Decarboxylation: Best Way to Decarboxylate Weed

What is Decarbing Marijuana?

Did you know that the marijuana plant is not psychoactive?  In its natural form, it does not contain THC or delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol which is the most psychoactive component of pot, cannabutter, wax or shatter.  What the marijuana plant contains that becomes psychoactive is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid or THCA.  The decarboxylation mechanism is heated.  Heating converts THCA to THC, then you’re rolling.  This happens when we dry the bud, then light it up.  The bud contains most of the THCA, with the trim or the leaves containing minimal amounts which can be harvested to make Butane Hash Oil (BHO), cannabutter edibles or canna-oil.  If we are not going to burn the dry nuggets in a bong or joint, we will have to decarb our weed by putting it in the oven, even before including it in cooking recipes.  The heat removes the carboxyl group from the THCA, creating the psychoactive THC.  The same goes for CBDA as heat converts it to CBD.

Decarbed versus Raw Weed

decarbing marijuana

Figure 1.https://www.marijuana.com/news/2016/09/cooking-with-keira-how-to-decarb-cannabis/
The reason to use decarbed weed is to activate THC and CBD to get their benefits.  However, the raw marijuana plant also has benefits. The terpenes, THCA, and CBDA have anti-inflammatory properties which some users value over psychoactive effects.  To use the weed fan leaves or flowers and buds raw, you will need to pick them from a fresh plant. Do not dry and cure them. You will keep the leaves refrigerated. Any portion not used immediately will only last a few days in the fridge.  So, it’s best to take your weed directly from the plant and toss it into your hippie smoothie or tea. Be careful with warm drinks as some decarboxylation can occur.

Raw cannabis contains your THCA and CBDA, as well as terpenes and other phytonutrients.  These are healthy and provide benefits without being carboxylated. They are also not psychoactive so they can be used in treating ailments in children.  Raw cannabis contains over 100 kinds of non-psychoactive cannabinoid acids, THCA being the most abundant. This is why actual marijuana is preferred as a treatment over synthetic THC in Marinol medication, which contains THC alone, without the other therapeutic ingredients in the marijuana plant.

Decarboxylation activates not only the THCA turning it into THC, but also turns CBDA into CBD, and does the same with other cannabinoid acids.
raw weed smoothie

THC Decarb Chart

                                                   Decarboxylation Method Graph
Method How Long to Decarb Weed Temperature
  • Oven
  • 40 minutes to 60 minutes
  • 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Microwave
  • 1.5 to 3 minutes
  • High
  • Sous Vide Decarboxylation
  • 1hr 30 mins to 1 hr 40 mins
  • 200 to 240 degrees
  • Ardent Nova Decarboxylator
  • 120 minutes
  • Automatic

Decarboxylation Weed Temperature In An Oven

The temperature at which you want to do your decarboxylating will depend on how much time you want to spend in the decarboxylase process.  The decarboxylation cannabis temperature will also depend on the kind of flavor you want your weed to have.  If you use lower temp for a longer time, you will preserve more terpenes, which gives your weed its smell and taste.

This method is the most common approach used to start the reaction that removes the carboxyl group from your THCA to yield THC:

  1. Preheat your oven to 220 – 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Break your cannabis into smaller pieces with your hands.
  3. Spread your weed out onto your baking sheet.
  4. Heat the weed up for 30 to 60 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven.  Your weed will be browned, hard, and crumbly.  Use your hands, a grinder, or food processor to further grind the weed to a coarse grain but not a powder.  Now your weed is bursting with available THC, ready to be used for your favorite recipes.

Microwave

Our non-cooking cannabis users have testified that decarboxylation can be done in a microwave.  This is a non-preferred method as one cannot be sure the microwaves will not zap some of your cannabinoids or terpenes, but when you smell the result, it is clear that plenty of strong cannabinoids and terpenes remain.  Just put in the microwave for 1.5 to 3 minutes on high and you’re done. An advantage of this method is there is far less chance you will burn any of your weed in the microwave. Also, it’s much quicker than other methods.

Sous Vide Decarboxylation Temperature

The Sous Vide method is the brainchild of Sir Benjamin Thompson, an American British physicist.  One of his experiments involved even-cooking a mutton shoulder using this method. In short, the weed is vacuum sealed in plastic, then a water-circulating heating element is placed in a pot of water to heat the water evenly.  Next, the vacuum sealed weed is placed inside and slow cooked to decarboxylate fully and evenly.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Vacuum sealing machine
  • Weed grinder
  • Sous vide precision cooker
  • 10-quart pot
  1. Grind your weed up to a coarse grain but not a powder, be sure to collect any kief produced.
  2. Seal your weed in heat-safe plastic with your vacuum sealer.
  3. Place your sous vide precision cooker in your pot filled with water and set the temperature to 200 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Once the water reaches the correct temperature, add your sealed weed and cook for 1 hr 30 mins to 1 hr 40 mins.

