Easily Make Cannabis-Infused Flour and Bake Delicious Recipes
by Lo Oliver
If you’ve ever eaten raw cannabis flower hoping to get high, you were probably disappointed. That’s because you need to decarb your cannabis first.
THC (the chemical compound responsible for the “high” and psychoactive effects) doesn’t exist in significant amounts in raw cannabis. Neither does CBD, a cannabinoid known for its beneficial anti-inflammatory effects and for relieving anxiety. The cannabinoids THC and CBD actually start out as the cannabinoids THCA and CBDA, which both have an additional carboxyl group in their molecular makeup.
In scientific terms, decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group from a molecule. A carboxyl group in molecular form is identified as COOH, or a carbon atom that is double-bonded to an oxygen and an -OH group. (See the graphic below for a simple illustration of the carboxyl groups in THCA and CBDA.) Decarboxylation occurs naturally at a very slow rate, but it can be expedited when a certain level of heat is applied for an amount of time that allows for the molecules to break down and be released as carbon dioxide (CO2).
With their carboxyl groups still attached, THCA and CBDA cannot effectively bind to our cannabinoid receptors. This would explain why you won’t experience any euphoric effects if you ingest it in raw form. In order to be bioavailable to our endocannabinoid system, these cannabinoid molecules must undergo decarboxylation. That is why it is so important to decarb your cannabis before making edibles and why heat needs to be applied for it to be medically effective.
Decarbing cannabis should usually be done at high temperatures. In fact, when you take a lighter to cannabis buds in a pipe, joint, or bong—or when you turn on a vape pen—you are decarbing it by applying heat! When it comes to edibles, topicals, and other cannabis products though, cannabis should be decarbed at lower temperatures for longer periods of time.
It’s easy to burn off cannabinoids if you use the wrong temperatures or when decarbing for too long. When decarbing for edibles, using lower heat for a longer period of time allows one to preserve the cannabinoids (especially THC, the psychoactive compound) as well as the terpenes (the aromatic compounds found in plants that have their own set of benefits and give cannabis its flavor).
Additionally, decarboxylation at lower temperatures allows the THCA to be converted to THC, as opposed to CBN, the sleepy cannabinoid. Low and slow is key. Let’s go over how to decarb in more detail, so you can enjoy cannabis in its many forms at the potencies necessary for your medical needs.
When you consider the fact that decarboxylated weed contains activated compounds that are psychoactive, heating up cannabis does make it stronger. Heating up weed is essential for converting THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD.
There is a debate within the cannabis community about whether flower should be broken up with a grinder or by hand during the decarbing process. Many seasoned cannabis consumers swear that using your hands disturbs fewer trichomes, the microscopic hairs on buds that store cannabinoids and terpenes. Plus, feeling the cannabis with your hands is an important part of the ritual and experience for some.
Others argue that using a grinder prevents sticky fingers. If you’ve ever broken up cannabis with your hands, you’ve probably noticed the sticky residue left behind. The trichomes tend to stick to your skin, thus causing your flower to lose some of its potency. Supporters of the grinder method also argue that using a three-chambered grinder allows you to collect kief. Collecting kief means you can still use it, whereas trichomes stuck to your hands end up wasted. Additionally, kief can be decarbed and used in cannabis edibles, tinctures, cannabutter, etc. Grinders can be purchased at affordable prices, but the choice of whether or not to use one is yours.
Combustion, or smoking, is the quickest and most convenient way to decarb cannabis. This can be done through a variety of different approaches like taking a flame to a pipe, joint, or handmade device. If smoking isn’t a preference, vaporization of cannabis—with options like portable vaping devices—would be the next most effective method for decarbing.
Do be aware that decarboxylated cannabis can be a very aromatic endeavor that will produce a strong smell in your home. However, this is also dependent on the size of your house and the extent of the ventilation. The smell will most likely dissipate within 30 minutes to an hour after you have finished decarboxylating. Some decarboxylators on the market claim that they produce no smell.
There are many ways to decarboxylate, so let’s have a look at the different ways to decarb and their steps.
This guide is a compilation of articles written by Lo and Chane Leigh. This article was originally published in August, 2021 and updated in June, 2023.
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August 14, 2019 at 8:41 pm
If there is no THC in raw marijuana, then why it illegal to possess in the raw, unsmoked form?
Chane Smith says:
September 8, 2021 at 4:29 pm
This is a good question. THC can become present in raw cannabis when exposed to air over time. If you would like more information, perhaps this article will be helpful: https://www.veriheal.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-thca-and-its-medicinal-benefits/
Jill Cowan says:
November 16, 2021 at 8:18 am
Why has my cannaoil have bubble wholes on top after it cooled?
November 27, 2021 at 12:04 pm
Thanks for the knowledge it helped
December 30, 2021 at 11:36 pm
My name is THC and that was the best advice ever! Thanks!
