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 – 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 to address the most common decarboxylation myths.
Our aim here at Ardent is to expand access and the acceptance of cannabis for wellness and health related issues. In doing so by investing in research to disperse the myths and while presenting the facts.
This guide covers the 6 most common decarboxylation myths – make sure to download the FREE ebook below to share with friends!
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).
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 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 all the science of a complicated process and transforms it into a reliable tool that is discreet and easy to use at home.
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.
Overtime we’ve compiled answers to some of the top questions we’ve encountered and now is the time to shed some light on the some of the most common decarb myths to get the truth once and for all.
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 thinks that, “curing the bud decarbs it 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. In fact, it’s a good way to preserve more terpenes in the final product (think about the smell of fresh vs. dried flowers).
In a controlled setting, decarbing fresh bud takes the same amount of time to decarb 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 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 and exposed to excessive light and heat is it slightly more decarbed. It is also possible that the plant went through a degradation process if exposed to extreme sunlight. The decarb is nowhere near complete, even in extreme circumstances of exposure.
Fact: All fresh and cured bud, needs to get decarbed to be active and bioavailable. Decarbing fresh and well-cured bud involves the same process.
This myth comes from one of the most widely promoted and most inaccurate decarb fables that stems 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. And yes, with this material in these circumstances you can’t get a full Decarb without destroying THC.
Fact: We can do better than relying on an inapplicable graph from the early 90’s. And we know it’s possible to get a full Decarb without degradation. Keep reading to learn more.
It’s hard out there for patients when they want to start decarbing cannabis, but encounter a wide array of different opinions on the best way to decarb. Most patients end up getting it wrong and struggle to find detailed instructions on how to get it right the first time.
Any of these sound familiar?
Really how can a patient not be overwhelmed? In the end, not one of these methods allows patients to reliably get the most of their cannabis, and it’s important to understand why.
The crockpot is one of the most popular decarb methods. The idea behind using the crock pot/water bath method is that water boils at a constant temperature (212F) and provides better control than the fluctuations of the oven. Unfortunately, the temperature of boiling water will never be hot enough 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 the THCA takes longer) we begin to see degradation due to the excessive time exposed to heat.
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.
Similar to the oven, the toaster oven’s lack efficient temperature control. Coupled with the operation and location of heating elements it can easily damage the bud or under-decarb material. The toaster oven decarb makes it impossible to get reliable results consistently.
Equipped with advanced logic, dual sensor technology and a hi-tech thermal blanket, Nova uses precision heating cycles to achieve full decarb without loss.
Fact: Kitchen appliances aren’t equipped to create the conditions needed for full, reliable decarb, so we developed a device called the Nova to solve this problem.
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, likely from 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, less than 5% of total THC decarbed.
Fact: Decarbing concentrate involves the same science as decarbing flower.
We actually 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 need to disturb the trichomes by grinding. The Nova’s thermal blanket permeates the buds evenly, and intact buds provide more options for use post decarb and increases the longevity of the material. All Nova tests feature non ground material.
Fact: There’s no need to grind cannabis before precision decarb, and leaving the trichomes intact can increase shelf life.
There is no doubt alcohol and fats can be helpful for preparing and administering 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 in science, but often misapplied.
It’s true that cannabis is fat and alcohol soluble. However it’s not water soluble. Meaning that THC won’t seamlessly bind and mix with a water based substance, compared to the way it does with a fat and oils.
Somehow this fact has been twisted into an insistence that patients need to extract into butters 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 flower or kief and use it directly.
It’s possible to bypass all the hassle and prevent waste, all while getting the full benefits of a whole plant therapy.
Direct activation and infusion gives so many more options on how cannabis can be used, and allows patients to quickly create accurate 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.
The purpose of the fat, when mixed with the active cannabinoids, is to help with absorption during digestion or application, which is a useful way to incorporate fats when dosing with cannabis.
What patients quickly realize is that with precise decarb, so little flower or kief is needed that direct infusion is like sprinkling pepper on an entrée or adding vitamin powder to a smoothie. For patients who want a 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.
Now that you understand the myths of 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:
These are just a few, if your 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.
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.
© Ardent. All Rights Reserved