Decarboxylation, what is it and how does it work?
You may have noticed us referring to decarboxylation on this site, when we are highlighting POT by NOIDS’ features and qualities, but what is decarboxylation and when would you want to decarboxylate herbs?
What is decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction found in all of life. It’s the reverse process of carboxylation (adding CO2 to a compound). As humans, we decarboxylate in our breathing process. That’s why we release CO2 when we exhale.
Decarboxylase enzymes serve as key components in the very intricate decarboxylation process that takes place inside of us and other living organisms, but when it comes to decarboxylating herbs, well.. basically we just need to apply some heat.
How does decarboxylation work?
To keep it simple: herbs contains acid forms of compounds, which are unactivated. If you want to activate your herbs, one way is by burning it. The heat will then convert the acid forms inside your herb into fully activated compounds. This makes it instantly ready for consumption through various ways.
This is the fastest and most common form of herb decarboxylation, also known as "heat induced decarboxylation". However, one of the disadvantages of burning the herb is that it burns about 50% of the good stuff instantly. Therefore you can only get about half of the what's in there in your body.
So in what other way can we enjoy the health benefits of herbs and ensure that we retain as many of the good stuff as possible?
Surely you’ve heard of edibles: cookies, cakes, pastries or candies. There are different ways we can make these ourselves, but, in all cases, the herb we use needs to be decarboxylated before we can add it to our edibles; we can’t just take some dry herbs and put it inside of a pastry as the aforementioned acid form compounds in the herb still needs to be activated if we want to reap the medicinal effects.
How to decarboxylate
The decarboxylation rate is the highest when the plant material is heated in air or a vacuum. For some reason, the decarb rate of plant material in oil or other mixtures is not as high.
For food, a lower temperature will be required to heat the herbs over a longer period of time. Baking anything containing our bio-active compounds at a temperature of over 140º Celsius, for longer than 10 minutes, is therefore not recommended. This will reduce the potency.
The temperature range for full decarboxylation is between 110-140º Celsius. The higher the temp, the shorter the cooking time will be. A lot of people use the oven in their kitchen to decarboxylate herbs.
One of the main reasons most people mention they would rather not do it this way is because of the smell, but you might also want to keep in mind that:
- Every batch needs a different cooking time to achieve the same temperature
- The heat fluctuation in an oven is around 30º Celsius
- Getting the cooking time right has to be done by trial and error
So all in all it can be quite the challenge not to burn the herbs, resulting in wasting parts of it or - even worse - all of it.
That’s why we would recommend using a more sensitive device, like ours, if you want to decarboxylate your herb the right way and get the most out of it.
Can’t wait to start decarboxylating?
POT by NOIDS has built-in sensors that will calculate the exact right cooking time for the herbs you have and the amount of it you want to decarboxylate, with minimal heat fluctuation (<1º Celsius).
..ánd without leaving your home smelling for hours.
Not only that, but it will also know exactly how long to heat it for you to get the results you are.. cooking for (and, unlike us, it doesn’t make cheesy cooking puns either).