Updated: Sep 28, 2022
'What is decarboxylation' 'How do I decarb cannabis?' 'Do I need to decarb CBD and CBG?'
'I want to decarboxylate my weed'
These are questions I see pop up often, so read on, learn up and go create! The following article applies to any THC, CBD, CBG, and CBN cannabis material, including flower, kief, and trim.
CBD flower is quickly gaining popularity for many reasons, including experiencing the benefits of cannabis without an extreme high.
I know a sh*t ton of cannabis smokers, obviously, but not everyone is aware that you have to decarb the flower to activate that bad boy. Not just THC either, the same applies to CBD, CBG, and CBN, too.
Decarboxylating sounds very technical but never fear - it's super easy: anyone can do it.
In this guide, I'll break down what decarboxylation is, how to decarb your material, followed by how you can use it to make your consumables and topicals, and finally how to store your creations.
Flower buds - or leaf, trim, shake, or kief in your amount of choice
Any of the following: Flowers, trim, leaf, shake, kief, or other cannabis plant material. This can be dominant in any cannabinoid profile - the instructions are almost the same whether it's THC, CBD, CBG, or CBN.
Step 1 - Preheat the oven (see the temperature in step 5)
Step 2 - Weigh the flower to your desired weight. For example: 0.25, 0.5, or 1.0 ounces.
Step 3 - Break up the cannabis material to remove all the unwanted bits - stem, seeds, etc
Step 4 - Add the flower to a mason jar or oven-safe baking dish with a lid, and make sure that your bud is in an even layer (you do not want clumps or mounds). You can tip the mason jar onto its side to get more surface area. If you don't have a lid, the tin foil will work.
Step 5 - Place the container in the oven and bake:
CBGa to CBG - 60 minutes at 215 degrees F.
THCa to THC - 30 minutes at 250 degrees F.
CBDa to CBD - 60 minutes at 280 degrees F.
CBNa to CBN - - 90 minutes at 320 degrees F.
You are looking for a toasted brown colour and fragrant aroma when it is done.
Step 6 - Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely with the lid on.
Step 7 - Your decarbed CBD flower is now ready for immediate use.
Step 8 - Store in a cool, dark area. A glass mason jar is ideal.
HOW TO STORE YOUR CBD AND CBG CREATIONS
After you finish, you can store your decarboxylated cannabis in an airtight container like a mason jar in a cool, dark place for several months. The freezer will help preserve the potency of your weed creations for a long time.
THE LAB TEST
Finally: The lab results. These lab tests show how much CBDa was converted into CBD by oven baking at 240°F for 90 minutes. We found similar results when decarbing CBGA into CBG, as well as THCa into THC at their respective baking temperatures and duration.
WHAT IS CANNABIS FLOWER?
Cannabis comes in a variety of different strains with a variety of cannabinoids and cannabinoid ratios that can produce many effects. THC is the most talked about cannabinoid, followed by CBD and CBG.
While many people are familiar with traditional THC cannabis flowers, there are also CBD hemp flowers as well as CBG hemp flowers.
Third-party lab tests can help to clarify what cannabinoids are present in your flower and how much.
CBD-dominant flowers may come with either high or low amounts of THC, depending on the strain of the plant.
CBD flowers must contain less than 0.3% THC to be legally sold as hemp in the United States and are illegal in the UK without a prescription.
The main difference between the traditional cannabis you may already be familiar with and hemp plants is the total amount of THC the flower contains.
This is a chemical difference, meaning CBD flower will look, smell, and perform almost the same as any other cannabis flower, minus the intoxicating high.
Cannabis plants can be selectively cultivated to produce a low THC, high CBD cannabinoid profile while maintaining all other beneficial plant compounds, including other cannabinoids and terpenes.
WHAT IS DECARBOXYLATION?
If you want to reap the benefits of the active components from CBD flowers, you will need decarboxylation to occur first.
Often referred to as 'decarb' or 'decarbing,' the decarboxylation of cannabinoids is an important step if you want to make edibles, topicals, oil infusions, and more.
If you were to eat raw cannabis flowers naturally, you would unlikely feel any intoxicating effects of THC.
This is because the plant material does not naturally contain high amounts of cannabinoids in their active form; it contains acidic cannabinoids.
