Cannabis and Decarboxylation

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In the quest of manufacturing the highest-quality cannabis products, processors have undergone a sort of trial-and-error methodology. This is due, in part, by a lack of standardized procedures throughout the industry. As many have learned, without set protocols and a solid understanding of cannabis extract processing, the industry is left open to errors and unintended results.

One of the most notable is the theory of cannabis extract decarboxylation and cannabinoid conversion rates. In recent past, numerous studies and opinion pieces have stated when decarboxylating cannabis, one should exceed 70-percent decarboxylation as this can stimulate faster THC-CBN conversion than THCA-THC conversion.

A popular reasoning behind this thought process is explained in the graph. Here, we notice after 70-percent of decarboxylation is achieved, THC levels decline at a rapid rate. In doing so, the CBN ratios simultaneously rise. Ultimately, this alters the psychoactive qualities of the extract by making it more sedative in quality.

However, throughout our own research, we’ve uncovered significantly different results. Our findings have the potential to alter exactly how cannabis extract is decarboxylated to achieve the goals of various cannabis processors.

An Experiment for Truth | The Effects of Post-70% Decarboxylation on Cannabinoids

In an effort to provide further – verifiable – data, we set out to determine what happens to cannabinoids when a solution exceeds 70-percent decarboxylation. In doing so, we wished to provide additional data to manufacturers regarding the actual quantity of THC that’s converted to CBN.

The experiment went as follows:

Primary Solution | THCA Cannabis Solution

We dissolved 25 grams of Kief in 500ml of liquid coconut oil. The solution sat for two months and before starting our experiment lab analysis found the THCA solution was free from CBN. This gave us a baseline of 0.00% CBN concentration.

Decarboxylation Process | Heating the Solution

To begin, we placed the THCA solution in a one liter beaker and used the CAT MCS78 Hotplate Stirrer, set the probe temperature to 122°C and plate temperature to 350°C. Once the solution reached the set temperature the Multi-Timer automatically engaged the device for 24-hours.

Sample Collection| Precise Timing for Experiment Integrity

We collected solution samples at the following intervals:

  • 6 Hours
  • 12 Hours
  • 18 Hours
  • 24 Hours

The timing of sample collection allowed us to achieve accurate depictions of cannabinoid conversions throughout the entire decarboxylation process. During the analysis phase, we can now fully understand THC-CBN conversion ratios and rates based upon exact decarboxylation phases.

Laboratory Analysis | Experiment Results

Each of the four samples was sent to an independent laboratory for analysis. While we were confident of our anticipated results, the actual results were far greater than we previously assumed. The following is a breakdown of our discoveries:

  • Sample #1(6 Hour Collection) | THC to CBN Conversion: 0.1 mg/ml
  • Sample #2 (12 Hour Collection)| THC to CBN Conversion: 0.2 mg/ml
  • Sample #3 (18 Hour Collection)| THC to CBN Conversion: 0.3 mg/ml
  • Sample #4 (24 Hour Collection)| THC to CBN Conversion: 0.4 mg/ml

The Results of Reason | Decarboxylation Debunked

At the conclusion of our experiment, we found the rate of cannabinoid conversion is so low it’s barely noticeable. When this data is translated to real-world application, the THC-CBN conversion isn’t high enough to alter the effects of a cannabis extract. Therefore, we’re confident when using CAT Scientific products to decarboxylate your cannabis solutions, the fear of altering the psychoactive components of your products is null and void.


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