The beginning of my involvement with cannabis has its roots in insomnia. From there, I discovered that when applied appropriately, marijuana could help me get motivated and do the things that I would typically procrastinate, if not avoid altogether. At the time, I didn’t question how it was that the same thing that could help me get moving was also able to help me relax enough to sleep; I was so grateful that I never considered the paradox. Having grown a bit older and a bit wiser, I am aware that there are secrets to tapping into the potential of cannabis and reasons why the boiling point of THC and other cannabinoids affect the body’s overall reaction.
Three of the main components of cannabis are flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids. Each of these compounds has a unique boiling point. This means that the effect that a marijuana strain has on a person will change as the temperature used to vaporize it increases and more compounds vaporize into the mix, known as the entourage effect. So, each strain of cannabis has an ideal temperature to unlock its desired qualities. A couple of doses could unlock creativity, but a few more than that may bring on a nap.
This variety of experience could be true even of different crops of the same marijuana strain if the crops were cultivated differently, as that would likely stimulate the plants to produce different ratios of the compounds to ensure their survival in that environment.
How Does Vaporizing Help Control Temperatures?
Another factor that will affect which cannabinoids are released and when is the amount that you are attempting to vaporize. In one study, vaporizing .2 grams released 40 percent of the CBD, but when vaporizing only between .004 and .008 grams, 97 percent of the CBD was released. So, don’t stuff your vaporizers! When using vaporizers, choosing between convection-style vaporizers versus conduction-style vaporizers will also affect the outcome as moisture content of the cannabis, continued burn, consistency, accuracy, and hot spots can be issues.
Vape Pens can be found at a headshop, dispensary, or online
Most sources believe that the boiling point of THC is between 315°F and 392°F. The National Toxicology Program claims the boiling point of THC is 392°F at .02 mm Hg. Using a temperature of 60°F, for that pressure of .02 mm Hg to apply you would need to be consuming at an altitude of over 65,617 feet. Given that the pressure we experience at sea level is closer to 760 mm Hg, and at 6,000 feet it is closer to 609mm Hg, the actual boiling point is likely higher in practice. So, the closer to sea level you live, the higher the boiling point and, thus, the more heat you will need to reach the boiling point of THC. Another thing to consider is that CBD affects the conversion rate of THC, and its boiling point is only 18 degrees higher than that of THC. Depending on your desired effect, this rather small temperature range is either a bad thing or a good thing.
Practice Makes Perfect
Regardless if the boiling point of THC is 315°F, 392°F, or higher, to optimize the entourage effect, you would want to use a higher temperature than is necessary to vaporize THC alone. Dr. Arno Hazekamp believes the optimal temperature to vaporize cannabis is 410°F. Dr. Ian Mitchell thinks it's best to use a range between 347°F and 392°F. However, Mitchell notes that 446°F is a suitable temperature to use to vaporize cannabis to unlock a higher yield of cannabinoids, though he does remark that this higher temperature is likely to be less healthy.
The temperatures that combustion begins between are 446°F and 455°F. If you’re more interested in the compounds that activate at lower temperatures or do not wish to feel so much of the psychoactive effects of THC, keep reducing the temperature that you use until you find what makes you comfortable. Be aware that once you start to use temperatures below 356°F, you may lose many of the medicinal benefits as more of the sought-after cannabinoids won't vaporize. The ability to customize temperature is why vaping marijuana is gaining such popularity over smoking.
How Baking Affects the Boiling Point of THC and Other Cannabinoids
Edibles are another way of consuming cannabis, and temperature is even more crucial. Too little heat won't activate the compounds at all, and too much will cook them off. It’s important to note that altitude plays a significant role in baking, period. But, as mentioned above, it also will affect the boiling point of the compounds in the marijuana and the temperatures needed to activate them. Not so widely known is that it is essential to decarboxylate the cannabis before baking. The temperature range that seems most preferred for this is between 100°F and 245°F. The lower the temperature, the longer the bake time.
If you are interested in converting more of the other cannabinoids besides THC into their useful versions, such as CBD, it is best to use the lower temperatures for a longer duration. For the actual baking of infused confections, most folks were confident using temperatures between 325°F and 375°F since the food itself doesn't reach that temperature.
THC and many of the other compounds will degrade beyond usefulness if the food reaches 392°F. For this reason, it is an excellent idea to take the time to calibrate your oven; many edibles turned out to be plain old cookies and brownies due to an oven that ran hotter than was indicated. There is no doubt that we will learn more conclusively what the boiling points are from sea level all the way up to altitude in the coming years, and that information will help countless people in their pursuit of a better quality of life.
Realizing that the compounds that comprise a strain were more influential for me than whether or not that strain was an indica or sativa was an epiphany. I have a list that ranks the cannabinoids and terpenes in order of most useful medicinal attributes to least for when I go shopping. Another vital secret I learned is how to unlock those properties that I am looking to utilize. In the case of marijuana, temperature is the key.