Decarboxylating cannabis- How is THC Formed

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Decarboxylating Marijuana – The Internal Process of THC Formation

Decarboxylating Marijuana – The Internal Process of THC Formation

Chlorophyll collects light hitting the leaves of cannabis plants. The light is stored as energy, part of which is stored to use later, and part is used to split H20 into O2 and H, oxygen and hydrogen, respectively.

This process is how plants ‘exhale’ oxygen. Plants also absorb CO2 through the reaction in photosynthesis called carboxylation. This CO2 combines with free hydrogen to create carboxylic acids.

Carboxylic acids are made up of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen: the most relevant of these acids to growers and cultivators is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. Cannabidiol and Cannabinol, two other active ingredients in the plant are also made of carboxylic acids. There are a variety of other acids which have various purposes, but these three are the most relevant for most growers.

The effect of cannabinoids

The effect of cannabinoids

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly called THC) has been found to have some beneficial health effects, but is not the active ingredient sought by smokers.

It doesn’t provide a “high”. While the plant is still living and growing, a large percentage of its THC remains in THCA form, which is one of the primary reasons that plants must be dried and cured to have strong drug effects. Extra CO2 molecules strongly inhibit the potency of the plant.

The THC itself is formed inside the plant through the process of decarboxylation. As suggested above, this is the removal of the extra C02 molecule.

This is one of the primary reasons why curing is such a vital part of the process of cannabis harvest. The dehydration and heat directly affect the conversion of THCA into THC, as well as determining the presence of other cannabinoids. Proper decarboxylation helps ensure the highest final yield of THC. Make sure to download my free marijuana grow bible at this link and grow like a pro!

Curing cannabis

Curing cannabis

Moisture is the most important aspect of the cannabis curing process. To begin curing, cannabis should be dried until most of the moisture has been evaporated. The best place for this is somewhere dry, dim, and cool. Good circulation is also essential.

The plant must be dried as quickly as possible. If it remains wet for an extended period of time, a grower risks the invasion of fungus and mold, which will irreparably damage the plant. Stay vigilant in the early steps of drying the plant; one of the most common mistakes is to allow a plant to rot by letting it stay moist for too long.

After the plant has dried entirely on the surface, it will still retain moisture on the inside. The next step is to place the plant matter in a sealed container and leave it. The moisture will disperse throughout the plant and rehydrate. Some growers refer to this stage of the process as sweating because moisture can condense on the interior of the container.

During the sweating stage, it’s imperative to open the jar intermittently and re-circulate the air inside the jar. This will help stave off the previously mentioned mold and fungus. Depending on the moisture of the plant matter, it may be necessary to remove the plant entirely and repeat the drying process before continuing with ‘sweating’. These two steps should be repeated as necessary until the plant matter has dried appropriately.

Decarboxylating cannabis

Decarboxylating marijuana

The heating process automatically occurs when a plant is burned, vaporized, or smoked, but for tinctures or edibles, it’s still important to make sure decarboxylation has occurred. It’s best to do this in two separate steps, in order to ensure a high quality finished product.

First, the plant matter should be broken up as much as possible. This is a basic physics concept. Smaller particle size means that there is more exposed moisture for air circulation and heat to take advantage of in the dehydration process. The smaller the pieces, the greater the surface area, and the easier and more efficient it becomes for heating. The key here is to first ensure proper dehydration of the plant matter without burning or scorching it.

It should be warmed to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes or until totally dry. Although some sources will suggest a higher temperature, it’s valuable to keep the temperature below the boiling point.

As long as the plant still contains moisture, the water can boil and damage the cells, which will destroy the integrity and appearance of the plant. Additionally, a lower temperature lowers the risk of mistakes, because there is less worry about forgetting about it. Remember, the first step is to dehydrate the plant. Don’t burn it or let it get too hot!

After the cannabis plant matter has totally dried, there is less risk in letting the temperature rise above the boiling point. Once there is no water in the plant material, raise the ambient temperature up 25 to 40 degrees, to 225 or 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the plant sit at this temperature for about an hour. This process will help to accelerate the decarboxylation and conversion of THCA to THC. This step requires the most care: it’s important not to let the plant ‘cook’ for too long, and, above all, make sure that it isn’t being scorched or burned at all.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you will have decarboxylated and cured your cannabis and it is ready for whatever purpose you have planned.

