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Tips Decarboxylation


Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
What is Decarboxylation? How CBD-A Becomes CBD

Decarboxylation is an essential step in the process of creating CBD oil, which is a popular daily supplement that can be used to remedy a variety of ailments. Raw cannabis won’t offer the numerous benefits that you can get by using CBD, and while the science behind the process is complex, it is extremely important in creating the supplement that many people have come to rely on to improve their health.

Understanding Decarboxylation
So, what is decarboxylation? The scientific definition of this term is that it is a chemical reaction that will remove a carboxyl group and release carbon dioxide. The process converts inactive components in cannabis – which are not psychoactive – into active components, which unlock the effects that many people are looking for. With time, cannabis can go through the decarboxylation process on its own, or there are other ways that you can speed up the process.

The two main catalysts in the decarboxylation process are heat and time. Curing and drying cannabis over time will result in partial decarboxylation. Smoking and vaporizing can instantly decarboxylate cannabinoids as a result of the extremely high temperatures that are present, and this makes them immediately available for absorption via inhalation. However, people with respiratory conditions, children, or the elderly who are attempting to use cannabis for its medicinal purposes likely will not want to inhale the smoke, so extracting numerous cannabinoids and terpenes in the form of oil is often a better strategy.

Why Decarboxylation is Important for CBD
When discussing decarboxylation, the difference between CBD-A and CBD needs to be addressed. CBD-A is known as the acidic precursor to CBD, and when cannabis grows, it produces CBDA and not CBD. The same is true for one of the other main compounds of marijuana – THC – as the decarboxylation process is needed to turn the inactive THC-A into the psychoactive THC. In order to activate the CBD and to experience all of its benefits, it needs to be heated through vaporization, cooking, or smoking so that decarboxylation occurs. Even after the process has been completed, you still won’t get high by taking CBD, as the product is non-psychoactive and does not bind to receptors the same way as THC.

The decarboxylation process is important for getting the most out of the CBD. After the process activates it, CBD is available to be used within the body.

In the past, CBD-A has had a tendency to be overlooked with CBD getting the attention of medical researchers. However, there are several studies that are currently examining the potential benefits of CBD, as well, including:

  • Antibacterial. A study completed in 2000 notes that more CBD-A in a plant will lead to greater antimicrobial potency within the CBD that results after decarboxylation.
  • Anti-Nausea. A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that CBD-A could be used as an alternative to THC when it comes to preventing nausea and vomiting, and it doesn’t offer the psychoactive properties of THC. It has also been shown to have significant benefits in helping with anticipatory nausea experienced by chemotherapy patients.
  • Cancer. CBD-A is thought to be one of many cannabinoids that can help to control the growth of tumors in cancer patients. A 2012 study published in Toxicology Letters found that CBDA could work to inhibit the migration of breast cancer cells.
Decarboxylation Temperature and Terpenes
When going through the decarboxylation process, the temperature that you use is extremely important. While a lower temperature will cause the process to take longer, delaying the process can actually be a good thing, as lower temperatures will allow you to retain more terpenes. The terpenes are the oils that give cannabis its unique smell and flavor, and they offer a variety of benefits. Some of the most popular terpenes in cannabis include:

  • Caryophyllene. A spicy smell, providing medical value for ulcers, arthritis, and gastrointestinal problems
  • Limonene. This citrus-smelling terpene offers anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, and it can also help with depression and heartburn
  • Linalool. Medicinal value includes relief of depression and anxiety, and the terpene smells sweet like flowers
  • Myrcene. Myrcene offers an earthy smell and is good for relieving muscle tension, insomnia, and chronic pain.
Besides the fact that retaining as many terpenes as possible will allow for some of these benefits, there is another important reason you’ll want to keep them around in your CBD oil – terpenes can actually boost the power of CBD and other cannabinoids, if they are present.

Decarboxylation Made Easy
If you are interested in trying out the decarboxylation process on your own at home, there are some simple steps that you can use:

  • Preheat your oven to 230° F.
  • Break up cannabis buds and flowers by hand unit they are in small pieces of one ounce or less.
  • Place the pieces on a baking sheet in a single layer, and make sure that the cannabis takes up the entire pan. There shouldn’t be any empty space.
  • Bake the cannabis for up to 40 minutes, stirring it every 10 minutes to ensure even toasting.
  • After the cannabis has turned a medium brown color and is dried, remove the baking sheet from the oven and give the cannabis time to cool. When handled, it should be crumbly.
  • Use a food processor to pulse the cannabis until it becomes coarsely ground.
After the process, make sure that you store the cannabis in an airtight container so that it stays fresh until you need to use it to make extractions.

While the process of decarboxylation might be fairly simple and something that you can do on your own, extracting the CBD oil is another story. This is a complicated task that should be left to the professionals if you are hoping to get the maximum possible benefits from the CBD.

July 08, 2015 by Monica Lo in Sous Weed, Sous Vide, Basic

I recently learned about decarboxylation from Chef Payton Curry at his cooking demo in DC. It’s pretty simple! When you decarb cannabis, it turns the THCA (non-psychoactive but great anti-inflammatory) into THC (the fun stuff!)—all you need to do is heat it up in the oven or your sous vide water bath!

Once the THC in the cannabis is activated you can pour it into your butters, fats, sugars, and alcohol to cook with.

I personally prefer the sous vide method for accuracy, convenience, and discretion—you can just seal up your cannabis in a zip bag using the water displacement method or with a vacuum sealer, submerge underwater at 95ºC (203ºF) for an hour, and there will be no smell!

An even better article I found on decarbing with a sous vide:

Sous Vide Machine to decarboxylate

Posted 09 September 2015 - 09:51 PM

So, I read that this might be a fun new technique that I could use. I have access to fun toys like you will see. I figured I would give it a try.

Ideally you would just place your bud/trim in bag that you can seal. I use a vacuum packing food saver to do this but a ziploc would work if you use the submerge method to get all the air of the bag. This is so that the THC-A will be activated into THC. If you do just dry bud/trim without adding oil as I did, you can then just grind this up and ingest and it should work properly.

I just got sick of making the house smell of boiling pot for a day and was sternly told by my wife to figure something out so this is what I did.

