What Is Decarboxylation & How To Decarb Weed?

Do you know how to decarb weed? It's fairly simple to accomplish with household implements, all you need are some high-quality buds and the elbow grease required to do some home baking/cooking. Let's explore the basics of decarboxylation, how it works & what you can do with it.
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Have you ever made your own cannabis products at home before? There’s nothing better than a freshly baked tray of bud brownies that you can then proceed to get equally baked on. Who here has made their own cannabudder for a particularly mind-melting grilled cheese sandwich? Have you or someone you know ever infused a soothing cannabis tea that relaxed you into last year?

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There are an infinite number of ways you can include cannabis in your daily life, and an equal amount of kinds of weed to try in an ever-expanding number of kinds of products. Maybe you’re not the DIY type, but you’ve always wanted to try your hand at baking, cooking or concocting some awesome homemade stuff… how do you get started?

Anytime you run into one of those crafty, DIY cannabis pros you probably will hear them use terms like “decarbing”. Have you ever considered what this actually means? For many cannabis smokers, dabbers, vapers and bong-hitters this should be a familiar process. Anytime you apply heat and/or pressure to cannabis flowers, the chemical reaction triggered by heat activates the raw, acidic forms of THCA into the powerful psychoactive compound we’re after: THC. This fundamental biochemical process is known as decarboxylation (decarboxylization in certain parts of the world, but they both refer to the same thing).

How do you decarb weed? What gets better results: decarboxylation in an oven, or decarboxylation in oil? Is it easy to learn how to decarboxylate kief? Let’s preheat the oven while we brush up on our rudimentary cannabis science as we explore the basics of decarbing weed in 2022.

DECARBING WEED BASICS

Decarbing, for short, is simple to do with the usual household implements yet it can open up a whole world of weed possibilities for you. Once you learn to decarboxylate in oil or decarb weed in your oven it’s easy to transform your home-grown buds into oils, edibles, topicals and more. In order to become a decarbing pro you just need to practice a few times and set up a system that suits your needs, skills and available resources. Let’s further define what we mean by NEEDS, SKILLS and RESOURCES.

Medical? Or Recreational?

First off, it’s important to determine your needs for cannabis. Do you have a serious medical condition that you rely on cannabis to treat? If you suffer from arthritis, insomnia, depression, anxiety, nausea, or something more debilitating like MS or epilepsy then you obviously require a lot more weed than most, if not more potent cannabinoids. On the flip side, maybe you’re more of a casual toker who just enjoys a good high every other day/night?

You need to clearly spell out how great your reliance on cannabis is before you get started making your own products at home. This might seem overly simple, but many stoners don’t really consider why they use cannabis, how much they need or how they’re consuming it. By clearly defining your cannabis needs you will have an easier time figuring out what kinds of equipment & know-how is required – before we get to the resources, let’s look at your skills first.

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Cannabis Smarts & Skills

Next, you need to spell out your overall cannabis knowledge or skills associated with growing, processing and consuming. Do you only rig up dabs of the most potent concentrates possible? Then you might not want to spend a lot of time/money on decarbing your buds and making your own extracts. Perhaps you’re a novice stoner who is becoming an edibles cannaseur? This sounds like the kind of person who should learn to decarb their weed for some home-grown, home-cooked goodies.

Anyone can and should learn how to decarboxylate kief or buds, but if you’re a beginner then buying edibles from places like Hautehealth.shop is best. On the other hand, if you’re very familiar with most kinds of weed strains and cannabis products then it’s high time you played mad scientist in your kitchen. Making your own edibles, topicals or concentrates is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding.

On top of these considerations you should keep in mind how much weed you smoke/ingest. If you use cannabis medically then decarbing weed and putting it into various edible items might save you some significant dough on your dro.

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What Are Your Resources?

Speaking of money, how you decarb your buds will depend on what kinds of appliances, equipment or disposable income you have to spend on your very own DIY dope kitchen. In most cases, using a conventional oven will be more than enough of a heat source to successfully decarboxylate your cannabis. You can decarb multiple trays at a time if you have a newer, more efficient appliance; older stoves or smaller output machines might be safer to decarb one tray at a time.

There are specialized pressurized cookers, flash-cookers or similar specialty appliances that can be utilized in decarbing buds as well. There are also options for decarboxylation in oil vats, but we’ll touch on this method later on in the article. For all intents and purposes, a working oven can get the job done in activating those precious acidic cannabinoids into more active forms.

Now that we have reviewed our options, determined the scope of what/how/why we’re decarbing cannabis, it’s time to learn the actual procedures involved. First let’s look at the standard method of decarboxylation in ovens, and then the oil method.

CANNABIS DECARBOXYLATION IN OVEN

 Depending on how efficient your oven is, there are a variety of temperature ranges you will need to stick to for decarboxylating your cannabis. Generally speaking, most household ovens can effectively decarb weed at 250-350℉ in 20-30 minutes. These values will change according to the amount of buds you’re decarbing, the energy transfer efficiency of your oven, and how much THC you’re seeking in the finished product.

For most decarboxylation in ovens, the following temperatures & baking times will lead to the following results:

 

Cannabis Flowers:              High THC | High CBD

Temperatures                                  250 – 300℉

Time (Minutes)                  12-18, 15-25 |  5-10, 12-15

Kief/Hash

Temperatures                                  250 – 300℉

Time (Minutes)                  50-60, 50-95 |  30-40, 40-50

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These are just average temperatures and oven times that make a good baseline. Be sure to adjust according to your oven’s limitations or your decarb targets. Now that we have some parameters for decarboxylation in ovens, let’s go through the steps:

1. Preheat your oven between 250-350℉ (depending on the duration and desired cannabinoids)

**It is best to break the cannabis flowers up into smaller chunks, to increase the surface areas that will be exposed to direct heat. Some people pre-grind their decarb buds if they have a lower temp oven or will be decarboxylating for much longer stints, but this isn’t necessary.**

3. Spread the buds evenly over a sheet of parchment paper on top of a non-stick pan, try your best to leave space between nugs and avoid overlapping the cannabis flowers as much as possible.

