Vaping Temperatures: How To Get The Most From Your Cannabinoids

The best temperatures for the different cannabinoids

For many herbal vape users, whether new or veteran, deciding on the right vaping temperature setting can be a bit hit and miss.  Too hot, and the beneficial compounds burn and the vapour tastes foul.  Too cold, and nothing happens…

 

But there is another reason why using the right temperature when vaporising hemp flower - you activate the many beneficial compounds hidden inside it.  This is done via a process called decarboxylation.

 

 

What is Decarboxylation & Why it’s Important

In its raw form, hemp doesn’t contain the cannabinoids that we are know and love.  Instead, they are filled with cannabinoid acids, the progenitors of cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), Δ9–tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabichromene (CBC).

 

The main difference between cannabinoid acids and decarboxylated cannabinoids is that a chemical reaction has taken place that removed a carboxyl (COOH) group from a cannabinoid acid.  

 

Raw vs Decarboxylated Hemp

Generally speaking, before you buy your hemp flower, the fresh plant matter needs to go through a drying and curing process.  Although a small amount of decarboxylation happens, it is still considered “raw” hemp, with the vast amount of cannabinoids still present in their acid form.  These are:

 

Cannabinoid Acid

Cannabinoid

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa)

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa)

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Cannabichromenic acid (CBCa)

Cannabichromene (CBC)

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa)

Cannabigerol (CBG), THC, CBD

Cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA)

Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

Tetrahydrocannabivarinic acid (THCVa)

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCVa)

Cannabichromevarinic Acid (CBCVa)

Cannabichromevarin (CBCV)

 

 

Why You Need to Decarboxylate Hemp

There’s no doubt that raw hemp has its own set of beneficial uses. Cannabinoid acids possess very similar anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties to that of the various types of vitamins and minerals that are found in other plant-based foods.

 

But, the reason decarboxylation is so important is that acid and decarboxylated forms of cannabinoids share some curative qualities, but they also have distinct therapeutic attributes. In other words, cannabinoid acids have very different properties to that of their decarboxylated cannabinoid counterparts.

 

For example:

THCa is non-intoxicating / non-psychoactive and has anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-convulsant, fat-storage reducing, metabolic regulator, stress reducing properties.

 

Vs

 

THC is intoxicating / psychoactive and have anti-nausea, weight gain in anorexia and AIDS, anti-inflammatory, painkilling, neuroprotective, muscle relaxing properties to name a few.

 

So here you can see that, although THCa and THC share similar properties, there are also marked differences.

 

Similarly:

CBDa has anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, painkilling, anti-nausea, anti-convulsant properties

 

Vs

 

CBD which has anti-epileptic, anti-anxiety, anti-depressive, anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, antispasmodic, reduces insulin resistance along with various other properties.

Again, although CBDa and CBD share similar properties, CBDa has also been shown to be significantly more effective than CBD in binding to a serotonin receptor responsible for the relief of nausea and anxiety.

 

 

Decarboxylation Points vs the Boiling Point of Cannabinoids

Before going into the nitty gritty of vaping temperatures, it’s important to understand that the boiling points of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are different to their decarboxylation temperatures.

 

The reason for this is that decarboxylation is a function of heat and time while boiling points are sort of a static.  Think of it this way.  Decarboxylation happens in a range of temperatures and the hotter it is, the faster decarboxylation happens.  Boiling points are fixed temperatures at which the cannabinoids will turn into vapour.

 

What this means for you is that, if you really want to get the most from your hemp flower when vaping, decarboxylation is important to transform the cannabinoids acids into their cannabinoid forms.  But what you should really be interested in are the boiling points of each cannabinoid, because these are what is going to allow you to vaporise those decarboxylated cannabinoids and make it accessible to you.

 

 

Individual Boiling Points of Hemp Compounds

Cannabinoid

Concentration

Boiling Point

THC

0.1-25%

157°C

CBD

0.1-2.89%

160-180°C

CBN

0.0-1.6%

185°C

CBC

0.0-0.65%

220°C

CBG

0.03-1.15%

N/A

THCV

0.0-1.36%

< 220°C

 

 

 

 

For the Geeks: More About Decarboxylation

Say you examine the decarboxylation points of cannabinoids at different temperatures, you are going to find that there is an exponential relationship between the different temperatures, the concentration of cannabinoid acids and the amount of time the decarboxylation process was applied. 

 

This is because of their rate constants (the rate of a chemical reaction and the concentrations of the reacting substances) for the different cannabinoids.  For instance, the rate constant of THCa is twice that of CBDa and CBGa.  Similarly, while the decarboxylation of THCa has no side reactions or by-products, the decarboxylation of CBDA and CBGA produces a loss of reactants or products.

 

Similarly, a process called sublimation (where a substance transitions directly from the solid to the gas state, without passing through the liquid state) affects decarboxylation.  Think of sublimation as similar to the way that snow flakes behave on really cold days when the humidity is low and there is sun or wind.  Just like snow flakes can go directly from a frozen snow flake to a gas even at temperatures too low for them to melt, so to can cannabinoid acids sublimate into their cannabinoid forms.

 

This means that truly separating out cannabinoids from one another is practical only with industrial strength techniques, such as centrifugal partition chromatography. It cant be done in a vape.  Similarly, cannabinoid acids and cannabinoids will sublimate off at lower temperatures meaning that some of these will be lost.

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