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Edibles: The Scoop on Decarboxylation

Sirius J



Take a look at the mechanism and the variables behind decarboxylation, to make sure you get higher the next time you make edibles. THC, and all cannabinoids, starts out with an acid group that prevents it from directly affecting the mind if consumed raw. This carboxy group evaporates off when heated, so cannabis mostly gets consumed cooked, smoked or vaporized. Juicing raw cannabis has its medicinal benefits, but if you want to get high you’ll need to cook it, and you’ll need to do it right so you don’t waste it.

Genes regulate everything from the color of your hair to how strong your pot is, and if it has some good genes, then those buds can have up to 30% pure THCA, or THC-acid. In order to enjoy the fruits of the land to their fullest, you need to efficiently decarboxylate THCA to the active THC.

Anyone that has ever cooked with pot for the first time remembers being nervous of messing it up. If you never have messed it up than power to you, but most people have at least once. Those that have cooked and baked with pot enough times always come back with the same conclusion about decarboxylation: longer times at lower temperatures work the best.

Scientists in Holland tried to figure out what the optimum temperature for decarboxylation in order to some day scale up the reaction for making cannabis-based pharmaceuticals. They landed on easy numbers to remember: “110 °C [230 °F] for 110 minutes.” Some of the best mainstream methods of making cannabudder came about from people reaching a similar conclusion, but by trial and error. Everyone perfects their own personal methods, but lower temperatures for a longer time can yield up to 95% of your THC.

Decarboxylation also needs to happen in a slightly acidic environment. The pH of plain cannabis material is perfect, but the process won’t yield as high if you have already mixed it with basic baking soda or baking powder. This is why cannabis baking pros pre-decarboxylate and extract cannabis oil into a fat, which can later be used for baking into whatever they want.

THCA turns to THC catalyzed by an acid, with some gently heating to drive the reaction, and gives off CO2.

Image by J Hoffman