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How to Decarb Weed: Cannabis Decarboxylation Step By Step Guide

Kymberly Drapcho

by Kymberly Drapcho

April 12, 2024 01:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 15 Minutes
Fact checked by Emily Mullins
How to Decarb Weed: Cannabis Decarboxylation Step By Step Guide

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. 

The Science Behind Cannabis Decarboxylation

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. 

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 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. 

How Does Decarboxylation Work?

In simpler terms, decarboxylation is a crucial step in preparing cannabis for consumption, particularly when making edibles or concentrates. It’s the process where heat is applied to raw cannabis to activate its cannabinoids.

In raw cannabis, the cannabinoids exist in their acidic forms, like THCA and CBDA, which aren’t psychoactive. However, when heat is applied, typically through smoking, vaping, or baking, a chemical reaction occurs, causing the carboxyl group to detach from the molecule. This releases carbon dioxide and transforms the acidic cannabinoids into their active forms, such as THC and CBD.

For example, when you smoke or bake cannabis, the heat decarboxylates the THCA. The decarboxylation of THCA produces THC, the compound responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects. Similarly, CBDA is converted into CBD, which offers various potential therapeutic benefits.

This process is vital for maximizing the potency and effects of cannabis products. Without decarboxylation, consuming raw cannabis wouldn’t produce the desired psychoactive or medicinal effects. 

Why Decarboxylation is Necessary for Edibles

Decarboxylation is necessary for edibles because it activates the cannabinoids present in raw cannabis. This activation gives them their psychoactive and potentially therapeutic effects when consumed in an edible. 

When cannabis is ingested in its raw form without decarbing first, the cannabinoids primarily exist as their acidic forms, like THCA and CBDA. These forms are not psychoactive and offer different effects. The acidic cannabinoids need to be converted into their active forms, THC and CBD, to produce the desired effects that cannabis is known for. 

By decarboxylating cannabis before incorporating it into edibles, you ensure that the cannabinoids are capable of interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This activation is typically achieved by heating the cannabis slowly so as not to burn off any of the terpenes or cannabinoids. 

Without decarboxylation, consuming cannabis-infused edibles would not result in the desired psychoactive or therapeutic effects. Instead, the cannabinoids would remain in their inactive acidic forms, providing little to no benefit to the consumer. Therefore, learning how to decarb cannabis is a crucial step in making potent and effective edibles. 

How to Decarb Weed

Step 1: Preheat the Oven 

Preheat the oven to anywhere between 220-240 degrees Fahrenheit. This range is the ideal decarb temp to activate the cannabinoids without burning off any precious cannabis compounds. 

Step 2: Bake 

Deciding how long to decarb weed can be tricky. When baking in the oven, shoot for around 30 minutes but monitor your cannabis closely to prevent burning.

Step 3: Stir Occasionally 

To promote even and thorough heating, stir your decarbing weed a few times throughout the baking process. 

Step 4: Check for Desired Color and Aroma 

As the decarbing process comes to a close, the color of the flower should turn to a toasty golden brown with a dry consistency. After decarboxylation, properly dried and cured cannabis should have a stronger smell compared to its raw form. Depending on the specific terpenes in the strain you are using, your decarbed weed will smell earthier, gassier, sweeter, or more citrusy. 

Step 5: Allow to Cool 

Once the decarboxylation process is complete, allow the cannabis to cool before handling or using it in recipes. This helps to prevent the loss of volatile compounds and ensures that the cannabinoids are fully activated.

Step 6: Store Properly 

In order to maintain the freshness and extend the shelf life of your decarbed weed, it is important that you properly store it. Select an airtight container like a mason jar and store it in a cool, dry, and dark place. If stored correctly, it is recommended that you use it within 3 months to avoid any degradation of the cannabinoids and other compounds. Some patients prefer to decarb large batches at once, so there is plenty on hand for medicating. 

At What Temperature Does Decarboxylation Occur?

Decarbing cannabis is usually 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.  

