Bring The Heat: Cannabinoid Decarboxylation and Boiling Temperatures
We’ve talked before about what decarboxylation is, and its significance in getting the most effectiveness out of your medical cannabis products. To recap, decarboxylation is the degradation of non-psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) into psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Decarboxylation occurs either as THCA deteriorates slowly over time, or upon the introduction of heat to remove carbon dioxide (known in this case as a “carboxyl group”) from the THCA molecule.
As we said before, most patients transform their THCA to THC (although THCA itself has a number of known health benefits) by way of their lighter, match, or their vaporizer’s heating element. However, for those who want to administer activated THC without inhalation, decarbing your raw flower for ingestion (edibles, capsules, etc.) or infusion (into topicals, etc.) couldn’t be easier, as long as you have access to a kitchen.
- Pre-heat your oven to 240-250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grind your raw cannabis until it can be evenly spread over parchment paper on a baking tray.
- Once your oven has reached 225 degrees, place the baking tray with evenly spread cannabis in, and wait about 30 minutes. Observe the color of your cannabis as it turns to a toasted brown or dark green, and make sure to watch to prevent burning!
- After that time has passed, allow your cannabis to cool, and use as you wish!
However, that’s not the full story of how heat brings THC into your body. If you’re smoking or vaporizing your cannabis, THC isn’t entering your lungs simply because it’s been decarboxylated; it’s coming into your lungs because it’s been evaporated.
While THCA starts to decarboxylate at around 220 degrees, it won’t reach your lungs until it’s vaporized, which won’t occur until it reaches a higher temperature. There’s currently some debate as to what the precise boiling point of THC really is. Some estimate that THC evaporates at about 315 degrees, while others believe that after accounting for typical air pressure, THC’s boiling point may actually be around 445 degrees Fahrenheit.
For those of you who prefer to smoke your cannabis, this may not mean very much, since the butane lighter you likely use to light your medicine will reach temperatures that far exceed the decarboxylation and evaporation points of your cannabinoids.
However, those of you who prefer to vaporize your flower may find this information useful, as certain vaporizing units have adjustable temperature controls that allow patients to target certain cannabinoids and terpenes for inhalation at specific settings, as well as control the taste and smoothness of their medicine’s vapor. We’ll provide some additional links below for you to do a little more research towards finding the right vaporization temperature for your needs and preferences.
We hope we’re able to make your next dose of medicine even better than the last!
Medical Jane – Intro To Vaporization
Leafly – What is Decarboxylation, and Why Does Your Cannabis Need It?
Volcano Vaporizer Temperature Chart
High Times – Studying The Vaporizer: Insight Into Proper Vape Use
High Times – What Is The Real Boiling Point Of THC?