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What is Decarboxylation, and How Do We Do it?



Want to eat cannabis? How about using it in a bath bomb? Maybe you want to make a cannabis lotion? Well, in order to do any of those things, decarboxylation has to happen. So we figured it we would shed some light on this hot topic. It's important to note that buying cannabis edibles or body products in any capacity is illegal. You can, however, purchase flower, and turn it into as many different products as your heart desires. So, what is “decarb”, why does it matter, and if it matters so much, how do you do it?

What is Decarboxylation?

To get all “sciencey” with it, decarboxylation is the process of releasing carbon from the end of a carbon chain, by “knocking off” a carbon atom. In regular lingo, this simply means that by either heating cannabis, or cannabis curing (drying) over time THCA and CBDA, the chemicals found in cannabis naturally, will decarboxylate, dropping one of their molecules, and turning them into the active chemicals we know and love - THC and CBD.

What Causes Decarboxylation?

Heat, and time. This means that when you look at your beautiful cannabis plants growing, there is little to no THC or CBD within the plant. The first catalyst to decarboxylation is time. Over time, the THCA or CBDA found in a plant, will slowly start to turn into THC and CBD. The second catalyst, and the one we humans “play” with, is heat. Heating up your cannabis by vaping, combustion or baking it into edibles rabidly decarbs the cannabis, creating the active chemicals available for consumption!

What Does This Look like Regarding the different Consumption Methods?

Combustion Methods: Combustion methods all involve heating up or burning of the cannabis, vaporizing, smoking a joint, or using a bong or hand pipe are all combustion methods. When heat is applied via fire or the heating up of a vape pen coil, decarboxylation occurs, and you inhale the active components of cannabis.

Edibles: Before cannabis can be used in any kind of tincture, baked good, candy or drink, it must first undergo decarboxylation. This is done by baking the cannabis prior to infusing it into any type of carrier.

Topicals: To infuse lotions, bath bombs or skin care products decarboxylation is still the first step.This can be done in a similar decarboxylation method as edibles, baking the cannabis in an oven until complete decarboxylation occurs.

How Do I Decarboxylate my Cannabis?

Now, for the fun part, we’re going to give you a step by step break down of how to decarboxylate your cannabis, so it is ready for all types of creations.

Starbuds Melanid decarboxylationg equippment

What You’ll Need:

  • Cannabis
  • Grinder
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Parchment paper (or a cookie sheet liner)
  • Oven

Prep:

  • Preheat your oven to the desired temperature, we have included a chart below that displays what temperature different cannabinoids become active and/or evaporate.
  • Cut parchment paper to fit the cookie sheet

In order to confidently choose an appropriate temperature for your desired cannabinoid activation, use the cheat sheet below. It shows the time, and temperatures needed to active different levels of THC and CBD. The far left, shows lower temperatures and shorter time allowing THC to be properly decarboxylated, the further right you travel, the higher CBD levels become with less THC.

decarboxylation temperatures for edibles topicals and tinctures



Step 1: Bust it up and Spread it Out

When using dried flower (bud) you need to break it up. This is an important step as it allows for more surface area to be exposed, meaning more THCA and CBDA can be activated. In the spirit of the surface area, making sure you spread your cannabis out on the cookie sheet evenly and thinly allows for the heat to penetrate and reach all of the cannabis. You want your cannabis to decarboxylate evenly, this will help make dosing down the road more consistent and easier to gauge.

Starbuds grinding cannabis in white kitchen cooking edibles

Step 2: Into the Oven We Go

Place your cookie sheet of cannabis into your preheated oven and DO NOT FORGET TO SET A TIMER. Cannabinoids convert and decarboxylate at different temperatures and times, it's important to know how hot, and how long you’re wanting to leave your cannabis in for. If you leave your cannabis in the oven for too long, you can potentially over decarboxylate the bud, removing or over processing the cannabinoids. Once you hit the sweet spot of THC concentration, the THC will slowly begin to convert into CBN a much more sedative cannabinoid, depending on your desired experience this can be good or bad.

decarboxylating cannabis in oven in white kitch girl in sweater



Step 3: Ready to Cook With

Once your cannabis is done decarboxylating, it is ready to go. When eating cannabis, it works the best paired with fats. If you wanted too, you could technically eat the decarboxylated cannabis just the way it is. However without a fat or a sugar to bind to, it won't be that effective and tastes pretty...green. This is why so many people infuse butter and oils with cannabis, optimizing its absorption into your system.

decarboxylated cannabis on cookie sheet

It's as simple as that. There is really no limit to the different recipes, and creations you can come up with to infuse with cannabis, however, it all starts with decarboxylations. Enjoy the aromatic smells of cannabis while it warms up in your oven and gets ready to induce all types of intoxicating fun to everyday snacks. Let us know what type of cannabis cooking you get up to, and how your decarboxylation goes, as always consume safely!