The ideal temperature range for cannabis decarboxylation typically falls between 220°F and 240°F. This range allows the cannabinoids to activate properly while minimizing the risk of degrading other compounds, such as terpenes. 

Decarboxylation can occur at lower temperatures, but it may take longer to complete. Conversely, higher temperatures can accelerate the process, but they also increase the likelihood of cannabinoid degradation and terpene loss. 

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.

Ultimately, the specific temperature and duration for decarboxylation may vary depending on factors such as the moisture content and composition of the cannabis material, as well as personal preference for the potency and flavor of the final product. Experimentation and careful observation are key to achieving optimal results.

Decarboxylation Temperature Chart

  Oven (Flower) Oven (Concentrate) Mason Jar Sous Vide
Ideal Temperature (in Fahrenheit) 220-240° 200° 220° 203-212°

Different Ways to Decarboxylate Cannabis

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. 

Oven (Decarb Plant Material)

Decarbing in your oven is easy, requires no fancy equipment, and can be done in most kitchens. 


  • Preheat the oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grind up your cannabis flower or break it up with your hands. 
  • Spread it out in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. 
  • Place the baking sheet with the flower in the oven for 30 minutes. 
  • The color of the flower should turn to a toasty golden brown with a dry consistency. 
  • Remove from the oven, and allow the flower to cool down. 

You can use an oven bag to reduce the smell. If you would like to decarb kief in the oven, follow the same steps, but set the oven to 250°F and let it bake for 20 minutes. Keep in mind that most home ovens fluctuate in temperature, and some of the compounds in the cannabis plant are lost in this process.

Oven (Decarb Cannabis Concentrates)

Using the oven to decarb isn’t just for flower; you can also decarb concentrates in the oven. 


  • Preheat the oven to 200°F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the concentrate on it. 
  • Place the baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Once the concentrate is thoroughly heated, it will start to bubble. Turn the oven off and allow the concentrate to cool off inside the oven.
  • After cooling down, the concentrate will be very sappy and sticky. 
  • Put the concentrate in the freezer for about 10 minutes, so it can easily be removed from the parchment and used to make homemade edibles and cannabis-infused oils.

Mason Jar

Using a mason jar to decarb is a good option if you want to cut down on the smell of weed in your kitchen. Any compounds that evaporate during the heating process will remain in the jar, so using the jar as the container for your infusions will conserve them in the final product. 


  • Set the oven temperature to 220°F. 
  • Grind up your cannabis flower or break it up with your hands. 
  • Place the flower in a mason jar with the lid lightly screwed on. 
  • Slightly moisten a kitchen towel and place it on a baking sheet. Then, place the mason jar on the towel, lying down. 
  • Put the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven for an hour. 
  • Every 15 minutes, take out the mason jar and shake it. Remember to use oven mitts as the jar will be very hot, and make sure the cannabis is spread evenly before returning the jar to the oven. 
  • After an hour, take the jar out of the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes before using or storing it.

Sous Vide

With a sous vide immersion circulator or a precision cooker, you can use a sous vide bag to decarb your cannabis. With this option, there’s very little smell, the plant compounds and flavor are preserved, and the temperature is precisely monitored the entire time. 


  • It’s important to grind your flower for this method before placing it in a sous vide bag. 
  • Vacuum seal the sous vide bag. 
  • If you have a sous vide immersion circulator: Fill a pot with water. Place the immersion circulator in the pot and set it to 203°F. Place the sealed bag containing the cannabis into the water for 90 minutes. Alternatively, you can accomplish this with a sous vide precision cooker. 
  • If you don’t have a sous vide precision cooker: Fill a saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat and use a thermometer to monitor and keep the temperature between 203-212°F. When the temperature is right, place the bag into the water for 90 minutes. 
  • Take the bag out of the water. Use caution as the bag and the water will be very hot. Let the bag cool and dry for at least 20 minutes. Take out the flower and use it or store it. 


