Decarboxylation is an important process in preparation for infusing weed into savory dishes and desserts. Without decarboxylation, the potency of cannabis might be too low for your liking or might not kick at all.
Intimidating as it sounds, the decarboxylation isn’t something complicated or something to get worried about. It only involves simple tools at home and your reading skills for instruction. There are several ways to decarb a weed, but let’s get to know the decarboxylation first before we get into that.
What is Decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation is the process of making cannabis a potent food additive. Decarboxylation triggers a chemical reaction within the cannabis that releases a carboxyl group, which ultimately makes the weed psychoactive. The main tool used in the decarboxylation process is heat.
Cannabis has compounds called cannabinoids. Two of the plant’s most prevalent and known cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). These cannabinoids have an extra carboxyl ring in their molecular structure. Since THC on raw plants has an extra carboxyl ring to it, it’s spelled in the chemical chart as THCA.
In its original and pure form, THCA is not psychoactive. When cannabis goes through heat (or through the process of decarboxylation), THC detaches from the original THCA compound. THCA has now been converted into THC. THC is an active psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. Upon consumption, THC is an agent that induces the high.
Ways to Decarb Weed
How to Decarboxylate Weed in an Oven
In decarboxylating in an oven, keep in mind that the machine’s temperature dials are not “exact,” but rather, they refer to an average temperature. Old ovens are especially prone to fluctuating temperatures. An oven could fluctuate by 20 degrees less in temperature. So keep your trained eye on the cannabis every five minutes or so.
If your cannabis looks like it’ll burn soon, take your temperature dial down the notch. It’s a good idea to buy an oven thermometer, which will tell you the exact temperature inside your oven. It’s a good investment if you’re always using your oven.
Tools and ingredient to use:
- Baking tray (Use Pyrex if you have one)
- Parchment paper for baking or aluminum foil
- Turn your oven’s temperature dial to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your oven rack at the center and in the middle position. Positioning is important because the top of ovens are hotter than the bottom. The middle rack position will give you that balanced heat; it also serves the most accurate temperature of your oven’s dial.
- You can use either your parchment or aluminum foil in this step. Cut your parchment or aluminum foil according to the size of your baking tray’s surface area. Lightly crumple your parchment or aluminum foil, then lay it across your baking tray, covering all the tray’s surface area. The extra layer of protection keeps your cannabis from burning due to pan contact. This is why Pyrex is recommended; there is less chance of burning your weed in a Pyrex material.
- Gently break apart your cannabis until it’s reduced to the size of a grain of rice. Be wary of the size because too fine or too broad-surfaced cannabis burns easily. Spread the cannabis evenly on the surface of the parchment or aluminum foil.
- Cut another parchment or aluminum foil according to the size of your baking tray’s surface area and put it on top of your cannabis. Place the tray inside the middle rack of the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, take out the baking tray and let your cannabis cool for about 30 minutes at room temperature. At this point, your cannabis should have that golden brown or lightly toasted look.
- After 30 minutes, store your decarbed cannabis in a storage container or immediately use them for your cooking session. It’s a good idea to decarb large batches of cannabis, so you don’t have to decarb weed every time you cook an edible.
How to Decarb Weed in a Mason Jar
There are some perks in decarboxylating on a mason jar compared to other decarboxylating methods.
For one, decarboxylating in a mason jar reduces the strong odor of a certain cannabis strain. Second, precious phyto-compounds such as terpenes get trapped inside mason jars, retaining them in the process of cooking.
Third, the risk of burning your cannabis in the mason jar method is low because the container would not expose your cannabis to air. Finally, it’s already in a jar. You won’t need to transfer cannabis to another container. You can use the mason jar as is as the container.
Tools to use:
- Gloves (to prevent hand burns)
- Mason jar with lid
- Baking tray
- Any type of cloth that you don’t use or a kitchen towel
- Set your oven’s temperature between 220 and 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your oven rack at the center and in the middle position.
- Gently break apart your cannabis until it reduces to the size of a grain of rice. Put the cannabis contents inside the mason jar and close it with a lid.
- Wet any type of cloth that you don’t use or a kitchen towel. Wring it and place it over the baking tray, covering the tray’s surface area. The cloth shouldn’t be dripping wet; it should just be slightly wet.
- Put the mason jar with the cannabis on the wet cloth. The wet cloth will help keep the mason jar nice and upright during the decarboxylating process.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake it for at least 60 minutes. After every 15 minutes, remove the mason jar from the oven using your gloves. Gently shake the contents of the jar. This act evenly cooks the cannabis inside.
- After 60 minutes, remove the mason jar out of the oven using your gloves and let it cool for 30 minutes at room temperature. During its cooling time, don’t open the lid just yet; some precious compounds might evaporate.
Decarbing Weed by Sous Vide
If you want the most fool-proof way of decarboxylating cannabis, sous vide is the route to go. While the sous vide method can be quite pricey because of the tools, it’s a good investment, especially if you’re thinking of decarboxylating cannabis as a business.
