Decarboxylation must occur before cooking, baking, or extracting oil from the cannabis plant in order to reap the benefits of activated cannabinoids like CBD or THC. Learn more about when, where, why, and how to decarboxylate cannabis for making edibles and more at home.
A General Overview
If you have never decarbed cannabis before, the process can be understandably confusing at first.
Don't worry; I'm here to help you understand this process (and I promise, it's not as hard as it sounds!)
Decarboxylation is the first step you need to take before infusing cannabis into coconut oil, butter, olive oil, tinctures, and more.
Often referred to as 'decarb' or 'decarbing', it really is an important step if you want to make homemade edibles, topicals, oil infusions, and more.
So what exactly is decarboxylation, and why do we need to do it, anyway?
If you were to eat raw or dried cannabis, it is unlikely that you will feel any intoxicating effects of THC.
To convert these non-intoxicating cannabinoid acids into the activated cannabinoids we want, the process of decarboxylation must occur.
By definition, decarboxylation is is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide.
Decarboxylation can occur when cannabis is exposed to heat, light, cofactors, or solvents, all of which can be manipulated within your own kitchen.
This guide will explore the science behind what decarboxylation is, how you can do it at home in your oven or Instant Pot, and I'll share my expert tips and tricks along the way so you can feel confident trying the process on your own.
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Variability of Methods
If you ask 100 members of my Well With Cannabis Community how they decarboxylate their cannabis, you will get 100 different answers.
While the variations in each method are slight, they are usually accompanied by years of experience and personal preference.
Ultimately, we will all arrive at the same goal - activated cannabinoids that can be used in homemade edibles.
Now it's important to remember that this is not a perfect process in a controlled environment, nor does it need to be.
Each cannabis plant is unique and contains a full-spectrum of compounds including different cannabinoids, terpenes, and more.
The cannabinoid and terpene profile varies from plant to plant, and each cannabinoid decarboxylates at a different temperature, making consistent results challenging.
On top of that, we all have different kitchen set ups with different equipment available to work with. Temperature fluctuations can vary greatly from oven to oven.
However, this is not to discourage you.
While this sounds like one big science experiment going on in your kitchen, it really is as simple as putting a mason jar full of cannabis in the oven and baking it.
The Science Behind The Process
If you're a new cannabis edible consumer, you may not have known that eating dried or raw cannabis will provide little to no intoxicating effect at all.
This can be good or bad depending on your desired experience.
Raw cannabis flower contains tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), a non-intoxicating substance that can be converted into the intoxicating substance tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) through the decarboxylation process (1).
This process also converts cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) into cannabidiol (CBD), although both forms remain non-intoxicating in their respective states.
While THCA and CBDA have potential health benefits in and of themselves, for preparing cannabis edibles, most people prefer them decarboxylated into the active forms of THC and CBD.
While there is a general understanding of the science behind the decarboxylation process, truthfully, it is all just one big experiment in a home kitchen.
Ultimately, they all get you to the same place - decarbed cannabis flower.
Decarboxylation with Heat
As mentioned before, decarboxylation occurs when cannabis is exposed to heat, light, cofactors, or solvents.
For this process, we prefer to decarb with heat, as this is the easiest method to control in an at-home kitchen environment.
Decarboxylation can easily be done in your own kitchen at home by baking the dried cannabis in the oven at a low temperature for a certain period of time.
The goal of cannabis decarboxylation is to heat the flower at a low temperature to allow decarboxylation to occur without destroying the other beneficial plant matter such as the terpenes or flavonoids.
Again, this becomes difficult because each cannabinoid decarboxylates at its own specific temperature.
General Decarb Temperature Recommendations
- THCA to THC → bake at 240° F for 40 minutes
- CBDA to CBD → bake at 240°F for 90 minutes
- CBGA to CBG → bake at 220°F for 60 minutes
- THC to CBN→ bake at 240°F for 180 minutes
THCA begins to decarboxylate at approximately 220°F after around 30-45 minutes of exposure, with full decarboxylation typically taking longer to occur (2).
Again, the type and strain of cannabis flower you are using will impact decarboxylation time and temperature recommendations.
As noted below, decarboxylating CBD flower requires a much longer cooking time than decarboxylating traditional THC dominant flower.
Because each cannabinoid and terpene decarboxylates at a different temperature, you will want to consider the best temperature and cooking time for your particular strain.
