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How to Decarb Weed (Sous Vide, Mason Jar, Toaster Oven, Oil & More)

Decarboxylation, despite being a process surrounded by misinformation and myths, is an integral process involved with cannabis consumption of any kind.

To put it simply–the science behind decarbing is just a function of time and temperature. Heat the material, let it “cook” for a specific amount of time, and your raw cannabis is transformed from simple plant material into a potent ingredient or treatment for your favorite consumption methods. Decarbed cannabis can be used to make dispensary grade topicals, smokable herbs, tinctures, gummies, brownies, smoothies, cooking oils, cannabutters, and more.

Though partial decarboxylation can occur when simply allowing the raw plant material to dry, the results are minimal and provide a lackluster experience compared to any modern decarboxylation process. The quickest, easiest method of decarboxylation is smoking or vaporizing, which makes cannabinoids instantly available for absorption through inhalation.

Despite their popularity, the most simple methods aren’t as efficient as they could be and–while better than simply drying–result in a waste of raw cannabis, as well as the potential THC and CBD available. This has led to the development of several different decarboxylation methods, among which we are proud to include the Ardent NOVA decarboxylator.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Here’s How to Decarb Weed (6 Decarboxylation Methods)

1. Oven Decarboxylation

The oven decarboxylation method is among one of the most common household decarboxylation processes because it only requires basic tools usually found in most homes.

What do you need

  • An oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Spice grinder

How to

Pre-heat your oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a sheet of parchment paper over your baking sheet, and loosely grind your cannabis over top. Place your baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and remove it after 40 minutes.

Our research with MCR Labs shows that when decarbing flower with a max potential of 18.1% THC in the oven, the max potential for conversion is 15.3%. The oven method is an effective way to convert tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) into activated, bio-available THC and CBD, but either fails to fully activate all of the cannabinoids in your plant material, or burns some off due to the fluctuation and variability of oven temperatures. You may experience strong aromas through your decarboxylation process while using the oven method, so this method isn’t advisable for those who need to be discreet.

2. Mason Jar Decarboxylation

Mason jar decarboxylation is a convenient and discreet decarboxylation method, although it takes an extra watchful eye, since it’s performed using an open flame, and uses glass, which can be sensitive to temperature changes, making it potentially dangerous if you’re not careful.

What do you need?

  • Mason jar
  • A pot
  • Water

How to

Roughly grind your plant material and place it inside your mason jar before tightly sealing. Fill up your pot with water about halfway, place the jar inside, and heat on your stovetop at low/medium heat. If the jar is placed in the pot when the water is too hot, the jar runs the risk of cracking or exploding. Let the jar and water simmer in the pot for about 90 minutes, being sure that the water doesn’t evaporate throughout the decarbing process.

This is a very effective method for those who need a discreet decarb process, as the smell is generally contained within the air-tight mason jar. The mason jar method isn’t the most precise decarb method, since the temperature under an open flame has many variables. You can use an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature remains consistent. The temperature will never go above 220 degrees Fahrenheit – that of boiling water.

3. Sous Vide Decarb

The sous vide decarb method uses water and controlled heat to decarb weed. When using the sous vide decarboxylation method you preserve terpenes and maximize flavor in your end result product.

What do you need?

  • A Sous Vide machine, otherwise known as an immersion circulator
  • A large pot/tub to use with your machine
  • A vacuum sealer or freezer bag with a sealable zipper

How to

When using the sous vide method, you’re able to decarb cannabis in a water bath. Fill your tub with warm tap water, place your immersion circulator inside, and set it to 203 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your ground cannabis in a vacuum sealed bag, and leave it in the water bath with the immersion circulator for 90 minutes. Remove the vacuum sealed bag, and let it cool for 15-20 minutes.

Since your plant material remains in an air-tight container throughout the decarboxylation process, you also experience very few invasive cannabis aromas, and prevent the evaporation of cannabinoids, just like with the mason jar method.

4. Toaster Oven Decarb

Toaster oven decarb is possible too!

What do you need?

  • Baking tray/aluminum foil
  • Parchment paper

How to

Set your toaster oven to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, and place your ground up plant material on a baking tray or aluminum foil in the oven for 60 minutes. Through our research with MCR Labs, we found that with cannabis flower that started with a max potential of 18.1% THC, the toaster oven method provided a max potential of 12.2% activation. A significant loss. This decarb method can also bring cannabis aromas throughout your home.