4. Set the tray inside the oven covered in tinfoil (if you have a high output oven or top racks only) or uncovered on the mid-lower racks.

5. Bake the buds in the oven for your desired time frame (*see the chart for high THC, high CBD or how to decarboxylate kief).

6. Once the timer has gone off, look the buds over before removing from the oven – they should be golden or browning but not too dark. Also check how dry & crispy the nugs are – they should be crispy and very dry, any moisture or sponginess needs to be put back in for 5-10 minutes.

7. Always let your buds cool after decarboxylation. The nugs need to be crispy, crumbly and fully dried out.

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Now that you have successfully decarboxylated in your oven, you can put your activated buds to use in edibles, topicals, beverages or whatever you have planned. Some people prefer to mash theirs up in food processors, sprinkle them into smoothies, mix them in tea infusions or cook some cannabis meals. Whatever you can imagine adding cannabis too, with decarbed weed you’re good to go.

If you’re not going to be using all of the decarboxylated materials be sure to grind it up and store in sealed jars or containers – also, don’t forget to label your final product, you’d hate to have a roommate or family member garnish their pasta with “oregano” that gets them unexpectedly high!

CANNABIS DECARBOXYLATION IN OIL

The goal with decarboxylation in oil is to avoid overheating the cannabis flowers which can break them down too much, too quickly. Oil decarbing requires more attention and care than a typical oven decarb, but it is certainly viable if you are going to be making cannabis oil anyway. Oil carriers are great because they bind to the cannabinoids once they’ve been activated by heat. For this reason, specifically, cannabis oil decarboxylation is gaining popularity.

For equipment, a boiler or slow-cooker are best because they can maintain temperatures very effectively. Using a simple pot and stirring can work, but you have to be monitoring the oil and cannabis infusion the entire time. Hot spots from uneven heating or avoiding clumping requires you to constantly stir, check temperatures with a thermometer probe and keep an eye on the slow boil. Your choice of oil carrier will also determine how quickly the infusion reaches the right temperature (200℉), but this is mainly a flavor/choice decision.

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When you’re ready to start boiling, here’s the steps to achieving decarboxylation in oil:

1. Pour some water into the bottom of the boiler/pot, just enough to cover the bottom. Next, add your chosen oil and heat it up on low-medium heat to get the oil melted. If your carrier is already liquid, you can skip this step.

2. Once your oil has warmed for a few minutes, add your buds (remember to break them up into smaller chunks) and stir the mix together thoroughly. While you are stirring, increase the temperature to medium-high to get a boil going.

3. Once your oil is bubbling or has reached the temperature limits (don’t go above 180-200℉!) reduce the temp to low-medium again and let the oil cook for 45-60 minutes. You should be constantly checking and stirring your mixture, and don’t be surprised if the process is done earlier (30 minutes isn’t rare for an oil infusion to be completed).

4. On the other hand, if you want to slow-cook or low-boil your oil on lower temperatures for several hours that can work as well, just make sure you frequently agitate and check the temperature.

5. The temperature checks are essential throughout these steps! Don’t let your oil mixture get above 200℉ – this will mean you’ll likely have to lower-and-raise the temperature a few times to keep it in the safe range.

6. Once you’ve heated your cannabis buds in oil for the desired time, strain the mixture through a fine sieve, strainer or cheesecloth – the goal is to remove the chunks of cannabis flowers, leaving behind the decarboxylated trichomes and active compounds in the oil.

7. Finally, let the oil cool in its final container (make sure it has a sealed top to better preserve it) and store in a dark, cool place.

There you have it! A couple ways to decarb your weed next time you harvest. You can use store/online bought buds to infuse into your own edibles and topicals, but nothing feels more satisfying than growing your own cannabis, harvesting, drying & curing and then turning those gorgeous nugs into potent, homemade products. We hope this guide to decarboxylation was helpful, and we look forward to seeing what you create with some activated buds!

FAQ

Should you grind weed before or after decarbing?

Most people prefer to grind their buds before decarbing – this can make it easier for the plant material to break down and activate THC compounds within. However, you can decarb whole cannabis flowers, it just might require a larger & more powerful oven/vat in addition to longer decarb durations.

Should you cover weed when decarbing?

For at-home decarbing, it is recommended that you cover your weed in tinfoil or parchment paper to prevent any singeing of the buds. Always make sure you let your decarbed buds cool as the tinfoil/parchment can remain quite hot to the touch.

Can weed decarb naturally?

Cannabis can decarboxylate naturally over long periods of time during drying & curing, however there is typically not enough heat in the air to fully decarb buds to the point of achieving significant THC levels.

What should weed look like after decarbing?

Decarbing buds will typically change from their vibrant greens, purples, reds and oranges to light brown, yellow or golden hues from the pressure & heat.

What happens if you decarboxylate too long?

If decarboxylation is taking too long it’s usually due to not enough heat being applied to the cannabis flowers. If buds are decarbed at lower temperatures for long periods of time decarbing might not occur, but you can run the risk of burning or singeing your weed. It’s best to utilize intense heat applied for short periods of time (less than 20-30 minutes, depending on your method of decarbing).
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