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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.

Don’t waste another ounce on a partial decarb. Get full activation with the Ardent NOVA Decarboxylator.

 

 

About Ardent Founder

Shanel Lindsay is founder of Ardent Cannabis and creator of the Nova decarboxylator, edible caps, and sublingual wraps. She is certain that with increased education, research, and reliable clinical data, patients and doctors—even those who have not previously considered cannabis as an option—will discover it is a legitimate, viable, and safe treatment.

A special thanks to our testing provider, MCR Labs, who performed the HPLC testing outlined in this guide at their ISO accredited cannabis testing facility in Framingham, MA.

 

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  • Kathleen Austin 1 year ago

    If I am Understanding this correctly I can decarbonate my weed use what I need and save the extra to use at a later date

  • Jason Borne 1 year ago

    Recently purchased, got great results with the NOVA.

  • Gary 1 year ago

    I’m told decarboxilation will happen automatically while cooking, is that true?

  • John Baez 1 year ago

    I purchased a NOVA Decarber some time back and I am thrilled with it! As I have continued to experiment with extractions for culinary purposes, I recently read about how blanching my flower in water could remove impurities and make for an overall cleaner finished product which is ideal for my culinary efforts. My question is how dry do I need to get my flower after I have blanched it before I place it in my NOVA to decarb? Should I strive to get it so dry as possible before placing it in my NOVA or is a little moisture from the blanching process ok? Would I need to adjust the amount of time, perhaps a cycle and a half, I decarb my blanched flower if it is still a bit moist from the blanching process?

  • Tom 1 year ago

    Can you still smoke it after using the NOVA or is it just for cooking with

    • Miriam 1 year ago

      You can absolutely smoke and vape your cannabis after decarbing it! Decarbing is a required process for any cannabis product. A full decarb will give you a more potent product for your money, regardless of how you will be consuming. So if you will be smoking a joint, rolling it with decarbed bud will give you a more potent starting material and more mg’s of THC in your lungs.

  • 420AllDay 1 year ago

    You can make edibles with it, you can eat it by itself, and yes you can still smoke it.

  • fleabites52@yahoo.com 1 year ago

    I ordered my NOVA yesterday and I can’t wait!

  • marcialynne 1 year ago

    I LOVE MY NOVA! My problem was all the different variables that can happen with home decarbing,
    NOVA takes the guesswork out so no waste!

  • Jim 1 year ago

    I can not praise this company and product enough. What the NOVA does to your herb you don’t have to understand the scientific lingo, you just have know it WORKS! It doesn’t make your weed taste burned or bad and the effect of your smoke after using the NOVA will make you wonder why hasn’t weed ALWAYS been Decarbed. Their customer service has to be the best on the planet. I’m so happy with my NOVA I only wish they had one that did larger amounts. If you use cannabis for any reason buy this product NOW!

  • Eddie 1 year ago

    Changed my life ..

  • Nick 1 year ago

    I like this, thank you. I recently found out that cannabis does not have to be *emulsified* to be decarbed. In fact,
    I didn’t even know about decarboxylation. My curiosity just led me to find out about it online, and I realized that i
    was going to so much trouble! So, I really identify with the benefits you explain, which I had to figure out the hard
    way, haha. I think I’ll keep it a secret from the masses, so I can just be the lone edible-producing king, haha.

  • Giizmo420 1 year ago

    now i know whtasup next for christmas lol

  • Matt 11 months ago

    I just received mine yesterday. I tested it on the same strain ive been smoking for a week. After using the decarb. I packed a bowl and the difference was extremely noticeable. Absolute game changer!! Thank you.

  • Alonso mariscal 11 months ago

    Had this for 3 years and it works i can feel the difference in high and my weed lasts 2x as long best investment i made.

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