Decarboxilation is the term that describes the process we need to make THC readily available for consumption. Cannabis actually contains THCA, (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) an acid with the carboxylic group (COOH) attached. In its acid form, THC is not very active. It is only when the carboxyl group is removed that THC becomes psychoactive. This must be done through heat.
When cannabis is smoked, the THC is vapourized as the hot air is drawn past the unburned material through a joint, pipe or bong. The carboxyl group is released from the molecule as carbon dioxide and water vapor before they turn to gas at around 106*C (220*F). THC and other cannabinoids have a boiling point of between 180-200*C (355-392*F). So that means at 220*F the THCA molecules start to lose their extra carbon parts, these break off creating carbon dioxide, and leaving you with precious THC!
The good thing is you don’t have to smoke it to get the good stuff! It just has to be heated between the above temperatures to convert it, and then added to your favourite foodstuff, put in capsules or tincture, or stored in an airtight container. If you don’t feel like making cannabutter, or if you’re prepping for tincture making, this is actually all you have to do! Just take the bud you want to cook with, break it down to small bits, lay it on a cookie sheet and bake it at 220*F until it’s brittle and sweet smelling. Should be around 10 mins depending on the freshness of the bud and leaves. Your whole room will reek of heavenly hash and a lot of steam will come off it, then its done!
Decarboxilation can happen easily and thc can be bonded onto any fat molecule. Making cannabutter is just one of the tastiest, and the THC molecules bond well with the fat in the butter. But you can also infuse it into vegetable or olive oil; shortening; lard; coconut oil; fatty meat like salmon or turkey or even shea butter for skin!
Cannabis is also alcohol soluble, but since you can’t heat alcohol up without danger, it is important to do the decarboxilation prior to a cold infusion. The results will be better and stronger than if you had just done it straight.