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Do You Need To Decarboxylate Cannabis BEFORE You Infuse It?

Everyone knows how much we love decarboxylation! What some people don’t know is that we also have a healthy obsession with cannabis infusion.

We get a lot of questions about infusing cannabis, especially with all the misinformation out there. But the overarching one we get – hands-down – is “Do I have to decarb before I infuse?” You’ve likely heard this one in it’s more common form of “I don’t need to infuse because decarb and infusion happen at the same time!”

If you don’t decarb before infusing, your end product will be only approximately 10-25% activated.

This confusion seems to be especially present when people are using other cannabis devices and are wondering if, for example, they need to decarb before using the magical butter machine, or if they always need to decarb before making edibles. To answer both of those, yes you do need to decarb your cannabis before infusing!

It seems logical to think that heating a cannabis and oil mixture could accomplish both decarboxylation and infusion at the same time. So much so that even some of us in the Ardent team were guilty of believing this untruth earlier in our cannabis journeys.

It is important to decarb before you infuse if you want to have an active oil or butter that has the maximum amount of CBD or THC. If instead you are looking for a CBDA or THCA rich product, you don’t need to decarb before you infuse.

To get the maximum THC or CBD in your infusion, you always want to start with fully decarboxylated cannabis.

To get the maximum THC or CBD in your infusion, you always want to start with fully decarboxylated cannabis. If you don’t, the oil or butter will still be pulling the cannabinoids from the plant during infusion, BUT most of those them will still be stuck in their acid precursor forms, THCA or CBDA.

Simply put, if you decarb first you will have a fully active THC or CBD product .infusion. If you don’t decarb before infusing, your end product will be only approximately 10-25% activated.

If you’re a weed nerd like us, then check out the science below to see how we know non-decarbed flower doesn’t efficiently decarb during infusion.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Science Behind The Conclusion – Testing Results First, Explanation below:

  • F00016 – Velvet Purp Flower BEFORE Decarb
  • F00004 – Velvet Purp Flower Fully Decarbed

We took two grams of Velvet Purp. One gram was decarbed and then infused in the Nova. The second gram was just placed in the oil and infused in the Nova, without first decarbing.

This Velvet Purp strain has a max THC of over 17%, which means the maximum THC that can be present in this plant after a perfect decarb is approx 170 mg THC per 1 gram. In this strain before decarb, in the first test result, you can see there is almost no active THC present, only THCA, the acid precursor to THC. In the second result, after the bud undergoes precision decarboxylation in the Nova, each gram has just over 17% THC, with 172 mg of THC per gram.

  • F00049 – DECARBED Velvet Purp Flower Infused Into Coconut Oil
  • F00077 – NOT Decarbed Flower Infused Into Coconut Oil

*All infusion samples are in a 1 oz serving size.

When we took the decarbed flower, mixed it with coconut oil and put it through a second cycle in the Nova to infuse, the result was fully activated and potent oil. Using 1 gram of decarbed flower in the oil, we were able to get 166.98 mg of active THC in each ounce of coconut oil, that’s an over 96% infusion rate of the active THC.

On the other hand, infusing 1 gram of Velvet Purp flower into one ounce of coconut oil without decarbing first results in a good infusion rate BUT NOT a good decarboxylation rate. You can see in the final oil, there is only 24.38 mg of active THC per ounce of oil. The vast majority of it is still in the THCA acid form (over 165.85 mg per ounce of oil). That means that only 13% of the cannabinoids in the oil have been decarbed, with 87% still in the acid form.

Item Name * Sample Type THC THCA CBN CBGA THCV CBC Total Max THC
F00016 Control 0.60% 19.00% 0.30% 19.90% 17.26%
F00004 Decarbed Flower 17.20% 0.40% 0.20% 0.20% 0.10% 0.50% 18.60% 17.55%
F00049 Full Decarb Before Infusion 154.79mg 5.39mg 1.13mg 1.98mg 3.69mg 166.98mg
F00077 No Decarb Before Infusion 24.38 mg 165.85 mg 4.25mg 194.48 mg

So what did we learn? Getting a potent, activated infusion requires decarboxylation before infusing cannabis. And if THCA or CBDA is your jam, it’s as easy as not decarbing before infusing to keep those acid-form cannabinoids around.

Already know everything there is to know about decarb, but are looking for knowledge on infusion and measuring THC content? Yep, we’ve got that, as well as a guide on how to decarboxylate cannabis.

Need some ideas for weed recipes or even some everything-but-the-bud infusion kits to get it really cooking? We’ve got those too.

Know it all already? Share the wealth by sharing your thoughts and photos on our social – we love hearing from you!

Do You Need To Decarboxylate Cannabis BEFORE You Infuse It? Everyone knows how much we love decarboxylation! What some people don’t know is that we also have a healthy obsession with cannabis

Keys to decarbing weed

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Contents

  1. What is decarboxylation?
  2. Why you should decarb your weed
  3. How to decarb your weed at home
  4. How long should I decarb my weed?
  5. Bottom line

Many cannabis newcomers wonder if you can eat the raw cannabis plant and feel its intoxicating or psychoactive effects. Pop culture references to eating a big bag of raw weed and getting super stoned have no basis in the reality of how cannabis works, specifically how cannabinoids elicit effects in humans. For example, to exhibit the intoxicating effects associated with the cannabis high, THCA must be transformed into THC through a heating process called decarboxylation.