Once the cannabis flower has been decarbed, it can be used in a wide variety of applications, similar to how other dried herbs would be used.
Many people will make their own tea, honey, or seasoning blends with their decarboxylated cannabis flower as is.
Others will move forward to use the decarbed cannabis flower to make an infused oil or cannabutter with a simple infusion process.
Factors That Impact The Process
There are many factors that will impact the results of your final product when decarboxylating cannabis.
Here are a few additional considerations to keep in mind:
Maintaining Temperature Control
It is important to keep tight temperature controls when decarboxylating cannabis, as much as possible.
While heat is needed to decarboxylate, extreme temperatures can destroy many important plant materials that contribute to positive health outcomes, like terpenes (3).
Each individual terpene may have it’s own therapeutic health benefits, but also carries its own sensitivity to heat.
If cannabis is heated above 300°F during the decarb process, you run the risk of denaturing many important plant compounds (4).
Oven Temperature Variability
Unfortunately, tight temperature control becomes more difficult with the variability of temperatures in traditional home ovens.
Many variables can impact the final temperature of the oven, and even two same brand ovens may vary in temperature by 5-10 degrees or more!
For this reason, we recommend purchasing a digital oven-safe thermometer so that you can track the temperature in the oven that you have.
Additionally, we recommend limiting the number of times the oven is opened during the cooking process, as this alters the oven temperature significantly.
Opening the door will cause the temperature to drop and alter your time and temperature recordings' reliability.
Other Equipment Variability
If you are using an oven or other pieces of equipment like a crockpot, slow cooker, or Instant Pot, small variables in the cooking equipment may impact your final product.
Different crockpots will have different temperatures when set to the same setting, which is why we recommend a digital oven-safe thermometer be used throughout the process.
Important to note, an Instant Pot works great for decarbing, especially if you want to contain the smell. Be sure to grab my guide for decarbing in an Instant pot here.
The size of the cannabis flower buds upon decarboxylation will have an impact on the final product.
If the cannabis flower buds are loosely broken up by hand, they will cook differently than cannabis buds that have been run through a grinder and now have a small, uniform texture.
Additionally, decarboxylating finely ground cannabis powder, or kief, will require much more attention paid to the temperature and cooking times to prevent burning and denaturing of the important compounds in the plant.
Should You Grind The Buds Before Decarboxylating?
This is a matter of personal preference.
Some members of my cannabis community say they prefer to grind slightly before decarb to have a more even surface area for heating.
Other members of my cannabis community say grinding beforehand will remove more trichomes, leaving them in the grinder and not on your plant material.
Additionally, grinding the plant material will expose more surface area which will allow more 'green' material, aka chlorophyll, to be absorbed into the final product.
Many people do not want large amounts of chlorophyll in their final product due to the bitter, earthy taste.
It is for this reason that we recommend to skip the grinding process and simply break up large buds by hand into smaller, popcorn sized pieces before decarbing.
Managing the Smell
Yes - the decarboxylation process can cause your house to smell like weed.
When we bake cannabis we activate and release certain terpenes which gives cannabis a distinct and prominent smell.
While many enjoy the wonderful aroma of the baking herb, others are concerned about the smell affecting a loved one, a neighbor, or someone else in the home.
That is why we recommend baking the cannabis flowers in a sealed container, like a mason jar. You can contain the smell even further by decarbing in an Instant Pot.
The sealed lid will hold in many of the terpenes, which is great for your final product, and helps to cut the odor down significantly.
One question I often receive inside my Well With Cannabis Community is:
How long you can store decarbed cannabis for future use?
Thankfully, decarbed cannabis can be stored for quite a long time before infusing into an oil or tincture.
Just store the decarbed cannabis in an airtight mason jar in a cool, dark space. A freezer works well and helps to preserve the potency of the activated cannabinoids.
Estimating Final Product Potency
One negative of homemade edibles is that it is nearly impossible to determine the final exact concentration of final cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, in an at-home setting.
This is a disadvantage because it is hard to accurately assess and track how much of each cannabinoid you will be orally consuming.
Without lab testing, it is nearly impossible to accurately assess the final product's total cannabinoid concentration, making accurate dosing difficult.
This uncertainty opens up the risk of either underdosing or overdosing, which will ultimately prevent you from experiencing the desired health benefits.
