Do you need to cook Decarbed weed?

Decarbing weed is an important step when cooking with cannabis. Decarbing activates the THC and other cannabinoids, making them available for absorption when eaten. So yes, you do need to decarb weed before cooking it into cannabis edibles or extracts.

What does decarbing weed mean?

Decarbing refers to the process of decarboxylating cannabis. Raw cannabis contains THCA and CBDA, which are acidic forms of THC and CBD. Through heat and time, these acidic cannabinoids lose a carbon dioxide molecule and convert into the active forms of THC and CBD that produce effects and benefits.

This conversion only happens through decarboxylation. So if you don’t decarb weed before cooking it, the edibles won’t have significant effects.

Why decarb weed before cooking?

There are a few key reasons you need to decarb weed before cooking with it or making cannabis oils:

  • Decarbing activates THC – Raw cannabis has mostly THCA, which is not psychoactive. Decarbing converts THCA to THC, which can then cause the “high” feeling.
  • More cannabinoids become usable – In addition to THC, decarbing also converts CBDA to CBD, activating its potential benefits.
  • Increased potency – Decarbed cannabis infused oils or butter will be much more potent than using raw cannabis.
  • Better experience – With more activated cannabinoids, edibles and tinctures made from decarbed weed will provide stronger, more predictable effects.

What’s the decarbing process?

Decarbing cannabis is simple but important. All you need is some starting material, an oven, and time. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 240°F (115°C). This temperature activates cannabinoids without going too hot.
  2. Break up cannabis buds into small pieces for quicker decarbing. The more surface area exposed, the better.
  3. Spread pieces evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake cannabis for 30-45 minutes, stirring halfway through. Cannabinoids convert most efficiently around 240°F when baked for at least 30 mins.
  5. Pull baked cannabis from oven and let cool. It should be dried out but not burnt.
  6. Use decarbed cannabis right away for cooking or store it in an airtight container for later use. Over time, some THC may convert back to THCA through oxidation.

This process applies whether starting with loose leaf, concentrates like hash or kief, or trim leaves and stems. Just adjust time as needed based on quantity and form of cannabis used.

How to tell when weed is decarbed

Decarbed weed will change slightly in appearance, aroma, and texture:

  • Color changes to more brownish as chlorophyll breaks down
  • Texture becomes crispy and dried out as moisture evaporates
  • Smell becomes more pungent and earthy as gases release
  • Weight reduces by around 10% due to loss of CO2 and H20

These effects will be subtle but noticeable when comparing to raw cannabis. If the baked plant material doesn’t change at all, it likely needs more time to fully decarb.

Does cooking decarb weed?

Cooking with cannabis, such as infusing it into oil or butter, will cause some decarboxylation. However, cooking alone doesn’t reliably convert all available THCA and CBDA.

Cooking temps vary during recipes, often staying below 240°F. And acidic cannabinoids won’t have enough time to fully convert during most cooking processes. So while some decarbing occurs, it’s incomplete compared to properly baking weed first.

For best results, always decarb before cooking. This separates the decarbing step to fully activate all cannabinoids beforehand. Then cooking can infuse the decarbed weed into fats and oils without losing potency.

Common problems from not decarbing

Many new cannabis users run into issues because they don’t realize weed must be decarbed first before cooking. Here are some common problems:

  • Weaker potency – Edibles won’t provide expected effects since THCA remains unactivated.
  • Inconsistent dosing – Without decarbing, potency is less predictable and reliable.
  • Need more weed – You’ll waste more buds not getting full extraction and infusion without decarbing first.
  • Uncomfortable ingestion – Raw weed can cause stomach upset when eaten directly in food.

Decarbing before cooking and dosing solves all these issues by properly activating all available cannabinoids for full potency.

How to decarb weed methods

Oven baking is the most common and foolproof way to decarb cannabis. But there are some alternate decarbing methods as well:

Sous vide decarbing

A sous vide setup uses precise temperature control by heating vacuum sealed bags submerged in water. You can decarb weed gently by sous vide at 203°F for 1-2 hours.

