When taking cannabidiol (CBD) in different forms such as a tincture or edible, we are consuming hemp extract rather than the raw hemp flower. This means the hemp plant has been processed in a way that allows it to be formulated easily. So, those who are seeking out raw hemp flower for the first time must go through an extra step in order to ensure that the compounds they are trying to benefit from are actually capable of doing their job. This extra step is known as decarboxylation. What it does is make CBD and other compounds in the plant “activated.”
What Does it Mean to “Activate” CBD?
You may not know this, but CBD is actually the product of decarboxylation. In its raw form, as you’d find it in the hemp plant that’s growing in the soil. It’s Cannabidiolic Acid CBDA, which is the precursor to CBD. CBDA is similar enough to cannabidiol, but with major molecular differences. These differences dictate how it behaves in the body when consumed.
There is quite a debate as to whether or not Cannabidiolic Acid is beneficial in its own right. Though it does not seem to offer the noticeable effects through the endocannabinoid system that are associated with CBD, more researchers are finding that it may offer particularly potent effects on depression, nausea, and even anxiety. But still, it seems that CBD binds more efficiently to cannabinoid receptors to offer a wider array of useful effects all at once.
What Does the Process of Decarboxylation Entail?
Quite simple, it’s the act of heating the cannabinoid(s) in a controlled manner. By “controlled”, we mean monitoring the temperature to which the compounds are exposed, as well as the length of time during which they are heated. Decarboxylation occurs at about 220 degrees. But, above 300 degrees could actually damage the compound. Temperatures that are too high can cause the CBD to decarboxylate and then quickly degrade. Essentially, rendering it useless.
What About the Aroma?
Get ready for a strong aroma indeed. Some strains more than others do have certain smells to them. That is why you need make sure you have good ventilation in your kitchen. Also, closing doors to other rooms can be helpful in containing the smell.
What are the Different Ways to Decarb Your Hemp Flower?
As you know, CBD flower can be utilized in more than one way.
- Of course, most commonly it’s smoked, through a pipe or rolled into papers.
- Modern technology, however, has allowed us to vaporize the plant with a special vaping device. This system creates vapor rather than smoke.
- Also, a lot of people like to make edibles with flower.
So, is there a different decarboxylation for each? After all, we don’t know a person on Earth who simply takes their flower and sticks the raw buds directly into their mouth.
Decarbing Method #1: Smoking
This almost always involves applying a standard butane lighter directly to the fire. This is either rolled into paper or ground up in a pipe of some kind. Anyway, the heat of the lighter effectively decarbs the flower to activate the CBD and other cannabinoids. A lighter operates at about 77 degrees, and holding the lighter directly against the flower long enough to produce smoke allows the heat to accumulate to reach the desired temperature before it degrades instead.
Decarbing Method #2: Vaporizing
Vaporizers also heat the flower to the right temperature, but not through combustion. Instead, these devices have a chamber that holds the flower, with a heating element inside known as a coil. When the battery is fired, the coil heats up to properly decarb the flower, create vapor as a result. This is then easily inhaled into the lungs.
Vaporizers are getting more advanced with each passing year, and many have variable output levels that give us some level of control over the temperature reached. Some provide a direct blast of high heat within the pre-degradation limit, while other settings allow for a more “low and slow” approach to decarboxylation that may render better flavor from the terpenes in the flower.
Decarbing Method #3: Baking/Cooking
Involves infusing the flower’s compounds into a recipe. It’s done either by grinding up the flower and adding it to the recipe or making a CBD butter, which is far more common. Whether making edibles with a CBD butter or with loose buds, the process is the same, and involves the preliminary step of baking the buds at about 200 degrees for 25 minutes. This effectively decarbs them so that the cannabidiol is fully active in the resulting recipe.
Decarbing Hemp Flower Can Provide an Awesome Experience
As you can see, decarbing is an important process of getting as much out of your hemp flower experience as possible. There are all kinds of methods for it, and companies that make hemp extracts to put into topicals, tinctures and the like do this process beforehand so that you don’t have to.