I borrowed a ANOVA sous vide machine. Basically just a fancy little heater that circulates water at a desired temp.

Coconut Oil. I have found this works better than butter due to the higher fat content and also is a vegetarian option which matters to some people that I donate these baked goods too.

I did two seperate batches basically.

Bag one was 1 oz of trim from Sugar Punch, Candy Kush and Deathstar x Huck cross. This might be a problem for some folks if this comes out as good as I think it will.

Bag two was 1 oz of Killing Fields trim. It looks brown but something was off with my color correction.

I sealed each bag with a few ice cubes and the solid coconut oil.

Then I let the ANOVA warm up to 200F or 93.3 C and then submerged the bags. Next time I will add some thing metal to the lower portion of the bag to weigh it down and keep it under the water line. I let them cook for 1 hour and 25 mins. I saw a test on another site that it should be around 1 hour and 30 mins to get the best decarb you could get.

Then removed them from the water bath.

Then cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and strained the liquid through some cheese cloth. They are now in the fridge covered and will be set by the time I wake up tomorrow.

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What Is Decarboxylation And How to Decarb Cannabis

You may be surprised to learn that a living cannabis plant contains almost no cannabinoids. But it’s absolutely true – the cannabis plant actually produces a set of chemical “precursors” to cannabinoids, which are classified as “cannabinoid acids”. These cannabinoid acids gradually break down to become cannabinoids over time, and with exposure to warmth and light. This process – which is known as decarboxylation – takes a long time to complete, and even after your cannabis is harvested, dried and cured, the level of cannabinoid acids may exceed the level of cannabinoids. It may take months for the process of decarboxylation to fully complete in a sample of cannabis in “normal” storage conditions!

For medical patients with certain conditions, consuming cannabinoid acids in their raw form – most notably, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) – may provide various medicinal benefits. But for most recreational users (and many medicinal patients too) it’s more important to get the full range and concentration of the cannabinoids themselves, and not the acids. THC and THCA are identical in molecular structure, except for a carboxyl group present in THCA but not THC. This small difference is actually a big deal; the presence of the carboxyl group prevents THCA from binding to cannabinoid receptors in the body’s brain and nervous system.The presence of THCA in the plant explains why eating raw cannabis does not produce the therapeutic effect or “high” that a patient would expect from ingesting cannabis. In order for inactive THCA to become bioavailable THC that can properly bind with the body’s cannabinoid receptors, the carboxyl group must be removed from the THCA, hence the term “decarboxylation.” Decarboxylation is a precision process that is a function of time, temperature and atmosphere. A deceptively simple concept, executing proper decarboxylation is difficult even for professionals, and the process has created an incredible and often insurmountable road block for patients seeking to make their own medicine. Indeed, performed incorrectly, patients hydroklize (burn off) cannabinoids, degrade THC to CBN, and/or fail to fully convert, all of which result in inferior medicine with wide variability in dosing and effectiveness. Only with precision decarboxylation can patients know and control their dose.

During the drying process, the heat from the sun caused a small amount of THCA and CBDA to chemically transform into THC and CBD. It was a natural process that prepared the cannabis for the next stage: consumption. That said, drying doesn’t release the full potential of the cannabinoids. For that we need another step: decarboxylation. But how do you go about decarboxylating (or decarbing) your cannabis? The same way the ancients did it—through the application of heat.

  • You’ve ground the buds into small pieces in preparation for consumption, and you’ve rolled the grounds into a joint. You’re ready to smoke. But remember, the dried bud in your joint is basically raw and won’t get you very high (if at all). So how does the weed go from the state it’s in now to the psychoactive powerhouse that it is when it hits your lungs? One word: fire. When you apply a flame to your joint, or to the cannabis in your bong, immediate decarboxylation occurs. THCA is converted to THC and carbon dioxide (CO2) is given off as a by-product. At the same time, the solid marijuana is vaporized (burned) and the whole kit-and-kaboodle, THC and all, is inhaled. From your lungs, the THC, and other cannabinoids, travels to your brain where it causes the wonderful psychoactive effects that we’ve come to know and love.

  • If you decide to eat your weed instead of smoking it, you’re going to have to wait a little bit longer. Remember that burning the cannabis is basically immediate decarboxylation that transforms the inactive cannabinoids (THCA and CBDA) into their active counterparts (THC and CBD). But, at this point, you can’t light your buds on fire or there wouldn’t be anything left with which to cook. You’ve got to decarboxylate your cannabis in another way. The easiest, most convenient way to do that is in an oven. But at what temperature should I set the oven? And how long should I let the buds bake? Two excellent questions that bring us to another important variable: terpenes.

  • Terpenes are those oils that give the cannabis plant its unique smell. There are a wide variety of terpenes and terpene combinations that create the various odors and tastes—sour, bitter, sweet, spicy, and all their variants—that distinguish one cannabis strain from another. In addition, terpenes work in tandem with the cannabinoids to increase the medical effects and effectiveness. Going back to the decarboxylation process for a moment, we could just crank up the oven to 450℉ and bake for 5 minutes. However, that would destroy all the terpenes that give your favorite strain its character. Terpenes begin to break down above 310℉ so we want to stay away from those high temperatures.
And because we can’t use high temperatures, the cooking time is going to increase so that decarboxylation has the opportunity to work its magic. So let’s get to the step-by-step recipe for getting the most out of your cooking weed.

