Whenever you make edibles from your cannabis, you need to make sure to decarb the marijuana before you use it in your recipe. But what is decarboxylation, why does it matter, and how do you do it?
Understanding What Decarboxylation Is
Before learning how to decarb cannabis for edibles, you should understand what the process is and why it matters.
Decarboxylation refers to a chemical reaction that allows the cannabis in your edibles to deliver the potency. Essentially, it converts THCA into THC. The former is not psychoactive while the latter is.
To decarboxylate cannabis, you expose it to high temperatures for a certain amount of time. The temperature will ideally be around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not expose your cannabis to heat but leave it out for long enough, decarboxylation will eventually occur as well.
Why Decarboxylation Matters
If you do not decarb your cannabis, then your edibles will not be potent. That is because cannabis usually has THCA, which is non-psychoactive and not THC. The THC only exists after being heated, such as during smoking. You are unlikely to decarb your cannabis enough through the basic cooking process, so if you skip decarboxylation, you will find yourself with edibles that are not potent, resulting in wasted weed.
You do not have to decarboxylate cannabis before smoking it because heating or vaporizing it takes care of this process.
Preparing the Cannabis for Decarboxylation
Before you decarboxylate your cannabis, you will need to convert it into smaller pieces. Some people suggest grinding it while others suggest just breaking it into smaller pieces. You are unlikely to notice a significant difference, so go with whichever option appeals to you the most, and works best with your planned edible recipe.
Why Break It Down
Whether you choose to break down the cannabis or grind it before decarboxylation, it is essential to convert it into smaller pieces, at least somewhat. Taking this step allows cannabis to be baked more evenly, ensuring that it all decarboxylates properly.
Each option, grinding the cannabis or breaking it up, has its pros and cons. Breaking it up is relatively quick and easy to do and does not require any special tools. If you choose to grind it, you could speed up the process with a device, which will also make life easier on your hands. But, you to clean the food processor or grinder afterward. There is also an excellent chance that small amounts of cannabis powder will stay on your grinder or other containers, causing you to lose some of the weed.
Decarb Cannabis With Natural Aging
If you want to put in minimal effort and have a great deal of patience, you could let the cannabis decarboxylate naturally over time. This is not the ideal method because it is time-consuming and not very consistent. You will wait over a year for this process to take place, and in the meantime, the cannabis is just taking up room in your home.
Decarb Cannabis With an Oven and Baking Sheet
The most common method of decarboxylating cannabis for edibles is to use a baking sheet and your oven. Just keep in mind that if you want a discrete process of decarboxylation, this is not the way to go as it will produce plenty of cannabis smells. There will be no doubt that you have marijuana inside. You could reduce the smell somewhat by setting up a fan that has a carbon filter, but you will still have a strong weed smell.
To use this method, set your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spread the prepared cannabis across it. Bake the cannabis for about a half-hour. You know it is done when the color has become brownish.
Decarb Cannabis With an Oven and Oven Bags
If you do not want to deal with as much mess and want to reduce the smell somewhat, you can also use oven bags to decarboxylate your cannabis.
For this method, preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Put your prepared cannabis into the bag and tie a knot tightly on the bag. That step will help ensure the cannabis – and its smell – stay within the container. Put the bag right on a baking sheet and bake it for 30 minutes.
Decarb Cannabis With an Oven and Mason Jars
Yet another related method of decarboxylating cannabis is to use mason jars in the oven. They are easy to use, you likely have some on hand, and they do an outstanding job at keeping the smell contained, assuming you screw the lid on tightly.
Start by preheating the oven and putting the ground or broken-up cannabis in your mason jars. Screw the lid on as tight as you can to reduce the smell. Put the jars on the rack in your oven, ensuring they do not touch the oven’s sides or heating elements. Bake it for 30 minutes.
Remember that if you use mason jars, they will be very hot at the end of the process, so you need oven mitts to hold the jar. This also means you have to let the jars cool down a bit before opening them to avoid a rush of hot air.
Decarb Cannabis With Dedicated Machines
There are also some machines available specifically designed to decarboxylate cannabis. These are designed to contain the smell and let you just put the cannabis inside and leave it. These options are highly convenient and suitable for discretion due to the lack of smell. However, they take longer to decarb the weed and are expensive.
After you finish decarboxylating your cannabis, make sure to let it cool down before you start making your edible.
If you want to make edibles, you must decarboxylate your weed, or it will not deliver the psychoactive effects that you want. There are a few ways of decarboxylating cannabis, but the common theme is heating it for about a half hour within a given temperature range.