You can, however, use our edibles dosage calculator to get a guesstimate of what your final potency may be.
Combining Decarboxylation with Infusion
The heat decarb method is most often combined with the fat infusion method to ensure maximum cannabinoid activation and terpene retention.
This is my favorite way to create all of our popular staple oils including:
- Cannabis-Infused Butter
- Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil
- Cannabis-Infused Olive Oil
- Cannabis-Infused MCT Oil
- Full-Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO)
Remember, without decarboxylation, you will not experience the full range of beneficial cannabinoids like Δ9-THC or CBD!
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How to Decarboxylate Cannabis Flower
Watch the Video
- Oven-Safe Baking Dish with a Lid
What You Need
- 1 ounce cannabis flower, leaf, trim, shake, or kief *any amount is fine
- Preheat the oven to 240° F.
- Using a digital scale, weigh the cannabis to your desired weight. For example: ¼, ½, or 1 ounce.
- Gently break up the cannabis buds, removing any seeds and stems as necessary. Do not grind.
- Add the flower to an oven-safe baking dish and out on the lid. If you don't have a lid, you can cover the dish with tin foil.
- Place the dish in the oven and bake for 40 minutes for THC-dominant flower or 90 minutes for CBD-dominant flower.
- Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool completely with the lid on.
- Your decarbed flower is now ready for use. If you do not want to use it right away, be sure to store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
I was in South Africa last month and I purchased some weed there that I didn't want to bring back on the plane as-is, so I had my husband bake it into some brownies. I totally forgot about the decarboxylating process because it had been years since I tried it and we were in a bit of a rush. So I cut the flower up into small pieces with kitchen knife and it was dumped into the batter. I figured that the brownies would be pretty much regular brownies after I realized I skipped that important step. However, upon returning to NY I had a couple friends try the brownies and they actually said the high was better than those chocolate Punch Bars that we usually have around. So... what's up with that? Is it possible that the heat in the baking process helped release some stuff? It was so easy to do it that way and also they said the taste is great (I agree). What do you say about it?
Yael, it's definitely possible that the heat from the baking process helped with the decarboxylation process 🙂
How long do I decarb flower that's 1:1 ration (CBD to THC)? I'm looking to make a 1:1 tincture.
Hey Unkle JR - That is a great question. I do not have lab tests to know what the best answer it. I personally would decarb for CBD (240°F for 90 minutes) in this case. You will achieve the CBD, and the THC conversion. You run the risk of slightly overdecarbing the THC, but in any case, that will bring you to more CBN. Keep us posted in what you end up doing!
I am sure this is a silly question but, are you able to decarb THC dominant flower to bring out the CBD components? Thank you in advance for any advice.
No silly questions here, Heather. No, you cannot decarb THC flower to get CBD. There needs to be CBDA already present in the starting material to convert to CBD. You can start with a CBD-dominant flower to get the CBD you are looking for 🙂
hi - would you clarify the use of a mason jar in the context of what’s described as “… making sure the flower is in an even layer (you do not want clumps or mounds)”. For me, that’s more easily understood for using a glass baking dish, but not the jar.
Hey Elle! Great question. When I use a mason jar, I try to use the biggest one I have and then turn it over onto its side when it's in the oven so the plant matter is spread out as much as possible. I hope this helps 🙂
I’m not sure if this is the best place to post this question, but figured my question starts one step before decarb (selecting cannabis strain), it’s the most logical (to me anyway) 🙂 I have seen mixed thoughts on the using different strains of cannabis for edibles. Is it true that this will only make the THC portion available vs. smoking where each strain has its own character including effects of indica vs. sativa
Hey Ed! I've heard this question asked before, and it seems to be unique for each person. I've heard people say they can definitely notice different effects (ex. Indica vs. Sativa) when consuming edibles, while others say it all hits them the same. Feel free to let us know what your experience was like after you've given your edibles a try!
Hi Emily, I was wondering in your experience if decarbing by putting the cannabis in a mason jar in the oven would stop from smelling up the whole house since the mason jar lid acts kind of like a seal? Thank you!
Hey Luke! The mason jar definitely helps, but it doesn't contain the odor 100%.