How To Decarboxylate Your Cannabis
  • Preheat oven to 230℉.
  • If you haven’t already, break up the dried buds into small pieces with your hands.
  • Spread the small pieces and flakes on a baking sheet (one with a rim works best).
  • Bake the cannabis at 230℉ for 35 minutes.
  • Stir the cannabis every 10 minutes to ensure even toasting.
  • After 35 minutes, check the cannabis. It should be light- to medium-brown in color and should be very dry. If it’s not, put it back in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on everything so it doesn’t burn.
  • When finished baking, remove the cannabis from the baking sheet and let cool. Careful, it’s going to be very crumbly at this point.
    Additional Tips

  • You can use more or less than an ounce of cannabis when decarbing, as long as it fits on your baking sheet without spilling or piling up.
  • If your cannabis contains more CBD than THC, bake at 275°F for 45 minutes instead.
  • When properly decarbed, cannabis should be light to medium brown in color.
  • If you don’t have a baking sheet handy, you can wrap the cannabis in aluminum foil and place it in the oven directly.
  • Make sure your cannabis is ground into small pieces and spread out evenly or else some pieces may decarb more than others.
  • You can tell when the cannabis is almost finished decarbing once your oven starts to emit a scent.
  • If you live in an apartment, you can turn on the exhaust fan and put a towel underneath the door to minimize the smell.Cannabis can also be activated through solvent extraction and ice-water extraction. These methods produce a concentrate that can be hardened and used for dabbing or kept in an oily state and used for cooking. The important point of all this is that the cannabinoids in the marijuana need to be chemically altered (or activated) so that the body can process them easier. It’s this activation that gives your weed the psychoactive and medical benefits you crave. You can thank decarboxylation for that.
Sous Vide Decarboxylation


I recently learned about decarboxylation from Chef Payton Curry at his cooking demo in DC. It’s pretty simple! When you decarb cannabis, it turns the THCA (non-psychoactive but great anti-inflammatory) into THC (the fun stuff!)—all you need to do is heat it up in the oven or your sous vide water bath!

Once the THC in the cannabis is activated you can pour it into your butters, fats, sugars, and alcohol to cook with.

I personally prefer the sous vide method for accuracy, convenience, and discretion—you can just seal up your cannabis in a zip bag using the water displacement method or with a vacuum sealer, submerge underwater at 95ºC (203ºF) for an hour, and there will be no smell!

If you want to use your oven to decarb, The Stoner Cookbook has a really great time and temperature chart to reference!
Sous Vide Decarboxylation

View attachment 4856 View attachment 4857

I recently learned about decarboxylation from Chef Payton Curry at his cooking demo in DC. It’s pretty simple! When you decarb cannabis, it turns the THCA (non-psychoactive but great anti-inflammatory) into THC (the fun stuff!)—all you need to do is heat it up in the oven or your sous vide water bath!

Once the THC in the cannabis is activated you can pour it into your butters, fats, sugars, and alcohol to cook with.

I personally prefer the sous vide method for accuracy, convenience, and discretion—you can just seal up your cannabis in a zip bag using the water displacement method or with a vacuum sealer, submerge underwater at 95ºC (203ºF) for an hour, and there will be no smell!

If you want to use your oven to decarb, The Stoner Cookbook has a really great time and temperature chart to reference!
There are a lot of somewhat conflicting numbers on decarbing flower. I tend to go with the 250 F for 30 minutes or so.

see this link for an array of decarb study results charts. Follow the link of the picture (i.e. hit Visit Site) back to the OG article if interested.

According to some info I got from SkunkPharm, THCA is ~87% converted by the time the herb reaches 220F. What’s left has known medicinal value. But all that extra cooking can only result in very slight further conversion, in return for - well a lot more cooking.

So heating it up and then letting it cool off looks like it’d leave your herb right at 90%. My experiments seem to bear this out.
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So heating it up and then letting it cool off looks like it’d leave your herb right at 90%. My experiments seem to bear this out.
That is really interesting.... I've often thought 30 minutes might be a bit too long. I'll try this method next time. Would you happen to have a link to the article or post you read?
I’m looking for it...problem is search is messed up some places.
I’ll contact the guy directly about the chart. There are two I’ve seen, but the only one I’m finding maps the data differently.

I found this:

You can see the numbers for THCA and THC at 0:00 decarb, and at 30:00, the conversion is virtually complete.

I’ll keep looking for the other one, but the data is here, it’s just not a chart.

Since my interest is in the medicine (and, YES, the high state), I’m good with 60-90% THCA conversion. Anything that doesn’t convert during vaping will get ingested.

I love my medicated goo...
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AND I found this:


It contains the same data, mostly, modeled differently from the graph.

Check half-hour conversion percentages for 105C and 120C: 87% and 97% respectively.
Full conversion in 30 min @ 140C. Cooking for hours “to make sure” doesn’t hold up, I think.
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This is probably the most comprehensive article on decarbing I've seen...


Like most people, when I first heard ‘DECARBOXYLATION’ I had no idea what it meant and the word itself confused me, but the sound of science grabbed my attention, I had to know more. I was relieved to learn a short form of the big word existed and is commonly referred to as ‘decarb’. The more I researched the more confusing the concept and process became. Everyone had different stories, experiences, opinions and references to a wide verity of conflicting recommended temperature and time combinations. Some people even claimed decarbing was a myth and completely unnecessary. The vast majority of available information was unorganized and unreliable, stoking my motivation to work on this experiment to find some clarity on different decarb methods. There are far too many methods and time/temp combinations for me to cover all, so I chose to compare a few of the most easy to perform in a normal home kitchen. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s build a better familiarity with the different important aspects and implications of performing decarb.

Being familiar with the basic science involved with decarboxylation can be very helpful in sorting through all the internet noise surrounding the topic. Let’s start at the beginning with the natural form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that develops in the trichomes of the cannabis plant as it grows and matures, THC-A. You will hear many people refer to THC-A as the “acid form of THC”, meaning it has an extra carboxyl group that differentiates it from THC. Notice that the word ‘carboxyl’ is the root of “decarboxylation”, which simply means to remove the carbolic acid group. When the carboxyl group breaks away carbon dioxide (CO2) is given off and the molecular mass of THC-A reduces by about 12% becoming the smaller molecule known as THC. This size relationship can be seen in one of the most common equations used for measuring total potential THC in a cannabis sample [THCtotal = (THCA x 0.877) + THC].

