Skip to content
Brad KovachDec 4, 2023 3:10:52 PM7 min read

Unlocking the Power of Cannabinoids with Decarboxylation

No matter what you call it — cannabis, weed, hemp or marijuana — the industry is growing rapidly. Most people are aware of the different products made from organic plant matter, like edibles and CBD (oils containing cannabidiol) oils, but how do you get the highest quality and purest end product. The answer lies in a crucial procedure known as decarboxylation. 

Decarboxylation, often abbreviated as "decarb," is a fundamental step in cannabis and hemp extraction. It plays a pivotal role in the production of both CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), transforming their molecules into their active states. 

What is Decarboxylation and its Benefits? 

At its core, decarboxylation is a thermodynamic marvel that takes tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) and turns it into THC. Cannabis plants do not naturally produce THC. The organic plant material yields THCA, which lacks the psychoactive effect that THC delivers.  

Only when subjected to heat does this chemical shift occur. Decarb removes a carboxyl group from these compounds and converts the acidic forms of CBD and THC into the potent cannabinoids we are familiar with to create products.  

Decarbing ensures the complete transformation of cannabinoids, guaranteeing maximum potency. Activated THC and CBD offer therapeutic benefits, psychoactive effects, and a more consistent experience when cooking with cannabis.  

The benefits of decarboxylation are profound and effective for both medicinal and recreational use helping to unlock the plant's full potential. Now, let's explore this process in more detail. 

How to Prepare Cannabis for Decarboxylation

Before getting started with the decarb process proper preparation is crucial. Here are the steps to ensure your cannabis is ready for the process: 

  • Choose Quality Cannabis: Start with high-quality cannabis flowers or concentrates. The potency and overall quality of your decarbed product depend heavily on the quality of the starting material. 
  • Grind Your Cannabis: Use a grinder to break down your cannabis into smaller, more uniform pieces. Grinding increases the surface area of the cannabis, allowing for more even heat distribution during decarboxylation. 
  • Solvent Selection: Choose a solvent to extract the cannabinoids and other desirable compounds from the plant material. Common solvents used in cannabis extraction include ethanol, butane, or supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2). The choice of solvent can affect the quality and safety of the final product. 

By following these steps, you'll ensure that your cannabis is properly prepared for decarboxylation, allowing for a more efficient activation of cannabinoids during the process. 

The Different Methods of Decarbing Cannabis  

There are many tips and how-to articles on decarbing Cannabis. As you may know, professional cannabis companies use controlled and standardized methods to decarboxylate cannabis.  

Here are some common methods they may employ: 

Oven Decarboxylation: 

  • This method involves placing cannabis buds or trim on a baking sheet and heating them in an oven at a controlled temperature for a specified duration. 
  • Typically, cannabis is decarbed at around 240°F (115°C) for 30-45 minutes. 
  • Professional companies use precise ovens with accurate temperature controls to ensure consistency and quality. 

Closed-Loop Decarboxylation: 

  • Some companies use specialized closed-loop systems that allow them to control temperature, pressure, and time during decarboxylation. 
  • Closed-loop systems can provide more consistent results and minimize the loss of volatile compounds. 

Vacuum Decarboxylation: 

  • Vacuum ovens or vacuum seal bags can be used in combination with heat to decarb cannabis. 
  • This method reduces the temperature required for decarboxylation, which can help preserve terpenes and other volatile compounds. 

Fluidized Bed Decarboxylation: 

  • Some advanced companies use fluidized bed technology, which involves suspending cannabis material in a stream of hot air. 
  • This method provides uniform heating and can be more efficient for large-scale operations. 

Decarboxylation Machines: 

  • Professional cannabis companies may use specialized decarboxylation machines designed for precision and consistency. 
  • These machines often use a combination of heat, time, and controlled airflow to ensure efficient decarboxylation. 

Infrared Decarboxylation: 

  • Infrared technology is used in some commercial setups to rapidly heat and decarb cannabis. 
  • It can be a quicker method but requires careful monitoring to prevent over-decarboxylation. 

Microwave-Assisted Decarboxylation: 

  • In some cases, microwave-assisted decarboxylation methods are used to speed up the process. 
  • Professional setups will have specialized equipment for this purpose. 

It's important to note that professional cannabis companies have the advantage of equipment, expertise, and quality control measures to ensure consistent and effective decarboxylation. The specific method chosen may vary depending on the company's scale, budget and desired product outcomes. The temperature, time, and other parameters can be adjusted based on the strain of cannabis and the desired cannabinoid profile for the final product. 

