Keys to decarbing weed
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- What is decarboxylation?
- Why you should decarb your weed
- How to decarb your weed at home
- How long should I decarb my weed?
- Bottom line
Many cannabis newcomers wonder if you can eat the raw cannabis plant and feel its intoxicating or psychoactive effects. Pop culture references to eating a big bag of raw weed and getting super stoned have no basis in the reality of how cannabis works, specifically how cannabinoids elicit effects in humans. For example, to exhibit the intoxicating effects associated with the cannabis high, THCA must be transformed into THC through a heating process called decarboxylation.
THCA must be transformed into THC through a heating process called decarboxylation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Here is a quick summary of everything you need to know about decarbing weed — what decarbing is, when you should decarb, and how to best decarb your weed at home.
What is decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that results from two main factors: heat and time. When a cannabinoid decarboxylates, it loses a carboxyl group, which gives it the ability to interact with the body’s receptors through which therapeutic and recreational effects are elicited. Over a long period of exposure to the elements, cannabinoids will decarboxylate on their own which is why proper cannabis storage is so important. Without airtight storage in a sufficiently sturdy container, cannabis will lose potency as cannabinoids slowly decarboxylate and activate prematurely.
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that results from two main factors: heat and time. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
To speed up the decarbing process, you’ll need to activate cannabinoids such as THC by heating them. When cannabis is smoked or vaporized, for example, the THCA loses a carboxyl group and converts to THC. Likewise, the cannabinoid CBDA must decarboxylate to turn into CBD.
A crucial step in making edibles or cannabis topicals at home is decarbing weed to make sure all the cannabinoids you want to experience are fully activated. When cannabis is cooked or baked, its active cannabinoids are absorbed through digestion. Decarbing weed also helps reduce the risk of microbiological contaminants. When weed decarboxylates, it loses moisture, which in turn decreases the chance of bacterial growth. Weed is dried and cured for the same reason, though some unwanted activation of cannabinoid, and therefore loss of potency, is inevitable during the curing process.
Why you should decarb your weed
In a nutshell, weed won’t get you high unless it’s decarbed. Marijuana’s most sought after cannabinoids — THC and CBD — need to be converted from THCA and CBDA over time to deliver the coveted recreational and therapeutic benefits. When making edibles and topicals, decarbing improves the function of these products by allowing for faster cannabinoid absorption. Edibles in particular have a reputation for delivering incredibly potent, long-lasting effects, but an edible won’t be as potent as its reputation suggests if the cannabis inside isn’t decarbed properly.
When making edibles and topicals, decarbing improves the function of these products by allowing for faster cannabinoid absorption. Photo by: Gine Coleman/Weedmaps
Cannabis is a complex plant with a wide variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds that contribute to its effects, including intoxication. But when it comes to the cannabis high, THC still reigns supreme. If you don’t decarb your weed, it won’t have active THC, which is a huge problem when making any cannabis product that isn’t immediately combusted and requires slow absorption through other avenues, such as the digestive tract.
How to decarb your weed at home
There are a variety of methods for decarbing weed at home, and the method you choose depends largely on what you want to do with your weed. Here are a few of the most common methods of decarbing and when you might want to try them:
If you’re baking edibles, your best bet for proper decarbing may be making cannabis oil or cannabutter to infuse into the final product. If you, it won’t need to be decarbed because it’s already been through the process. Well-made cannabutter, which involves heating butter and cannabis together, will decarboxylate the cannabis material while ensuring that active cannabinoids bind to the fats in the butter.
If you’re baking edibles, your best bet for proper decarbing may be making cannabis oil or cannabutter to infuse into the final product. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
If you’re planning on infusing foods with dried plant matter, baking your weed is a sufficient decarbing method. Here are 4 steps to follow to bake and decarb your weed.
- Step 1: Break your buds into small pieces and spread in a thin, even layer across a sheet of parchment paper.
- Step 2: Cover the paper with aluminum foil.
- Step 3: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 230 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110 degrees Celsius.
- Step 4: Let your decarbed weed cool before using.
Baking your weed is a sufficient decarbing method. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
If you want to make potent cannabis tea, simply put your weed in a tea bag and immerse in simmering water. The temperature should be around 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can add a small amount of butter to help draw out cannabinoids.
If you want to make potent cannabis tea, simply put your weed in a tea bag and immerse in simmering water. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The Sous-Vide method is optimal for decarbing dried plant matter without releasing an odor that could get you in hot water with your landlord or neighbors. To decarb your weed Sous-Vide, grind your cannabis and enclose it in a heat-safe, vacuum-sealed bag. Then, fill a large pot with water and place it on your stovetop. Insert a Sous-Vide precision cooker into the pot and set the temperature to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110 degrees Celsius. Once your precision cooker reaches the right temperature, cook your sealed cannabis for 1½ hours.
