Oct 24, 2020

What Does Decarboxylation Mean?

If you’ve heard the term “decarb” or decarboxylation used when talking about weed but you have no idea what it is or why it matters, we’ve got you. 


Eat weed, get high – no?

Every once in a while – when discussing edibles with customers – we will get the question, “Can’t I just eat it raw?” The answer: sure – some people like the flavour adding raw flower gives, but you won’t get the effect you’re looking for. Cannabis doesn’t produce THC in a format that we can immediately use; the oils produced during plant growth contain THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) which isn’t what we need to get high. This is where decarboxylation comes in. In order to convert the THCA to good ol’ THC we need to heat it up, either with a lighter held up to our joint, the heater in a dry flower vaporizer, or the oven in your kitchen. 


Decarboxylation activates THC and CBD

Some concentrates like distillate are heated during their extraction process and are decarbed incidentally, which means that distillate is technically ready to eat and can just be added straight to an edible product or eaten straight. Decarboxylation activates THC and CBD


This process also happens naturally when using a dry flower vaporizer like the Arizer, Pax, Storz & Bickel, etc. The device brings the plant up to around 200℃ to activate the THC which you then inhale. The bonus, however, is that once it’s cooked in the vape it can still be used. As you vape the bud will go from green to yellow to orangish brown; when it turns that color you can stop and save it up. This is called AVB (Already Vaporized Bud, or ABV Already Been Vaped) and you can mix it into a fatty food like yogurt or you can soak it in coconut oil and cram it into capsules.


DIY Decarb

For all other kinds of edibles you need to cook the cannabis just enough to convert the THC but not enough to lose it completely, then once it’s heated and released you need a carrier oil to trap the cannabinoids in like a butter or oil, cannabis is lipophilic so it cannot be mixed into a water based carrier. Generally, a good temperature is under 200℃ but this can vary.


One thing to note is that decarboxylation brings the plant up to a heat that is usually above the flash point of the terpenes, this means that terpenes and some other cannabinoids are generally removed from the final product and most edibles will not be full spectrum anymore (no longer considered indica/sativa/hybrid).

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