When you should, and when you shouldn't decarboxylate cannabis

Published Jun 11, 2021 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Olena Bondarenko

Decarboxylation is a process that helps to activate the cannabinoids that lie in the trichomes on cannabis buds, as powerful elements like THC are in a precursor form when the flower is raw, which means that without the appropriate amount of heat, they won’t get you high. This, of course, is solved when you smoke it, as the scorching heat of the burning ember activates the cannabinoids right before you inhale them, but for a lot of cannabis products to be effective, it’s a necessary step.

When you need to decarb weed

The trouble for many is figuring out when this unique method of preparation is necessary, and as you’ll learn here today, in most cases, when you’re not somehow inhaling the cannabis after applying a significant amount of heat to it, chances are pretty good that you’ll need to decarb weed at some point.

  1. When eating the buds for a psychoactive experience

We have refined how we utilize the potent benefits of cannabis with the creation of products like cannabutter and oil, but if you’re looking for an easier way out, which means just adding some bud grind to a recipe or drink before you consume it, then you’re definitely going to need to decarb the green first.

  1. When making cannabis oil or cannabutter for edibles

Some beginners make the mistake of assuming that making cannabutter or cannabis oil with heat should be enough to activate the cannabinoids, but the problem is that you aren’t tracking the exact temperature or holding it steady for long enough in the process to make that happen. So, if you’re making cannabis oil or cannabutter to cook with, then you’ll need to decarboxylate the buds.

  1. When infusing alcohol

Alcohol cannot be brought up to a high enough temperature to properly decarb weed, because it will simply evaporate, so tincture is instead made by soaking the buds for a great length of time. It’s a slow process of extraction that can take several weeks to complete, but all of that time will be for nothing if you don’t decarboxylate the cannabis before you make it.

  1. When making distillate

The distillate is an incredible cannabis product because it can be taken literally any way that you like because the cannabinoids are activated, but as you’ve probably already guessed, making it requires decarboxylated cannabis.

  1. When extracting cannabinoids for any other cannabis concentrate that won’t be smoked

All it really takes is a soak in almost any liquid ingredient, and you can easily extract the cannabinoids from cannabis, but no length of time will activate the power of the buds, and so if you’re making creams, ointments, or any other liquid ingredient that will be either eaten or smoked, you’ll need to decarb your cannabis.

When you don’t

It might seem like we’ve listed off a whole lot of times that you’ll need to decarboxylate your cannabis, but there are just as many reasons that you might not want to. Here, we’ll show you five different times that you don’t have to worry about decarboxylation because the process is either not necessary, or because doing so might result in undesirable effects.

  1. When you’re going to smoke the buds

To some, it might seem obvious, but if you’re a newbie who's hardcore researching the subject, it is important to know that you can twist one up, pack a bowl, and smoke to your heart's content with raw buds that have never undergone the process of decarboxylation.

  1. When making cannabis extracts that you’re going to smoke

Cannabis concentrates like shatter, wax, hash, and oil can be made into all kinds of cool products, and if you’re making extracts with the sole purpose of dabbing or smoking, then there is no need to decarboxylate your weed.

  1. When you’re juicing

The majority of cannabis consumers use the psychoactive benefits, be it for medicinal or recreational purposes, but not everyone is interested in that side of the plant. Cannabis, in its raw form, contains numerous vitamins, minerals, and natural oils that are great for your health, and that’s why so many people juice it. Since these enthusiasts don’t care for the activated cannabinoids, they too can skip the added step of decarbing.

  1. When you’re vaping

When you smoke cannabis, you apply fire to it to activate the cannabinoids within, but the vaporizer works on the same premise only with far more precision. Vaporizers will heat up the cannabinoids until they reach just past the point of activation, turning them into a potent cloud of vapor that is ready to be inhaled.

  1. When you’re eating the buds, and you don’t want a psychoactive experience

As we’ve mentioned before, cannabis plants hold a host of all-natural benefits that are great for both the mind and the body, which is why some people like to eat it raw. Of course, the buds are often ground down and turned into a paste or a smoothie, as taking a bite out of a chewy bud isn’t the most appealing thought, but no matter how it’s done, if the hope isn’t to get high, or to utilize CBD in its activated form, then there is no need to decarb the weed beforehand.

Why edibles arent always an ideal choice

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