I followed your instructions and compared the color of your decarbed buds vs mine. I didn’t take a picture of mine but it looked darker green and not as golden as yours. Could it be possible that I either burned them or did I not leave them in the oven long enough? And I also noticed when I removed the mason jar out of the oven, I left it sealed to cool off on the counter and when it was finally cooled enough to handle I noticed condensation inside the jar. Is that normal?
Hey Kimmi! Thanks so much for giving this tutorial a try. I truly don't worry too much about the color - there are a lot of factors that can impact the final color that are irrelevant to the process. I trust the 40 minute time frame, and I am sure yours is just fine! Yes, condensation is normal and won't harm or affect your final product. Just make sure to transfer everything to a clean, dry jar for storage to leave the moisture behind 🙂
Your (fabulous) website and others websites have suggested decarbing cannabis by putting it in a mason jar and putting it in an oven. When I searched for "oven-safe mason jar" some websites emphatically point out that there's no such thing. They claim that mason jars are made of annealed versus tempered glass and that the former can explode into shards when baked. Is this concern irrelevant because decarbing occurs at a lower temperature (e.g., 240-290 degrees) for this to happen? Maybe I'm unnecessarily nervous here but I'd still like to read what others have experienced in baking cannabis in a mason jar.
Hey Bill! I think you have a valid concern, it's always a possibility the glass could break, but I think its more due to temperature shock (going from hot to cold or vice versa, too fast) than anything else. To avoid this, I just place my jar in the oven before preheating and leave it in there until it has completely cooled. Of course, you don't need to use a mason jar, you can use any type of oven-safe dish you prefer, or even silicone bakeware. I hope this helps!
Yo. What's your recommendation with making infused brownies? I can decarboxylate and grind into powder. My question is, does putting the prepared product into a mix and cooking again, make a difference? Any advice on how to adjust? Brownies cook at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Already decarboxylated product in the batter, cooks a little bit more. You're right about the strain you start with. I've had 500mg slices hammer me. Then the same stuff at 625mg stopped my heart. Blood pressure dropped to the dead zone and I actually shit myself. Was scary so I'm trying to make sense of that. Recently a batch was a 2 hrs come on, mild at first. Hours 3,4 and 5 were progressively stronger until it was banging hard. Slept like a baby. Thanks for your time and consideration.
Hey Daniel. That's a crazy story; I'm sorry to hear what happened to you. 500-625mg of THC is crazy high for a single person in one sitting! I typically use oil in my recipe when making brownies, but you can definitely use the decarbed flower. I don't think the 20 minutes in the oven will make a big difference in the outcome, I would bake as normal. Maybe just use less decarbed flowers for a more mild experience?
Just wondering, if you can decarb the flower with the butter at the same time to create the infused butter, this being done in a crockpot or instant pot. Will the potency of the THC or CBD still be the same? If this can be done, what would the temperature have to be and time for the whole process be please?
I would assume that this method would reduce the smell of the terpenes considerably 🙂 if it can be done?
Thank you for your amazing insights and teachings....Much appreciated!
Hey Jessie! I don't think the crockpot gets hot enough, but you can decarb in the Instant Pot as that gets to 240°F. Here's my complete guide for decarbing in the IP, I hope this helps!
I have a question can I use the weed and residue left in my vape to make edibles and tincture?
Yes, I think so, Dee! I don't think it would need to be decarbed either, it should just be ready to go 🙂
Hello, I'm totally new working with cannabis.
I'm ready to decarboxylate my flowers however, I don't know how many buds I can put into a pint mason jar. an ounce? fill the jar 1/2 full? full?
I'm assuming the less cannabis in each jar it heats evenly? Thanks
Hey Mindy! Welcome to the world of cannabis edibles 🙂 I generally like to keep the jar about halfway full, feel free to use extra jars if you need to.
Hi Emily. Thanks for the recipe. Will this work for me if the weed I bought is all pre-ground?
Hello Leah, you are most welcome, and yes, everything should be just the same with pre-ground flower 😀
So I have about 2oz of hydro shake. A good 1/3 of it is powder. I'm nervous to burn it. What do you recommend?
Hey Dally! I would just watch it closely for the last 10 minutes of the cooking process. If it begins looking too toasty, take it out of the oven and you should be good to go ☺️
I accidentally decarbed at 240 for 60min instead of 40 min.Did I turn it into CBD or will I be ok?
