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Cannabis Decarboxylation

Radagast97

New Member
Mitchell's link on decarboxylation of THCA is excellent, but a number of people might be a bit intimidated by the degree of science and chemistry in the paper so I thought I'd do my best to convert it into English. If I slip into the nerd zone, accept my apologies now.

THC and CBD are the primary bioactive components most people are interested in, in marijuana. There are terpenes that give it a nice smell/flavor, and have a mild mood effect as well, but THC and CBD are the ones that keep us coming back.

Weed doesn't tend to have free THC or CBD present, not great if you plan to eat it or take an extract. It is only present in a bio-inactive, "precursor" form known as THCA and CBDA. These are the acid forms of the molecule. Nothing dangerously acidic or associated with LSD, just a compound related to THC/CBD in the form of a carboxylic acid. The most common example of a carboxylic acid we run into is vinegar (5% acetic acid - aka ethanoic acid or methane carboxylic acid).

We can get high via smoking pot, because heat converts THCA into THC (through a heat catalyzed decarboxylation reaction).

Both THCA and CBDA are converted to THC and CBD through heat, with the carboxylic acid group converting to carbon dioxide.

Now the important part - how hot and how long. Unfortunately, reality doesn't give us simply answers. The full answer implies that the higher the heat, the shorter the time required, but at a loss of the nice smelling terpenes.

The most typical answer given is 145 degrees centigrade for 15 to 45 minutes, typically 30. For those of you who found high school science an unpleasant test of endurance, that translates to 293 degrees fahrenheit.

If you are doing this to plant matter, as many of us would be, ensure the material has been thoroughly dried at close to 200 degrees F. This prevents the heat from being used up evaporating water when your intention is to decarboxylate cannabinols.

Also, if you have a large amount of material (multi kilo range), this will increase your times, given it takes time to heat up material.

Temperature / times that can be used

212 deg F for 145 minutes
250 deg F for 60 minutes
293 deg F for 30 minutes

All of these will vaporize off most of the terpenes. I know of no simple way to retain these without a lot of effort and equipment not normally found outside an organic chemistry lab.

Word of warning
- most ovens are not extremely accurate and tend to cycle, with their temperature rising and falling above and below the target temp. Putting couple of bricks into your oven and preheating for an hour will help moderate these temperature spikes and may help protect your little THC and CBD molecules.
 
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PaleSun

Active Member
Can anyone recommend the best way to 'do' the decarboxylation? My oven is WAY too difficult to hold such a constant temperature. I've heard of the "decarboxylation box", but have no idea what that is. Is this a home made gadget, commercial device, what?

Cheers
 

nivek

Photo of the Month: Oct 2018
i don't think one need get too technical with this. ovens have been used for centuries for this and will continue to be for eons

perfection is for scientists in laboratories

my still rule for decarbing is 110 at 110. 110 degrees celcius for 110 minutes. works for me, no need to fix it

cheers
 

oldsmokey

Well-Known Member
The best technique I've come across so far is Sweet Sue's technique de-carb and infuse all-in-one step with the instapot.
 

Radagast97

New Member
Can anyone recommend the best way to 'do' the decarboxylation? My oven is WAY too difficult to hold such a constant temperature. I've heard of the "decarboxylation box", but have no idea what that is. Is this a home made gadget, commercial device, what?

Cheers
Consider creating a box out of something with a high thermal capacity - such as bricks. Bring them up to temperature in an oven, using an infared thermometer (found at any cooking store or online) then place your material in the "box", for the allotted time. The thermal box will act as a capacitor to smooth out the fluctuations common to an oven.
 

onewarmguy

Well-Known Member
Hi all, when making bubble hash is it better to decarboxylate weed first before the process or the hash after the process.
Curious minds want to know.
 

Radagast97

New Member
I prefer decarboxylating the weed beforehand, given it also removes the water. For techniques having no advantage of dry weed, it doesn’t matter.
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Mitchell's link on decarboxylation of THCA is excellent, but a number of people might be a bit intimidated by the degree of science and chemistry in the paper so I thought I'd do my best to convert it into English. If I slip into the nerd zone, accept my apologies now.
Thanks for coming in with that! :)

THC and CBD are the primary bioactive components most people are interested in, in marijuana. There are terpenes that give it a nice smell/flavor, and have a mild mood effect as well, but THC and CBD are the ones that keep us coming back.
That's what I understood too, or at least that is how it is commonly explained. I think there are supposed to be 100's of different cannabinoids of which THC and CBD are mostly the only ones that get mentioned. I wonder how much those others contribute to the pleasantness of the plant's high, it must be complicated to test them all out, but all the same is it that only THC and CBD are mostly mentioned because we know the others are not significant, or because it is assumed that the other cannabinoids only contribute on a much lower level? Some folk like the stronger THC% the more the better, but other folk say they prefer not necessarily the strongest THC% strain but some lesser one where in spite of a lower % the 'sum of all the parts' gives an effect that they prefer more, I wonder do we know that THC and CBD are the key ones or do we just assume it.

Now the important part - how hot and how long. Unfortunately, reality doesn't give us simply answers. The full answer implies that the higher the heat, the shorter the time required, but at a loss of the nice smelling terpenes.
I was reading some articles that Shanel Lindsay wrote about decarboxylation, where she had a laboratory test the amounts of THCA successfully decarbed to THC from using methods like the kitchen oven/home methods and found that often a significant percentage was not decarbed (in the range of 10% - 30% give or take), so therefore the resulting edible or infusion was not getting the benefit of the full amount of THC possible from the herb because some of it was still remaining as THCA. Given that everyone has a different approaches of time and temperature it seems to me there is a general assumption that no matter what method and time/temperature is used, that full decarboxylation is assumed to be the result. I can't help thinking that unless a lab can show that a 'home method' is fully converting THCA to THC, then to assume it is fully decarbed may be wrong if instead it is only partially decarbed.
 

Radagast97

New Member
Most of the methods I've seen give from 5 to 15% undecarboxylate THCA. That's not unexpected. Even smoking you'll lose THC via destructive oxidation.

As a chemist, I'll tell you that 80% yield is considered an great yield, when running a synthesis.
 
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bebecillo

Well-Known Member
You know what's the best method for decarbing? one of these mofos

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This youtube video explains how they work, in case you want to understand why they're the best method.

When using a rice cooker, as long as there is water in whatever you're cooking, temps won't go over 100C, which means you have an electromecanic device that won't go over that temp no matter what (if you have more money, a digital air fryer is an upgrade)

Personally, after I boil the plant mass in water 3-5 times to remove chlorophyl and other nasty stuff, I throw it on the rice cooker, set to cook and add water everytime the device goes from cook to warm. This is specially helpful if you're making oil, butter or any other fat infusion. This would technically help if you're using alcohol to extract THC in warm mode, but I haven't gone that route yet. You know you will get uniform heat, you know your cannabis won't go over 100C and you're gonna be able to make the most of what you have.

Don't believe me? grind some weed, add a couple butter sticks and a liter of water/milk and let it do its job. You will be amazed at how easy it is.
 
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