Addressing common questions and myths about decarboxylation
Try searching for decarboxylation instructions and you’ll find a wide range of suggested temperatures and methods. Why isn’t what works best more clear?
First of all, the chemistry of the plant is complex and when you heat it, you create even more complexity through chemical reactions.
The other factor is that criminalization has forced knowledge about decarboxylation to be passed by word of mouth, generating myths and misconceptions along the way.
To dispel the confusion, we’ve put together answers to the most frequently asked questions about decarboxylation. By explaining it in clear and practical terms, our goal is to help you make your future batches of edibles better than ever!
What is decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation is the process of removing an acid component (a carboxyl group) from a chemical compound. For making edibles, it usually involves heating your herb and it is essential to unlock the potency. For a more detailed explanation, see our post on the Chemistry of Decarboxylation.
How do I decarb?
The easiest way to decarb is by putting your flower or concentrate into the oven at 240° F for half an hour. For more detailed instructions, check out our decarb recipe.
Do I need to decarboxylate edibles? Can I bake raw herb into my brownies?
You will get some activation by baking with raw herb, but it won’t be as effective as decarbing separately. Baking raw herb yields a maximum of 25% activation, while decarbing typically reaches 70%.
For more on when and where decarboxylation is necessary, such as with herb-infused topicals, check out Do I need to decarb? – our guide to deciding whether to decarb or not.
What is the best way to decarb?
It depends on what your goals are for decarbing. Depending on whether you want more potency, flavor, or some other result, you can optimize your process in different ways.
If you want maximum potency, heat your bud for 30 minutes at 250° F. This method leads to the highest activation rates and is what professional decarb machines use.
Keep in mind that adjusting your decarbing isn’t the only way to increase the potency of edibles. To maximize bioavailability, infuse your decarbed herb into an oil and use lecithin.
If you want maximum terpenes, decarb at a temperature that is as low as possible, keeping in mind that the lower you go, the less potency you will have.
If you want to minimize aromas in your house while decarbing, you have several options for decreasing smell with the DecarBox and sous vide process being the most effective.
For more information about how to optimize decarboxylation to meet your goals, read our advanced decarb techniques.
What is the best temperature for decarboxylation?
The best temperatures for decarboxylation depend on the compound you are looking to activate, but for TH🌊 generally they are found in the range between 230° F and 266° F. In this range, you’ll find the best conversion rates. If you go higher or lower, you’ll risk oxidation which reduces the psychoactive properties of your herb.
Check out our decarbing temperature chart below for activation temperatures of the most common compounds.
Can I decarb at low heat?
Yes, you can decarb at low heat, but if you go lower, you will have to go longer. Going lower in heat will preserve more beneficial terpenes, but it may also increase oxidation risk and loss of potency.
You can decarb at room temperature if you want, but it will take years. If you want to decarb in a single day, using a slow cooker is the way to go. You can get significant conversion on low after 4 hours, but keep in mind it won’t give you full conversion.
Can I smoke decarbed herb?
Yes you can decarb herb before smoking, but it isn’t necessary the same way it is for edibles. It can provide a potency boost (going from a range of 30-70% activation to a reliable 70%), but it also makes the experience of smoking less pleasant and more difficult.
If you decarb first, you make your herb dry, crumbly and harder to handle. You may end up losing little bits of it as you transfer it from the decarbing vessel to storage to your smoking piece. With less moisture content, it will also be harsher your lungs. If you decarb at typical oven temperatures of around 250° F, you’ll also miss out on the bulk of the pleasant terpenes that were once in your herb. For most smokers, it’s best not to decarb.
Do I need to decarb C🐝D?
Yes! Much like TH🌊, C🐝D exists in your plant material in non-biologically active acid form before it is decarbed. To decarb optimally, heat to a temperature of 280° F for 60 minutes.
How do I decarb to produce more of a body high?
Decarbing at temperatures higher than 265° F will reduce psychoactive mental effects while increasing body high effects. You can also typically get more of a body high by choosing an indica strain rather than a sativa strain.
Do I need to grind my herb before decarbing?
If decarbing in your oven, grinding before decarbing is unnecessary, but you should break up big buds and flowers by hand and spread them to allow even heating.
Did I decarb wrong?
As long as you don't heat it over 314° F (the vaporization point of TH🌊 specifically), you will likely have a usable product that gets you high.
If using heat in the oven to decarb there are a couple of sensory indicators that indicate you’ve successfully applied heat. Your herb will be golden brown when it is ready with a nutty and earthy aroma.
How do I measure potency?
The easiest way to measure if your decarb was successful is by eating some and seeing how lifted you get. Use a dosage calculator to see what a 5mg dose is, then eat a 5mg dose to see if it gets you high.
Interested in more detailed information about the potency? You can measure the percentage of active components in your finished product by using test strips, or UV spectrometer testing devices.
How do I decarb without making my house smell?
If you’re concerned about smell, do not decarboxylate in an open container like a cookie sheet when you put it in the oven. Instead, cut down on dank aromas by enclosing your herb in a DecarBox or turkey bag.
If scent-less decarb is absolutely necessary, use the sous vide decarb method.
How do I decarb without losing flavor?
The heating process involved with decarbing gets rid of many of the flavorful terpenes that make herb so enjoyable to smoke.
So, if you’re making edibles and you want to taste the terpenes, you can boost them by adding raw plant material in combination with decarbed herb when making your oil or alcohol infusion. This will reintroduce terpenes lost in the decarb process. We recommend starting with a 1:2 ratio of raw herb to decarb.
You can also increase the amount of terpenes while decarbing by using low and no-heat methods mentioned in our advanced decarb techniques.
How do I decrease the flavor of herb in edibles?
You can reduce the strong flavors of herb by doing a water cure. Since some of the flavorful terpenes are water-soluble, by soaking your plant material in water for a week, you can remove them. This step will leave most of the active ingredients intact because they are not water soluble. The full process can be found in our advanced techniques.
How do I decarb kief, hash, or shatter?
You can decarb all forms of herb and concentrate in the same way you would fresh bud - in an oven for about half an hour at 250° F. If dealing with a liquid concentrate like BHO, make sure you use an adequate vessel to keep from spilling.
Do I have to decarb before I infuse?
Yes! If you want potent edibles, you need to decarb before infusing. Infusion typically occurs at low temperatures from 130-160° F – it won’t be warm enough to trigger decarbing. And if you extract before infusing, the psychoactive potential will be limited because the chemicals will be stuck in their acidic precursor state even if you heat it up to optimal decarb temperatures. You will only reach 25% effectiveness if you infuse first. Always decarb first!
Can I decarb in a microwave?
Yes, you can decarb in a microwave, but you might not like the results. It can reduce the quality of your product, destroy terpenes, and lead to incomplete conversion. We explain the entire microwave decarb process in our advanced techniques.
Find out more about decarbing
Hopefully we’ve answered your decarbing questions. Since there is a constant supply of new research and techniques, it’s a very exciting time to be an herb enthusiast and there’s always more to learn!
Stay up-to-date with the latest ways to improve your edibles by joining our Magical Butter Users United group.