5. Making Cannabis Butter

Once you have your decarboxylated cannabis in hand, you can easily make cannabutter using very few materials.

What do you need?

  • Butter
  • Decarbed cannabis
  • Ardent Nova decarboxylator or saucepan
  • Water (if using saucepan method)
  • Cheesecloth or Ardent Frainer

How to

Add one cup of water and one cup of butter to your saucepan and simmer on low. Add finely ground cannabis to your mixture and let it simmer for 2-3 hours, at a temperature between 160-200 degrees Fahrenheit, adding water over time to prevent the butter from burning. Another method allows you to simply put the infusion sleeve inside the Ardent Nova, add your decarbed plant material, add your butter, and run the Nova for one additional cycle.

Strain out your plant material by using a cheese cloth or the Ardent Frainer, and refrigerate your mixture, removing any settled water once its cooled.

6. Using Ardent Nova ***

The Ardent Nova is a precision decarboxylator, maximizing the potential of your plant material by delivering full (>97%) decarboxylation during each cycle, with the simple press of a button.

What do you need?

  • The Ardent Nova
  • (optional) MCT, olive, or coconut oil to infuse with

Our research with MCR Labs showed that with a max potential of 18.1% THC in our flower, the Nova provided a max activation potential of 17.9%. Your plant material comes out of the Nova with a golden brown hue after a period of time ranging from 90 to 120 minutes, depending on the density and quantity of your materials. No need to set dials or monitor settings, since the Nova is a one button system that turns from red to green when each cycle is complete, and automatically turns off.

What is a decarboxylator? Well, in terms of the Nova, it’s easily the most simple process there is to decarb weed since there’s no close monitoring or switching between lower temperatures and high temperatures required. You can easily decarboxylate cannabis flower, concentrates, kief, and other plant materials in the Nova, allowing you to make your anti-inflammatory cannabis edibles right at home.

What is the Best Decarboxylation Method?

There are many ways to decarboxylate cannabis at home, but the best decarboxylation method is to use the Ardent Nova. With more than 97% activation it’s the most cost effective and simple way to make dispensary grade marijuana medicine with Max THC activation without unreliable baking methods.

FAQs on How to Decarboxylate Weed

Does decarboxylation smell?

It can, depending on which method is used. The least invasive methods are the mason jar, sous vide, and Ardent Nova decarboxylator methods.

How long does it take to decarboxylate the cannabis?

Each method varies, meaning a full decarboxylation can occur in a window anywhere between 40 minutes and two hours.

What can you do with decarboxylated weed?

The possibilities are endless. Decaboxylated cannabis can be used to make tinctures, edibles, and topicals of any kind. It can also be smoked. We’ve created a quick list of ideas for you here.

Want to know how to decarb weed the BEST way? We use 6 methods including oil, mason jar, oven (& toaster oven) & sous vide decarb & find out!

Decarboxylation: How to Decarb Your Weed

by Sirius Fourside

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction: What Is Decarboxylation?
  • Why Is Decarbing Important?
  • Using Small Pieces of Weed vs Grinding Your Weed
  • How to Decarboxylate Your Weed
    • Natural Method (Slow!)
    • Baking Sheet
    • Oven Bag
    • Mason Jar
    • Ardent Nova (Decarb machine)

What Is Decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that can be used to make cannabis edibles potent. The sciency-sounding word describes the process of turning THCA, which isn’t psychoactive, into the THC we all know and love. Since cannabis typically contains THCA instead of THC before it’s heated or smoked, decarboxylation is an essential step when processing cannabis for eating. The regular cooking process typically isn’t enough to decarb cannabis fully, and it won’t happen naturally in your stomach.

That’s why in most recipes for cannabis edible or tinctures, decarboxylation – or the informal verb, “decarbing” – is the first step you take.

Don’t worry, it’s simple. Decarbing simply means subjecting your weed to high temperatures (

250°F) over a period of time before using it in your recipe.

These cannabis buds are about to get decarbed

When you smoke or vaporize cannabis, the heat of the fire/vaporizer makes the decarboxylation process happen. The heat turns the THCA in your cannabis to THC, you inhale that THC and feel its effects.

When you decarb, it forces the same transformation to happen, yet leaves all that good stuff on the bud so you can eat it or cook it into something like butter or oil.

Did you know? Heat isn’t the only way decarboxylation happens. Even if you never heat your cannabis, the process of decarbing also occurs naturally over time at regular temperatures. So older cannabis is often already decarboxylated.

Why Is Decarbing Important?