The advantage of this method is that the water circulates to produce an even temperature, all of the weed is cooked evenly and thoroughly providing a consistent amount of THC and CBD throughout.  This process also protects your weed from burning on the outside.

Ardent Nova Decarboxylation

decarboxylator

Figure 2.http://www.ardentcannabis.com/

The Ardent Nova Decarboxylator is a technology made exclusively for decarboxylating weed.  It looks a bit like a thermos. It has several advantages over other ways of decarboxylation, including:

  1. It’s very easy to use.  Just put your weed in there, push the button, and in 120 minutes, your weed is thoroughly decarboxylated.
  2. It doesn’t produce the smell throughout the room of an obvious weed bake, drawing the attention of nosey neighbors and authorities.
  3. You get to make your own edibles, tinctures, and oils instead of buying expensive pre-made products.

Using the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator is probably the easiest decarb method; however, it will take you 120 minutes to have your fully decarbed product.  You can then use your weed in any type of edible, or you can put it in capsules and swallow it, though this will produce the lesser effect and could cause stomach upset.  Better it is to extract it into cannabutter or a tincture. Read here how to make cannabutter: https://www.ncsm.nl/english/information-for-patients/cannabutter-oil-recipe

decarboxylator

Figure 3.http://www.ardentcannabis.com/

How Long To Decarb Weed

How long it will take to decarb weed depends on your goals and the decarb method.  In the oven, you can use a higher temperature and a shorter time, or a lower temperature over a long time.  Decarboxylation occurs at temperatures between 200 and 300 degrees. Many weed enthusiasts prefer to decarboxylate at lower temperatures for longer periods of time in order to keep terpenes from evaporating.  Terpenes give the weed its smell and provide some therapeutic action. Some of them smell of lemon or lavender. They give the weed a quality of aromatherapy that is central to the action of weed. If you have ever noticed yourself getting high just from smelling your weed, this is the action of terpenes on your memory.  It is an effect of classical conditioning. Just as Pavlov’s dogs salivated on hearing the sound of the bell, you feel high just on smelling the terpenes in the weed.

If you decarb in the microwave, cooking time is dramatically shortened.  It only takes about 3 minutes to decarboxylate weed. This method is not preferred however because heating can be very uneven, and terpenoids may be evaporated.  However, if you are on the go and need a quick fix, pop it in the microwave, throw it in some butter, and wolf it down for quick anti-inflammatory action and pain relief.

With the sous vide method, a longer cook with a lower temperature is preferred.  You can use temperatures anywhere from 220 to 240 for 1 hour and 40 minutes. The longer time makes sure all of the weed is decarboxylated.  The water immersion method makes sure everything is cooked evenly. The precision sous vide immersion circulator both heats and circulate the water.  Just set the temperature and the time and you are ready to go. The vacuum sealing makes sure all the terpenoids and cannabinoids stay in the weed.

Smoking Decarboxylated Weed

You do not need to decarboxylate your weed before smoking it because smoking it decarboxylates it.  However, some claim by decarboxylating it first, they get a more potent smoke. However, decarbing in the oven makes the weed too dry and the smoke harsh.  Therefore, they heat it gently in the microwave or use the sous vide method so they get a nice decarbed weed which is not extra dry and the smoke is not harsh.  If you want to try this method, just heat the weed in the microwave till the smell is extra potent, from 1 to 3 minutes. Let us know what your experience is!

Last updated on
May 14th, 2019 at 01:54 pm
May 14th, 2019
This article Decarboxylation: Best Way to Decarboxylate Weed about Marijuana was published on and updated on May 14, 2019 by NCSM NCSM logo Facts in this article was checked and article was medically reviewed on June 16, 2018 by Sanjay Gupta, MD who is expert in Medicine . Author of this checked article is

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Gregg Reynolds said:

A sous vide will never get you water over 212 degrees Fahrenheit unless it’s inside a pressure cooker. Your suggestion to “use temperatures anywhere form 220 to 240 for 1 hour and 40 minutes” is far from possible.

