Decarboxylation – What You Need To “Activate” Cannabis


Decarboxylation isn’t a common word in any toker’s lexicon, but it should be.

When it comes to many of the products we use, most of us are concerned only with the fact that they do work rather than how they work. 

For many cannabis consumers, getting high is the goal at the end of the road. That said, having even a basic understanding of how cannabis manifests itself in our bodies is just as important as knowing how each strain affects you.

Much like tobacco or alcohol, cannabis has a larger and larger mass of growing consumers. The thing is, only a handful of us actually know how it works and how to best use it.

Decarboxylation happens every single time you light up a bowl, spark a joint or vape up distillate. It’s an essential step of the cannabis process that many are still in the dark about.

If you’re interested in finding out the inner workings of cannabis? Stick around, we’ll be covering the basics right here.

What is Decarboxylation?

If you’ve ever baked some brownies or lit a joint before, you’ve probably already been decarboxylating your weed without even knowing it. 

As it turns out, eating raw weed really won’t do much for you. This is largely due to the fact that there are only trace amounts of THC in raw cannabis flowers.

decarboxylation tea

Much like brewing coffee or tea to drink, cannabis needs its own form of preparation before we can use it effectively. Since a large bulk of cannabinoids present are THCA and CBDA, they must first be activated by decarboxylation in order to give any psychoactive effects.

In our bodies, we have an endocannabinoid system. An intricate system lined with receptors all throughout. Namely the CB1 and CB2 receptors. As a matter of fact, the endocannabinoid system is said to be the bridge between the body and mind, and is what the cannabinoids in cannabis interact and bind to when we consume them. 

That said, decarboxylation is necessary to further enhance this interaction process and get us feeling the high we all know and love.

So what exactly is decarboxylation? The decarboxylation process is a chemical trigger that removes a carboxyl group from the cannabis plant material. 

The removal of the carboxyl group oxidizes the cannabinoids THCA and CBDA, and allows them to fully convert into THC and CBD. 

In order to decarboxylate cannabis, you need to expose it to a sustained amount of heat for an extended period of time. Activity such as sparking a joint, bowl or even a vape pen all expose cannabis and cannabis products to enough heat in order to “activate” it. 

Decarboxylation also occurs briefly during the curing process of cannabis, however only in small amounts. A Bulk of the decarboxylation occurs during either combustion or cooking cannabis.

Why is Decarboxylation Important?

As mentioned before, you can chow down all the raw weed you want, but it won’t do much for you. All that fiber might be great for your health but if you’re trying to get high – you’re going to be disappointed. 

Don’t believe us? We implore you to try.

Joking aside, cannabis that has not yet undergone decarboxylation has a great amount of THCA which is known to have a number of its own benefits. THCA has been known to be a great treatment for those who suffer from inflammatory and neuroprotective issues.

decarboxylation process

Even further, cannabis that has aged without decarboxylation will have the THCA converted to CBN. Granted that aged weed is usually less potent than fresh weed, CBN is actually a great sedative agent able to help insomniacs and restless individuals get their beauty sleep.

How Does Decarboxylation Occur?

Decarboxylation is a function of both heat and time. The THCA in raw cannabis generally starts to decarboxylate at a temperature of approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 104 degrees Celsius. In order for your cannabis to be fully decarboxylated, it needs to be exposed to the heat for around 30 to 45 minutes, and sometimes even longer if you choose to decarboxylate at a lower temperature. 

That said, decarboxylation is actually an intricate process that involves the preservation of cannabinoids and terpenes through temperature control.

You can’t just toss your weed into the hottest possible heat setting and take it out after a few minutes expecting to have properly decarbed weed.

Chances are, if you actually did do that, most if not all of the terpenes and a large amount of cannabinoids would have evaporated due to the excess heat.

As a matter of fact, a vast array of terpenes are actually in an unstable state, and exposing them to a decarboxylation temperature exceeding 300 degrees Fahrenheit or 149 degrees Celsius will cause them to become even more volatile, eventually leading them to evaporate.

How To Decarboxylate at Home

Want to learn how the decarboxylation process works so you can make some tasty CBD and THC edibles at home? 

You’ll be surprised at just how easy it is. 

In order to decarb kief or weed at home, you’ll need a baking sheet, some parchment paper, an oven, and some fresh ground weed.

Start by preheating your oven to 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 104 degrees Celsius. Then, line your baking sheet with some parchment paper and spread your finely ground weed over top.

The best way to do this is to make sure that the ground cannabis is evenly spread out in a thin layer – this increases the surface area of your flower. 

Once your cannabis is evenly spread out, insert it into your oven and let it decarb for about 30-45 minutes.

More advanced methods of decarboxylation involve water baths or slow cookers and solvents like coconut oil. These methods create an infused product that can be added to a variety of recipes or used on their own.

decarboxylation infused

Decarboxylation can be a pungently stinky project. If you’re not interested in leaving a lingering smell in your house, check out these CBD infused products. You’ll be able to get your full dose of CBD without any of the stinky decarboxylation! 

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of what cannabis decarboxylation is, you can apply these techniques to making superior products for you and your friends to enjoy!

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