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Decarboxylation

by Jorge Cervantes
Here is a little unedited bit from the Cooking chapter from my new book. This should help get the cannabis cooking forum started.

Decarboxylation is super important and must be done with care.


Introduction

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.


Decarboxylation

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
c. Alcohol
d. Oil solvent
e. Glycerin

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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  • Very useful thanks, I'm going to get my apron on:)
    - Skunk_Punk_001, a year ago
  • I might post my coco nut oil recipe with some pictures that you need. I prefer coconut oil the olive oil sounded a bit strange especially if eaten raw.
    - mista.brown420, a year ago
  • i ususally decab the material in the oven first @ 300 degree setting on the oven dial. i undershoot the temp at 300 instead of the exact point of 350-356, cuzz im damn sure my oven, although only a few years old and expensive looking, cant be that precise.

    then i take the plant matter and get out the cmall crock pot and combine the plant matter with raw unrefined coconut oil. unrefined give a bit of coconut flavor as opposed to refined that has been porcessed a little more and lacks coconut smell and flavor.

    i simmer the coconut oil, cannabis, and RO water mixture for 8-24 hours and add more water as it evaporates to keep from burning.

    i usually use a Ghirardelli cookie mix (the gourmet stuff lol) and substitute the butter in the instructions with the cocont oil. i also double the amount of butter/oil. you go 1:1 with the substitution. so if it calls for 1 cup of butter i will go 2 cups of coconut oil. also i dont use eggs at all. as im very very health conscious. no one needs 500 calories of funk to get high. so i use egg whites instead. use the online conversion for the replacement and then add some fruit to help fluff it out like an egg would. Fruit makes an excellent replacement for eggs - try bananas, apple puree or any high pectin content fruit. Usually 1/4 cup of banana will replace 1 egg.

    then i bake it at 20 or so degrees under what is stated ont he box maybe for a little longs\er also, to compensate for the lower temps and lack of real egg yolks. keep a watchfull eye at this point, check them make sure the edges dont burn and what not.

    and do not feed cookie scraps to your dog. i made the mistake once on accident. i did it without realizing what i was really doing. and then i ate a few cookies myself. as i sat there an hour later going "damn im really freaking high, why is the dog shaking, am i that high that i am making him nervous?" then it donned on me. we are both to stoned to function. lol. old boy had arthritis real bad so in the grand scheme of things he ultimately felt better once it tamed down a bit.

    coco nut oil is full of MCT's which are medium chain triglycerides. they can not be stored as fat, but are instantly converted to energy for the body to use. they break the blood brain barrier uber quick, were a regular eddible might take 45-90 minutes to hit you, when made with coconut oil its more like 10-3 minutes max. and guilt free edibles. ya know the kind you can eat and not feel like you need hours of cardio to work off the stoner funk.
    - couchlockd, a year ago
  • I understand the working of this, but there are many people out there who dont know, so it will be a good chapter to show how cannabis can be ingested without having to smoke and inhale potentially harmful smoke molecules.

    I will have to wait for a harvest or two before I start experimenting with making cannabis infused ingredients, however, I will be happy to show you once it has been made :)

    Looking forwards mostly to making butter, alcohol extracted hash and oils. Been looking into trying to get a supply of silk screens for some bubble hash, but that is quite expensive, I think I will eventually opt for the Ice-O-Lator. I love the idea of having some hash that looks like the classic Lebanese Gold I used to get.

    It would be pretty cool to have a little section on how to make butter and oil. I wouldnt advise putting the alcohol extraction method in the book or we will see a LOT of people trying it, and blowing themselves up or giving themselves serious burns. It is one of the things that need to be done with a great amount of care.

    Good chapter Jorge.
    - watcha, a year ago
  • Some of the Ghirardelli mixes are no good. With gmo cornsyrup and other gmo ingredients. So I stay away from "box" desserts. Yeah the Iso extract can be dangerous and shouldn't be in the book, but still I easily searched for hash making and found the iso method. I might be a good idea to have precautionary info on the making hash, not only iso solvent but any others with potentially dangerous perimeters. Such as butane even hexane Ive seen which I have no experience with. Im going to post some of kief I like to make right now and the method. Which is just about as safe as growing cannabis.
    - mista.brown420, a year ago
  • ive done a lot of SCFE BHO in the past, i had the "air" catch on fire once. it was like a little or actually kinda big vapor path from the stove to the open side door. it was very brief, but freaked me out.
    - couchlockd, a year ago
  • I dont like the idea of ISO hash as there is potential that it leaves stuff in the oil which you will never be able to extract. I have read the deposits from ISO hash will never be expelled from your body either, so once you got a bit, its there for ever.

    I do however, prefer the alcohol way of doing the same thing as there will be very minimal toxic chemicals left in the hash once the alcohol has evaporated. It just doesnt look as good as the ISO hash.

    Also, I have thought of a way where the alcohol you use can be recovered for another distillation, so there is less waste.
    - watcha, a year ago
  • jsut a FYI what you are reffereing to ISO hash is called BHO or super critical fluid extraction (SCFE) it can be done with Co2, Hexane, or butane.

    what you reffer to as the alcohol way of doing things is called ISO hash, or QWISO hash (quick wash isopropyl alcohol hash. were the highest proof rubbing alcohol or alcohol in general like 90% and above it used to "wash" the plant matter for a briefe few seconds (10-20 sec) and then strained and let evaporated.

