Have you ever eaten a pot brownie that didn’t taste very well? This often happens to people who are new to baking with cannabis or get edibles from friends who are also novices at baking with the herb.
New cannabis home bakers who haven’t done enough research often neglect to follow vital steps in preparing the bud for being used in food. One of these critical steps is decarboxylation, commonly known as “decarbing.”
Decarbing helps release the active ingredients in cannabis. It is necessary regardless of how you intend on consuming your ganja, but especially for creating edibles. The process of making cannabis butter or oil can disturb the chemical structure of weed if it is not first properly decarbed.
Decarbing your weed isn’t complicated, but it can be tricky if you don’t have access to an oven.
This article will explain what decarbing is and how to do it properly in a microwave.
First Things First: What Is Decarbing?
Decarboxylation is the process that converts THCA into THC. You can read its scientific explanation, but for now, we’ll stick to layman’s terms.
Right off the plant, the cannabis flower contains THCA, a non-psychoactive substance. It doesn’t affect the areas of your brain that cause you to get high. To change that, you need to change the chemical structure of THCA, and heating it is the best way to do that.
When you expose cannabis to the correct temperature for a suitable period, the THCA will be converted into TCH. When you smoke decarbed cannabis or eat cannabis oil or butter made from decarbed weed is when you get high.
How Is Decarbing Done?
Cannabis decarbs naturally on its own when placed in air-tight jars and allowed to cure for several weeks or months. This “curing” process is considered the most natural and effective way to get the job done. It’s said to preserve the most terpenes and maintain THC content.
Understandably, not everyone has that much time, so they usually opt for the oven method.
The widely accepted advice for decarbing cannabis in an oven goes something like this:
- Place cannabis on a baking sheet.
- Set the oven’s temperature to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Put the baking sheet in for approximately 30-40 minutes.
This low, slow heating activates the THC without burning away the other beneficial components of cannabis. Baking it at too high a temperature or for too long could ruin the bud, taking away its potency.
What If I Don’t Have an Oven?
If you don’t have an oven, you can still decarb your cannabis quickly using a microwave. This may seem like a risky proposition, especially if you’ve never done it before, and to a large extent, it is. Microwave decarbing should be more of a last resort method than one you use on a regular basis.
Why Microwave Decarbing Is Tricky
Microwave ovens work by producing waves of energy that cause the liquids in food to vibrate and heat up. While this gets your food cooked in no time flat, it isn’t always the best method for creating a delicious meal.
Food doesn’t respond to microwaves as it does to oven heat. For example, you can’t brown butter or crisp a crust in the microwave because it is an entirely different cooking method.
For the same reason, it is difficult to adequately decarb weed in the microwave. The biggest culprit is uneven heating. Most of us have experienced cooking a frozen dinner or pizza rolls just to find that they are blazing hot on the outside and still cold or even frozen on the inside when they’re done.
If you’re not careful, this can happen to your cannabis as well. It can end up singed or even burned through if microwaved improperly.
While microwaving is not by any means the best way to decarb weed, it is a method that others have used in a pinch, and that can also work for you if you follow some basic guidelines.
Tips for a Successful Microwave Decarb
Break it down. Break your cannabis up into small pieces that are equal in size. You can even grind them a bit if you want. The microwave decarb process needs to be quick to avoid burning your bud.
Large pieces of cannabis will take longer to heat through, increasing the possibility of overheating the outer portions.
Know your power. Are you acquainted with your microwave’s wattage and power settings? Microwave strength is measured in watts. Most regular home microwave units are rated between 700 and 1100 watts.
The higher the wattage determines how fast your microwave oven will heat food. If you have a higher wattage unit, you will need to put your cannabis in for a shorter time.
In addition, most microwave ovens allow you to choose your power setting; most commonly, they allow you to pick a power level between one and ten.
Many people don’t bother to use these settings because they aren’t sure what they’re for, but they can be a big help when you want your food to heat evenly.
Use time wisely. You do not want to overheat your marijuana! If you’re heating it on the regular microwave setting in a standard 1,000-watt unit, you should put it in for only about 60 seconds.
For half power (power level five on most microwaves), you can let it go for about 2 minutes. Half power is recommended because it heats more slowly and evenly.
Always evaluate. When the heating cycle is over, take your weed out and inspect it. Use your eyes and your nose to determine if the decarb was successful. If you can smell your cannabis strongly, but it isn’t red-hot or singed, then you got the result you wanted.
You may need to put it back in for another round in some cases. If so, keep the cycles around 10 seconds, and stop to inspect after each cycle.
If you find yourself without access to an oven and need to know how to decarb weed in the microwave, use your eyes, nose, and common sense to protect it from overheating. You can use your decarbed cannabis for all kinds of delicious edibles. Enjoy!
I’m an avid gardener and cannabis enthusiast. You can usually find me in my garden caring for my plants or at my computer crafting helpful blogs for my readers.