As the world’s many cannabis fans already know, decarboxylation is a vital step in ensuring the potency of cannabis edibles. THC — the famous psychoactive compound in cannabis — isn’t actually present in great amounts in the cannabis bud. What’s actually there is a precursor called THCA. Smoking cannabis — or vaping it in a device such as the V2 Pro Series 3 vaporizer — instantly removes the carboxyl group from the THCA and converts it to THC. You inhale it, and good times ensue.

2020 Update: The Magical Butter DecarBox isn’t up to snuff, but we’ve found something that is. Read our Ardent Nova Decarboxylator review.

Vaping or smoking doesn’t work for everyone, though. Some people prefer to take their cannabis orally, and decarboxylation is an essential step in ensuring consistent potency of oral cannabis products. The Magical Butter DecarBox is a product that’s supposed to make decarboxylation easy, consistent and smell free — but it misses the mark. We’ll explain why.

Why Is Decarboxylation Important?

The problem is that not everyone prefers to smoke or vape cannabis. Consuming cannabis as a tincture or food produces effects that come on more slowly and last longer. Taking cannabis orally is also more discreet and less smelly than smoking or vaping it. Many medical patients prefer oral cannabis use because it makes consistent dosing easy and allows them to achieve the desired level of relief without feeling overly medicated. You can’t just eat the raw bud, though, because the bud contains almost no THC before decarboxylation. You also can’t just cook with the raw bud if you want a consistent result. The heat from your oven will only partially decarboxylate the herbs. The rest will be wasted.

Home cannabis decarboxylation is the process of cooking the herb in the oven at a low heat setting to convert the THCA to THC and prepare the herb for use in a tincture, butter or other edible product. The standard method involves cooking the herb at about 240° Fahrenheit for around 40-50 minutes. Done properly, decarboxylation should result in near-complete THC conversion with little loss because the oven temperature isn’t high enough for the THC to vaporize.

Why Do I Need the Magical Butter DecarBox?

Magical Butter DecarBox

The first time you try decarboxylating cannabis at home, you’ll know why a product like the DecarBox would appeal to many people. Oven temperatures are inconsistent, so it’s hard to tell whether you’re getting a complete conversion or wasting some of your material. If you’re using the whole flower, you may experience some loss if you’re not careful because the tiny trichomes — the most potent parts of the bud — are small and tend to fly everywhere. If you’re trying to use cannabis discreetly, though, the worst part about decarboxylation is the smell. If you bake your cannabis in an open tray, the smell will fill your house for hours.

The Magical Butter DecarBox is a silicone box that’s supposed to resolve the issues that make decarboxylation difficult. It has a thermometer port that allows you to monitor the temperature of your herbs during decarboxylation. Since it’s a silicone box, it should ostensibly preserve the beneficial compounds in your herbs — and contain the smell — during the decarb process.

Magical Butter DecarBox Review

On the surface, you’d think that a sturdy silicone box would make the decarb process easy and fun. Our experience with the DecarBox, however, was sorely lacking. The first issue we noticed was that the thermometer doesn’t include the required batteries — so the DecarBox isn’t actually ready to use out of the box. Things only got worse from there.

The DecarBox simply isn’t well made enough to contain the potent small during decarboxylation. The box doesn’t seal well enough because the fit of the lid is imperfect. Although using the DecarBox wasn’t quite as smelly as using an open tray, the box didn’t contain the smell nearly as well as an oven bag.

An additional problem with using silicone for decarboxylation is that its surface is tacky. We found getting the herb out of the box difficult because the herb stuck to the box’s tacky surface.

The sticky surface of the DecarBox caused an additional problem after getting the herb out — even after a trip through the dishwasher, the DecarBox reeked of cannabis after a single decarb session. Do you dislike the smell of cannabis filling your house for an hour or two during and after decarboxylation? Try dealing with the smell permanently because once that smell sticks to the DecarBox, it’s never going away.

The Better Way to Decarb

Although the thermometer is useless out of the box, it was wise for Magical Butter to include one with the DecarBox because oven calibration can greatly help to ensure that you get the same results from the decarb process every time. Nothing else about the DecarBox, however, is better than decarboxylating the traditional way.

We place the herb in one of the rectangular containers from the Pyrex Ultimate Food Storage Set for decarboxylation. The surface of the borosilicate glass is extremely smooth, so cannabis doesn’t stick to it. There’s also no lingering smell; the Pyrex comes completely clean in the dishwasher.

The Ultimate Food Storage Set includes silicone lids that seal much better than the lid of the DecarBox. Being silicone, though, the lid may absorb the smell from the cannabis. Instead, we use oven bags. They’re cheap, and they’re extremely effective at containing the smell of decarboxylation. While the smell does stick to the oven bag, that doesn’t matter because you throw the bag away when you’re done.

Magical Butter DecarBox Review: Conclusion

If you’re serious about decarboxylation, you probably noticed when Magical Butter announced the DecarBox and wondered whether it would be better than your current decarb method. We’re sad to say that it probably isn’t. The DecarBox is a product that’s simply not ready for prime time. It doesn’t contain the smell of decarboxylation, but the box itself will smell forever after you use it once. Since cannabis sticks to the box, it’s also too easy to waste material when transferring it to another container. Pyrex is a better decarb solution in every way. The smell doesn’t get through it, nothing sticks to it and it cleans fully when you’re done. If you’re already using a Pyrex bowl and an oven bag for decarboxylation, there’s no need to purchase the Magical Butter DecarBox. It’s not better than what you’re already using.