The primary tool in sous vide is an immersion circulator, which can roughly cost around $100. Immersion circulators can be more specific and accurate when it comes to temperature dials compared to ovens. Because the dials are more accurate, you get to reduce the risk of burning your cannabis or accidentally evaporating your cannabinoids, terpenes and strain flavor.
Tools to use:
- Immersion circulator
- Container (a huge pot or a large tub)
- Ziplock freezer bag or a vacuum sealer
- Any type of grinder (knife, pestle & mortar, and so on)
- Fill your huge pot or a large tub with hot water. Place the immersion circulator inside the container. Each immersion circulator brand has a different set of instructions on how to operate their product. So make sure to follow your brand’s written instructions. Set your immersion circulator’s dial to 203 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grind your cannabis finely. Use any type of grinder. In the sous vide method, it’s okay if your cannabis is finely ground. Since your immersion circulator gives off an accurate temperature, burning your cannabis would be close to impossible. To maximize your container area, a finer cannabis texture is a must.
- In this step, you can use the water displacement method to aid you in reducing the air pockets from your ziplock freezer bag or a vacuum sealer. You’ll know more about the water displacement method displacement below. If you’d rather go the normal way, simply follow the directions in the next paragraph.
- In a ziplock freezer bag or vacuum sealer, seal the cannabis inside as flat and as tight as you possibly can. Minimize pockets of air inside by flattening your cannabis firmly and letting the extra air out.
- Place the sealed container with the weed in the tub of water for at least 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, remove the sealed container and let the contents inside cool for about 20 minutes at room temperature.
- Wipe the extra moisture on the external surface of the bag. Open the bag and transfer your decarboxylated cannabis into another container.
Added instruction: The water displacement method
- Place the cannabis inside the ziplock freezer bag or a vacuum sealer. Close the sealer slightly, leaving a 20% opening.
- Fill a container with tap water.
- Lower the ziplock freezer bag or vacuum sealer in the container with water but don’t submerge it fully. Just lower it enough that air can get out of the bag.
- Lower the ziplock freezer bag or vacuum sealer just before the water reaches the zipper of the bag. Then close the bag completely once all of the air is sucked out.
Best Cannabis Strains to Decarboxylate and Cook With
There’s no shortage when it comes to cookbooks and recipes about cannabis edibles. Whether you’re still trying to learn how to infuse cannabis in baked cookies or meatballs, as early as now, it’s best to know which cannabis strains work the best in the kitchen.
Trainwreck Feminized has an earthy, woody scent and hints of citrus notes. The flavor complements the scent as well, lemony with a spicy aftertaste.
At 25% THC content, beginners should probably take this strain easy. Even for veterans, too much of this can give an intense buzzing effect and a couch-lock at the end. Depending on your tolerance, this strain’s intense high is not only psychedelic, it can even be described as narcotic. It’s a wake-and-bake type of strain with a slight inclination to wake.
As a food additive, the strain’s amount is restrained or limited only to the user’s ability to ride the intense high.
Sour Diesel Feminized
Also known as Sour D, the Sour Diesel strain is an energizing strain for stoners who lead an active life. It’s a wake-and-bake dream but can be a recreational staple too, thanks to its Sativa dominant trait.
If consumed moderately in controlled amounts, the Sour Diesel Feminized strain can provide a well-balanced potency. Make sure to serve water or any form of hydration to your guests to counter some of its dehydrating side effects, just in case.
Best infused with cookies or other “overpowering in taste” dessert, this strain has its own unique blend of citrus, diesel, spice, with an herbal nuance. Though pungent, interestingly, the herb leaves a sweet taste on the palate.
White Widow Autoflower
The White Widow’s pungent aroma is a powerful combination of strong, fruity, and spicy notes. If you’re that type of cook that wants his weed’s scent to fill the room as soon as the oven opens, this strain is for you. As this strain is heated, its flavor transforms into an earthy flavor blended with sugary undertones.
The White Widow Autoflower strain is one of the most potent herbs in the world, with 25% THC at its disposal. It leaves the users with a strong buzz that’s often within the spectrum of happy and energized. Although the intense high is soaring, it’s never overbearing.
Girl Scout Cookies x Cheese Feminized
A cross between Girl Scout Cookies and Cheese, this strain offers a long-lasting psychedelic high that may even give the therapeutic potential for anxiety, stress, and depression. Additionally, the strain can also dull pain due to its painkilling buzz that eventually leads to gentle sedation.
True to its name, the Girl Scout Cookies x Cheese Feminized has that sweet, earthy, biscuit-like aroma and mustiness that only a cheese-bred strain possesses.
Bubba Kush Feminized
The Bubba Kush Feminized strain has a rich coffee aroma with an earthy taste to it. Although it has a hint of pine-and-lemon flavor, the strain leaves a spicy aftertaste. The strain also tastes like candy in its roller coaster of flavors of a sweet, chocolatey, tootsie roll.
This strain’s sweetness is great for desserts with the primary flavors of mocha, dark chocolate, chocolate, and the likes. The Bubba Kush strain is an instant hit for those who seek an immediate sedating effect.