CBD or cannabidiol has started to make more than just a mark on the world. With the abundance of health benefits it offers, the followers of this natural health medication have amassed into millions. There is no shortage of information that one can gather on this prized herbal medication, but often than not, there are some things that are often left out. We are referring to Decarboxylating of CBD here. Many of you may be reading this with raised eyebrows and it is for this exact reason that we wish to talk about it and clear the air.
What exactly is Decarboxylating CBD? What does it do for me? How can I do it? These are some of the questions that would be answered. Continue reading.
By cannabinoids we mean, specialized compounds present in the cannabis family of plants. CBD or cannabidiol is one of the many such cannabinoids that are present – the tally hits close to 113. Among them, terpenes, chromenes, and flavonoids also share a part. However, two of the most notable cannabinoids include CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
In legal industrial hemp plants, the content of THC is much lower when compared to CBD – a measly 0.3% by dry weight. In the case of marijuana, the content of THC is at a higher note, with levels ranging from 30-40% based on the strain.
However, the cannabinoids are not what they initially seem. The cannabinoids are present in their “acidic forms”. What we mean by acidic form is the raw form of the cannabinoids. CBD and THC are the successors of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), respectively.
How Does Decarboxylation Come Into Play?
How is it that we get THC from THCA or CBD from CBDA? It is through the process of decarboxylation that this is made possible. It is also called as ‘decarbing’- wherein the cannabinoids are heated so that the chemical structure of the acid cannabinoids is broken down to its neutral non-acidic form. This essentially means that CBD and THC are the non-acidic forms of CBDA and THCA, respectively.
The name ‘decarboxylation’ comes from the removal of the carboxyl group – it is the carbon-oxygen-oxygen-hydrogen molecular cluster that is present in the acid forms. Upon removal by the process of decarboxylation, we get the neutral forms.
How Does One Perform Decarboxylation?
Although the scientific term sounds fancy, there is real difficulty in performing it. The carboxyl group that is in place is quite weak, and very little energy needs to be imparted to break the bond. A combination of time and heat can make this possible. Decarboxylation is what happens when the carboxyl groups break away from the acidic counterpart, through the application of heat.
Should One Decarboxylate?
It depends on the kind of effect you are seeking. For example, THCA is non-intoxicating but its non-acidic neutral form, THC is the prime suspect behind you getting ‘high’ when you have smoked too much pot. Smoking or vaping heats the THCA and breaks it down to THC by the process of decarboxylation and leads to you feeling the psychological uplift that THC has to offer.
Most CBD products that are available nowadays may come pre-heated to convert the inactive forms to its more potent form, which have distinct therapeutic attributes credited to it. There is ample research to prove the benefits of the raw form as well.
If you have the option to go for non-decarboxylated variants, then you will have the choice to heat it to form CBD and THC. This is an admirable choice if you want to sample CBDA and THCA. All you need to do is to heat the extract in the water at boiling temperature for around 15 minutes.
How To Decarboxylate At Home?
The rate at which decarboxylation occurs is dependent on time and heat. This means that the hotter it is, the faster the process of decarboxylation occurs. Then again this is a fine line – too much heat will result in the cannabinoid degrading into their oxidized products.
If you were to keep cannabinoid extracts at room temperature, then it will also result in decarboxylation albeit at a much slower pace. There have been plenty of studies, the results of which points out that the temperature must range between 80°C (176°F) and 145°C (293°F).
All you have to do is bake the cannabis or hemp extract in an oven over 25 to 40 minutes, and that should suffice in converting the raw to neutral forms. If you have the hemp plant as is, then it would be wise to grind it down to pea-sized pieces. You may even grind it find and spread it out evenly in the parchment paper and then bake it.
If you have hemp extract in the form of oil, then also you could bake it at the controlled temperature and benefit from it.