Why decarb? Because decarbing is what makes edibles work! Decarboxylation could be seen as the most important step in making edibles since it’s the process that makes your weed actually feel like weed when you eat it.

It may seem counterintuitive to “cook” your weed by itself. Wouldn’t that burn off all the good stuff and make it less potent? No, it won’t reduce the potency as long as you follow the instructions in this tutorial.

In fact, it’s the opposite. If your buds are not decarbed before being eaten, you won’t feel the psychoactive effects of your weed. You could eat a whole ounce of raw bud and only be left with a breath that smells like a dispensary!

Break buds up to prepare them for decarboxylation

Small Pieces of Weed vs. Grinding Your Weed

There’s a bit of debate about how to prepare your bud before decarboxylation. But in our opinion, as long as you break it up a little bit there isn’t a whole lot of difference.

Small Pieces

Breaking your weed into smaller pieces means it all gets baked a lot more evenly than if you had used whole nugs. The downside to breaking your weed up by hand as opposed to grinding is that it’s slightly more time consuming since grinding can be done with machines like a food processor.

Don’t get scared off though, it’s easy to do. If you have enough finger mobility to break up broccoli florets with your hands, you can break up your bud. It only takes a few minutes and it’s free!

I used my fingers to break this weed up into small pieces before decarboxylation

Grinding

A huge benefit to grinding up your weed instead of breaking it up with your hands is that you can use a machine like a food processor to do all the work for you. You just put some bud in, hold a button for a few seconds and dump out the finished product!

This is the method I typically use because it’s a bit easier to do than breaking up nugs. It’s hard to mess up because you can’t really grind your bud too small/fine. I’ve made edibles with weed ground so fine it ends up as a powder. Some growers claim that grinding the weed can cause it to lose potency, but I never noticed that in my experiments.

You can use a food processor to save time compared to breaking weed up by hand

I had this older model food processor for almost 6 years. I miss ya, pal.

However, there is a downside to grinding: it’s easier to lose material the finer your weed gets. You can lose some herb to the sides of the grinder, some in transferring containers or some in the container you use for decarbing. If you’re concerned with saving every last bit of bud, you might want to break buds up by hand. That being said, you can save the vast majority of your ground-up material by just making sure to be a little careful about collecting and moving your weed.

Extra Note: Some devices that help make edibles (like the Magical Butter Machine) suggest that you don’t grind up your weed before using it in their recipes. So, if you’re thinking about using a Magical Butter Machine, break your buds up by hand. If you’re going to make edibles without a machine, grinding is a solid solution.

How to Decarb Your Weed: Overview of Methods

Alright, let’s get into details. We’ll go through the popular methods of decarbing, how to do them, what supplies you’ll need, and grade them based on convenience and how much smell they make.

Natural Decarb (Time Method)

Did you know time turns THCA to THC? Weed that sits around long enough decarbs on its own. Just wait for a long, long time. In all honesty, this method is so time-consuming and inconsistent that it isn’t really a viable technique for making edibles. That being said, sometimes it works out. Nebula and I grow a lot of weed, and once we had a particularly high-yielding harvest sitting in jars in our cupboard for over a year as we slowly went through it. After a year, the weed was still fantastic to smoke, but had clearly gone through changes as it had turned into a rich golden-brown color.

We could’ve added it directly to food and felt psychoactive effects without decarbing. But if we had used that weed for edibles, we still would have decarbed it separately just to ensure all the THCA had turned to THC.

Convenience: 1/10
Smell Containment: 10/10

  • Weed
  • Time
  • Wait a long time, or use a different method if you want your edibles in less than 12+ months.

There are better ways to decarb than just waiting!

Baking Sheet

This is the most common method growers use to decarb their weed because many people already have all the materials they need to do it without needing to make a trip to the store.

It’s also worth noting that this is by far the smelliest method for decarbing. If you’re going to use this method, just know that your home is going to be flooded by an unignorable, pungent, unmistakably weedy smell. Running a fan with an attached carbon filter helps a lot, but it’s still going to get funky.

Convenience: 7/10
Smell Containment: 1/10 (smelliest method)

  • Oven
  • Baking Sheet
  • Foil or Parchment paper (no wax paper)
  • Weed
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  3. Place your broken-up or ground cannabis on the baking sheet
  4. Bake cannabis for 30 minutes
  5. The cannabis should change to a brownish color

This is an ounce of cannabis before being decarbed on a baking sheet…

…and this is the same ounce of weed after being decarbed on a baking sheet at 250°F for 30 minutes.