    SCFE hash oil tends to be the best, using co2 that is, even with Butane if it is purged properly it should pass muster.
    - couchlockd, a year ago
  • Interesting!

    Thanks for enlightening my ignorance :)

    So many different names for this type of hash oil. BHO, Budder, ISO, SCFE....

    By the way how does the CO2 dissolve the THC? I didnt think it would?

    Ahhh I found out how to do it!

    Sorry for railroading this from cooking to extraction Jorge.
    - watcha, a year ago
  • Very interesting read Jorge. I am getting more interested in this side of things all the time. Always need something to do with the shake:)
    - Joule Eon, a year ago
  • the co2 works more on the freezing action like cold water ice hash freezed the trichomes and the break off to be colected in the bubble bags.

    the co2 freezing and being blasted through freezes and breaks the heads an lets them collect.
    - couchlockd, a year ago
  • Hey all, can someone comment on decarboxylation via microwave? Is this not recommended? If it's OK, how long at what strength has worked for you/do you recommend? Thanks!
    - COHiker, a year ago
  • HI all, also very interested in the different ways to extract. Have used the oil, low heat method. with some decent results using just leaf. Brownies turned out great. Effect lasted about 6 hours. mild, relaxing, moderate pain relief. Just simmered in veg. oil, that's what I had on hand at the time, and about 1 oz. of leaf. stirred frequently for about 30 - 40 min. But the odor it produces is problematic. Burning incense and spraying with air freshner didn't touch it. But back to my process. Strained cooled product, then allowed to cool to room temp and made brownie's according to directions on the box, used one that called for 3/4 cup oil. Had enough oil to make 2 batches.
    - kaffie, a year ago
  • This video explains why it's necessary to decarboxylate phytocannabinoids


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9Dl613gGprE
    - JEFF DITCHFIELD, a year ago
  • Something interesting here too :-

    http://www.marijuanagrowershq.com/decarboxylating-cannabis-turning-thca-into-thc/
    - watcha, a year ago
  • Hey all, can someone comment on decarboxylation via microwave? Is this not recommended? If it's OK, how long at what strength has worked for you/do you recommend? Thanks!

    I wouldn't recommend putting anything in the microwave, let alone something that you'll put in your body.. so not good for your health. there are plenty of good ways of decarboxylation documented in a myriad of places that are quick and easy to do. For instance, in the cooking with cannabis thread I have posted a book (here (http://www.marijuanagrowing.com/showthread.php?2026-adam-gottlieb-the-art-amp-science-of-cooking-with-cannabis)) that has dedicated quite a extensive part to decarboxylation. That and what jorge posted at the beginning here should be able to help you.

    <=master_haze=>
    - <=master_haze=>, a year ago
  • I used a coffee maker everclear 1pint and as much trim as would fit in the basket. After brewing I let the coffee pot sit for a few days. To evaporate all said & done had 1/3 volume of alcohol. At the time my tollerence was Berry high. 1 oz shot and I was had to lay down very strong.
    Dagdad
    - Dagdad, 10 months ago
  • 11093 Ive been using this one for a while, thought id share, When cooking on the stove i use a candy thermometer and obviously the oven does its job well too. Both methods are great in conjunction with this chart. There is much misinformation about how long it takes to decarboxylate cannabis. The three skinny vertical lines represent the "golden spots" Obviously deviation simply makes the product accordingly less potent. I usually aim for 252F for 20-27 minutes.
    - Anau Jiram, 10 months ago
  • hi bagspacked, decarboxylation only really matters when you are going to ingest the product without further heating it. So if you are going to smoke the hash, you don't have to heat it during processing to have a potent smoke. The decarboxylation there happens at the moment of smoking when you apply the flame. :)

    <=master_haze=>


    just a quick question, and great graph Anua Jiram as i'm a graph guy :)

    why the high temperatures (yes i get the graph) when Jorge states the range for releasing cannabinoids between 122F and 145F?

    just hand rolled some hash like frenchy in the brownbear thread at 140'ish and got some amazing color transformation. given this graph should i have just cooked it? and if so, why all the hand-rolling and traditional stuff? why don't we all just cook our extracted trichs as the graph shows a pathetic transformation at low temperatures? or am i misguided and we are talking oil infusion only? 'break' or 'bend' 350, 250, 145? just some conflicting and hard to follow info between some of the processing threads....
    - <=master_haze=>, 10 months ago
  • Decarboxylation is required for ingestion of cannabis.

    The reason for this being that the chemicals are not psychoactive in its form when extracted by sieving. Heat is required to turn the cannabinoids into a psychoactive form.

    As you do not heat up cannabis when eating/drinking it, the cannabinoids stay in their natural form to be absorbed into the bloodstream and filtered by the liver.
    - watcha, 10 months ago
  • [QUOTE=watcha;9225]

    Looking forwards mostly to making butter, alcohol extracted hash and oils. Been looking into trying to get a supply of silk screens for some bubble hash, but that is quite expensive, I think I will eventually opt for the Ice-O-Lator. I love the idea of having some hash that looks like the classic Lebanese Gold I used to get.


    Watcha:
    This may be of some help to ya? McMaster-Carr Screens ( mcmaster.com )
    - sonofdust, 10 months ago
  • yeah there are a lot of names now days, like "shatter, shadter, wax, honeycomb, jelly... etc." all names for SCFE oils/concentrates. i dont really keep up on it, i know how to make scfe oil, and hash using ice water.

    im not one to rename the same product/procedure a 100 different names.
    - couchlockd, 10 months ago

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