THCA must be transformed into THC through a heating process called decarboxylation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Here is a quick summary of everything you need to know about decarbing weed — what decarbing is, when you should decarb, and how to best decarb your weed at home.

What is decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that results from two main factors: heat and time. When a cannabinoid decarboxylates, it loses a carboxyl group, which gives it the ability to interact with the body’s receptors through which therapeutic and recreational effects are elicited. Over a long period of exposure to the elements, cannabinoids will decarboxylate on their own which is why proper cannabis storage is so important. Without airtight storage in a sufficiently sturdy container, cannabis will lose potency as cannabinoids slowly decarboxylate and activate prematurely.

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that results from two main factors: heat and time. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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To speed up the decarbing process, you’ll need to activate cannabinoids such as THC by heating them. When cannabis is smoked or vaporized, for example, the THCA loses a carboxyl group and converts to THC. Likewise, the cannabinoid CBDA must decarboxylate to turn into CBD.

A crucial step in making edibles or cannabis topicals at home is decarbing weed to make sure all the cannabinoids you want to experience are fully activated. When cannabis is cooked or baked, its active cannabinoids are absorbed through digestion. Decarbing weed also helps reduce the risk of microbiological contaminants. When weed decarboxylates, it loses moisture, which in turn decreases the chance of bacterial growth. Weed is dried and cured for the same reason, though some unwanted activation of cannabinoid, and therefore loss of potency, is inevitable during the curing process.

Why you should decarb your weed

In a nutshell, weed won’t get you high unless it’s decarbed. Marijuana’s most sought after cannabinoids — THC and CBD — need to be converted from THCA and CBDA over time to deliver the coveted recreational and therapeutic benefits. When making edibles and topicals, decarbing improves the function of these products by allowing for faster cannabinoid absorption. Edibles in particular have a reputation for delivering incredibly potent, long-lasting effects, but an edible won’t be as potent as its reputation suggests if the cannabis inside isn’t decarbed properly.

When making edibles and topicals, decarbing improves the function of these products by allowing for faster cannabinoid absorption. Photo by: Gine Coleman/Weedmaps

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Cannabis is a complex plant with a wide variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds that contribute to its effects, including intoxication. But when it comes to the cannabis high, THC still reigns supreme. If you don’t decarb your weed, it won’t have active THC, which is a huge problem when making any cannabis product that isn’t immediately combusted and requires slow absorption through other avenues, such as the digestive tract.

How to decarb your weed at home

There are a variety of methods for decarbing weed at home, and the method you choose depends largely on what you want to do with your weed. Here are a few of the most common methods of decarbing and when you might want to try them:

Making cannabutter

If you’re baking edibles, your best bet for proper decarbing may be making cannabis oil or cannabutter to infuse into the final product. If you, it won’t need to be decarbed because it’s already been through the process. Well-made cannabutter, which involves heating butter and cannabis together, will decarboxylate the cannabis material while ensuring that active cannabinoids bind to the fats in the butter.

If you’re baking edibles, your best bet for proper decarbing may be making cannabis oil or cannabutter to infuse into the final product. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Baking

If you’re planning on infusing foods with dried plant matter, baking your weed is a sufficient decarbing method. Here are 4 steps to follow to bake and decarb your weed.

  • Step 1: Break your buds into small pieces and spread in a thin, even layer across a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Step 2: Cover the paper with aluminum foil.
  • Step 3: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 230 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110 degrees Celsius.
  • Step 4: Let your decarbed weed cool before using.

Baking your weed is a sufficient decarbing method. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Boiling

If you want to make potent cannabis tea, simply put your weed in a tea bag and immerse in simmering water. The temperature should be around 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can add a small amount of butter to help draw out cannabinoids.

If you want to make potent cannabis tea, simply put your weed in a tea bag and immerse in simmering water. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Sous-vide method

The Sous-Vide method is optimal for decarbing dried plant matter without releasing an odor that could get you in hot water with your landlord or neighbors. To decarb your weed Sous-Vide, grind your cannabis and enclose it in a heat-safe, vacuum-sealed bag. Then, fill a large pot with water and place it on your stovetop. Insert a Sous-Vide precision cooker into the pot and set the temperature to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110 degrees Celsius. Once your precision cooker reaches the right temperature, cook your sealed cannabis for 1½ hours.

Slow cooker

To make a cannabis-infused oil, you can decarb weed using a slow cooker and coconut or olive oil. For this recipe, you’ll need 64 ounces of dry cannabis plant matter and 433 milliliters of olive oil. Cover the ingredients and cook them on high in a slow cooker for 1 hour, then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 2-3 more hours. Let the mixture cool, then strain it through a cheesecloth.

To make a cannabis-infused oil, you can decarb weed using a slow cooker and coconut or olive oil. Photo by: Gine Coleman/Weedmaps

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How long should I decarb my weed?

The amount of time you let your weed decarb depends on the temperature at which you’re heating it. The lower the heat, the longer your weed will take to decarb. It’s always better to err on the side of slow decarbing, as too high a temperature will scorch your plant material. Heating cannabis over 300 degrees Fahrenheit will cause too much degradation too quickly. According to a 2011 study from the Journal of Molecular Structure, the optimal yield of active THC occurs when weed is heated at 110 degrees Celsius for 110 minutes.

Bottom line

Baking, boiling, and slow cooking are a few ways you can decarb your weed at home to release the full therapeutic potential of vital cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.

Keys to decarbing weed Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is decarboxylation? Why you should decarb your weed How to decarb your weed