The process of decarboxylation is one which confuses many who are new to the cannabis industry, or may not have put a whole lot of thought into how their edibles became infused with psychoactive properties. This can be explained through decarboxylation. This is the process by which cannabinoids within the raw cannabis flower are made to be psychoactive in the way which we know cannabis best. This is what produces the high. Without decarboxylation, the high we achieve will be minimal at best, although there are still many benefits to be obtained from the likes of THCA. Here we will explain more about the process, how it is not as intimidating as it seems, and how you can perform decarboxylation in your own kitchen in as little as 30 minutes.
The Basics of Decarboxylation
In its raw plant form, all of the cannabinoids which are present in the cannabis plant possess an additional carboxyl element. This is very clearly exemplified with THC. Prior to the process of decarboxylation, THCA is what we see present in the highest form as far as cannabinoids are concerned. Decarboxylation must be performed in order to convert this THCA to THC.
This process is important as it completely alters the impact of the cannabinoid. THCA still performs a number of very useful functions. It is well known to have strong anti-inflammatory properties and is widely consumed for medical purpose. The biggest difference, however, is that prior to decarboxylation, THCA is not intoxicating. That is, the psychoactive elements are not present. After the process is completed however, the makeup of the cannabinoid changes, and with THC, the psychoactive properties are strong.
When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, decarboxylation can occur instantly. This is due to the high temperatures which are at work during these processes. Where we see the notable need for, and difference from pre to post decarboxylation is when we consume edibles, or during the process of making concentrates. Decarboxylation is a vital step in the creation of CBD and THC isolates. This process is effectively what decides there level of potency in terms of THC, although all cannabinoids within the plant have an extra carboxyl element which can be altered by decarboxylation.
Conditions Necessary for Decarboxylation
The two major components which are required in order for decarboxylation to take place are simply time and heat. The amount of each component which is used will impact the results you see from decarboxylation. Time will produce some levels of decarboxylation, although the changes noted here will be quite minimal. This is why we will sometimes see flowers test positive for a small amount of THC presence along with THCA.
Heat being the major component means that when we smoke or vaporize our cannabis, decarboxylation can occur naturally. Even in these cases, some like to perform the process first. This they say, increases the potency of the end product. Considering heat, we know that decarboxylation begins to occur at around 220F. This is the point at which the cannabinoid compounds begin to change after around 45 minutes of heating.
Naturally, many are striving to achieve a complete decarboxylation. This will take considerably longer, and is unlikely, if not impossible to achieve 100% in a home setting. In truth, very few aside from the most precise experts would not any difference in the end product from a near perfect to 100% decarboxylation.
Many who are attempting to preserve the terpenes for a better, more flavorful experience, will often opt for lower temperatures and an increase in time in order to achieve the best results. Ultimately, once you have these elements in place, you can easily begin the process from home, taking care that the temperature does not exceed 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the point at which damage to the compounds can begin to be noticed.
How to Decarboxylate at Home
The entire process may seem somewhat scientific and intimidating, in reality though, decarboxylation, dialed down to the basics beyond its name, is simply heating your flower to a certain temperature, over a period of time, which allows its full potential to be utilized in different ways. This is akin to cooking, and although you do not need to be a cannabis celebrity chef, the process really is not excessively complex.
There are many ways which it can be done, the most popular though, is using your oven to bake the cannabis. After grinding up your cannabis, place it on a baking tray and also be sure to make use of a sheet of parchment paper. This should be placed on the baking tray, with the cannabis placed next on the paper.
The next steps are quite critical in the process. Your oven should be pre-heated to between 220F and 245F with as much precision as possible. A fact to keep in mind is that the temperature of home ovens often fluctuates up to 10 Degrees in either direction, this ultimately means you will have to keep a close eye on things throughout and regulate the temperature as much as you can. This will help you achieve the best results possible from decarboxylation. Baking should be done for between 45-60 minutes at a temperature of 245F. This time will reduce if the temperature is increased. The maximum recommended temperature of 300F has a baking time of around 10-15 minutes.
Once the cannabis is browned and dry, your process is complete, and your decarboxylated cannabis ready to be infused in any number of edibles or dishes you may choose, and at its maximum possible potency if the process has been performed correctly. All from the comfort of your own home.
Hash or Keif can also undergo decarboxylation through the oven baking method, though the times should be reduced by 50%. This means a baking time of around 30mins depending upon you temperatures.
Alternative Decarboxylation Methods
If you do not have access to an oven, or would prefer another method, there are several available. One of the most popular alternatives to the oven baking method, is boiling. This can be done through a number of home appliances, though for the easiest for, all you require is a pot, stove, and boiling water.
Simply bring your pot of water to the boil, this temperature should be around 215F which you will also need to check as precisely as possible throughout the process to ensure the best results from your decarboxylation.
Your cannabis should be placed in a vacuum sealed bag. This should then be submerged in the boiling water for 90 minutes. You will need to take care that the water does not evaporate during this time and that the temperature remains constant. These factors, combined with the use of a vacuum sealed bag, make the boiling method slightly more labor intensive.
As we can see, the process is certainly not as difficult or daunting as it may appear. Through following the simple steps, and keeping a close eye on the process, you can be well on the way to performing decarboxylation successfully.
The scientific nature of the process is always under study, but from your own home, you have all of the required equipment to fully convert your flower and engage the most potent high possible, as well as making some of the most delicious edibles and THC infused products as well as concentrates. Just remember that lower temperatures and more time can bring a more impressive final product in terms of oils and terpene quality.