Cannabinoid acids like CBDA and THCA have potential health benefits but are neutral and not intoxicating.
To convert these non-intoxicating cannabinoid acids into the activated cannabinoids we want for our final product, the process of decarboxylation must occur. Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide.
The process of heating cannabis can decarboxylate THCA into active THC and CBDA into CBD. Each cannabis plant is unique and contains a full spectrum of compounds, including different cannabinoids, terpenes, and more.
Each cannabinoid decarboxylates at a different temperature for various amounts of time.
In cannabis, we aim to heat the flower at an optimal temperature to allow decarboxylation to take place without destroying the other beneficial plant matter, such as the terpenes or flavonoids.
The key is to find the sweet spot between time and temperature for optimal results.
AN IMPERFECT SCIENCE
Decarbing with heat in an oven or Instant Pot is the easiest method to control in an at-home kitchen environment.
This process is as simple as putting a mason jar full of cannabis in the oven and baking it, however, keep in mind very high temperatures are not always better.
An oven set at a higher temperature will cause decarboxylation of THC to occur more quickly than an oven set at a lower temperature.
Now it's important to remember that this is not a perfect process in a controlled environment, nor does it need to be.
Several factors can impact your final result:
Chemical structure - the raw cannabinoids present in the plant will impact the resulting product
Oven temperatures - temperature fluctuations can vary greatly from oven to oven
Decarb process - whether you use the oven method, instant pot, water bath, etc
Different decarboxylation temperatures - if you choose to use different decarboxylation temperatures, you will get different results at different times
Ultimately, desperate the variability among decarboxylation methods, we will all arrive at the same goal - activated cannabinoids that can be used in homemade edibles.
YOU NEED TO DECARB FOR EDIBLES
Just like traditional cannabis edibles, you can make any edible with CBD hemp flower.
These edibles will not produce the same intoxicating effects, but they can be just as delicious and rewarding, depending on your desired experience.
It's important to remember that cooking with CBD hemp flower still requires the process of decarboxylation to get CBD's beneficial effects.
It is important to remember that all cannabinoids decarboxylate at different temperatures, so the temperature and time needed to achieve full activation for CBD will differ from THC.
If you are decarbing CBD flowers, the most common recommendation is to set the oven to 240°F and bake for 90 minutes.
This process converts cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) into cannabidiol (CBD), although both forms remain non-intoxicating in their respective states.
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DO I NEED A MASON JAR OR IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE?
Mason jars will trap the smell but you can just use a baking tray with a baking sheet over it if you are short of 1 mason jar.
IS THERE A MACHINE FOR DECARBING?
Yes, products like the MB2e MagicalButter Machine will execute the cannabis decarboxylation process for you.
IS IT LEGAL?
USA: With the passage of The Farm Bill in late 2018 came the legalization of hemp, or cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC. Hemp is now Federally legal, but it is important to check with your local state and city regulations to ensure the legality of consuming hemp flower. Some states have a ban on buying, selling, or possessing CBD hemp flower, even if it contains less than 0.3% THC. UK: Cannabis flowers are illegal in the United Kingdom regardless of cannabinoid profiles despite some sites stating that it is lawful if the flower contains under 0.2%. The only exception is prescription medical cannabis which must be consumed by the prescribed patient, and by the directions instructed, making decarboxylation or 'decarbing' illegal.
WHERE CAN I GET MEDICAL CANNABIS?
Here is our guide on prescription medical cannabis access for UK residents. It's updated often with new information.
SHOULD I GET A CANCARD? IS CANCARD LEGIT?
In the UK, you do not need a Cancard to access medical cannabis. As to the legitimacy of Cancard, it is currently a 'grey area' with some doubts being cast as to whether it is worth paying for one.
CANNABIS CREATION IDEAS
Just a few quick ideas off the top of my head, most of which I've already made:
- Cannabis butter (goes on all sorts!)
- Cannabis gummies
- Cannabis oil
- Cannabis alcohol (Tequila, anyone? I'll be making a guide on this so check back!)
- Cannabis e-liquid
- Cannabis cakes
- Cannabis soap
- All manner of other weed edibles and topicals!
Did you find this guide useful? Feel free to share it with a fellow toker! We'd love to see your creations in our brand new cannabis forum, too!