Decarboxylationby Jorge Cervantes
Decarboxylation is super important and must be done with care.
Cannabinoids are liberated and become active when mixed with fats, oils or alcohols. Fats can be saturated or unsaturated. Saturated fats often turn solid at room temperature and are usually from animal origin. Unsaturated oils avocado, canola, olive, safflower, sesame, sunflower oils are preferable. Olive, with a large oleic acid molecular structure, appears to help cannabinoids dissolve and is a good choice.
Foto of cannabis buds next to stick of butter
The recipes below for cannabis butter, clarified butter, milk, coconut oil, vegetable oil, etc. are designed to concentrate medicinal cannabinoids in a fat, oil or alcohol that can be used with other recipes. Concentrating in fats and oils (lipids) converts cannabinoids from the non-psychoactive form to the psychoactive form preserves them for storage and makes it easy to include in many cooking and baking recipes. Cannabis in oils can also be added to salads, etc.
The bulk of the cannabinoids in cannabis are located in the resin. Resin is soluble in alcohol, fats and oils. Combine cannabis leaf, buds, hash, etc. with an oil or alcohol to liberate the cannabinoids into the solvent. Dissolving cannabis in a solvent discards the green leafy matter makes it ready to use for cooking.
Foto of cannabis bud next to olive oil
Cannabis potent butter, oil and alcohol are concentrated and easier to measure out into recipes and keep consistent. Keeping dosage consistent is a major concern for cannabis patients. They are easy to use and decarboxylation has already liberated cannabinoids. Cooking with concentrates is much easier than using bulky messy dry or fresh cannabis.
Cannabis used in cooking often retains much of the unpleasant taste associated with green foliage. Soaking cannabis in cold water for 2-3 hours will leach out much of the chlorophyll and other pollutants. Concentrating resin into kief, hashish or oil will alleviate most if not all of the green taste. Lingering unpleasant tastes and odors can be masked by powerful ingredients such as lemon, cinnamon, mint, etc.
Raw cannabis is not psychoactive and to many patients not therapeutic. Cannabinoids are found in the form of acids and attached to the carboxylic group (COOH). It must first be liberated that is, cannabinoids including THC must change from an acid to a non-acid form to become psychoactive. The process of decarboxylation converts non-psychoactive THC acid found in raw cannabis to psychoactive non-acid THC.
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that 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 carbonation, the addition of CO2 to a compound. Enzymes that catalyze decarboxylations are called decarboxylases or, the more formal term, carboxy-lyases (EC number 4.1.1).
Drawing of decarboxylation
Decarboxylation can be achieved by:
1. Heating dry cannabis to 180 degrees C
2. Combining raw cannabis with:
a. Vegetable oil
b. Milk fat
d. Oil solvent
Decarboxylation can be achieved by vaporization, heating cannabis to a temperature of ?? degrees F (180 deg C) at which point it vaporizes and the conversion takes place rapidly. This process frees molecules to convert into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O).
The same decarboxylation process also occurs when cannabis is burned and smoked. Heat in smoked and vaporized cannabis causes THC and other cannabinoids to convert into the psychoactive form.
Cannabinoids are soluble in fats and oils (lipids) and alcohol. Once combined with fats, oils or alcohol, cannabis converts from the acid to the non-acid form and becomes psychoactive. Combine cannabis with fat or oil and heat at low temperatures (122-145 degrees F [?? Degrees C]) for 20 minutes to 8 hours to liberate cannabinoids. The cannabinoids migrate and concentrate in the fat or oil. Simmering and stirring for hours ensures complete decarboxylation takes place. But do not cook more than 8 hours or too hot or cannabinoids will be degraded and diminish effects.
Combining cannabis with alcohol requires no heat. Cannabinoids migrate and concentrate in alcohol. For example, place a bud in a bottle of ethyl alcohol tequila, vodka, rum, or spirits of any kind. The alcohol will take on the flavor and the potency of the cannabis bud. Or the alcohol can be evaporated to leave a concentrate.
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