Quick Tips for Achieving the Perfect Results from Decarbing Cannabis 

Achieving the perfect results from decarbing cannabis requires attention to detail and precision.  Use an accurate oven or decarbing device to maintain a consistent temperature around 240°F (115°C). Timing is crucial, so stick to the recommended decarbing duration of 30-45 minutes. Always seal your cannabis in an airtight container to preserve freshness and potency. Monitor the process closely to avoid over-decarboxylation.  

How to Store Your Decarbed Cannabis Properly 

Once you've successfully decarbed your cannabis, proper storage is essential to preserve its potency. Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Some users prefer to vacuum-seal their decarbed cannabis to ensure freshness and longevity. 

Properly storing your decarbed cannabis is crucial for maintaining its quality and potency over time. Here are some additional details to consider for storing decarbed cannabis:  

Temperature and Humidity: Keep your decarbed cannabis in a cool and dry environment. Excessive heat and humidity can cause the degradation of cannabinoids and the growth of mold. The ideal temperature for storage is around 70°F (21°C), with a relative humidity level below 65%.  

Airtight Container: Using an airtight container is essential to prevent the exposure of your decarbed cannabis to oxygen, which can lead to the degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes. Mason jars, glass containers with rubber seals, or specialized storage containers designed for cannabis are good choices.  

Darkness: Light can also degrade cannabinoids and terpenes. Therefore, store your decarbed cannabis in a dark place, away from direct sunlight or bright artificial light.  

Vacuum-Sealing: While not necessary, vacuum-sealing your decarbed cannabis can provide an extra layer of protection against oxygen and moisture. Vacuum-sealed bags or containers remove air and create a sealed environment that helps preserve freshness.  

Labeling: Properly label your storage container with the strain name, date of decarboxylation, and any other relevant information. This helps you keep track of the freshness and potency of your cannabis.  

Avoid Freezing: While freezing can be used for long-term storage, it's generally not recommended for decarbed cannabis. Freezing can cause moisture to form when the cannabis is thawed, potentially leading to mold growth.  

Divide into Smaller Portions: If you have a large batch of decarbed cannabis, consider dividing it into smaller portions before storage. This way, you can access just the amount you need without repeatedly exposing the entire stash to air and light.  

Regular Inspection: Periodically check your stored decarbed cannabis for signs of mold, mildew, or degradation. If you notice any issues, remove the affected portion immediately.  

Keep Away from Children and Pets: Always store your cannabis in a location that is out of reach of children and pets, and consider using childproof containers if necessary.  

Properly storing decarbed cannabis can extend its shelf life and help maintain its desired potency and flavor profile. Following these storage guidelines will ensure that your cannabis remains fresh and ready for use in various recipes or consumption methods. 

Upgrade with CannaTrue ™ 

Whether you're using cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes, understanding the decarb process is important. Using high-quality, efficient and consistent systems, like CannaTrue™ EPD or CannaTrue™ SRS, can simplify the decarbing process. Make sure your cannabis is at its optimum potency and unleash its true potential with expert decarbing systems and techniques. Contact us to learn how you can take your cannabis journey to the next level! 


Brad Kovach is an IT manager and PLC Software Engineer at CBG Biotech. He is a subject matter expert in extraction, purification and distillation processes and has worked at CBG for more than 25 years. 

Check out these other helpful resources: 

  • Everything You Need to Know About Cannabis Oil Extraction Systems 
    Go on the journey of a cannabis plant through an extraction facility – from solvent-based extraction to the use of steam distillation, liquid hydrocarbon and supercritical CO2 – learn how to carefully extract cannabinoids from the plant biomass.    

  • Video Series:  How Do the CBG Biotech CannaTrue™ Systems Work? 
    CBG CannaTrue™™ SRS Series and EPD Systems process and purify essential oils while capturing the desired cannabinoids and some terpenes from cannabis and hemp. Our solutions are at the forefront of helping provide clean, effective yields and concentrates for those who need them most. 
  • Crafting Pure Gold: The Art of Refining Crude Cannabis Oil  
    Cannabis extraction is a multi-faceted procedure that goes beyond merely extracting desired elements from raw plant material. Achieving the utmost purity and potency when producing isolates or distillates requires a comprehensive post-extraction refinement process.