I vow to do my best to keep this information as simple as I can, but I do need to get a little “sciencey”.
After all, we are talking about alchemy, the art of changing something that is perceived to be relatively worthless into something valuable.
I know that it may seem odd, sacrilegious even, to infer that weed could take a form of lesser value, but when it comes to making cannabis infused edibles … it is shockingly true, so don’t get your tie-dyed knickers in a knot and let me explain further.
In its raw form, or dried flower buds, the psychoactive molecule, 9-THC does not exist.
Instead, it contains a molecular component called THCA. To change this molecule into the “holy grail” of active cannabinoids, 9-THC, (the gem responsible for the “cerebral or body high”), heat must be added to the equation.
With the correct temperature of heat applied, for just the right amount of time, carbon dioxide is released from the dried flower buds. This is when the magic happens and THCA is converted into 9-THC, becoming psychoactive.
The process of loosing carbon dioxide molecularly, changes the cannabinoids and they all change from their raw forms into their more active medicinal forms.
This process is called decarboxylation.
Some would argue that it is the most important step required to produce a potent and psychoactive edible. Sadly, it is often skipped, simply because it isn’t commonly known or because it is brushed off as being a waste of time and not important.
It’s important, very important. “Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200” important.
Do not skip decarbing, ever. Period.
If you do skip it, just like a marathon session of “Monopoly”, it’s anybody’s game.
Will you have a potently “high” producing edible, at the end of hours of work in your kitchen, or not?
(After the investment of time and money, this is a risk or chance I simply am not willing to take.)
There are 2 main methods used to decarboxylate weed effectively.
The first is the “in oven method”.
It requires a covered casserole dish, an oven set to 240 degrees F and an ounce or 30 grams of dried bud.
Here’s what to do:
1. Preheat your oven to 240 F.
2. Lay your bud, a single layer deep in the bottom of a casserole dish. Not ground or busted.
3. Cover the casserole dish with its lid.
4. Place that casserole dish on the middle rack of your oven and bake it for 40 minutes.
5. After 40 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and let it cool completely. Do not remove the lid. This lets all of the volatile oils, cannabinoids, terpenes and flavinoids settle back down on the buds and will give you the whole benefit of the strain profile from the strain that you have chosen to decarb.
6. When the dish is cool enough to touch, it is safe to handle the decarbed bud and it can be stored in an airtight container until you are ready to infuse and bake with it.
There are two main issues with this method.
The first one being that temperatures inside ovens can fluctuate substantially. Due to this fact, it requires frequent monitoring for the entire duration of the 40 minute decarboxylation process. You must make sure your buds stay within a 230 degree F to 250 degree F range. This is the ideal temperature range, in which THCA and many of the raw cannabinoids change into their medicinally active forms.
CBDA is a little bit different. It requires a higher temperature range to decarboxylate effectively and transform into its active form, CBD. The range, for this conversion, is from 295 degrees F to 320 degrees F and it requires 75 minutes of baking time.
The second major issue is the smell.
It smells. It smells very strong and no amount of ingenuity on anybody’s part can camouflage it…not even adopting a surfeit of skunks and trying to convince all your neighbours that you’ve opened a rescue sanctuary for wayward Pepé Le Pews.
Embrace the stench or try the second method of decarboxylation, referred to as “Sous-Vide”, (pronounced sue-veed).
Sous- vide is a French culinary term that translates to cooking “under a vacuum” and the benefits are that the temperature remains constant and the smell factor doesn’t exist.
The credit for the discovery of this form of cooking goes to Sir Benjamin Thompson, the Count of Rumsford, who invented the procedure in 1799. ( It sure makes you wonder how the Count would feel about his discovery being applied to activate the medicine in cannabis, some 200 years later.)
(Sir Benjamin Thompson, the Count of Rumsford)
The Sous-Vide method requires a pressure cooker, a metal lid off of a jar, an air-tight tempered glass or air-tight stainless steel container, 2 litres of water and 30 grams or 1 ounce of cannabis.
Here’s what to do:
1. Place the cannabis buds into your air-tight container. Do not grind or bust it up, but make sure the lid on your container is sealed properly so that no moisture will get on or into your plant material.
2. Place the metal lid in the centre of your pressure cooker. (This is used as a riser, to keep your air-tight container up off the bottom of your pressure cooker.)
3. Place your cannabis loaded, air-tight container on top of the metal lid in the centre of your pressure cooker.
4. Add 2 litres of water to your pressure cooker.
5. Secure the lid of your pressure cooker by locking it in place and placing the rocker weight in its place.
6. Bring your pressure cooker to a gentle boil. The weight should be briskly rocking back and forth. Once brisk rocking of the rocker weight is achieved, the internal temperature inside the pressure cooker will be the perfect decarboxylation temperature range of 230 degrees F to 250 degrees F and it will consistently stay in range.
7. After 40 minutes of pressure cooking time, turn your stove burner off and remove your pressure cooker away from the burner so that it has a chance to cool.
8. Once cooled the pressure will be release from inside your pressure cooker, allowing its lid to be safely removed.
9. Using an oven mitt, remove your air-tight container from your pressure cooker and let it cool until it returns to room temperature and is comfortable to handle.
Your cannabis is now perfectly decarboxylated and activated. They only smell that is detectable occurs when you open the air tight decarb container. It’s minimal and requires you to stick your nose close to the buds to smell them.
The decarbed buds can be stored in an air-tight sealer jar until you are ready to infuse it into an edible.
From its raw form to its activated form in under an hour…a true Alchemist’s dream.