you push the temperature too high, you’re likely to destroy the potency of the flower. Ensure the process is low and slow.

If you’re planning to buy concentrates such as sublingual or tinctures, know that decarboxylation is already done. If you try decarbing concentrates, you’re likely to ruin your precious product.

Using a Decarboxylator

A Decarboxylator is equipped with advanced logic, sensor technology, and a hi-tech thermal blanket Decarboxylators such as the Ardent FX uses precision heating cycles to achieve fully decarboxylated cannabis without loss or degradation.

These all in one appliances allows you to decarboxylate THC, CBD, and CBG, infuse oils, butters, milks and creams, and bake your favorite edibles, all in the comfort of your own home and with the push of a button.

 

Ardent FX decarboxylator

Is it imperative that you decarboxylate to consume cannabis?

The truth is most of the cannabis products you acquire are ready for consumption. The cannabis dispensaries have already cured the flower. 

If you’re much more interested in learning about decarboxylating cannabis, perhaps you need an expert from the cannabis dispensaries to walk you through the entire process. 

Nevertheless, this article has provided you with carefully selected information that enlightens you why heating is an integral part of cannabis consumption. Whether you’re a smoker, vaper, resin pressing expert or any other cannabis user, heating remains highly important in reaping the therapeutic and recreational benefits of cannabis. 

Some methods of consuming marijuana, such as vaping and smoking decarbs cannabis automatically. However, baking and sous vide are art-oriented decarbing methods that can be used at industrial or personal level. The optimal method is through a decarboxylator which allows you to have a mess, smell and accurate decarboxylation at a press of a button.

Legal Disclaimer: The Green Box does not condone, promote or incite the use of any illegal substances or to get anyone in conflict with their region or state laws. This article was written for educational purposes and you should always consult a doctor in case you are considering using cannabis in any way or form.

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