January 31, 2022 at 9:33 pm
I have DID and pot is my our best friends
Michael Nocito says:
March 24, 2022 at 5:40 pm
My own experience learning to decarb. Hoperfully it helps those not so good at the DYI methods(which are fantastic if you have the patience to learn).
Being new to edibles I got tired of DYI methods for decarbing, mainly because I sucked at it. Finally I broke down and bought a decarber on Amazon. Sweet baby Jesus this was much better. Set it for 1 of 3 temps and forget it. I paid about $100 for it and I know I wasted more than that trying to learn to decarb. I was also surprised that it does a kick ass job of infusing oil based food like butter, or coconut oil). Similar to how a crockpot would. It fits about 1/2 an ounce, which is perfect for me because I cook in small batches.
Jacob William says:
April 7, 2022 at 3:18 am
I have never used oven to decarb cannabis buds perhaps will try. Thank you for sharing such valuable post.
May 19, 2022 at 5:37 pm
What if I am decarbing 1/4 gram… Extremely small amount. reduce time? Temp?
June 16, 2022 at 3:37 pm
I have also learned how to do an Alcohol extraction of the raw weed, using a double-boiler water bath method using a small stainless bowl where I pour all the alcohol after spending 24 hours drawing out the rosin and terpenes.
After I see no more bubbles coming to the surface of the concentrate, I then take the extracted rosin and put it in a very small glass Jigger, place that in a small water bath and decarboxylate it in my preheated oven for about 30 minutes at 235 degrees Fahrenheit. The alcohol I use is 200 proof food grade Ethanol. I find that I get more rosin from my bud doing it that way than using a press to extract the rosin, which then leaves me having to do the alcohol extraction on the left over pucks. My way eliminated much of the work getting the bud ready to be compressed in my NUGSMASHER UNDER TONS OF PRESSURE.
August 7, 2022 at 9:47 pm
I am an 78 year old man with some remaining symptoms of PTSD like anger and impatience. I use oil, but I would like to try heat decarboxylation. I used my cheap roaster oven and had difficulty achieving good results due to over or under cooking.
I live in Thailand and I am wondering if you can recommend a product that can be shipped here.
Frank LaSush says:
August 26, 2022 at 3:25 pm
Referencing, “it is recommended that you use it within 3 months to avoid any degradation”. By inference then, I would want to store my long term product w/o decarbing, so it has a longer shelf life? And, decarb as needed…? Thx, great articles!
Frank LaSush says:
August 26, 2022 at 3:32 pm
Question: Thinking in terms of time/temp… What are your thoughts on decarbing by placing the pot in a handcapped pickle jar, and placing the pickle jar in the very strong sunlight. [Rolling the pot around occasionally as as in a mason jar in the oven]. Time? [I am certain a temp of over 145° could be maintained here]. Thx again, F
Frank LaSush says:
August 31, 2022 at 10:43 am
Well, since I have not heard from you, I will post my “experiment results” for decarboxylation in a Pickle Jar.
I put about 1oz of good bud shake into a commercial pickle jar. I set it in the direct sun [ambient outside temp 96°-100°] I turned it every hour or so. I left it out from 0900 – 1500 the first day. I saw [perhaps] a small change in color. Day 2, I left it in the sun from 0900-1500 hours. Every bit of the product is a beautiful light brown. The flavor is different from the mother plant it came from now, but it is pleasant. The high is as strong as the original, but the feel is druggier. Anyway, my conclusion is YES, you can decarboxylate outside on hot days using only a jar. [ps. I left a thermometer in the jar during the process. I achieved 140° continuous in the jar.]
Mark Tierney says:
October 8, 2022 at 11:02 pm
I usually put flower in tin foil so to not burn. Should the oven be set at 115 Celsius or put a thermostat in the flower and have the temperature taken from inside the tin foil?
October 28, 2022 at 5:35 pm
Hi Samantha. I hope you can help me. I would prefer making my night edibles for pain and sound sleep without the psychoactive effects. I cannot find any information that addresses this. The assumption in every article is that we all want to get high at all times. This is not true! I have always decarbed in my Levo II because everything says we should, but do I really need to do it? I don’t particularly like waking in the night high. My question is whether the pain-relieving properties and deep relaxation of Indicas will still occur without decarbing. Has anyone tried this? I hate wasting my expensive weed with an experiment. I did once make a topical with raw Girl Scout Cookies and it worked well for pain relief as an ointment. But I’ve never used raw weed with edibles, such as Indica peppermint white chocolate bars. You said to lower the temp and decarb longer for edibles. What temp and how long? I’ve been decarbing at the pre-programmed Levo temp of 240 degrees for 30 minutes, but it always seems to lightly burn the flower, and that doesn”t seem right either. But that could be because of my elevation at 5500′. Thank you!
Erin Deeny says:
January 12, 2023 at 1:19 pm
Is decarboxylating necessary if making for topical anti inflammatory effects and not for psychoactive? Can you recommend a recipe for this? Thx!
February 20, 2023 at 1:56 pm
Is it safe to decarb and make butter with the kids about other than the smell?