Hey Peggy! I think you're just fine. THC can not turn into CBD through decarboxylation, but THC can eventually degrade into CBN (usually needs 180 minutes), so if anything, you may notice a more "sleepy" end product.
Here's a question that's hard to get a definitive answer to: will decorbed herb last longer than un-decarbed? Also, what is the effect of using decarbed herb for vaping? Is doing so irrelevant since the vaping process should adequately decarb?
I so appreciate your thorough and quick replies for questions that you get from the community!
Hello Bill! I don't have a definitive answer either; I think that would require some long-term experimentation with lab testing to know for sure. You will have to experiment with how vaping decarbed herb makes you feel, but yes, the vaping process should adequately decarb. I don't think it's irrelevant to experiment, though and see if you prefer one option over the other 😀
First time is my excuse: I ground up my trim before decarbing. How do I decarb it now?😔
Hello Brenda! No worries 🙂 You can still decarb it while it is ground. Simply place the ground material in a mason jar or oven-safe baking dish and proceed as normal.
What happens if u decarb in the butter in the oven
Hey Peggy, I don't have lab tests to know for sure, but I think you should be alright.
Hi Emily. Here I go again with my questions.
I ground the buds to make FECO and soaked them in grain alcohol, and made 4 washes with it. Now I have left 3 ounces of plant in a jar and I feel that maybe I may be losing an opportunity to throw it away.
Do you think it is still good to use in other ways?
Could I decarboxylate it even after the washes, considering it has some alcohol left in it?
Or is it already lost? 🙁
Renée from Team EKN
Hi Viviam. Chances are, there is some good stuff stuck in the leftover plant material, making it worth saving and enjoying. Members from our Well With Cannabis Community have put the dried-out material in tea bags, capsules, and more. I would not decarb it though because you risk any trace of alcohol being left behind.
My weed is already grounded as l buy it this way..Will this affect decarboxlating .Do l still bake at 240 for 40min?
Renée from Team EKN
Hi Maggie! Still bake at 240°, but you probably won't need the full 40 minutes. I'd let it go for a minimum of 20 minutes and then watch closely so it doesn't burn. The closer to 40 minutes the better, but you don't want to burn your flower. Hope this helps!
hey is there any difference as to decarb-ing in a sealed container as to an open baking sheet?
Hello Ian. You may notice less smell when baking in a sealed container vs. an open baking sheet. Others believe using a sealed container is a good way to preserve the terpenes. I hope this helps!
Your side is the only one I use when I need to make butter or oils. I have not tried any tincture recipes that you have offered up, but I'm willing to try those soon! ✌️💜
You're a lifesaver when it comes to recipes and concoctions LOL God bless you and thanks again 🤗
I followed the process with sealed mason jar in my instant pot. Pretty easy. My question is when I removed jars (lid still on) there was a little condensation inside jar at the top. Is this normal? I was going to store for awhile and I don’t want to grow mold.
This was harvested and dried last September.
Renée from Team EKN
Hi Sharon! Thank you so much for your kind words. You put a big smile on Emily's face! She works hard to continuously improve the cannabis education she offers and it’s always rewarding to receive such wonderful feedback. Thank you!
Renée from Team EKN
Hi DDD. The condensation inside the jar is from the remaining moisture that was in the flower. You should definitely air out the jars and make sure all moisture has dried to avoid any mold issues in the future.
I'm new to making my own edibles. When using a tincture or concentrate purchased from a dispensary for making edibles, isn't it ready to go into the mix? Is there a decarb process to activate these or just mix in and go?
Renée from Team EKN
Hi Justin. Not all concentrates need to be decarbed before use, some have already been decarbed during the production process. FECO, RSO, Distillate & CO2 Oil do NOT need to be decarbed. The following DO need to be decarbed: Shatter, Wax, Badder/Budder, Hash/Bubble Hash, Crumble, Rosin and Live Resin. Here's Emily's guide that goes into further detail: https://emilykylenutrition.com/make-edibles-with-cannabis-concentrates/
I hope this helps!
I grew a lot of weed. Mostly to make into oil. Ive mixed up my jars of bud and decarbed bud. If i happen to decarb bud that has already been dercarbed, will it be useless?
Renée from Team EKN
Hi Gregory. The bud won't be useless at all, but rather give a more sleepy effect when consumed. THC converts to CBN with heat, so the extra decarb time (on the already decarbed bud) will convert the THC into CBN.