Smitty said:

You obviously don’t know what an immersion circulator is, let alone sous vide cooking.

it's just me said:

@Smitty, I can’t tell if you’re being serious… You seem to be confused about how a sous vide immersion circulator works. A sous vide cooker will never get above boiling (which happens at 212 F btw…). So Gregg is right. I’m not sure where the author got his numbers.

SWIM said:

you can achieve temperatures higher than 212 with an immersion circulator by circulating fluids that are not water. canola oil will easily reach the required temperature, and will not harm the circulator.

Robert said:

The author clearly states using water in his SV method. So saying using oil is irrelevant, we all know using oil would give higher temps but we actually read the thing fully.

SV using water is flat out b’s. And also temperatures need to be above 240 for decarbing so saying between 200-240 is wrong also.

Daniel N. Marder said:

I Have 2 Sous dives, neither of them go over 194 F. Why would they? The point of Sous dive cooking is low and slow Food cooked at that that high of a temperature would be tough as a McDonald’s big mac served out of an ice rink uranal.
The real question is what’s the correct conversation for decarbing in a water bath & Whose actually done this if anyone? The author seems to be faking it here
1. against the laws of Physics
2. Against Logic of what the tool is for.
3.No feedback on Comments.
Without solid labs to back up this claim I’m calling BULLSHIT on the whole temp portion of the Article.
I’m running expreiments my self (nothing sientific)
Dried Ground leaves did off gas at 194 F. I’m told that means it’s decarbing, no idea how long to do it for, trying 3 and 5 hours.

Bill said:

How did it turn out? I’ve been trying to find a good sous vide method because it seems more controllable than the other methods. I don’t really want to put oil in my sous vide to get a higher temp, especially since the specs are only rated up to 212F.

Eric said:

I own one and have tried this before. The authors times are all off though. I decarbed mine at 205* for 2 hours. I then added coconut oil, melted to the bag. Did not vacuum seal with the oil in. Then let infuse for an additional 3 hours at 210*f. The oil was dark brown when I drained it and seemed to work wonderfully. I wouldn’t advise trying to decarb any amount that doesn’t touch the sides of the bag after sucking the air out. You want it to be as thin as possible. At least in my efforts…

paul said:

Does this activation have to happen by heating the bud or can it happen after extracting. I didn’t read before acting and soaked some buds in everclear without carboniz. Can I activate this tincture (heat 225 in double boiler pressure cooker), or have I wasted my buds?

Calin said:

You didn’t waste your buds. This is the first time I’ve heard of decarbing the weed before extracting and cooking it down. That’s the thing about Rick Simpson oil. You boil your alcohol extract for an hour until 80ish percent is evaporated. Then you let the rest evap on a warming plate. H20 does not boil above 100°C and iso tops out around 140°C, the exact temps you want to run your THCa and CBDa at to decarb the A. So if you run a double boiler you should decarb your everclear extract. Just use CAUTION and exhaust those alcohol fumes or you could get an explosion.

Toni said:

I want to make a tincture, my son bought 100 proof Yukon Jack, will this work? This is my first attempt and want to get it right. i will be using the microwave to decarboxylate the weed as well.

joni thies said:

hi from montana, how do i make a tincture out of 100 proof jack daniels. thank you

Snoopy said:

I actually just decarbed my cannabis now in the microwave for 2 minutes. Then I put boiling water in a flask with some coconut oil. Threw the decarbed cannabis in the flask. Waiting on the results now. After a few hours ill drain the weed out and put the mixture in the fridge so that the cannabis infused coconut oil can separate from the water

Jonathan said:

Hi I just tried to make tincture using mct oil. I decarbed in the oven at 240 for 50min. Ground the plant, added the mct oil, 1oz plant/10oz mct, put jar into crock pot on low for 23 hrs. Result is somewhat burnt smell and no apparent psychoactive affect. Any ideas what to change if I try again.

Is normal said:

My theory – Somewhere along the way, it got too hot and vaporized the thc. Ovens and crock pots have poor temperature control

Bob said:

I’ve had great success by grinding the bud, adding MCT oil in a Pyrex dish and putting in oven @ 245 degrees F
The oil and bud mixture allows for decarboxylation and infusing at the same time. I do let the mixture sit in a dark place for a couple days. After that I filter through a fine mesh. Any plant residue will sit at the bottom. I just siphon the oil making sure not to suck up any residue at the bottom.

MadMiata said:

Probably should have put your crock pot on warm instead of low.

Gary said:

Water boils well below the temps shown here. So how does sous-vide work to decarb cannabis when it needs to get to about 240 to do so? Sous-vide cooking bags melt at temps you suggest!