If you want to change the oil in your car, there are plenty of “how to” manuals that explain exactly how to do it. Or maybe your father taught you how.
If you want to bake a cake, there are hundreds of thousands of cookbooks with terrific recipes. Or maybe your mother taught you how.
If you’re trying to figure out how to get weed ready to smoke or make edibles, though, you’re probably going to immediately search for advice online. (Yes, maybe your father or mother taught you that too, but we won’t get into that here.)
Here’s the problem with looking for advice on the Internet: it’s difficult to know whose information you can trust. Sure, there are reputable pot sites online, but when you check Google, there’s no guarantee that they’ll show up at the top of the search listings.
Take the issue of whether you should microwave your bud. We did a quick search, and just on the first page, we learned:
- It’s the worst thing you can do.
- It’s a great idea if you’re in a hurry.
- Even Snoop does it!
We like to think of ourselves as one of those sites you can trust. We hope you do, too.
So here’s the real story on microwaving weed.
Why Would People Put Weed In a Microwave?
In order to get the maximum effect from marijuana when you smoke or vape it, it must first be dried and cured. If you’re using it to make edibles it has to be decarboxylated (decarbed), too.
When you get your weed from a dispensary or a dealer, the drying and curing should already have been taken care of. If you grow your own, though, it’s all up to you. And if you’re jonesing for a batch of brownies, you’ll also have to decarb your pot no matter where it came from.
That explains why some people look at the microwave sitting on their counter and figure they’ve found a quick and easy way to get the jobs done. Heat dries things quickly, and decarbing also requires heat.
Others may have read articles like the one we alluded to earlier, and seen that Snoop Dogg always puts his blunts in the microwave for 11 seconds before indulging. And who would know more about the subject, right?
We can’t speak to Snoop’s preferences, but we can report on the science.
Here’s what it tells us.
Preparing Cannabis for Use
Cannabis flower contains dozens of compounds, including water, flavonoids, and terpenes that give it its distinctive taste and aroma, and numerous cannabinoids. Naturally, THC is the cannabinoid we’re primarily concerned with here.
Let’s look at the steps required to get weed ready for smoking or cooking. After that, we’ll figure out how your microwave might – or more accurately, shouldn’t – play a part.
Drying and Curing
Cannabis plants are nearly 90% water, so the buds are full of water after they’ve been picked. That amount must be reduced dramatically, to 10-15%. Otherwise, the weed is likely to get moldy when stored. Drying and curing also ensure high levels of potency and flavor.
The best way to dry and cure weed is in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment, slowly lowering the temperature over 10-14 days. It then should be stored in a container (but not an airtight one) in a dark, cool environment for at least 2-4 weeks, so it can cure properly.
Weed that’s been dried and cured is ready for smoking. If it’s going to be used to make edibles or tinctures, though, it has to be decarboxylated (decarbed) first.
Why does the intended use make a difference?
It’s simple. In reality, the marijuana plant does not contain THC. It actually contains a precursor compound known as THCA. THCA only turns into THC when it’s heated. That’s what “decarbing” means: heating the buds in a very specific way to activate its THC. Decarbing activates the other cannabinoids as well.
When you’re smoking (or using a vaporizer), the weed is essentially decarbed by the heat that’s generated during the process. If you use it to make brownies without decarbing it first, though, you’ll be seriously disappointed with the results – that is, if you were looking to get buzzed.
Most people decarb their pot in the oven with low heat, stirring the flower often, and then letting it cool. That takes about an hour, and it works well. Other techniques (like sous vide cooking) can be more complicated and take even longer.
What’s Wrong With Using the Microwave?
Properly drying, curing, and decarbing your bud is a lot of work, and takes a lot of time.
But you’ve just harvested your flower – and can’t wait to try it. Wouldn’t tossing it into the microwave speed up the process of drying and decarbing it?
Definitely not, if you want to enjoy your weed. In fact, it could turn your carefully-tended product into something that’s not much better than skunk weed.
The problem isn’t what you might think. Microwaves don’t reach temperatures much over 200°, so you probably won’t end up burning the buds to a crisp if you turn the oven on and off in short bursts.
Here’s the real problem: blasting pot with quick and intense heat will degrade its terpenes and THC. Its flavor and aroma will be affected dramatically, it will burn faster (and hotter) when you smoke it, and you won’t experience the same high. Microwave heat is also uneven, so the effects of the batch will probably be unpredictable every time you use some of it.
If you’re insistent on quick-drying your harvest, the oven or a food dehydrator are better choices (although they’re certainly not ideal). If you need to decarb your weed but don’t want to stink up your oven, sous vide or using a mason jar are far-superior options.
Doing either one in the microwave is a recipe for possible disaster.
But I Want to Use the Microwave!
OK, OK. Don’t way we didn’t warn you.
Here’s the best way to dry and/or decarb weed in a microwave. Optimal results are not guaranteed.
- Carefully grind the flower into small pieces. Be sure to stop well before it becomes powder.
- Spread the buds out on a microwave-safe plate. They should be in a very thin layer, covering as much of the plate’s surface as possible.
- Put a dry paper towel on top, completely covering the weed.
- TO DRY THE BUDS: Microwave at 20-30% power for ten seconds. If it’s not dry enough, stir and repeat.
- TO DECARB THE BUDS: Microwave at 20-30% power for 90 seconds. Turn the buds over and repeat.
- Allow the weed to cool.
Good luck; hope it works well for you. Our guess is that next time you’ll decide to do things differently.
Microwaving Weed FAQ
Q: What about using the microwave to infuse the oil, butter, or chocolate for edibles? Is that possible?
A: Sure, it’s possible. But since microwaves aren’t dispersed evenly throughout an oven, you’re likely to find that the final product is cooked unevenly. Cannabutter or infused chocolate can wind up burned in some areas and barely cooked in others. And, as we’ve mentioned, rapid heat bursts can degrade the THC and terpenes, damaging or ruining the flavor and potency of the weed.
Q: Is it a problem to defrost frozen brownies or other edibles in the microwave?
A: It’s not ideal; the drastic change in temperature can impact the strength and taste of the weed. If you must, only use the defrost setting on the microwave (which is low power), and only as long as necessary. A much better idea is to plan ahead and let them defrost at room temperature. (If you’ve never tried eating frozen brownies, they’re really delicious and will do their job just fine.)
Q: So why does Snoop microwave his blunts for 11 seconds?
A: He claims that it “tightens up” the blunt and “locks in all the flavor.” The tightening-up part might make sense. A short go-round in the microwave would cause any water in the wrap to evaporate, causing the paper to shrink a bit around the weed. As for locking in the flavor, there’s no science behind that theory. 11 seconds might not be enough to dramatically impact the flavor, but logically speaking, it shouldn’t improve the taste or potency. On the other hand, we have to give a legend’s opinion some credence!