The change from THC-A to THC is a natural process that begins immediately when the plant is harvested and continues very slowly over months or even years depending on how well the cannabis is prepared and stored. The process can be accelerated by soaking cannabis in a solvent like ethanol, completing the conversion in just 2-3 months, or hyper-accelerated with the application of heat. Decarb is influenced by three specific variables: temperature, time, and environment. Changing any one of the three variables will affect the extent of decarb achieved. By applying varying degrees of heat you can fully decarb cannabis at different rates. Low heat will take longer, high heat works faster, and the temperatures used for smoking or vaping cause instantaneous conversion. As time passes decarb continues, so with the comparison of any two periods of time, with everything else equal, the longer time period will always result in a higher degree of decarb. Environment is a more opaque and less concise consideration but very important. Open air, ambient temperature, and exposure to sunlight will cause oxidation, conversion and degradation of both THC-A and THC. The environmental influence on the cannabis I used in this exercise had already taken place prior to it coming into my possession, making it a fixed variable across all the samples used for each method. Therefore, I will treat environment as a constant and remove it from the discussion in comparing the different methods in this exercise and concentrate on temperature and time.

Every day I see people seriously obsessing over the simple science of decarbing and meticulously analyzing every factor for fear of ruining their cannabis if they make an error. Simple decarb questions in some groups often break out into internet brawls. If you take a step back and think about it, you can see there is very little precision happening in your kitchen compared to a lab, so it might be best to treat the decarb process less like a lab procedure and more like a kitchen activity. If the starting material came from a source other than your own grow, you have no real idea how it was stored, how long it’s been out, how much sunlight it’s taken on, and the real state of decarb that’s already taken place (environment factor). Even if you did grow, cure, and store it yourself, in most cases it would be difficult to know precisely. Furthermore, controlling the temperature of your appliances, especially cheap appliances, will be far from laboratory specifications but they will be good enough to do what we need them to. So, my general advice is to relax a little bit, take what I’ve written here under advisement, give it a little thought, take your best shot, believe in chaos theory, stay lifted, and move on.

The quality of terpenes and amount of decarb present in the cannabis you consume are both dependent on the same three variables (temp, time, environment) but are at odds and inversely correlated. Meaning, any factor that furthers decarb comes at the expense terpenes. The loss of terpenes during decarb is a concern for most people, but it’s not an easy problem to solve since anything that facilitates decarb degrades terpene quality. Maintaining low processing temperatures can help preserve some of the most volatile terpenes to a minor degree and decarbing with a containment that can trap them can also provide a small degree of salvation, but for the most part you have to accept the fact that when you choose to decarb you will have substantial terpene conversion and loss. Luckily, one of the most exciting recent developments in the cannabis industry is the availability of isolated terpenes and terpene profiles that can be reintroduced to a decarbed concentrate to make up for any loss and in some cases make the concentrate better than it would have been originally.

Another cost of decarb that causes concern is the conversion of THC to CBN. Only a small amount of elevated CBN can cause a difference in the psychoactive effects of cannabis. CBN conversion takes a bit of effort, and you have to over process a decarb by a decent margin, but the good news is, even if it happens it’s not the end of the world. People often mistake the effects of CBN to an elevated degree of being ‘high’, when in reality it’s not more ‘high’ but more sedated. In fact, many people who need a very strong ‘chill’ factor or heavy sleep aid seek the help of the CBN component.

This study is incredibly well done and interesting in many ways, if you have a chance to chew on it a bit I highly recommend it. It discusses the science of many aspects of the process, including nullification of CBN development under vacuum, temp/time combinations for both THC and CBD, and other interesting stuff. Decarboxylation Study of Acidic Cannabinoids: A Novel Approach Using Ultra-High-Performance Supercritical Fluid Chromatography/Photodiode Array-Mass Spectrometry.

To determine if decarbing is necessary for your intended use and needs decide if you require the benefits of THC-A, THC, or both. To begin exploring this, let’s look at the difference in the psychotropic effects and the potential benefits of using THC-A and THC. The most obvious difference between the two is that THC-A does not induce psychotropic effects, the feeling of being “high”, while THC does when ingested orally or inhaled. THC-A has become very important as an anticonvulsive, controlling and stopping many forms of seizures, anti-inflammation, pain relief, nausea, depression, overall well-being, and has shown positive signs in the treatment of prostate-cancer. It can do all of this without making people feel high.

On the other hand, THC has strong psychotropic effects that some people love and others have difficulty with. The difference in psychotropic effect is a result of the smaller relative molecular size of THC compared to THC-A. The smaller molecular size allows THC to pass through the blood-brain barrier and attach to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, creating the ‘high.’ The smaller THC molecule has been demonstrated to have an increased ability to kill cancer cells, work as an anticonvulsant, bronchodilator, appetite stimulant, strong pain reliever, sooth nausea, help with PTSD, induces sleep when nothing else works, along with a number other general health benefits.

The choice between using THC-A or THC is generally pretty clear-cut, as already discussed, but a couple of brief comments on how that choice relates to the various modes of consumption like oral ingestion, suppositories, topicals, smoking and vaping might be helpful. The decision to decarb for oral ingestion typically hinges on two considerations, desired benefits and one’s tolerance for psychotropic effects. Suppositories are typically understood to have no psychotropic effects if used properly so either THC-A or THC can be used. Having said that, suppository effectiveness is hotly debated and I would recommend reading my post “The Cannabis Oil Suppository Debate: Personal Testing & Results”for more information. Topicals are not directly ingested into the body orally nor through the lungs so either THC-A or THC can be used, without psychotropic effects.

When it comes to smoking or vaping there’s an interesting consideration concerning conversion efficiency and bioavailability. In most cases, the rule of thumb for cannabis that will be smoked or vaped is that decarbing prior to consuming is not necessary because it occurs automatically when combusted or vaped. With combustion and smoking of flower high temps are easily achieved and all the desired constituents will be consumed, making prior decarbing unnecessary. Vaping and dabbing with quality equipment allows for precise temperature control to target cannabinoid and terpene components, attain very high conversion and dial in desired effects, using temps to control the intensity of the high delivered. With higher quality controllable vaping equipment decarbing is also usually considered unnecessary because you can preserve all the terpenes in your concentrate with high cannabinoid conversion efficiency. On the other hand, there are people who like to do low-temp dabs to enjoy rich flavors and avoid the possible adverse health issues associated with high-temp dabbing. In this case, it’s possible to lose a good percentage of cannabinoids to low conversion. The low conversion problem can be solved by decarbing the material, and adding back any terps that were lost in the process, creating a high cannabinoid conversion and high terpene dab. Likewise, there are many people using vape cartridges with low power batteries that operate at low temps that don’t provide reliable THC conversion, hence much weaker effects than desired. To insure a more potent delivery of THC some people choose to use decarbed oil and added terpenes to make vape cartridges.

