Most people know about THC, which is the stuff that gets you going when consumed. But did you know that THC does not occur naturally in cannabinoids?
As a matter of fact, it is derived from THCA first.
Why do we need Decarboxylation?
What is THCA?
The trichomes of cannabis plants contain cannabinoids which have THCA and have large concentrations in newly harvested cannabis plants. THCA has a number of known benefits when consumed, including having anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective qualities. However, THCA does not provide consumers with the "high" or active effects until it is decarboxylated into THC.
Decarboxylation, to put it simply, is the process of heating cannabis to get the desired presence and effects of THC. This is essentially why cannabis needs to be heated before use, either through smoking, dabs, rosin pressing etc.
Drying and curing after harvest over time will cause a partial decarboxylation to occur. This is why some cannabis flowers also test for a presence of small amounts of THC along with THCA.
Smoking and the use of vapes will instantaneously decarboxylate cannabinoids due to the extremely high temperatures present, making them instantly available for absorption through inhalation.
If edibles are your preferred method, heating cannabinoids at a lower temperature over time allows us to decarboxylate the cannabinoids while preserving the integrity of the material we use so that we may infuse it into what we consume.
How Long Is The Decarbing Process?
The THCA in cannabis begins to decarboxylate at approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit after around 30-45 minutes of heating. Full decarboxylation may require more time to occur but it may differ depending on the strain.
It is recommended to decarb at lower temperatures for a much longer period of time in attempts to preserve terpenes. At higher temperatures, the terpenes may burn and result in undesirable results and flavor.
The integrity of both cannabinoids and terpenoids are compromised by using temperatures that exceed 300 degrees F, which is why temperatures in the 200’s are recommended. This is similar to why we suggest rosin pressing be around 190-220 max.
Can You Decarb At Home?
So the big question is, can I decarb at home? Absolutely!
The quickest way to do this is in your oven. You can set your home oven to 200-230, parchment paper or baking sheet, and a baking tray. In terms of "baking" your bud, it is recommended that you grind your herbs so that it has consistent shape and surface area and lay it thin over the parchment paper.
Similar to baking, you want uniform sizes so they all decarb at the same time. Having bigger and smaller nugs mixed with each other may cause some to burn quicker while others won't.
This process can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes but may be longer depending on how much you have.
Overall decarboxylation is a simple process and you can enjoy your medical or recreational herb in many different forms once the THC is ready to go.