Cannabis Education

Understanding Decarboxylation

Understanding Decarboxylation

Consuming cannabis can get surprisingly scientific.

In fact, there’s a lot to know and understand when it comes to the cannabis plant. One of these interesting tidbits is the process of decarboxylation (also known as decarbing). To get the full effects of your medical cannabis you have to heat the plant before you use it. This is where your vaporizer comes in when you’re using dried flower. If you’re making your own canna oil or butter, the recipe always starts with cooking your bud in the oven before it can be steeped in the oil. This heating process—whether it happens through a portable vaporizer or your kitchen’s oven—is decarboxylation.

What is decarboxylation?

Cannabis contains over 100 active compounds known as cannabinoids that exist within the trichomes of raw cannabis flowers. THC and CBD are the two most well-known, but there are so many others. For example, there is actually a lot more tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) found in raw cannabis than THC. THCA and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) are precursor compounds to their non-acidic counterpart’s THC and CBD.

THCA and CBDA are almost exactly the same as THC and CBD, but with the addition of a carboxyl group (some extra atoms). When the THCA is heated (through vaping for example), that carboxyl group is lost and it becomes THC. The same goes for CBDA transforming into CBD. This chemical process is known as decarboxylation.

Why is it necessary to transform one compound into another before consuming your cannabis? THCA doesn’t offer the same effects that THC does, including THC’s psychoactive properties. Once heated and decarboxylation occurs, THCA is converted into THC. CBDA creates its own effects within the body, however CBD is more bioavailable. Bioavailability is the degree and rate at which a substance or drug is absorbed into the body’s system. When a medicine is administered intravenously, its bioavailability is 100%. However, this number reduces with other consumption methods such as oral or inhalation.

This is why on the back of your Emblem cannabis label you’ll find the percentages of THC and THCA, as well as CBDA and CBD. A standard calculation between the THCA and THC values will determine your total percentage of cannabinoid levels within the strain that are found on the label.

emblem cannabis strain card

How to decarboxylate

If you’re consuming your dried flower using a vaporizer or another heated method, you’re already decarboxylating. Also, if you’re using concentrated cannabis oils orally, your cannabis was decarboxylated during the production process. Therefore, you only need to worry about decarbing your cannabis if you’ll be using it to make your own edibles.

  1. Preheat your oven to 225° F / 110° C.
  2. Break up the cannabis buds into small pieces and place them on a baking sheet or dish lined with parchment paper. They should be close together, but not piled up on top of each other.
  3. Bake the buds for 40 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on how fresh your dried flower is and your particular oven. When they’re ready the buds will be a light to medium brown shade and will be crumbly.
  4. Once cooled, the buds are ready to be transformed into baked goods, canna oil or whatever other recipes you desire.

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