To recap, when deciding if you need decarb or not there are just a few considerations. First, determine if you desire THC-A, THC, or a combination. Second, consider your form of consumption and if higher conversion is necessary. Third, for your use, are the costs of decarbing worth the benefit? Lastly, can the risk of potential terpene loss be mitigated by adding terpenes back later?


For this exercise I prepared some outdoor GSC flower broken up by hand and separated into 7g bags for a control sample and for each test. I chose a 7g sample size because it’s representative of what many people may decarb at home for personal use and the results will be consistent with the larger volumes when executed properly. When processing larger amounts you must make sure the cannabis is not in a thick or compressed layer that would hinder heat transfer and cause unequal and incomplete decarb.

Ovens are notoriously unreliable for temperature accuracy, and to my disbelief, during this exercise I found my Across International vacuum oven was actually off nearly 30°F whereas the oven in my kitchen was spot on. Here are some things you can do to make using the oven more reliable for decarbing:

  • Before using an oven for decarbing, determine if the internal temperature of the oven matches the temperature you intend to base your decarbing.
  • To measure the accuracy of your oven temp you can put a measuring cup of water in the oven with a thermometer or use an inferred temperature gun to see what the oven temp measures.
  • Remember the areas of the oven that deliver heat will read much higher than the rest of the oven, if possible measure the temperature of the rack, grate, or pre-heated cookie sheet.
  • When checking the internal temperature of the oven or preparing for decarbing, before measuring the temp or beginning a decarb, allow the oven to settle for about 20 minutes after it indicates it’s up to temp.
  • If the observed temp in the oven differs from the actual setting you can either note the difference and adjust the setting accordingly to achieve the desired temperature. For example if your target temp is 240°F but the oven only measures 220°F, try setting 260°F and see if it settles at 240°F and if it does use that correction going forward. The other option is to use the measured oven temp as is and adjust the decarb time accordingly.
  • If a cookie sheet is being used, make sure it’s preheated with the oven and up to temp before putting anything on it to process.
I chose to compare methods that range from the traditional use of an oven, a couple of gadgets, and a couple of methods I worked up myself. First we’ll look at using the oven with foil tents, sealed canning jars and, vacuum packs, then the sous vide, steaming, and the Ardent Nova. In comparing each method and the respective results I was looking for high THC conversion, low CBN conversion, possible terpene preservation advantages, ease of use, odor, and general advantages or disadvantages of each.


  • 240°F for 60 minutes – 100% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
  • 260°F for 40 minutes – 99.6% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
This is a simple method, just put the cannabis on some foil and fold it loosely like a tent then fold over the ends to completely seal. The folded shape doesn’t help control the odor much, but it does prevent the cannabis getting overly toasted as it would without the foil protection. This was the easiest of all methods and both samples were effectively fully decarbed. The only real downside to this method is there is a decent amount of odor, there will be no secrets about what you are doing.


  • 240°F for 60 minutes – 100% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
  • 260°F for 40 minutes – 100% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
After doing the foil tent, I thought a vacuum sealed pack would perform the same function but better. I had never seen nor heard of this being done so I wasn’t sure if the plastic would melt and ruin the cannabis or not, but I only had one way to find out! I used a Food Saver unit to vacuum seal the cannabis and planned to place it on a cookie sheet for decarbing. I preheated the cookie sheet in the oven so it was up to temp along with the oven when the vacuum packed cannabis went in. After the time was complete removing the samples showed that the CO2 release from the process made the bag puff up a little and there was moisture in the pack that wasn’t there to start. The pack worked as planned and trapped anything that had evaporated then it re-condensed on the cannabis or the surface of the pack as it cooled. It wasn’t odor proof but it was a lot less than the foil tent.

A great advantage of this method is being able to capture the vapor and everything remained in the pack. When making butter, an infusion or extraction I would be sure to gather whatever was collected on the surface of the bag by using the pack to do part of the infusion or ethanol wash for extraction. I liked this method, it seemed to work very well, and achieved full decarb.


  • 240°F for 60 minutes – 100% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
  • 260°F for 40 minutes – 99.5% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
I’ve been developing a feel for working with sealed mason jars for decarbing for a while. Like the vacuum pack test, evaporated terpenes are trapped in the jar and re-condense on the glass surface as long as you don’t open the jar until it’s fully cooled. Then, you can use the jar to do your infusion or extraction and collect all the desirables that would have otherwise been lost. After the jar cools I put it into the freezer, and use the same jar for doing frozen qwet (Cannabis Oil QWET Extraction Battle of the Wash: Dry Ice vs. Freezer). The big bonus to this method is there is no smell at all, it’s all contained in the jar.

This process has a couple operational considerations that require attention. First, a cool jar will require ramping time and uncertain heating, so it’s important to pre-heat the jar. The jar can be brought up to temp along with preheating the oven. When it’s time to put the cannabis in the oven, remove the pre-heated jar from the oven, quickly load the cannabis into the jar, secure the lid on the jar, and place it back in the oven. This process also provides the added advantage of creating a natural vacuum seal later when it cools and before going into the freezer. Second, the jar shouldn’t be filled too much, it’s best to leave quite a bit of head room to allow even heating of the material. I usually don’t fill the jar more than 1/3 full at most. If I do put more in I rotate the jar half way through the process to ensure even heating and add a few minutes to the total time to make up for opening the oven and losing some heat. Third, I lay the jar on its side to expose as much surface area as possible. Lastly, glass in a dry heat environment requires caution and you must use your own judgement on if it is safe or not. I have not had a single failure to this point, but it’s important to understand the possible risks of breaking glass due to temperature changes before trying for yourself.


