Decarboxylation of Marijuana
One major misconception regarding marijuana is that it is naturally psychoactive. Marijuana in its raw form does not contain Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC which is the main psychoactive element that gets you high and stoned. Fresh weed has various constituents that provide benefits different than THC’s. While THC offers a psychoactive effect, THCA (THC acid), CBDA (Cannabidiol Acid), and terpenes which constitutes fresh weed are considered anti-inflammatory and are preferred benefits by other users. This and other Phyto-nutrients in raw marijuana are not psychoactive and can be used for treatments for children.
To obtain the benefits and effects of THC from marijuana, it must undergo a process called decarboxylation. By definition, ‘decarboxylation’ is the removal of the carboxyl group and the release of carbon dioxide. Through this process, the THCA and CBDA contents of marijuana are converted to THC and CBD. This is achieved simply by heat.
Raw weed is not psychoactive unless it undergoes heat. Smoking the dried herb naturally decarboxylates it via combustion but there are various ways to decarboxylate weed. You may vary the process with temperature, time of decarboxylation, and equipment used but it is simply heating up the herb to activate THC and CBD.
Tips and How-to for Decarboxylated Weed
Alternative to the traditional bong or joint, decarboxylating raw weed can be done in multiple methods. The method to use may be chosen depending on the use of the herb. You can choose to process the herb whether if you want it for edibles, tinctures or smoking.
The time and temperature will vary depending on the outcome you want to achieve. For preserving terpenes that would give your weed a taste and smell, you will need low temperature and longer times as terpenes may easily burn at higher temperatures.
The most common method for decarboxylating the herb is through an oven for 40 to 60 minutes at 250 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For this process, you will need smaller pieces of the weed, baking tray, baking sheet, and an oven:
1. First, preheat the oven to 250-350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Spread out the cannabis on your baking sheet
3. Heat for at least 30 to 60 minutes
4. Remove from oven
This yields a brown, hard, and crumbly decarboxylated weed which you can grind or process as your need specifies.
The next method to be introduced is much easier and faster than any other methods. In terms of effectiveness, however, it is unsure whether it can efficiently activate your cannabinoids. This process simply involves tossing the weed into the microwave for 1.5 to 3 minutes at high. Though, in this short procedure, the chances of burning the weed is reduced.
Another process involves a slow cook for even decarboxylation – the Sous Vide Decarboxylation. Derived from Benjamin Thompson’s Sous Vide Method of cooking mutton shoulder evenly, you will need a vacuum sealing machine, sous vide cooker and a 10-quart pot.
1. Seal your coarse ground in a heat-safe plastic with the vacuum sealer
2. Place the Sous Vide precision cooker into the 10-quart pot, filled with water, and preheat to 200 to 240-degree Fahrenheit
3. After preheating, cook the sealed herb for at least one and a half hour to a quarter
In comparison to the three preceding methods, you can also use Ardent Nova Decarboxylator, an exclusive decarboxylation machine. Over other methods, using this technology provides thorough decarboxylation that is easier without the smell from other baking or cooking methods.
There are more ways to decarboxylate marijuana if it takes on the heat. Grind that herb and boil it with oil and you can achieve a cannabis-infused oil perfect for both deep and pan-frying. It may also be added to your favorite oil recipe. Similarly, cannabis-infused butter is one of the classic edibles made with marijuana.
Boiling it in water, in a sealed bag, is also a process of decarboxylation. An advantage to other methods, this reduces the smell produced in other methods.
In summary of all these methods, the process of decarboxylation of weed requires heat from 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit only. While THC and CBD can withstand up to 350 degrees, other cannabinoids and Phyto-nutrients can only take much temperature before evaporating. Varying the length of decarboxylation also depends on the temperature. Higher temperature would require less time and lower temperature requires longer time.
It is preferable to use low temperature and cook it longer to thorough and even the decarboxylation. In terms of the plant structure, the bud offers the most THCA than its other parts. This will offer a more potent THC than the trim or leaves.
Of course, weed can be used fresh from the plant. Without drying, curing or heating the herb, it can be used in teas, smoothies, and such to obtain its raw benefits. To avoid activating its psychoactive effect, be careful in heating it as it may result in some decarboxylation and be reminded to store the leaf cold in the refrigerator.