How to Decarboxylate Cannabis to Use in Oils, Edibles & Salves
Are you interested in using cannabis to create homemade edibles, cannabis-infused oils, or healing topical salves? If so, it is very convenient and effective to start with cannabis that has been properly decarboxylated first. Wait, what? Don’t worry… It’s cool if you aren’t familiar with the term. This article will give you a quick run-down of what cannabis decarboxylation is and why it is important. Then, we’ll go over how to decarboxylate your cannabis, including easy step-by-step instructions on how to “decarb” cannabis in the oven. The result is a ready-to-use, versatile, activated cannabis product.
What is Decarboxylation?
Think of decarboxylation (also known as “decarbing”) as activating raw cannabis into an enhanced potent form. In more scientific terms, decarboxylation is the process of physically altering the chemical structure of various cannabinoid compounds found in raw cannabis plants – including both marijuana and hemp.
When a cannabis plant is growing or freshly harvested, the cannabinoids found within the flower trichomes contain an extra carboxyl ring or group (COOH) attached to their molecular chain. The process of decarboxylating cannabis removes that carboxyl group from the cannabinoid molecule. This process is what effectively transforms THCA into active THC (or, raw CBDA into CBD) described more below.
Some slow and natural decarboxylation occurs as fresh cannabis dries and cures after harvest. However, heat is the most quick and effective catalyst to trigger the cannabis decarb reaction. For example, decarboxylation is virtually instantaneous when cannabis is smoked or vaporized.
Temperature and Decarboxylation
As we explored in this article about vaporizing cannabis, various cannabinoid compounds and terpenes respond to distinct temperature ranges. Some are activated, altered, or even destroyed at different temperatures. This is one of the many reasons we love using a dynamic heat range vaporizer rather than combusting (smoking) cannabis. You get to reap the benefits of far more intricate elements of the bud.
In the same manner, it is best to decarboxylate cannabis low and slow. Experts say that approximately 230-250°F is the “sweet spot” temperature to decarb cannabis. In that range, THCA converts to THC while also preserving many other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes. The chemical reactions (and THC activation or degradation) will vary with time, as noted in the chart below.
Why Decarb Cannabis
In the cannabis community, the raw or non-decarboxylated cannabinoid compounds are referred to as the “acid” forms – such THCA or CBDA. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and the acidic precursor to potent CBD. Likewise, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is not psychoactive until it is converted into the more well-known compound THC. For instance, when you ingest raw cannabis there is very little psychoactive effect or “high” experienced. Then, when cannabis is decarboxylated it becomes psychoactive.
Obviously, this is important for folks who are hoping to feel the psychoactive effects of their cannabis edibles, oils, tinctures, or otherwise. Yet the benefit is so much more than just feeling the “high”. Both THC and CBD exude scientifically-proven powerful healing properties in their decarboxylated forms. This includes providing relief from anxiety, pain, inflammation, and more. THC and CBD readily absorb in our bodies and interact freely with our bodies endocannabinoid system to work their magic.
On the other hand, the raw acid forms of THC and CBD (THCA and CBDA) also have some promising but lesser-studied medicinal applications of their own. Therefore, folks who are interested in a full-spectrum, ultra-healing experience may choose to use a combination of raw and decarbed cannabis in their homemade oils and salves.
Ways to Decarboxylate Cannabis
The good news is that it is very easy to decarb cannabis. Especially the way we do it – in the oven! Because the basic idea behind decarboxylating cannabis is to heat it, there are clearly many ways you could decarb cannabis at home. This includes heating it on the stove, in a double-boiler, or in a crock pot. Some people add it directly in food or oil as part of the final cooking process.
However, those methods require more hands-on monitoring or stirring. Also, they easily lend themselves to accidentally overheating or unevenly heating the cannabis. Overheating will destroy many of the beneficial cannabinoids, and the resulting product can also become very lethargic. In contrast, decarbing cannabis in the oven is extremely precise, effective, and virtually hands-off. The only easier (and odorless) option is to use one of these badass Nova or Magical Butter automatic decarboxylator devices.
HOW TO DECARBOXYLATE CANNABIS IN THE OVEN
Preheat oven to 250°F. Also, keep in mind that this is will make your house smell strongly of weed for a few hours. You’ve been warned.
How to Plant Clones
This article was co-authored by Maggie Moran and by wikiHow staff writer, Sophia Latorre. Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania.
There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed 68,133 times.
If you live in a place where it is legal to grow marijuana, you can expand your crop by planting clones. Planting clones of marijuana plants is a simple process that only requires a few steps. Choose clean pots with new soil and provide a warm, moist environment with weak light to ensure that the clones thrive.
- Twisted, blistered, and wet-looking leaves are an indication of broad mites or russet mites.  X Research source
- Small specks or bite marks on leaves are a sign of spider mites.  X Research source
- Yellow spots on the leaves indicate a fungus called leaf septoria.  X Research source
- White spots, fuzzy patches, or powdery-looking leaves are signs of white powdery mildew.  X Research source
- Be sure to wear gloves to avoid getting the product on your hands. If your skin does come into contact with the liquid, wash them with warm water and soap immediately.
- You also need to avoid contact with your eyes.
- It’s best to transplant clones into small or medium-sized pots, rather than large ones, to ensure the nutrients in the soil aren’t drained off and wasted during watering.
- It’s important to purchase new soil, rather than reusing soil, to ensure that the clones aren’t contaminated with pests or fungus from other plants.  X Research source
- If your clones are planted in rockwool, dig out a space in the pot large enough for the rockwool. Then, place the rockwool and clone inside the pot and cover the rockwool with soil.
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About This Article
All you’ll need to plant clones is a pot with large drainage holes, soil, and a warm place for them to grow. Your pot needs to have good drainage because clones don’t do well if the soil gets waterlogged. Choose a soil high in nitrogen, which helps clones thrive. Give your clones about 18 hours of weak light, like compact fluorescent light, each day for best results. Clones do best in environments between 70 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure you place them in a hot room if necessary. You should also water your clones every day to keep the soil moist, but not too damp. For tips from our Gardening co-author on how to transplant cloves, read on!