  • 191°F-194°F for 120 minutes – 93.3% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
I was really looking forward to using the sous vide, regrettably it ended up being a fail, but not by fault of the process. I believe the process is sound and will work great at lower elevations. The sous vide I purchased claimed a range up to 199°F which I thought achievable because water here at 5,000 feet boils at 203°F, however, it failed to heat above 191°F on its own. I added boiling water and it was then able to maintain about 194°F for the remaining time. The original plan was to perform both 90 minute and 120 minute tests, but with the low temperature limitation I opted to do only the 120 minute. I’ve heard numerous great reports about this technique and I believe if I were at a lower elevation where water boiled at a higher temperature it would have achieved full decarb. I think this assumption is supported by the results of the next method, steaming, and the temperatures used there.

The operational considerations are limited with this method. The only difficulty comes from keeping the pack submerged in the water, especially as it begins to bloat. I used magnets to hold it down, but any form of weight will do. One word of caution that gives me a little concern with this method, I didn’t clean this material meticulously so there were some very small but tough stems in the sample. When the packs vacuum sealed the small stems must have punctured some of the packs because the vacuum seal was lost. The leaks don’t appear immediately but slowly over time, so if you are going to use this method prepare the vacuum sealed packs in advance and let it set overnight to confirm the vacuum seal is sound or you may end up with water in your pack. Lastly, I have been cautioned by chefs that use these often that the cheaper consumer models are not very reliable or durable, and that can be upsetting when you consider the cost of this gadget.


  • 203°F for 90 minutes – 97.3% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
  • 203°F for 120 minutes – 98.1% THC conversion, no CBN conversion
When I started seeing the sous vide being used for decarb I thought, why not just steam a vacuum sealed pack? The temperature of steam is at least that of boiling water, and maybe just a degree or two higher with the lid in place to create a minor amount of back pressure. As already mentioned, at 5,000 feet elevation water boils at about 203°F so I hoped this temperature would perform better and overcome the difficulties I had with the low sous vide temps. I was very happy with this process, there was a very slight odor, and it was no more hassle than the sous vide but required no costly gadget. Like the sous vide, if I lived at a lower elevation where water boiled around 212°F, I’m sure this would have been a blinding success.

I’m guessing this same process can be used in an Instapot. I have not tried it yet, but there is a consideration that makes this even more interesting. While decarb isn’t effected by pressure the boiling point of terpenes are, so if you decarb in an Instapot under positive pressure can you preserve more terpenes? This is a great question I am looking forward to answering at a later date (in the meantime, if someone else can try it, test it, and let us know, that would be outstanding!).

1 cycle – 100% THC conversion, slight elevation of CBN .09 to 0.15

I’ve been experimenting with the Ardent Nova trying to understand all the claims of this gadget for over a year now. I’ve run it with many samples, and I’ve even taken it apart to examine the components and structure, and it seems to be pretty much the same tech as a rice cooker. It has two temperature sensors that run against a timed algorithm and that appears to be the extent of it. It’s simply a heated cylinder however the claims I’ve seen are extensive: 1) decarb THC with precision, 2) decarb CBD with precision by running two full cycles, 3) decarb plant material as well as oil, 4) use it for infusion.

To me these claims seem overstated and mislead the average consumer to believe it actually does more than I believe it does. I mentioned earlier that decarbing with precision in the kitchen is quite difficult for a number of reasons, but I see the Ardent solving one of the difficulties by providing a reliable and consistent heat, and if that is what they mean by ‘precision’ then that’s great. However, decarbing THC, CBD, plant material and oil all precisely, in terms of the different requirements for each of those it’s just not a reasonable claim in my opinion. Looking back at this study Decarboxylation Study of Acidic Cannabinoids: A Novel Approach Using Ultra-High-Performance Supercritical Fluid Chromatography/Photodiode Array-Mass Spectrometryyou can see the difference in the curves used at low temp decarbing. The Ardent uses a low temp for a very long time which as you can see from the graphs flatten with longer times at lower temps. While it might be a ‘good enough’ I don’t consider it to be precision, and it’s certainly a result that can be replicated for free using other methods. The other precision problem is the inability to differentiate between the amount of mass or density of material loaded into it, meaning it can’t tell if there is a little or a lot loaded, which should be accounted for by the temp ramping algorithm but doesn’t seem to change in the operation when I run a ¼ ounce or more. On that same point, the inability to distinguish between plant material and oil mass has its own problems for precision, the inability to observe the oil or stir the oil during the process builds in decarb inefficiency and ignores the fact that the oil may have already sustained ample decarb during the extraction process depending on what equipment was used. So, my impression is that this gadget can be used for all of the claimed applications, but I’m not buying the ‘precision’ argument outside of possibly holding a constant temp and following its own algorithm. Lastly, the suggestion to user the appliance as an infusion appliance as well as for decarb is kind of funny, it’s obviously not designed to be both.

The processing time for 7g was about 2 hours. It was 2 hours where I didn’t have to worry about monitoring it and paying attention to it, that was very easy and worry free. In fact, after about an 1 hour 45 minutes I just went to bed because I was tired of waiting for it to finish. This method provided the most toasted sample in this whole exercise and showed signs of being over processed with a not so pleasant aroma. This was the only method I tested here that had a small volume capacity limitation.

Some people really love this gadget for the ability to simply push the button and walk away without having to monitor or think about if they are getting the best result possible. With a little bit of thought and minimal effort you can achieve the best possible result without spending this kind of money and having the volume restriction. I’ve tested this gadget thoroughly and it’s my least favorite of all the methods presented here.

I’m so happy to have had the opportunity do all of these tests side-by-side and present them together, I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. It’s clear to me that every one of these methods provides nearly the same outcome with some minor differences, and I think this shows that at home decarb is a lot more forgiving and robust of a process than it’s usually recognized as. I’m confident that all of these techniques can easily provide full decarb and require very little effort. Having said that, the methods employing water for the heat source do not appear to be suitable for higher elevations.

To choose the method that best suits your needs think about what tools you already have at your disposal, processing volume needs, how much time you have, if the odor is a factor, if you want to try to recover what terpenes may be present, your value of convenience, and your budget for unnecessary but convenient gadgets. For me the pre-heated jar method was a clear winner, but everyone will have their own favorite process and I’m confident that whichever one you choose you will achieve great results, so stop worrying about it and just enjoy a stress free decarb.


