If you have ever made cannabis edibles at home, you probably already know that cannabis has to be heated in order to activate the THC molecules. This process is actually a pretty complex chemical reaction called, “decarboxylation.” To put it in the simplest terms possible, decarboxylation is the chemical reaction that results in activating THC – giving cannabis it’s well-known mind and body altering effects. In fact, eating unheated, raw cannabis will not make you high – although it can give you a nice, leafy green dose of vitamins and minerals.
The process of decarboxylation removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide. When applied to marijuana, either with the spark of your lighter or a sophisticated decarboxylation machine, decarboxylation activates the THC in your cannabis and allows you to feel the psychoactive effects of THC.
What is a decarboxylation machine?
A decarboxylation machine is a pretty amazing device that activates the THC in cannabis flower, kief, or concentrates. This product is fairly new to the cannabis market. It’s about the size of a coffee grinder or Bluetooth speaker, and it basically condenses a long, messy process of activating THC into a quick, user-friendly experience using science-backed technology. The most popular decarboxylation machine on the market is the NOVA, which is made by a company called Ardent.
When most people make cannabis edibles, they don’t think twice about decarboxylation. The process occurs naturally while heating cannabis in some form of fat, which can then be used to make edibles or topical cannabis products. There are many ways to decarb your cannabis – old-school methods range from popping it into a toaster oven to slow-cooking it in a crockpot. While these methods will activate the THC in your cannabis, they don’t do nearly as good of a job as a decarboxylation machine.
How Do You Use a Decarboxylation Machine for Activating THC?
Activating THC with a decarboxylation machine is actually a really simple 3-step process. As stated above, you can use any kind of cannabis product in a decarboxylation machine – flower, keif, and even concentrates.
In the first step, you just load the cannabis product into the machine. If you are using flower, you can put it directly into the device as is. You don’t even have to have the flower cured. If you have kief or concentrates, you will put into the decarboxylation machine in a silicone container or parchment paper. Steps two and three are about as easy as making a PopTart. Just insert the cannabis into the machine, close the lid, and press the button.
The decarboxylation process takes between one and a half to two hours, depending on what kind of plant matter it is. The amazing part about a decarboxylation machine is that you don’t need to know any of the science behind the process. Once upon a time, cannabis chemists spent hours trying to fine-tune the best temperature, pressure, and cooking time for getting the best effects possible. Now, the built-in algorithms in a decarboxylation machine do all of that for you. The time, temperature, and pressure will automatically adjust thanks to special sensors in the device.
Why is a Decarboxylation Machine Necessary?
At first glance, I kind of figured a decarboxylation machine was the cannabis equivalent to a wine aerator ? something that improves the flavor of the cannabis but is kind of a useless accessory. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
What most people don’t know is that activating THC isn’t the only benefit of decarboxylation. When done properly, it actually preserves the cannabinoids in the plant, makes it more potent and provides users with a more efficient and consistent dose. For many medical cannabis patients, this means a dramatic change in quality of life and pain management. A decarboxylation machine can also be used to infuse cannabis into oils to make edibles or beauty products.
The three benefits to using a decarboxylation machine are:
- Fully activating the THC in your cannabis
As you well know, eating raw cannabis has no mind-body altering effects. You might be surprised how many herbal recipes there are on the Internet that advise people to just soak cannabis in alcohol in order to make things like tinctures. While there is probably some benefit to that product, it will not get you high! Cannabis has to be activated in order to provide its benefits.
- Preserving the compounds that are lost in combustion
While certain forms of cannabis consumption (like smoking) will get you high, you run the risk of evaporating incredibly beneficial compounds in the plant. Some of those compounds responsible for fighting pain, destroying cancer cells, reducing anxiety, and reducing nausea.
- Making your edibles, tinctures, and topical products more consistent and efficient
Even if you decarb your cannabis without a decarboxylation machine, you are not likely to get the same results every time. The decarboxylation process is pretty sensitive ? certain environmental elements can throw it off and make your batches inconsistent. With a decarboxylation machine, you get the exact same result every single time.
Most users also claim that using a decarboxylation machine allows them to use lower doses of their products with far better results. In a nutshell, this means you can stretch your product a lot farther and save a lot of money in the long run.
If you just like to smoke cannabis every once in a while and don’t care about the medical benefits, a decarboxylation machine probably isn’t for you. Especially considering the fact they cost upwards of $200. But, if you make your own edible or topical cannabis products (or just really care about getting the medical benefits of cannabis), it is definitely a wise investment.
Making & Eating Decarb Cannabis
One major benefit to a decarboxylation machine is that is opens up a whole new world of cannabis options. If you aren’t big on sugary edibles like brownies or juices, you can actually mix decarb cannabis into all kinds of dishes. One popular use is to sprinkle it onto a salad or a smoothie, but really the possibilities are endless. Because the decarboxylation machine takes care of activating the THC, you do not have to mix your cannabis into any kind of infusion ? a.k.a. you do not have to saturate it in butter or oil to get the desired effects.
You can also use your decarb cannabis sublingually by placing it under your tongue and letting it absorb for a few minutes. Either of these options will give you excellent results, without comprising on the quality of your experience.
Using Decarb Cannabis in Topical Products
These days, you can find cannabis products (especially those that tout the amazing benefits of CBDs) almost anywhere – even in places where cannabis is not fully legal. Even local grocery stores might carry hemp derived CBD products, although you will be hard pressed to find the kind of products you make with a decarboxylation machine. Because you do not have to infuse the product into an oil to make it work, your options for topical products are more wide-reaching. For example, you can use decarb cannabis in water or alcohol-based products like toners, mouthwash, and elixirs. If you have a decarboxylation machine, you can also infuse product into oils or lotions that you already own. This can save you a lot of money as cannabis topicals can be very expensive.
All in all, if you use cannabis for medical reasons or prepare your own products, activating THC with a decarboxylation machine is more convenient, essential for consistent dosing, and will open up a whole new world of cannabis products.