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments or questions below and don’t forget to download my free grow bible.

Robert

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Comment Section

24 thoughts on “Decarboxylating Marijuana – The Internal Process of THC Formation


By sara fernandez on 19 April 2015

Thank you for all your knowledge, i really learn alot from you!


By glenn on 22 April 2015

A lot… not a lot.


By Boyd Grant on 26 April 2015

“As long as the plant still contains moisture, the water can boil and damage the cells, which will destroy the integrity and appearance of the plant.” You have already done that when the cannabis was ground up. You are extracting the THC not trying to preserve the looks of the plant. Not sure what the author intended to say but clearly that wasn’t it.


By Bradley on 6 June 2015

Can i get some info on marijuana plant care



By samneedsasmokingfriend on 24 June 2015

awesome site dude. havent smoked for over 10 years but im going to take it up again. thanks for remind what wonders a simple plant can do


By nakednthewoods on 24 July 2015

I am growing with LEDs and know from experience the bud hairs will turn amber, and even brown, long before the tricomes on the leaves become cloudy or amber. That, my dear, is my concern. Is the condition of the tricomes on the leaves the most accurate tell as to when a particular bud is ready for harvest?


By Sust EE Nuff on 21 February 2017

Hi, i was talking to a light supplier and he was telling LED is no good for growing because the light spectrum’s are wrong, is this true or false.


By latewood on 28 July 2015

Absolutely. Although, I would say the trichomes on the bud, is what you want to look at. I am sure the leaves will be fairly close in color, though.

The only way to harvest exactly at the time, for the effect you want is to gauge the trichomes.

Best way to get information and support during your grow, is to join our support forum. Happy Growing 🙂


By jack on 1 August 2015

the info you supply is great. do you suggest heating my medicine when curing for the max THC

thanks jack


By latewood on 5 August 2015

No. Where did you get that info? You want to cure in a cool dark space with as low humidity as possible.


By dennis on 3 September 2015

robert i was wondering when to stop fertilizing my osh kosh is 42 inches high and starting to bud very hairy thanks again robert get site


By latewood on 4 September 2015

dennis,
When to stop applying nutrients is determined by the maturity of the “Trichomes. We monitor the Trichome production using a 60-100x pocket scope, jewelers loupe, etc. We want to see the perfect blend of: Clear, Cloudy, and Amber colors when viewing the Trichomes late in the bloom stage.

Once you achieve the desired balance, and feel that the plant is ready; You stop nutrients, and flush the plant for 1-2 weeks. Happy Growing 🙂


By JohnPaul on 14 November 2015

I’m not quite sure what you’re saying because when I get the perfect blend of: Clear, Cloudy, and Amber I harvest.
If you’re flushing for 2 weeks AFTER you have your Perfect Blend won’t that’be going past that?
If I have a strain with a 9-10 week flowering time I stop nutrients at about 8 weeks.


By latewood.ILGM on 16 November 2015

This is a matter of personal choice. Every grower applies his or her own belief as to what they see in the microscope. When you see what you perceive as the perfect balance of clear, cloudy, amber trichomes; You flush.

Don’t try to complicate this simple idea. New growers can read all they want to. New growers will not learn unless they view and experience results after making these decisions, on their own.

Nothing will take the place of personal experience. All we can do is point inquisitive growers in the right direction. Peace.lw


By c.sabourin on 10 March 2016

Am I overeading this or could the , Curing , be skipped , if, product was Decarboxylated , only , instead ? What difference would it make ?


By c.sabourin on 10 March 2016

Second question- If I grew Blueberry (fem.) , which can grow to 6 ft. , would be too tall for my space ( indoor ). Is it possible to trim them up to stay under 3 ft.,and yet produce their cabability .Crazy about the CBD and THC levels , not to mention the yield potential.


By Lynn Nichols on 20 February 2017

How do you keep plants short. Trying a tent for the first time, can’t find information on it. Had to bend.


By latewood_ILGM on 21 February 2017

Lynn,

It is always good to start with a plan for new grow environments. It sounds like you grew a plant in a tent until it got too high and you bent it over. That method works, and I usae it a lot

The more common method is called SCROG. We are in a trichome development article (off topic), so; I suggest you read Robert’s article on SCROG and then join our support forum where we have many friendly members and staff using this method and always willing to share the knowledge to lead you to a successful grow.

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