I feel it necessary to include a short comment on decarbing oil and concentrates. The chemical action of decarbing and converting THC-A to THC is the same with cannabis plant material and concentrates. Applying heat for an amount of time to instigate the breaking off of the carboxyl group is the same for both. In this exercise my focus was on decarbing plant material, but I often decarb concentrates and oil as well. If you want to give this process a try, simply place the oil or concentrate in an appropriate container and apply heat between 220°F-260°F until the bubbles stop forming. There are a few important points and cautions to be aware of with this process. First, when a concentrate is heated up to decarbing temperatures it will be the viscosity of a runny liquid, so it must be contained or it will run off any mat or flat surface and make a terrible mess. Second, as it comes up to temperature tiny CO2 bubbles will appear and they can expand rapidly so make sure you leave lots of room for expansion because it can expand enormously. Third, it’s very important to stir the oil throughout the process to facilitate an even decarb. Lastly, once the very small CO2 bubbles stop forming you know the decarb is complete. My preferred method for this is to use a heated magnetic stir plate with a thermal couple.


Left to right: Decarb in full action, almost done, done
I have the Ardent decarboxylator and I’ve used it three times. It has done the job for my needs. I made some very strong canna coconut oil from Ardent decarbed bud and it certainly did the trick. It minimizes odor to some extent.... you can still smell it. I live in a condo building and traditional oven decarbing wouldn’t be a wise choice. It would be interesting if dispensaries offered a decarb service. I’d pay for decarbed bud and concentrates.

I’m not sure about the Ardent as a multi-function device. I’m sticking to it for decarbing flower. Sure, it’s a heated can and like a rice cooker. It does what I need it to do.
Suppositories are typically understood to have no psychotropic effects if used properly so either THC-A or THC can be used.

I see no support for this statement in the article and it flies in the face of other data I have read.

With suppositories, THC is absorbed directly into the blood stream, bypasses the liver for the most part so isn't converted to 11-hydroxy like edibles, and indeed should have a psychotropic effect very much like vaping and sublingual tinctures.
I see no support for this statement in the article and it flies in the face of other data I have read.

With suppositories, THC is absorbed directly into the blood stream, bypasses the liver for the most part so isn't converted to 11-hydroxy like edibles, and indeed should have a psychotropic effect very much like vaping and sublingual tinctures.
I actually missed that... I read it as I was waking up lol. But I agree with you Baron.

However the decarb methods are well explained.
This article is put out by Ardent so of course they are promoting their product, the NOVA, in it. But it has some good info. If you are interested in the free e book, follow the title link to the og article. The link for the e book is there.

Cannabis Decarboxylation: 6 Myths Busted by Science

Decarboxylation is an important yet often misunderstood aspect of cannabis consumption.

Decades of prohibition have allowed incomplete, inaccurate, or just plain wrong information about decarboxylation to spread like wildfire through the cannabis community–hurting not only medicinal patients but the cannabis movement as a whole.

To shed light on this topic and combat false data, we’ve compiled our clinical research on decarboxylation in order to address the most common decarboxylation myths.
Our aim here at Ardent is to expand access to and promote the acceptance of cannabis for wellness and health-related issues. To accomplish this, we are committed to investing in research to disperse the myths while presenting the facts in an easy to process way.

This guide covers the 6 most common decarboxylation myths – make sure to download the FREE ebook below to share with friends!

First, What is Decarboxylation?
The process for decarboxylation is a function of time, temperature, and atmosphere. Ultimately, the goal is to fully activate the THC in your cannabis for a much higher potency than traditional methods of consumption (i.e. smoking) are capable of.

However, it isn’t as simple as sticking bud into an oven, toaster, crockpot, or even lighting it on fire. Fully activating THC without destroying valuable cannabinoids is a precise and scientific process.

When done correctly, you get more out of your cannabis and also have infinite ways to use it. This is exactly why we developed a decarboxylator that encapsulates this complicated process and transforms it into a reliable tool that is discreet and easy to use at home. It is flexible, efficient, and easy to use.

We realized pretty quickly that many years of misinformation still left a lot of patients confused about decarboxylation and the right way to approach cannabis in general. Myths about medicinal vs psychoactive effects, the basics of how even begin to decarboxylate cannabis, and the inherent potential of processed vs raw cannabis circulate through online resources and cloud the heart of the issue: providing an effective, simple process of creating decarb cannabis.

Over time we’ve researched some of the top questions we’ve encountered and compiled answers for our consumers into this handy guide, allowing us to shed some light on some of the most common decarb myths to get the truth once and for all.

Myth 1: Fresh and Cured Bud Need to be Treated Differently When it Comes to Decarboxylation

This myth takes a few different forms. Most people think “fresh and cured bud decarb at different rates” or “fresh bud won’t decarb – you have to remove the moisture.” While some others think that, “curing the bud decarbs it anyways, so why do I need to do anything after that?”

Each of these suggestions are myths.
Fresh bud can easily be decarbed in the right conditions. It’s a good way to preserve more terpenes in the final product (think about the smell of fresh vs. dried flowers and other plant material).

In a controlled setting, decarbing fresh bud takes the same amount of time as decarbing cured bud. Most importantly, properly cured bud does not go through the full activation when it is going through the drying and curing process that is required for the active decarboxylation process.


In the examples above, notice that proper curing never leads to a significant decarb of dried and cured cannabis flower.

The fact is, no more more than 1% THC is observed, while the average range is 0-6% of total available THC was fully decarboxylated.

Only when cannabis has been improperly stored (in a mason jar, for example) and exposed to bright light or high temperatures does it become slightly more decarbed. It is also possible that the plant goes through a degradation process if exposed to extreme sunlight. The decarb is nowhere near complete, even in extreme circumstances of exposure.

Fact: All bud, both fresh and cured, needs to get decarbed to be active and bioavailable. Decarbing fresh and well-cured bud involves the same process.

Myth 2: It’s Impossible to Get More than 70% Decarb Before You Start to Destroy THC
This myth comes from one of the most widely promoted and most inaccurate decarb fables that stem from this often referenced, yet largely inapplicable graph.


For many years the inhabitants of the internet have treated this graph as gospel. A quick review readily shows why it’s not a reliable source.

