Today you will learn everything there is to know about decarboxylation. I’ve also included step by step instructions and two charts that are super easy to follow along.
Table of Contents:
- What is decarboxylation?
- Decarbing process
- Chemistry of cannabinoids
- Decarb temperature graph
- How to decarb weed in an oven (in 6 steps)
- Chart for decarbing different plant materials (kief, CBD, etc.)
We’ve even included several decarboxylation charts that will make the whole process super easy to follow along.
So let’s jump right in, without any further ado.
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My definition of decarboxylation:
Decarboxylation is the magic behind making weed a potent additive to food.
Wikipedia’s definition (a bit more boring):
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide (CO2). Usually, decarboxylation refers to a reaction of carboxylic acids, removing a carbon atom from a carbon chain.
Decarboxylation is a process of heating up raw cannabis to a temperature at which it releases a carboxyl group and becomes psychoactive.
As you can see on the image above, THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) is the active component in raw cannabis, and it’s not a psychoactive compound.
Cannabinoids in raw cannabis have an extra carboxyl ring or group (COOH) attached to their chain.
You can see their structure on the image above—As you can see, they do not have an extra carboxyl (COOH) group attached.
This extra carboxyl group gets lost in the process of decarboxylation due to the effect heat has on their chemical structure.
Once enough heat has been applied, the molecule will release a carboxyl group. That carboxyl group then gets replaced with a hydrogen molecule.
This process is pretty much the same for CBD. Both CBD and THC acids are carboxylic acids which tend to decompose directly when heated.
Only complex carboxylic acids decompose under the influence of heat alone.
Simple carboxylic acids are harder to decarboxylate. Their sodium salts do undergo decarboxylation when heated with soda lime.
Now, decarbing is nothing new to mankind.
Humanity has mastered the process of decarboxylation thousands of years ago when we first started making bronze and iron weapons.
Sure, people didn’t understand or know the chemistry behind it at the time, but they didn’t have to know it for it to happen. When you stop to think about it, that is the true magic of science — you don’t need to know what is happening or how something is happening for it to have a massive impact on mankind.
As with any other chemical process, there are certain things that need to happen in order for chemical compounds to change their structure.
Decarbing is a process which involves both temperature and time, so it’s all about balancing the two.
Luckily for us, there is a chart.
This is called a decarboxylation chart, which allows you to see how you can reach the desired THC by baking the buds on a specific temperature for a certain period of time.
As this chart was based on a strain that can reach a maximum of 15% THC, you can see that the easiest way to reach that amount is by baking weed in an oven for about 7 minutes at 300°F (148°C)—or for 20 minutes at 250°F (121°C).
So far, we’ve learned that decarbing weed is a welcome step in making super-potent edibles and that cannabis can be decarboxylated in several ways, depending on the temperature and the time you bake it at.
We also found out that the easiest way to decarboxylate cannabis is to bake it at a relatively low temperature for about 30 minutes.
Now, here’s a step by step guide:
- Preheat the oven to 250℉. The light should turn off once the oven has reached the temperature.
- Break up your weed into small chunks. Don’t grind it, just break it into smaller bits and don’t leave any nugs out.
- Spread the weed on a piece of baking paper. Make sure there are no overlapping pieces of weed.
- Bake the cannabis at 250℉ for 25-30 minutes. Make sure not to open the oven too often. Decarbed weed should change its color from green to light brown.
- After 25-30 minutes, check your cannabis. It should be light to medium brown and should be very dry. If it’s not, put it back in the oven for an extra 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
- Remove cannabis from the baking sheet and let it cool off for a while. Careful, it’s going to get very crumbly at this point.
Once your cannabis has cooled down sufficiently, you can put it in a food processor and pulse until it’s thoroughly ground (like oregano).
If you’re going to use the weed in smoothies or drinks, you should continue grinding until you turn it into powder. For food, there is no need to do this.
Decarboxylation temperature is probably the most important factor when decarbing different types of material.
As you can see on the image above, decarbing can be done in 3 different ways—the basic and the most common way is using an oven, but you can also do it in a hot water bath.
To decarb kief or hash in an oven, you should bake it for 10 minutes at 300°F (149°C). Have in mind that, on higher temperatures, kief and hash tend to decarb faster than dried flowers.
High CBD strains tend to decarb a bit slower than those with high THC content:
- Decarb high CBD strains by baking them for 15-25 minutes at 300°F (149°C)
- Decarb high THC strains by baking them for 10-15 minutes at 300°F (149°C)
Other ways of processing weed
Cannabis can also be activated through solvent and ice-water extraction, which are both complex chemical processes.
These methods produce a concentrate that ends up being used for dabbing, although it can be kept in an oily state as well. The important point of all this is that cannabinoids in marijuana need to be activated in order to get high.
It’s this activation that gives your weed the psychoactive and medical benefits you are looking to get, and you can thank decarboxylation for that.
Continue reading on making edibles
It’s time to put it to good use. You can do so by following these guides: