What is cannabis decarboxylation?
The term cannabis decarboxylation may be totally unfamiliar to you, but it’s a process that allows cannabis to induce the psychoactive properties everyone commonly associates with getting high. Decarboxylation involves the applying of heat over a period of time, so that the psychoactive properties of cannabis can be allowed to have full effect. The cannabinoids within ordinary cannabis flowers contain an added carboxyl ring known as COOH, which is attached to the main chain.
This extra carboxyl ring actually prevents the psychoactive impact of cannabis from taking place. The process of decarboxylation destroys this carboxyl ring, and releases carbon dioxide, thus allowing the psychoactive properties of cannabis to gain full sway. Decarboxylation affects all cannabinoids, but the one which is most prominent, and which is best recognized by people, is tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC.
In its native state, cannabis contains THCA and CBDA, neither of which is capable of inducing the well-known psychoactive properties associated with smoking cannabis. Once these cannabinoids have been decarboxylated, the THCA and CBDA become THC and CBD, which are the more useful forms. You’ll always be able to tell if your cannabis has been decarboxylated, because if it hasn’t been, you won’t feel any kind of euphoric reaction after consuming the cannabis.
Understanding the decarboxylation process
Decarboxylation is extremely important when harvesting cannabinoids. In addition to the psychoactive properties which allow you to get high from THC, the CBD from cannabis also becomes usable after decarboxylation. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to be extremely useful for the treatment of chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety, and many people have turned to it for relief when other medications fail.
All humans have an endocannabinoid system which is part of the overall nervous system. This endocannabinoid system interacts with the terpenes and the cannabinoids found in cannabis. If you didn’t decarboxylate your cannabis, the human body would simply discard the CBDA and the THCA, so that you would get no benefits from either one. The process of decarboxylation ensures that your body will be able to make use of the cannabinoids from cannabis, including THC and CBD. It will also ensure that there’s nothing in the cannabis that is undesirable, because it will all be killed off by the added heat.
How to decarb cannabis
In order to decarboxylate your cannabis, it will be necessary to heat your oven to a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. By using a hotter temperature, you can expedite the process, but it’s possible that some of your cannabis flower may be damaged by the higher heat. Assuming you do adopt the safer approach and set your oven temperature at 200, here is the step-by-step procedure on how to decarb cannabis:
- Step 1 – break up the cannabis flower into granular size, and spread it out over parchment paper on a cookie sheet
- Step 2 – put the cookie sheet in your oven and bake it for approximately 20 or 25 minutes, although this time will be less if you have set your oven temperature higher than 200
- Step 3 – after 20 minutes, check on your cannabis to see if it’s still green. If so, bake it a little longer so that it turns a darker green, but do not allow it to turn brown.
- Step 4 – the process will fill much of your household with the smell of cannabis, so you may want to have some air freshener on hand to spray it around strategically.
Cannabis decarboxylation table
Below is a table you can use when decarbing your cannabis, and it will show you the necessary temperatures required to release the individual components of cannabis.
Cannabis decarboxylation equipment
In most cases, any cannabis that you purchase from a dispensary will already be decarboxylated, so there’s no need for you to undertake the process yourself. However, if you’re someone who is curious about the whole process, you may get to the point where you want to grow your own cannabis and prepare it for personal consumption. In order to take advantage of the cannabinoids included in cannabis, you would then have to decarb your cannabis at home. A booming industry has already sprung up to market all the most sophisticated equipment you would ever need to decarb your cannabis. If you broaden your efforts to include making edibles, you’ll need a decarb machine that also infuses liquids, so be careful when shopping to make sure that this extra feature is included on any purchase you make.
Decarboxylation is a very important and very necessary part of the process of making the cannabinoids found in cannabis usable and effective when ingested by humans. Decarbing your cannabis destroys the extra carboxyl ring known as COOH, thus allowing both THC and CBD to become usable. The decarbing process involves heating your cannabis up to at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature necessary to abolish that undesirable extra carboxyl ring. It also rids your cannabis of any undesirable additives such as fertilizer or bug sprays, so you won’t ingest them right along with the cannabis. You can take up decarboxylation right at home, either by purchasing a fairly sophisticated machine that does the job for you, or by simply breaking up your cannabis and baking it for an appropriate amount of time. Once your cannabis has been decarbed, all the wonderful effects of both THC and CBD will become available to you.