First, it’s the decarb of a hexane extract in an open container on a hot plate. With this material in these circumstances, indeed, you can’t get a full Decarb without destroying THC (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). However, we have come a long way from the early ’90s. We have more knowledge about the process of decarboxylation, the chemical reactions that occur during the process, and how to create the perfect environment for more efficient decarb.

Fact: We can do better than relying on an inapplicable graph from the early ’90s. And we know it’s possible to get a full Decarb without degradation. Keep reading to learn more.

Myth 3: It’s Easy to Decarboxylate Using What’s in Your Kitchen
It’s hard out there for patients who want to start decarbing cannabis, but are immediately bombarded with an array of different opinions on the best way to decarb. Most patients end up getting it wrong (resulting in wasted cannabis) and never stop struggling to find detailed instructions on how to get it right.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • Crockpot for 3 hours… or, wait, is it crockpot for 12 hours?
  • Tied down pressure cookers
  • Monitoring ovens with laser thermometers
  • Endless baking trays and parchment paper
Really, how can a patient NOT be overwhelmed? In the end, not one of these methods allows patients to safely and reliably get the most from their cannabis, and it’s important to understand why.

Crock Pot AKA Water Bath Method


The crockpot is one of the most popular decarb methods. The idea behind using the crockpot/water bath method is that water boils at a constant temperature (212F) and provides better control than the fluctuations of the oven. Unfortunately, the comparatively low temperature of boiling water to other methods will never allow you to achieve a full, efficient decarb.

Decarboxylation at this temperature progresses slowly. Since decarboxylating is not a linear process (meaning that converting the tail end of THCA takes longer than the front end) we begin to see the degradation of plant material due to the excessive time exposed to heat.

Oven Decarb
Ovens aren’t designed for lab-grade precision heating. Temperatures fluctuate at an average of 10 degrees in either direction within an oven cavity.

For a process as sensitive as decarboxylation, these variations lead to either burning off cannabinoids or failing to fully activate. In either case, it’s a waste of valuable money and medicine.


Toaster Oven Decarb
Similar to the oven, the toaster oven’s lack of efficient temperature control is its downfall. Coupled with the appliance’s typical operation and the location of its heating elements, it can easily damage the bud or produce under-decarbed material. The toaster oven method makes it impossible to get reliable results consistently.

Nova Decarb
Equipped with advanced logic, dual sensor technology, and a hi-tech thermal blanket, Nova uses precision heating cycles to achieve fully decarboxylated cannabis without loss or degradation.


Fact: Kitchen appliances aren’t equipped to produce or maintain the conditions needed for full, reliable decarb, so we developed a device called the Nova to solve this problem.

Myth 4: Concentrate Decarboxylation is Different than Flower Decarb OR You Can Only Decarb Concentrate by Watching CO2 Bubbles Evaporate
Concentrates that have been prepared professionally, extracted and purged under the right conditions have not been decarboxylated. They need to be properly activated before being ingested or used topically. The time and temperature parameters for the best flower decarb also applies to concentrates. As seen below, BHO extracts can become slightly more concentrated during decarb. This is likely from the evaporation of residual solvents and moisture.

Like with properly cured and stored cannabis flower, properly prepared and purged concentrates have undergone little or no decarboxylation, with less than 5% of total THC decarbed.

Fact: Decarbing concentrate involves the same science as decarbing flower.

Myth 5: It’s Necessary to Grind Cannabis Before Decarboxylating
We suggest that you don’t. This myth arose as an attempt to provide more even heating and combat temperature fluctuations when using the oven for decarboxylation. With precision decarb, there’s a need to disturb the trichomes by using a grinder. The Nova’s thermal blanket permeates the buds evenly, and intact buds provide more options for use post-decarb and increase the longevity of the material. All Nova tests were performed using non-ground material.


Fact: There’s no need to grind cannabis before precision decarb, and leaving the trichomes intact can increase shelf life.

Myth 6: Fats and Alcohols are Required to Prepare Cannabis
There is no doubt alcohol and fats can help prepare and administer cannabis in certain circumstances, and we’ll get to that. But to start, there’s an overemphasis on the role of alcohol or fat extraction that leads to patients unnecessarily spending hours, days, and even weeks preparing their medicine. It’s easy to understand the origins of this myth because it is based on science but often misapplied.


Cannabis is indeed fat and alcohol soluble. However, it’s not water-soluble. This means that THC won’t seamlessly bind and mix with a water-based substance, unlike the way it does with fat and oils.

Somehow, this fact has been twisted into an insistence that patients need to extract into butter and oils or use an alcohol-based solvent. Unfortunately for patients, these processes are complicated, time-consuming, and-in the end-inaccurate. It much easier for patients to activate cannabis flowers or kief and use it directly.

It’s possible to bypass all the hassle and prevent waste, while still getting the full benefits of whole plant therapy.

Direct activation and infusion give so many more options on how cannabis can be used and allows patients to quickly create accurately dosed topicals, sublinguals, and edibles. The instant substitute for hours of extraction is unnecessary. Take your desired dose of decarbed flower or kief and mix it with 1/2tb of good fat like coconut oil and enjoy. You can also substitute butter if you prefer.

When mixed with the active cannabinoids, the purpose of the fat is to help with absorption during digestion or topical application. Simply mixing your decarbed product with oil is a useful way to incorporate fats when dosing with cannabis.

Patients quickly realize that (thanks to precise decarb) so little flower or kief is needed to achieve results that direct infusion becomes as easy as sprinkling pepper on an entrée or adding vitamin powder to a smoothie. For patients who want butter or oil to use for canna culinary purposes, a quick extraction after decarb is all it takes for maximum ease and potency.

Fact: Fats and alcohol aren’t needed in order to decarb or administer cannabis, but they can be useful to pair with activated cannabis to aid in digestion and absorption.
What can you do with decarboxylated weed?
Now that you understand the myths of decarbing. Let us guide you on what you can do with your decarbed cannabis. A proper decarb gives you a fully activated flower, meaning you can use it as-is for:

  • Sublinguals
  • Smoking
  • Edibles
  • Tinctures
  • THC Oils
  • Pain salves
These are just a few options! If you want more ideas, read our favorite ways to use decarbed herb.
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