Oven Bags

The oven bag (or turkey bag) method works just like the baking sheet but with a bit less work. You don’t need to line a baking sheet this way, and collecting the finished material is a piece of cake. Also, the bag doesn’t get extremely hot to the touch, so in that way, it’s safer than using something like a glass mason jar. There’s also much less smell than if you just bake the cannabis on a baking sheet.

The downside is that this method takes having something that probably isn’t in your house right now.

Convenience: 8/10
Smell Containment: 6/10

  • Oven
  • Baking Sheet
  • Oven bags (sometimes called turkey bags)
  • Weed
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Place your broken-up or ground cannabis in the oven bag
  3. Tie a tight knot in the oven bag
    1. This keeps the weed and smell inside the bag
  4. Place the bag on a baking sheet (no foil/parchment needed)
  5. Bake for 30 minutes
  6. The cannabis should change to a brownish color

Place your broken-up cannabis in the oven bag, tie a tight knot, and bake for 30 minutes at 250°F on a baking sheet

Mason Jars

Glass mason jars are great, aren’t they?

They’re great for curing cannabis, they can be vacuum sealed, they’re an amazing tool for decarboxylation, and you probably already have at least one in your house if you grow cannabis. Additionally, they’re pretty darn good at keeping the weed smell contained; even better than oven bags and WAY better than just baking the weed on a baking sheet.

Convenience: 8/10
Smell Containment: 8/10 (screw the lid on tight to keep the smell in)

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Place your broken-up or ground cannabis in the mason jar
  3. Screw the top on tight. Real tight!
    • A tighter seal means less weed smell will escape the jar
  4. Carefully place the mason jar on your oven rack. The jar should not be touching the heating element or sides of your oven.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes until cannabis changes to a brownish color.
  6. Important: The glass will be very hot when it comes out of the oven! Make sure to use oven mitts when you touch the jar and give it time to cool before opening.

The left is untreated weed and the right shows weed that has been decarbed in a mason jar at 250°F for 30 minutes

Ardent Nova

I didn’t even realize this was a thing until a reader wrote to me about it. The Ardent Nova is a machine with a singular purpose: decarbing weed. It’s a set-and-forget style system, meaning you can load it up, start it, and walk away. While you’re gone, the Ardent Nova will slowly and thoroughly decarb your weed and stop applying heat as soon as it senses the job is done. No need for an oven because it plugs directly into the wall. Plus it makes almost no smell whatsoever; I had to put my nose right up to it to smell anything.

Downsides? It takes longer to decarb your buds than the oven-based methods (up to 2 hours instead of the normal 30 minutes), you can only do an ounce of bud at a time (maximum), and it’s expensive ($190).

However, after trying out the Ardent Nova, I was converted. I live in a condo in a populous city, so my neighbors are pretty close to me. The total lack of smell was enough to make me a fan of the Ardent Nova all by itself, but being able to start the process and go run errands without worry sealed the deal.

Convenience: 9/10 (would be a 10 if not for the price)
Smell Containment: 10/10

  • Ardent Nova Decarboxylator
  • Weed (1oz maximum at a time)

First, consult the instructions that come with the device. Here are the general steps:

  1. Plug in your Ardent Nova
    • The light on the front will turn green
  2. Take off the top and purple seal underneath
  3. Take out the metal container and load it up with weed, up to an ounce at a time
  4. Put the metal container back in, put the seal on top (it fits loosely), and replace the lid
  5. Press the button on the front of the Ardent Nova
    • The light on the front will turn red
  6. Come back in roughly 2 hours (or whenever you feel like, it stops automatically)
    • The light will turn green again when it’s done
  7. It takes about 2 hours to decarb a full ounce

After decarbing weed in the Ardent Nova, this is what the buds looked like inside

There you have it! You now have a handful of effective methods to decarb your weed and get ready to make butter, oil, gummies, tinctures, infused food, etc.

If you’re not sure what to do with your newly decarbed cannabis, butter is the best option in my opinion. Cannabutter is super versatile and can be used in hundreds of dishes that use butter or just as a topping on a “regular” dish (like a baked potato).

I ended up decarbing more than 6oz of weed while writing this, so stay tuned and we’ll have some great ways for you to use your decarbed weed coming in the next few weeks!

If you're looking to make edibles/tinctures/cannabutter/etc., decarbing your weed is the first step! Come inside and we'll teach you what you need to know!