Slow cooker decarbing

A slow cooker can evenly maintain lower heat ideal for decarbing. Place buds in an oven bag in the slow cooker with water on low setting for around 6 hours.

Instant pot decarbing

An instant pot reaches pressure cooking temps high enough to decarb weed. Put plant material in a mason jar in the instant pot on high pressure for 40 minutes.

Double boiler decarbing

A makeshift double boiler with a pot, simmering water, and a sealed bowl can gently decarb without going over 240°F. Maintain the water bath for 60-90 minutes.

While these alternative methods work, the oven remains simplest and most reliable for beginners. The key steps are exposing cannabis to around 240°F for 30-60 minutes.

Does decarbing smell?

Yes, decarbing weed produces quite a strong cannabis odor. The baking process releases smelly terpenes and gases as the plant breaks down.

There are some ways to reduce decarb smell:

  • Use an oven bag – This contains some odor but not all.
  • Activate a vent or fan – Properly ventilate the kitchen during decarbing.
  • Use activated carbon – Placing charcoal briquettes nearby can help absorb some smell.
  • Spray odor removers – Products like Ozium help eliminate odors between decarbing.
  • Decarb outside – If possible, decarb in a shed or outdoors to avoid stinking up your home.

While unavoidable, the decarb smell only lingers during the baking process. And the results are worth the temporary odor for access to the plant’s full benefits.

How long does decarbed weed last?

If stored properly, decarbed cannabis can remain potent for use in edibles and oils for up to 1 year. To preserve decarbed buds:

  • Store in an airtight container away from light and heat.
  • Use glass jars or reusable silicone bags to maximize freshness.
  • Keep decarbed weed somewhere cool like the fridge or freezer.
  • Limit air exposure by minimizing opening storage container.

Freezing decarbed cannabis right after baking helps preserve cannabinoids by limiting re-oxidation of THC back into THCA. Properly frozen decarbed weed can retain potency for over a year.

Can you eat decarbed weed plain?

Yes, you can eat decarbed cannabis as-is without cooking it further. Since decarbing activates THC and other cannabinoids, the weed is ready for oral ingestion.

Eating decarbed dry flower directly provides effects more like ingesting edibles. For faster action, you can:

  • Mix decarbed buds into yogurt, nut butter, milkshake, etc.
  • Sprinkle decarbed kief or hash over food or in joints.
  • Drink decarbed weed steeped into tea, coffee, juice, etc.
  • Add concentrated decarbed oil or tincture under the tongue.

While not as tasty, eating decarbed cannabis avoids any potency loss from further heating or infusion.

Does decarbing activate CBD?

Yes, decarbing also converts the CBDA in cannabis into active CBD. Raw cannabis contains very little usable CBD before it’s been decarbed.

Heating cannabis removes the carboxyl group from CBDA converting it into CBD. So decarbing maximizes the CBD content you can leverage from cannabis in edibles and oils.

Note that THCA converts into THC more readily than CBDA into CBD during decarbing. So cannabis higher in CBDA may need a longer decarb time to fully activate available CBD.

Can you decarb weed in boiling water?

No, boiling water does not get hot enough to decarb weed properly. Water boils at 212°F, which is too low to convert THCA and CBDA within a reasonable amount of time.

Most THCA decarboxylation happens around 240°F. So boiling water doesn’t create enough heat to activate the cannabinoids.

Simmering cannabis in oils and fats can reach higher temps for some decarbing while infusing. But water alone is too cool to reliably decarb cannabis when boiling.


Decarbing cannabis is a vital first step before cooking or processing weed. Heating activates the compounds to deliver desired effects and benefits. Skipping decarbing results in weaker edibles, oils, and topicals.

Luckily, decarbing weed at home is simple. Just bake loose buds or trim on a sheet around 240°F for 30-60 minutes. Then use the decarbed cannabis right away or store it for later infusion.

Understanding the decarb process helps ensure you get the most from your cannabis for maximum medicinal and recreational effects.

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