Think of decarboxylation as activating raw cannabis in a greatly enhanced form. In scientific terms, decarb is the process of chemically altering the chemical structure of several cannabinoid compounds found in natural cannabis plants, including hemp.
When a cannabis plant is freshly harvested, the cannabinoids in flower trichomes contain an extra ring or carboxyl group (COOH) attached to their molecular chain. The cannabis decarboxylation process removes this carboxyl group from the cannabinoid molecule. This process effectively converts THCA into active THC (or raw CBDA into CBD), as described below.
Slow, natural decarboxylation occurs as fresh cannabis dries and hardens after harvest. However, heat is the fastest and most effective catalyst for the cannabis decarb reaction. For example, decarboxylation is almost instantaneous when cannabis is smoked or vaporized.
Why Decarb Cannabis
In the cannabis community, raw or non-decarboxylated cannabinoid compounds are referred to as the "acidic" forms, such as THCA or CBDA. CBDA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Likewise, THCA is not psychoactive until converted to the better-known substance THC. For example, when you ingest raw cannabis, there is very little psychoactive effect or "high" experience. So when cannabis is decarboxylated, it becomes psychoactive.
This is important for people who want to feel the psychoactive effects of their food, oils, tinctures, or other types of cannabis. However, the benefit is much more than just feeling "cheap." Both THC and CBD exude powerful, scientifically proven healing properties in decarboxylated form. This includes relieving anxiety, pain, inflammation, and more. THC and CBD are easily absorbed into our bodies and work freely with our body's endocannabinoid system to work.
On the other hand, theTHCa and CBDa also have some good but less studied medicinal uses of their own. Therefore, people 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.
A glass jar is open and visible from above, filled with decarboxylated cannabis. The colors range from greenish-yellow to purple and are all light golden brown. Under the pitcher are an agave pot and garden beds filled with fava beans and mustard leaves.
Isn't it beautiful? A mix of our Cookie Wreck and Gold Lotus, post-decarb.
Ways to Decarboxylate Cannabis
Good news is that, it is very easy to eliminate the acid link. Especially the way we do it - in the oven! Since the basic idea behind decarboxylating cannabis is to heat it, there are many ways to fertilize cannabis at home. This includes heating the stove in a double boiler or a crockpot. Some people add it directly to food or oil as part of the final cooking process.
However, these methods require more practical control or agitation. Plus, they easily lend themselves to accidental overheating or uneven heating of cannabis. Overheating will destroy many beneficial cannabinoids, and the resulting product can also become very lazy. In contrast, cannabis peeling is extremely accurate, effective, and virtually intervention-free. The only easier (and odorless) option is to use one of those automatic decarboxylation devices from Nova or Magic Butter.
The best way to decarboxylate cannabis?
The best way to decarboxylate weeds is largely a matter of personal preference, how you want to use the cannabis, and the equipment or tools available to get the job done.
Are you planning to make edibles with your herb? In most cases, the best option for this type of preparation is to make cannabis oil or cannabis-infused butter. If you plan to add dried herbs to drinks, smoothies, or other foods (such as sprinkling popcorn), you may want to minimize the natural aroma using the sous vide method (make no worries, we will explain below).
Of course, if you plan to vaporize or smoke your weed, you can skip decarboxylation altogether.