To make a cannabis-infused oil, you can decarb weed using a slow cooker and coconut or olive oil. For this recipe, you’ll need 64 ounces of dry cannabis plant matter and 433 milliliters of olive oil. Cover the ingredients and cook them on high in a slow cooker for 1 hour, then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 2-3 more hours. Let the mixture cool, then strain it through a cheesecloth.
To make a cannabis-infused oil, you can decarb weed using a slow cooker and coconut or olive oil. Photo by: Gine Coleman/Weedmaps
How long should I decarb my weed?
The amount of time you let your weed decarb depends on the temperature at which you’re heating it. The lower the heat, the longer your weed will take to decarb. It’s always better to err on the side of slow decarbing, as too high a temperature will scorch your plant material. Heating cannabis over 300 degrees Fahrenheit will cause too much degradation too quickly. According to a 2011 study from the Journal of Molecular Structure, the optimal yield of active THC occurs when weed is heated at 110 degrees Celsius for 110 minutes.
Baking, boiling, and slow cooking are a few ways you can decarb your weed at home to release the full therapeutic potential of vital cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.
Keys to decarbing weed Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is decarboxylation? Why you should decarb your weed How to decarb your weed
11 EASY Ways to Use Decarbed Cannabis
Once you’ve learned how to decarb weed and your bud is ready, the sky’s the limit with what you can do. If you are decarbing with FX or Nova, you’re getting a fully activated product – meaning a more accurate and potent dosage.
Here’s a short list of some of our favorite easy post-decarb fixes. Feel free to share your own in the comments below.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Instant Edible Capsules
For people that use medical marijuana, capsules are a lifesaver. They’re discreet, effective, and fit into your daily routine better than smoking, vaping, or eating extra calories via edibles. You can use them to help with chronic pain, sleep issues, anxiety, headaches, and so much more.
Pairing cannabis with other vitamins and nutraceuticals is a great way to enhance its benefits and create personalized medicine tailored for optimal health and wellness.
Just use your favorite decarbed strain and place into the capsules to create an instant and complete therapy. You can also add vitamins, oils or other supplements to your caps for enhanced benefits.
Some of our favorite formulations include:
- Fish oil and melatonin – best paired with decarbed indica for sleep
- Coconut oil and b-12 vitamin – best paired with a decarbed sativa for energy
Use empty capsules, available online or in-store at vitamin shops, to create the perfect blend for your needs. To make dry herb capsules, simply put your decarbed weed right into the capsule. Yes, that’s right – just decarb your cannabis in Nova or FX and then you can make your capsules with no infusion or additional processing!
You can add other vitamin or supplement powders into the capsule for an extra nutritional boost. For oil-based capsules, create canna oil with any oil of your choice and use a syringe to fill the capsules. Last thing you need to do is close them up and you’re done!
2. Facial Toner
Did you know that after proper decarboxylation you can make a simple tincture with rubbing alcohol that has powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties?
Studies using cannabis to maintain skin health show promise:
“Our preclinical data encourage one to explore whether endocannabinoid system-acting agents can be exploited in the management of common skin disorders,”
Use it just like you would any other toner with a cotton ball or pad for a quick cleanse.
You can make an effective facial toner for acne treatment with just rubbing alcohol and bud decarbed in Nova or FX.
- Put 1 gram of decarbed flower into a small jar
- Fill with rubbing alcohol
- Shake it
- Apply it with a cotton ball
Both THC and CBD have regenerative a great anti-inflammatory properties and the rubbing alcohol makes the solution anti-bacterial and perfect for acne treatment. If you are sensitive to alcohol, try using infused propylene glycol as an addition to your regular toner to get the benefits alcohol-free.
3. Pain Salve
Cannabis infused topicals are known to have anti-inflammatory, pain-reducing and regenerative properties that can be used for joint pains and minor skin issues.
Making a cannabis pain salve at home is easy and once you start using it, you will make it be a permanent part of your medicine cabinet. There are almost endless ways to prepare cannabis infused salve at home. It can be as easy as infusing coconut oil and then mixing with your favorite pain cream. It’s also very simple to make cannabis pain salve from scratch.
- Decarb your cannabis and make infused coconut oil
- Add 5 parts infused oil to 1 part beeswax in the FX or Nova and melt.
- Stir and cool the mixture and your salve is ready!
Once it has hardened, it’s ready to use for chronic or acute localized pain from arthritis, sore muscles, and tension. Immediate relief without psychoactive effects is one of the main draws of using cannabis-infused pain salve.
4. Medicated Massage Oil
Take your massage to the next level by incorporating weed-infused coconut oil.