Decarboxylators are devices designed to make decarbing easier. They automatically control the temperature and time cycles during the decarboxylation process, so you don’t have to monitor it closely like you would when using the stovetop or the oven. While decarboxylators can be expensive, they are convenient and easy to use; some models only require you to place the cannabis inside and press a button. Review the instructions that came with your specific decarboxylator as the steps may differ depending on the device and brand. =


  • Plug in the device. 
  • Place the cannabis flower directly into the device. Some units require you to take out a container, place the flower inside, and put it back into the device. 
  • Press the button and wait for the device to stop. 

Recommended decarboxylator brands include the Levo II, Ardent FX, Ardent Nova, Magicalbutter DecarBox, and MB2e MagicalButter Machine. With some models, infusions can be made directly inside the unit, like infused butter, oils, and tinctures. 


Over time, cannabis will decarb naturally, and the THCA will convert to THC. You may have noticed that older weed starts to turn brown, a sign of the process. However, this takes a very, very long time. It’s still recommended that you decarb your flower using a different method if you plan on using it to make edibles to get the most out of your stash. 

After you finish decarbing, your cannabis is then activated and ready to use at your disposal! There are many cannabis recipes out there and most require that you first decarb your cannabis. Always take care not to burn your cannabis; burning will compromise the THC and CBD availability and effectively ruin it. 

Does Heating Up Weed Make It Stronger?

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. 

Should You Use a Grinder Before Decarbing?

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 their 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. 

What Happens if You Forget to Decarboxylate Weed?

The worst that can happen if you forget to decarb your weed is that your infusions will have no psychoactive effects. If you forgot to decarb the cannabis before cooking with it, the heat applied while cooking may still bring out some effects. Consuming it without having exposed it to any form of heat will result in no effects as the THCA and CBDA will not have had the chance to convert into the active compounds THC and CBD. None of us like wasting plant medicine though, so always be sure to decarb appropriately. 

Final Takeaway

Decarboxylating cannabis can sound intimidating, but it’s an essential step in learning how to make edibles. Decarbing cannabis is merely the process of applying the proper heat to raw cannabis flower to activate the cannabinoids. Without activation, you won’t get to enjoy the specific benefits and effects you’re seeking. Once you become comfortable with any form of cannabis decarboxylation, you’ll be able to enjoy all that cannabis has to offer!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best method of decarboxylation?

The best method of decarboxylation depends on the user’s preference. If you are looking to get the benefits of cannabis quickly and easily, combusting or vaporizing weed in a pipe, bong, or vaporizer does decarb the cannabis. However, if you’re looking to add it to a recipe when making cannabutter, you can bake it on low heat in the oven for easy decarboxylation. 

Is decarbed weed still green?

No, once the weed is decarbed, it will turn a toasty golden brown color and have a drier consistency. 

What temperature should I decarb in the oven?

The ideal temperature range for cannabis decarboxylation typically falls between 220°F and 240°F. This range allows the cannabinoids to activate properly while minimizing the risk of degrading other compounds, such as terpenes. 

Do you remove stems before grinding?

Yes, you should remove stems before grinding your cannabis to promote better potency, consistency, and flavor when you’re consuming cannabis. 

Post Your Comments

Rye says:

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

Hi Rye,
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:

Jill Cowan says:

November 16, 2021 at 8:18 am

Why has my cannaoil have bubble wholes on top after it cooled?

Arlene says:

November 27, 2021 at 12:04 pm

Thanks for the knowledge it helped

THC says:

December 30, 2021 at 11:36 pm

My name is THC and that was the best advice ever! Thanks!

Fern says:

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.

Joanna says:

May 19, 2022 at 5:37 pm

What if I am decarbing 1/4 gram… Extremely small amount. reduce time? Temp?

James says:

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.

Rob says:

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?

Marilyn says:

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!

Aj says:

February 20, 2023 at 1:56 pm

Is it safe to decarb and make butter with the kids about other than the smell?

Andrew Strauss says:

February 12, 2024 at 4:56 am

Decarboxylation is a game-changer in cannabis consumption. This insightful guide perfectly outlines the crucial steps, making it easy for both beginners and experienced users to unlock the full potential of cannabinoids for a more potent and enjoyable experience.


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