What is Decarbing (Decarboxylation)?
Decarbing Kief, and Decarboxylation in general, is the process of heating parts of the Cannabis plant to a specific temperature that releases an active ingredient.
The decarb process converts a natural compound, e.g., an amino acid, into its more stable form, using heat or catalyzed oxidation. This process occurs in most Cannabinoids, e.g., CBDA is converted to CBD, THCVA is converted to THCV, CBNA to CBN, etc.
Decarboxylation removes carboxyl groups from a molecule, making it more straightforward and digestible.
The chemical reaction between heat and plant matter creates THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol (from THCA). This primary psychoactive compound relieves pain and induces euphoria in users when consumed in sufficient doses.
Importance of Decarbing Kief
Decarboxylation is how cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD are released from the plant. In their natural form, cannabinoids cannot be absorbed by our endocannabinoid system. We, therefore, need to remove the acidic molecules to facilitate absorption by our bodies. It is a crucial step in the formation of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids as it is done to increase the effects of Cannabis.
Most Cannabis Edibles use Cannabutter or Cannaoil as a base. It is vital to the strength of these products that they are made using Decarboxylated Weed.
3 Methods for Decarbing Kief
How to Decarboxylate Kief
- 1 Kief Choose your desired amount
Sous Vide Method
- Preheat the Sous Vide machine to 200°F
- Gently place the Kief in the heatproof Ziplock bag and seal. The bag must be fully waterproof.
- Insert the Kief-filled bag in the sous vide and cover. Allow to simmer for 90min.
- When the timer is complete, remove it from the waterbath. Your Kief is now decarbed and ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 235°F. Insert the oven thermometer for an accurate reading during the cooking process.
- Place the Kief in the Mason Jar and seal. Do not overcrowd the jar.
- Line the baking tray with a clean dishcloth. And gently lay the Mason Jar on its side.
- Insert the baking tray into the preheated oven and set your timer for 10 – 12 min. Gently shake the Mason Jar during this halfway point.
- Return the baking tray to the oven and set your timer again for 10 – 12 min.
- Carefully remove the tray from the oven. Your Kief is decarbed and ready to use.
There are three primary methods for Decarbing Kief and Cannabis Flower;
Oven Cannabis Decarboxylation Method
This is the most popular way and involves placing your ground Cannabis or Kief in an oven set at 220 – 260 degrees Fahrenheit for around 30 – 60 minutes. If you are conscious of the smell, place the Cannabis in a mason jar and place the covered jar sideways on your baking tray.
Sous Vide Cannabis Decarboxylation Method
Sous Vide Cannabis Decarboxylation is an ideal method to conceal the smell. Bring water to a slow boil in a large pot with a fitting lid. Place your ground Cannabis or Kief in an airtight ziplock bag, ensuring not to overcrowd. Gently lower the Kief-filled bag into the boiling water. Cover with the lid and simmer/sous vide for about 90 minutes.
Microwave Cannabis Decarboxylation Method
Microwave is NOT a preferred method.
Microwave Cannabis Decarboxylation is not a preferred method but is undoubtedly the fastest. Please rely on your smell to tell whether the Kief is ready; it should have a strong aromatic scent.
Place Cannabis or Kief on a plate and microwave it for 1,5 – 3 minutes, depending on how much you need to decarb.
The Chemistry of Decarboxylation
Decarboxylation is the chemical process of removing a carboxyl group from an organic compound and releasing carbon dioxide (CO2). The carbon atom adjacent to the carboxyl group becomes a double-bonded oxygen atom during the decarb process.
Cannabis decarboxylation happens when dried Cannabis buds or Kief are heated to about 220 degrees Fahrenheit for around 30-60 minutes. This process converts THCA into THC, CBDA, to CBD, removing the acids and breaking down the molecule into a more stable, digestible form.
Cannabis contains terpenes (complex odoriferous hydrocarbons) responsible for the characteristic smell associated with this specific genus of plants. Terpenes are decarboxylated when heated at precise temperatures for a controlled period.
Trichomes – THC Factories
Trichomes are the resin glands covering the Cannabis plants’ leaves, flowers, stems, and calyxes. These glands produce the active ingredients in Cannabis, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are synthesized by enzymes called Diacylglycerol lipases (DAGLs). And these enzymes work in both the flower and leaf of the Cannabis plant. This is why THC is also found in other parts of the Cannabis plant, not just on the surface.
Trichomes are tiny protrusions on the Cannabis plant where THC and other cannabinoids are produced. When scientists examine a trichome under a microscope, they can see the dark spots where these compounds accumulate to form crystals.
As the trichome heads age, the hairs will go from milky white to an amber color. This is a good indication that the plant has reached its maturity and is ready for harvest.
One can remove the trichomes through physical or mechanical separation. You can achieve this by shaking the flower in a sieve; what falls through is Kief.
FAQ - Decarbing Kief?
To decarboxylate Cannabis in an apartment, you need to place your Cannabis on a cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet in a preheated oven set at 220° Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Refer to our step-by-step decarb method here.
There are a few ways to decarboxylate Cannabis at home, but it’s essential to use an accurate temperature, so you don’t end up burning the Cannabis or releasing too much CO2.
Suppose you have an unreliable oven with an inaccurate temperature gauge. In that case, I suggest using a slow cooker because it will deliver consistent heat without the risk of burning or releasing CO2 too quickly. It may even conceal any unwanted smells.
Decarboxylation does not produce the same Cannabis aromas as one would expect.
I personally enjoy the lingering earthy, piney scent.
However, if you are cautious of any smells, you can burn incense or a scented candle. Working in a well-ventilated area is also recommended.
CBD is abundant in certain strains of Cannabis and Hemp plants. The compound has several health benefits, including relieving pain and inflammation.
CBD decarboxylation removes a carboxyl group from CBD acid or CDBA, converting it to CBD.
Decarboxylated CBD does not cause any psychoactive effects making it an excellent addition for those seeking relief from chronic pain and inflammation without the high associated with other THC dominant products.
Kief is a fine powder containing the trichomes that have been scraped off the flowers of Cannabis plants. This powder can be collected by rubbing the flowers against a screen or sieve or scraping them off with a Kief Scraper Barr.
Collecting Kief is a simple process. You need to use a screen, grinder, and kief collector.
First, you need to get your screen and put it in the grinder. Next, you should load the ground Cannabis into the grinder to collect some kief on the screen. After that, you should shake it upside down to let all of the collected Kief fall onto the kief collector.
You can use a variety of different methods to store decarbed Kief. The most popular way is to put the Kief in an airtight container and freeze it. Another popular method is putting the decarbed Kief in an airtight container such as a Mason Jar away for light in a cool, dry place.
Passive decarboxylation occurs when Cannabis is cooked with heat but not directly exposed. This is why Cannabis Brownies are so potent (even if not adequately decarboxylated); the THCA in the Cannabis is slowly converted to psychoactive THC as the Cannabis comes into contact with heat from the oven.
However, I would advise that you fully Decarb your Weed before making Edibles. See our easy Cannabis Brownie Recipe Here.
Scientific papers: Methods of Decarbing Kief