There are a lot of YouTube videos on using your Instant Pot pressure cooker to decarb cannabis. Because it uses pressure, the Instant Pot can reach temperatures of 245 degrees Fahrenheit before water boils. It maintains this temperature evenly during the period it is pressure cooking. Some bright cannabis fans discovered that you can pop your weed into a mason jar, screw the lid “finger-tight,” add 2 cups of water, and cook it for 40 minutes. This heating (or decarboxylation) converts the non-psychoactive THCA to the psychoactive delta 9 THC. While this process works for THC (and also for CBG) it does not produce enough heat to decarb CBD.
Toasted Blonde has one of the more entertaining videos showing how the Instant Pot decarb works for THC.
What about converting CBDA to CBD? Cannabidiol (CBD) requires either higher temperatures or longer decarb times. The makers of the Ardent Nova decarboxylator recommend running the decarb cycle twice if you are decarbing CBD hemp flower instead of THC marijuana. The same principle works for the Instant Pot. You decarb the hemp flower for 80 minutes instead of 40 minutes. (Ardent just announced a new version with different cycles for THC and CBD – and they recommend using the THC cycle if you are decarbing CBG-dominant cannabis.)
If you are using the Instant Pot to infuse CBD oil you can decarb for 40 minutes, wait for the flower to cool, add MCT oil to the mason jar, and run the Instant Pot for an additional 40 minutes. By the end of the process you will have a home-made CBD oil that will need to be filtered through a coffee filter or a commercial filter. It will probably taste more herbal and possibly more smoky than the CBD oil/tincture you buy.
Decarbing cannabis on a baking sheet in the oven can be a smelly process no matter how many smell barriers you erect. The Instant Pot method only smells a little bit. That’s another major advantage. If you have an Instant Pot then you should really try this method.
There is a lot of information online about how to decarb THC flower (marijuana). There is less information about decarbing CBD hemp flower. There is almost no information about decarbing CBG hemp flower. If you want to add CBG to your edibles or topicals you will need to decarb it first. This heat converts CBGA to CBG. CBGA may have its own health benefits, but like most raw cannabinoids it has not been studied a much as its activated molecule.
We do have some hints about decarb temps for CBG. A 2016 study looked at different decarb temperatures for different cannabinoids. Hidden deep within the study is a very interesting table that compares THC, CBD, and CBG when heated to different temperatures. The researchers found that 20 minutes at 130 degrees Celsius (260 degrees F) were sufficient to convert almost all of the CBGA to CBG. 40 minutes at 110 degrees C (230 degrees F) did almost as well, producing slightly less CBG from the material.
It would be reasonable to assume that 30 to 40 minutes at 240 to 260 degrees F would convert CBG hemp flower into active CBG to be used in edibles and topicals. Interestingly, this is the same temperature that some people are using when they decarb in a mason jar inside an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker.
Why would you want to decarb CBG flower? CBG has health benefits and it seems to intensify the effects of CBD when the two are taken together. Edibles are a way to take cannabinoids as medication and avoid any possible damage to the lungs. The effects also last longer when the medication is taken orally.
If you are interested in edibles there is one really easy way to get started. The easiest edibles are “firecrackers.” These consist of graham crackers, peanut butter and cannabis. Chocolate graham crackers work well, and I’ve also seen recipes that use Nutella instead of peanut butter. If you are using decarbed hemp cannabis (cannabis with <.3% THC) you can probably start with a level teaspoon of decarbed “trim” or “shake” plant material. You can also use ground flower, but start with a little less. If you are using high THC cannabis (marijuana) you should definitely start with less, and eat only a small portion of the resulting product – waiting at least an hour to gauge the effects. (I haven’t personally tried this with high THC cannabis.)
Cover one side of the graham cracker with smooth peanut butter. Sprinkle the cannabis onto the peanut butter and close the graham cracker carefully. As long as you decarbed the cannabis first, you are ready to eat!
A firecracker made with chocolate graham crackers and peanut butter.
If the cannabis is not decarbed then you need to heat the firecracker in an oven or toaster oven for around 20 minutes. Wrap the little sandwiches in aluminum foil and place in a pre-heated oven. The temperature should be at least 300 degrees but not over 350.
Edibles can take between 1 and 2 hours to reach full effects and the effects last longer than inhaled cannabis. With CBD you won’t feel much, but possibly a deep feeling of relaxation, sometimes referred to as a “body high.” You may need to experiment with how much plant material to use. Even decarbed hemp flower contains some THC along with the CBD. It’s possible to become impaired (high) eating firecrackers made with hemp if you use too much.
You can even use ABV (already been vaped) plant material in a firecracker – but you will need to use more of it. When you vaped your cannabis you heated it, but you probably didn’t evaporate all of the CBD or THC. Using this ABV material in an edible allows you to get the rest.
Wonder what would happen if you eat hemp flower or marijuana bud? Probably not what you think. The THC and CBD in cannabis emerge only after it is heated. Raw, unheated cannabis contains mostly CBDA and THCA. They are in an “acid form” and not available as THC or CBD to the body. (You won’t get high or get some of the benefits of CBD.) Scientists are discovering that the cannabinoids THCA and CBDA do have some benefits of their own. CBDA is a COX-2 inhibitor, suggesting that it might be helpful for arthritis and pain.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Decarboxylation can a stinky process. You may want to use a shallow pan covered with foil, or a decarb box – a silicon box that seals in the smell. (An oven thermometer is included for calibrating your oven.)
Preheat oven. Wait until oven is fully preheated before proceeding.
Break up flowers and buds into smaller pieces with your hands. There is no need to grind first.
Place the material in a pan or the decarb box.
Bake on the center rack
When time is up, remove the material from oven. Let cool completely, or chill in freezer 10-15 minutes.
The Magical Butter people recommend the following temperatures:
Once you have decarbed you will notice that the material smells different. It is now activated and you can bake it into brownies, extract it into tincture, infuse it into butter or coconut oil. CBD and THC are absorbed slowly, so be sure not to make the rookie mistake of “trying just a little more” when you don’t feel something right away. You may have to wait as long as an hour or two for the effects to kick in. The effects may last longer too.