Guide to Decarbing Cannabis for Edibles and Topicals

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If you are planning to cook with cannabis or make your own infused medicants, you’ll need to do some plant processing prior to using marijuana as an ingredient in your recipe. 

Unprocessed cannabis consists primarily of tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA), which is a biosynthetic precursor of THC.  THCA is known to have anti-inflammatory and other beneficial effects, but it does not have the psychoactive components that produce the “high” generally associated with marijuana.  

Cannabis decarboxylation, also known as “decarbing,” is a process that uses gentle heat to release carbon dioxide (CO2) and convert THCA to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the euphoric effects of marijuana.  

When marijuana is smoked or vaporized, the heat causes THCA to lose carbon molecules and become THC.  But when marijuana is used for edibles and medicants, standard processing may not generate enough heat for decarboxylation---so it is recommended that cannabis be heated in a specific manner prior to these uses.

Likewise, decarbing also turns Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) into CBD, making it’s medicinal properties available, as well. 

Decarboxylation Temperatures & Times

     

Temperature

Heating Mode

Plant Heating Time

Kief/Hash Heating Time

Cannabis Oil

240FOven40 - 60 Minutes

30 - 40 Minutes 

 

 

 

212F

 

Boiling Water Bath

 

90 Minutes

 

90 Minutes

 

 

250F

 

Hot oil bath

  

 

Until Bubbles Dissipate

Decarbing Marijuana Flowers or Buds

  1. Preheat the oven according to the chart above.  Because domestic ovens vary, it is recommended that an oven thermometer be used to ensure the correct temperature.
  2. Break down any large buds.
  3. Distribute the marijuana evenly (in a thin layer) on a pyrex pie plate or ovenproof casserole dish.
  4. Place the dish in the oven.
  5. Check every 20 minutes or so to ensure the marijuana is toasting evenly.

 Decarbing Keif or Hash

  1. Preheat the oven according to the chart.
  2. Sprinkle the hash or keif in a thin layer on a pyrex pie plate or ovenproof casserole dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  3. Place the sealed dish in the oven and bake according to the chart.
  4. Remove the pan and let it cool slowly before removing the foil – allowing vapors to be reabsorbed into the cannabis.

Boilable Cooking Pouch

  1. Place the cannabis/keif/hash into a boilable cooking pouch and seal
  2. Place the pouch in boiling water for 90 minutes, making sure the water does not boil dry.
  3. Remove the bag from the water and let it cool slowly before opening.

Note:  Sous-vide (French for “under vacuum”) cooking, a method of airtight, temperature-controlled water-bath processing used by chefs, is becoming a popular method of decarbing cannabis. This method requires temperature control and water circulating devices that may be worth the investment for those who frequently make cannabutter and cannabalm.

Oil Bath

  1. Place cannabis oil into a heat-proof container, such as Pyrex measuring cup or jar,  and place into pan containing cooking oil (canola or other vegetable oil) on the stovetop.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil to 250F.
  3. Stir the cannabis oil to break up bubbles.
  4. Remove the cannabis oil from the heat when it stops bubbling.

 Note: At no point should the cannabis oil actually come to a boil.