Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction which comes about when you heat cannabinoids to the point of removing a carboxyl group. This enhances the cannabinoid’s ability to interact with the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors: A.K.A., it get us high and allows us to achieve medical benefit.
In order for the effects of marijuana to be felt – whether through smoking, vaporizing, food items or other consumables like tinctures or pills – it first needs to be decarboxylated. Without this – say, if you eat raw marijuana – you may be very slight effects, but you won’t get “high” in the traditional sense.
The Causes of Decarboxylation
Time is one of the two primary causes of decarboxylation. Curing and allowing marijuana to dry out over an extended period of time naturally causes partial decarbyoxylation. However, take note of the word “partial”. Eating marijuana in this state, as with raw cannabis, may have an effect and give you a very slight “high”, but it will be nothing compared to if you smoked the cannabis or placed it into edibles.
Smoking or vaporizing marijuana is another natural cause of decaboxylation, which is why smoking marijuana gets you high (the heat of the lighter activates the THC which is the psychoactive element). This is the most common form of decarboxylation for marijuana.
When using marijuana for edibles, decarboxylation occurs through cooking marijuana at specific temperature and for a specific amount of time, often through the making of marijuana butter or oil.
What is the Temperature at Which Decarboxylation Occurs in Marijuana?
THCA decarboxylates and begins to turn into THC at approximately 220 degrees (Fahrenheit) after around 30 minutes of exposure. Full decarboxylation may require more time to occur, sometimes around 45 to 60 minutes
Although cannabis can be decarboxylated at a slightly higher temperature (up to around 280), the benefit of decarboxylating cannabis at a lower temperature it that it helps to preserve more of the taste and terpenes.
Attempting to decarboxylate cannabis at a temperature that’s higher than 300 degrees can have some negative effects, such as burning the marijuana or cooking out some of the compounds such as THC, which is the exact opposite of what you (or at least most people) want.
Decarboxylation also occurs when marijuana is cooked into high-fat items such as butter or oil. The fat of the product activates the THC and aids in decarboxylation. Once infused into butter or oil, marijuana can be cooked at temperatures higher than 300 degrees without losing any of its integrity.
Decarboxylating Marijuana at Home
Decarboxylating marijuana at home is pretty simple.
- Finely ground marijuana
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- Finely grind marijuana
- Spread the cannabis thinly over a piece of parchment paper lining a baking tray
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (F)
- Cook the cannabis for 30 to 40 minutes
To make marijuana butter or oil, which also leads to cannabis decarboxylation, you can find simple, easy-to-follow recipes by clicking here.