Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide (CO2). Usually, decarboxylation refers to a reaction of carboxylic acids, removing a carbon atom from a carbon chain.
The reverse process, which is the first chemical step in photosynthesis, is called carboxylation, the addition of CO2 to a compound.
Now that you have the actual definition of decarboxylation, let’s discuss the process in easy to understand English.
Essentially the Cannabinoids will start off in their acid state so instead of THC your bud would contain THCa which is the acid form of the molecule. The same will apply to all the other Cannabinoids
The acid form does still have medicinal properties including pain relief. THCa however is not psychoactive like THC is which is why a person could consume masses of fresh plant and get no buzz at all.
In order to decarboxylate (activate) our buds, we need one of two things, either heat or a considerable amount of time. The process does happen naturally, especially when it is stored correctly but it can take quite a while.
Smoking Cannabis bypasses this problem because the heat from combustion delivers an activated supply of Cannabinoids straight into the bloodstream. Edibles like cookies also require no decarb because the heat from cooking them in an oven does the job.
However when it comes to other methods of consumption such as oils and tinctures the decarb process generally becomes a necessity.
The other option is time, what will happen when buds are stored well and cured naturally is that a lot of the chlorophyll will break down and the Cannabinoids will be converted from their acid form to their activated form.
This happens on more of a sliding scale, as the THCa level reduces the THC level will increase but generally there will be traces of THC in undecarbed bud and traces of THCa in decarbed bud. The terpene profile is affected too and overall they seem to balance out.
The effect of the Terpenes on Cannabis is profound but unfortunately because they are volatile compounds, many terpenes can be lost in the decarboxylation process from being exposed to heat.
THCa will begin to decarboxylate at approximately 220 degrees Fahrenheit after around 30-45 minutes of exposure. Full decarboxylation may require more time to occur.
There are 3 ways that we recommend decarbing your Cannabis:
The Secret to Natural Pain Relief
Introduction & comprehensive FREE guide to growing, processing and using cannabis products for help managing chronic pain conditions. Even if you have no garden and zero growing skills or experience.
Always consult your physician when considering a change to your current treatment.