Cannabis is a unique herb in that its beneficial compounds are only unlocked and made available to the body by heating. That’s why so many people use cannabis by smoking it. The heat makes the herb’s compounds available via a process called decarboxylation, and you enjoy the end result.
What do you do, though, if you don’t want to use your herbs by vaping or smoking them? Many people prefer to use their herbs in the form of tinctures, butters, candies and baked goods because edible products are more discreet and because the effects of the herbs tend to last longer when the beneficial compounds are absorbed through the digestive system.
The fact that herbal edibles don’t produce a potent smell, though, is a big part of the appeal for many people. If you live in an apartment, for instance, smoking or vaping your herbs may not be an option because the potent smell might annoy others and because many apartment communities don’t allow smoking in any form.
There’s just one problem: Until you decarboxylate cannabis, it won’t do anything for you if you eat it. The beneficial molecules are locked within carboxyl groups, and your body won’t use those compounds until you free them from the carboxyl groups via heating. That’s what decarboxylation is, and you can do it in any home oven.
Heating, however, fills your home with the smell of your herbs. Decarbing your herbs can, in fact, create a smell even more potent than the smell of smoking those herbs. So, what can you do? This article will provide four simple options for controlling the smell when you decarb your herbs.
Automatic Herbal Decarboxylator
The easiest way to decarb your herbs – and the easiest way to control the smell – is with a device that’s designed to do the job for you. Check out this Ardent Nova review for more information.
So, what do you get with an automatic decarboxylator? You get a countertop device with a built-in temperature sensor and a microprocessor-controlled algorithm that optimizes the potency of your herbs every time. Just grind your herbs, drop them in the device and push the button. The device gently cooks the herbs until they’re ready to use. When the container has cooled down and is safe to touch, the light turns green to let you know that the decarboxylation cycle is complete.
The most important thing that you get with a decarboxylator like the Ardent Nova is a silicone cover that clamps down tightly when you screw on the device’s lid. The silicone cover makes the device virtually airtight, meaning that the herbs are almost impossible to smell unless you’re standing right next to the device while it’s at the peak of the heating cycle.
Using an automatic decarboxylator only has one drawback, and it’s the cost. You can expect to spend around $200 for a device capable of doing the job right, and that’s not cheap. It is, however, cheaper than wasting an ounce of herbs because you undercooked or overcooked them in your oven.
Regardless of the many benefits that a decarboxylator can bring to the table, though, the fact is that not everyone can scrape together the funds to buy one. If that’s the case for you, here are three alternatives that cost significantly less and will work in your home oven.
Mason Jar Method
A mason jar has a gasket that seals tightly when you close the jar, so using a mason jar for decarbing your herbs is an excellent way of controlling the smell. Mason jars, of course, frequently come into contact with boiling water, so they’re designed to handle some heat without cracking.
Although it works very well, using a mason jar to control the smell while decarboxylating your herbs has a major drawback in that the glass can break, causing an enormous mess. To avoid that, you’ll need to decarb your herbs for a longer time and at a lower temperature – 60 minutes at 220 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, should do the trick. If a jar has a chip or other fault that you can see, don’t use it.
Silicone Box Method
A few companies sell silicone boxes intended to control the smell of herbs during decarboxylation. Decarbing your herbs in a silicone box is a technique that should work in theory. Silicone is airtight, and the heat of your oven will not damage it. Although silicone will soften slightly in the oven, it won’t burn or melt. Decarbing your herbs in a silicone box, however, does have two problems in practice.
The first problem is that the lid of the box may not seal tightly. Silicone may be airtight, but it won’t contain the smell of your herbs if the lid has a loose fit. The automatic decarboxylator mentioned above solves that problem with a plastic lid that doubles as a clamp. Plastic, however, can’t go in the oven. Some people have reported very poor results in terms of smell containment when using silicone boxes for decarboxylation because the lids simply don’t fit tightly enough to do anything meaningful.
The other drawback of decarbing your herbs in a silicone box is that the box itself will absorb the smell of your herbs. The smell will be very potent, so you’ll need to find a smell-proof solution for storing the box when you aren’t using it.
Oven Bag Method
The final solution for controlling the smell during decarboxylation might be the most effective of all of the cheap methods: Decarb your herbs in a Pyrex dish with a nylon oven bag tied over it. For extra smell control, you can even use two oven bags. Pyrex is fine in the oven, of course, and nylon bags are also designed for oven use and will not melt at low temperatures.
Although the oven bag technique works extremely well for keeping the smell of your herbs at bay, it does have two drawbacks. The first drawback is that nylon isn’t quite as airtight as silicone. Compared to using an automatic decarboxylator, an oven bag doesn’t contain the smell as well, although it does do a very good job. The second drawback is that you can only use an oven bag once. Over time, the cost of buying oven bags over and over can add up.