Decarboxylation & Cannabis

  • Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide. The process of cannabis decarboxylation must occur before our bodies can absorb certain cannabinoids, like CBD or THC, through digestion.
  • How it plays a role with cannabis is that it is a process necessary with making edibles, cannabis topicals, oil extraction, and much more. Here are a few methods to “decarb” cannabis:
  • Cannabis Decarboxylation with Heat, Decarboxylation occurs when cannabis is exposed to heat, light, cofactors, or solvents, all of which can be manipulated within your own kitchen. A safe decarboxylation process is most important for any at-home culinary cannabis chef. Without decarboxylation, you may not experience the full range of beneficial health effects of cannabinoids.
  • The goal is to heat the cannabis at a low temperature over a long period of time to allow complete decarboxylation to occur, without destroying the beneficial plant matter such as the terpenes or flavonoids.
  • Decarboxylation can be done in your own kitchen by baking the dried cannabis flowers in the oven at a low temperature.
  • It is believed that the THCA in cannabis begins to decarboxylate at approximately 220° F after around 30-45 minutes of exposure, with full decarboxylation typically taking longer
  • For the more advanced culinary cannabis chefs, ideal decarboxylation will take place at a lower temperature for a longer period of time in an attempt to preserve the volatile monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes that may possess potential health benefits on their own
  • There are very few definitive time and temperature recommendations available today, with each chef and online resource having their own preferred time and temperature formula preference. You will likely develop your own time and temperature preferences based on the specific strain of cannabis flower you are starting with
  • Once the raw cannabis flower has been decarboxylated, it can be used in a wide variety of culinary applications, similar to wherever other dried herbs would be used.
  • You will be able to make your own tea, spice, or seasoning blends with their decarboxylated cannabis flower or simply use the cannabis flower to make an oil or butter with a simple infusion process.
  • Cannabis Decarboxylation with Fat, Cannabis decarboxylation with heat may not be ideal for some consumers due to the strong odor often associated with cooking cannabis.
  • A more popular method is to decarboxylate cannabis in a slow cooker or on the stove by introducing heat and solvents, such as oil, to create an activated cannabis oil that can then be used in a variety of different methods.
  • The odor associated with the fat decarboxylation method is much milder if done correctly. Making cannabis extracts at home is popular because they’re relatively easy to prepare and easy to consume.
  • Using cooking oil like olive oil or coconut oil is a great place to start to make cannabis oil at home. The cannabis oil extraction method is preferred by some over solvent extraction methods because it is believed that less toxic substances will leftover in the final product.
  • When compared to other solvent extraction methods including ethanol, petroleum, and naphtha extraction, ‘olive oil was the most optimal choice for the preparation of cannabis oils.
  • For those who are looking to make their own cannabis oil at home, this typically involves a water bath in a slow cooker, crockpot, instant pot, or on the stovetop.
  • In this method, dried cannabis flower is combined with the desired cooking oil in a double boiler or glass mason jar and left to cook at a low temperature not to exceed 245° F, for up to 8 hours.
  • After the cooking process, the plant matter is then strained and separated from the oil & discarded or repurposed. This leaves a cannabis cooking oil that can then be used in a wide variety of culinary applications.