Here’s how to make your own:
- 10 drops sandalwood
- 5 drops juniper
- 4 ylang ylang
- 2 drops lavender
- 4 oz. infused coconut oil
Mix all ingredients in FX or Nova until fully heated and blended. Cool and pour into a squeeze bottle. Use to soothe and inspire during your next massage.
5. Protein Shake
Decarbed bud makes a great addition to smoothies and shakes and can be a part of your healthiest snacks! You can add your decarboxylated flower right into the smoothie or add a tablespoon (or less) of infused coconut oil for an extra creamy drink. Many athletes report increased focus and endurance with the addition of THC or CBD to their regimen Follow our cannabis shake infused recipe below for yourself:
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 2 cups ice
- 4 oz vanilla unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 banana
- 1 – 2 tbsp organic peanut butter
- .2g – 5g of decarbed flower
You can also try a little in your post-workout protein shake to reduce inflammation and aid your recovery.
6. Kief Infused Hot Cocoa
Decarbed kief and concentrate are a great addition to infused marijuana beverages, especially if you are looking for a potent dose. Try our hot cocoa recipe for decarbed kief. If you are not familiar with kief, it is the sticky, pollen-like substance on your bud, known as the trichomes. Since the trichomes contain all of the cannabinoids, kief is a more potent concentrate than bud. You’ll only need a little bit in your hot cocoa and it’s better to start with a small dose than to overdo it and potentially end up with an unenjoyable high.
To make kief hot cocoa:
- Decarb your kief in FX or Nova. Our Concentrate & Infusion Sleeves make this step extra easy
- Mix the decarbed kief with your hot cocoa (add a drop or two of coconut or MCT oil if you have trouble feeling edibles, not needed for most people)
Be aware that kief is usually over 40% THC, so in one gram of kief, there’s over 400 mg of THC. Therefore be very careful when you are using kief and concentrate, which averages over 70% THC (700mg per gram) in your edible creations 😮
7. Easily Make Tinctures
Tinctures and marijuana-infused alcohol are both a great way to discreetly consume cannabis. They can be eaten like a regular edible or administered sublingually (under the tongue) for a much quicker uptake than traditional edibles.
In addition, tinctures are very easy to make, simple to dose, and have a long shelf life if stored properly. Making them popular with both recreational and medical marijuana users. Especially those that prefer not to partake in the various ways to smoke weed due to the health risk and micro-dosers who prefer small, controlled doses.
Check out our guide to making CBG tinctures with Everclear alcohol, and learn more about vegetable glycerin tinctures.
Cannacream and cannamilk can be a great traditional oil or cannabutter alternative. They can be used for cooking, added to your morning coffee, smoothies, shakes, and any other recipe you use that adds dairy.
The process of making cannamilk and cannacream is identical to making cannabutter and canna oil, but because they contain less fat, they aren’t as effective at extracting the cannabinoids like THC and CBD. That being said, they can add even more variation to the types of food you can make into an edible. Learn more about infusion rates for cannamilk and cannacream in our tutorial, complete with testing results.
We promise, your morning cereal and coffee will never be the same!
9. Cannabutter & Cannaoil
Do you have to decarb weed for edibles? Well, decarbing is a must when making cannabutter or cannaoil. You will not have a well-activated oil without decarbing your cannabis first, which means that you’ll be missing out on valuable THC or CBD. We tested how long to infuse weed and found that infusions for 45 minutes, an hour, or three hours all had excellent extraction rates, so you have flexibility there based on personal preference.
Cannabutter and cannaoil are used to make a variety of edibles, everything from brownies to salad dressing and sauteed veggies. You can control the potency of your infusions by increasing or decreasing the amount of cannabis you use in your infusions. If you want to know more about this, here’s how to infuse cannabinoids for the best results.
10. Cannabis Infused Tea
Cannabis tea is growing in popularity and is very simple to make. Two of the most popular ways:
- Add infused coconut or MCT oil to your tea after brewing
- Use the flower left over after your infusion (called raffinate, this “leftover” has plenty of cannabinoids still available – perfect for steeping in tea), place the raffinate and loose leaf tea into a tea bag, steep and enjoy.
11. Eating Decarbed Weed
Can you eat decarbed weed? Yes! You can actually just eat your cannabis after it’s been through the decarboxylation process with no further processing. Because precision activation gives you an average of 100 -250 mg THC per gram, depending on the potency of your starting flower, you can take just a small amount of your decarbed cannabis and put it right into your food. Once your weed is activated, you can literally do anything with it and you will feel the effects – including eating it plain or sprinkling it on whatever food you’re craving!
Which is your favorite way to use decarbed weed? Are there any uses we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
What can you do with decarbed weed? Once you decarb your bud, the sky's the limit! Here are 11 ways to use decarbed cannabis edibles & more