Decarboxylation is a bit of a barbaric term, but if you are a fan of cannabis cooking, then you must know what it is, and more importantly, how to do it! Yep, decarboxylation is an unavoidable process if you want your weed to reveal its full potential… Whether it’s that of CBD or another cannabinoid
Decarboxylation of cannabis, what does it mean?
To make a long story short, decarboxylation is a process that activates the substances present in cannabis flowers via an increase in temperature. This chemical reaction takes place naturally thanks to the sun’s rays.
However, to obtain a better output, one will generally cause the decarboxylation in an artificial way.
So much for the quick version. For those who like biology, some additional explanations follow!
Synthesis of THCa and CBDa
Everyone knows that THC and CBD are synthesized in the flowers of cannabis. Except that it is not completely true!
In reality, once the flowering is finished, the small heads of cannabis are very little concentrated in THC and CBD. They certainly have a good smell of grass, but that is not the sign of the presence of our favorite cannabinoids. Indeed, the smell and the taste of our flowers come from the famous terpenes.
Just after the harvest, the flowers contain very few active substances, on the other hand, they are rich in THCa as well as in CBDa, which are the acid forms of our cannabinoid duo.
Like all plants, cannabis is photosynthetic. While it feeds on sunlight, it absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2). This one is going to bind to the molecules of hydrogen (H) present in the plant and together, they form the carboxylic acid (COOH).
This carboxylic group will bind to the cannabinoids being formed, which will give us THCa and CBDa. This process is called carboxylation. In fact, decarboxylation consists in removing this COOH group.
In contact with air and the heat of the sun, cannabis flowers are partially decarboxylated. A small amount of THC and CBD are found. If one proceeds to the refining correctly, then this concentration will increase gradually.
This is indeed what the drying stage is for! In addition to dehydrating the heads to avoid the appearance of mushrooms, this process makes it possible to partially decarboxylate the flowers.
And we say “partly”, because the refining is generally done at room temperature, which is far from being enough for the decarboxylation to be complete.
It is however interesting to know that during this period, THCa is transformed into THC, but at a certain stage, it also begins to degrade into CBN. And CBN, well it is a cannabinoid known for its relaxing effect.
That’s why flowers kept for a long time will not necessarily be stronger from a psychotropic point of view. On the other hand, they will have a tendency to have a small pronounced somniferous effect.
That said, the flowers that you will be able to obtain legally do not contain THCa, therefore you should not meet this figure…
Is it really necessary to decarboxylate its CBD flowers?
Since natural decarboxylation is not enough to activate the substances in cannabis, do you have to do it yourself?
Well, it all depends on what you want to do with your flowers! If you intend to vaporize them, then the decarboxylation will be done instantaneously via the heat of the device. It is besides among other things for that we recommend to consume the flowers of CBD with a vaporizer rather than to smoke them in a traditional way!
On the one hand you do not absorb nicotine and other harmful substances contained in tobacco, and on the other hand, your flowers are heated just enough for the CBD to be activated.
When you smoke, the combustion burns some cannabinoids, terpenes and most importantly: the fragile alveoli in your lungs.
If you are thinking of using your cannabis flowers in a culinary preparation, then yes, decarboxylation is essential. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy the effects of your favorite cannabinoid(s).
Our tips for doing cannabis decarboxylation right
For a CBD product manufacturer, decarboxylation is a crucial step done in a meticulous manner. Indeed, each cannabinoid is activated at a precise temperature and the goal of the maneuver is to obtain a maximum concentration of CBD without exceeding the 0,2 % of THC imposed by the law.
However, do not worry, amateurs can also carry out a decarboxylation of quality, even without laboratory equipment.
To carry out a decarboxylation at home: small tutorial
To decarboxylate your cannabis flowers, you need:
- An oven ;
- CBD flowers;
- A grinder or a knife;
- Ideally: heat-resistant jars and a thermometer.
The 6 steps of artificial decarboxylation
- If your flowers are homegrown, then we recommend that you first dry them to remove excess moisture from the buds;
- Normally the CBD flowers sold in the trade were refined with care. However, if they seem a little too foamy, do not hesitate to heat them 10-15 minutes between 80 and 90 °C;
- Once you have taken these few precautions, crumble your flowers gently but roughly. There is no need to crumble the pretty heads, you risk damaging the molecular treasure inside! As a reminder, these are the small transparent crystals on the surface of the flowers that you want to expose to the heat;
- Then, spread the whole in a dish, if possible avoiding that the flowers overlap each other;
- Before all this, you will have to preheat your oven to 100°C and you will only have to put the whole thing in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Keep an eye on your little flowers, when they turn brown, the tanning session is over!
The guide advises you.
Lambda ovens are not always accurate and can vary by as much as 15° Celsius! If you don’t have a thermometer, we advise you to set your oven to 95°C even if it means leaving the flowers longer.
If you have a lid or jars, you will be able to preserve the precious terpenes, which are the first to evaporate. You will benefit from the surrounding effect, and your dishes will have a delicious cannabis taste.
Once your flowers have been decarboxylated, you can make your cannabis butter or oil at ease. Don’t forget that cannabinoids are lipophilic and that you will have to mix them with fat if you want to take advantage of their benefits!