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Decarbing Cannabis for Cooking

The term Decarboxylation is a bit of a mouthful to begin a post with so let’s shorten that to its more common form of Decarbing. It is also understandable to think that a degree in chemistry is needed to complete the decarbing process of cannabis but nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s take a look at what decarbing cannabis is all about, the easy steps taken to complete the process, and why it is a must for anyone wanting to get the best effects from cookies, cakes, gummies, and other edibles.

But, before that let’s assure all smokers of one thing…

You Have Already Completed the Decarbing Process!

Anyone who has lit up a joint of their preferred cannabis strain or heated a bud in their favorite bong has already completed the process!

Why? Because decarbing cannabis is simply the process of heating it to a specific temperature. Achieving that activates the compounds contained in cannabis and when inhaled it gives users that pleasurable high.

That being said, when it comes to cooking and baking with cannabis there is a far more effective way to decarb cannabis. One that can be completed with everyday kitchen utensils in less than an hour.

We will get into that process shortly but first, let’s explain in more detail what decarbing cannabis is and how it works:

What Decarboxylation is & How it Works

The decarbing process activates psychoactive compounds contained in the cannabis plant. When consumed this is what gives that high feeling.

During growth cannabis plants contain THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid). THCA will not get you high. For that, it needs to convert into THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). As mentioned, this conversion is achieved through the heating of cannabis.

Sources of that heat most often come from a lighter flame or a vape pen’s atomizer when smoking, or through the use of a conventional oven when making edibles.

The reason heat is required to complete this process is that the chemical structure of THCA contains an extra carboxyl ring that needs to be removed. Heating cannabis removes (de-carboxylates) that compound.

When smoking cannabis the high temperatures achieved through lighting vaporize and instantly decarboxylates the compounds contained. This makes the compounds immediately available for your body to absorb.

As well as occurring through heat, decarboxylation can occur over time. This process happens when you have harvested your homegrown weed and during the drying and curing process.

It also needs to be remembered that oxygen can contribute to the decarbing process. To slow that down and maintain freshness as well as potency you should keep your weed in an air-tight container.

Why is Decarbing Necessary for Edibles?

As stated, the decarb process must be completed in all cannabis products if you are to achieve a high from using it. Consuming cannabis without heating it will not get you high. This makes it necessary to decarb your cannabis to activate the weed before consumption.

Edibles containing cannabis are rapidly growing in popularity among the cannabis community. Those who want to try their hand at making homemade edibles will find that the most common and effective decarbing method is to heat buds in an oven.

From there, they can be infused into butter, oil, or any other medium you have in mind. It is this infusion process that goes towards making edibles. Prime examples here are cookies, brownies, cakes, and gummies.

Oven Decarbing in 3 Easy Steps

If all of the above has made you hungry for an edible high, here’s how to achieve that in 3 easy steps:

It should be said that there are various different procedures, temperature, and timing recommendations out there. However, you should find the following method is very effective in producing decarbed cannabis. The finished product can then be used in edibles of your choice to give a memorable high.

Step #1 – Materials

The materials below are standard kitchen items and while one is not essential it is highly recommended for anyone who intends to regularly decarb their cannabis using an oven.

  • Baking sheet or Glass baking dish.
  • Aluminum foil or Parchment paper.
  • Oven thermometer – This is optional but many ovens can vary in the temperature given on the dial by up to 68 Deg F. Use of an oven thermometer gives greater temperature accuracy and consistency.

You then need a quantity of cannabis and perhaps a cannabis grinder. The grinder is optional because many find that simply breaking the buds into smaller pieces is just as effective. If you are using a grinder do not grind the buds into pieces that are too small.

Step #2 – Temperature setting and timing

Decarboxylation occurs between 200-250 Degrees F. We recommend setting the oven at 230 Deg F for 45 minutes as this will preserve more of the terpenes contained in the cannabis.

Note 1: If you heat the cannabis in your oven above 300 Deg F it will burn off valuable cannabinoids and terpenes. Doing so will not get you high when infusing it into butter, oil, or any other medium.

Note 2: If your intention is to convert CBDA into CBD for oil or salve and you are working with a high CBD strain this takes longer than the THC decarb process. That being the case, double the baking time at the given temperature.

Step #3 – Directions

These directions are very straightforward. Just keep an eye on the actual temperature and recommended timing.

  • Set the oven temperature to 230 Deg F and place the oven rack in the middle position. This is because ovens are cooler at the bottom and hotter at the top. The middle position is ideal for the decarbing temperature you are after.
  • Line your baking sheet or glass oven bowl with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Lightly break (or grind) the cannabis onto it. Do not break the cannabis too finely, or you will risk burning it.
  • Heat for 40-45 minutes. ‘Stir’ it at least once during the heating process.
  • The effect you are after is to achieve a lightly toasted, golden-brown appearance of the cannabis. If that appearance is achieved before the above time, the baking is complete.
  • Remove the baked cannabis from the oven and allow it to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • When the cannabis is cool enough to handle you have 2 choices: Either add it to butter, oil, or any other medium you choose. This can then be infused into other ingredients for your chosen edible. Or, place it in an air-tight storage container for future use.

Practice Makes Perfect!

As can be seen, decarbing cannabis is quite a straightforward and rewarding process. The result will be decarbed cannabis that is ready to be used in any edible recipe you choose.

All that is required is a little time and patience. With practice, you will quickly get the right balance and benefit from quality cannabis that contains a kick. 

If you have enjoyed this article, please click here for more cannabis articles and news relating to the wonderful world of cannabis.