Back in 2018, we reviewed a product called the Magical Butter DecarBox. It was, to put it bluntly, terrible. The DecarBox seems, on the surface, to be the perfect tool for containing your herbs — and their potent smell — during the decarboxylation process, which takes a fairly long time in an oven. In practice, though, we found that the DecarBox doesn’t actually work nearly as well as a simple Pyrex dish and an oven bag. We recommended that combo as an alternative because it’s much easier to clean and does a much better job of minimizing the smell of the herbs during decarboxylation. Meanwhile, we gave the DecarBox a big thumbs down.
On the other end of the price spectrum is the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator, Compared to the $40 DecarBox, the Ardent Nova is a pretty massive investment at $210 and up. It’s an even more massive investment compared to a Pyrex dish and some oven bags. Readers of our Magical Butter DecarBox review wanted to know if we recommended the Ardent Nova as an alternative, so we reached out to Ardent to request a review sample. Sadly, our request was declined.
Eventually, though — even somewhat mitigated by an oven bag — the scent of toasty herbs filling your kitchen during decarboxylation really starts to get old. We finally broke down and sprung for the Ardent Nova during the second half of 2019 and have been using it ever since. After several months — and several ounces of herbs processed — this is our full long-term Ardent Nova review.
Shop for the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator now on Amazon. The Ardent Nova starts at $210 by itself, and some enterprising sellers have created bundles pairing the Ardent Nova with pack-in items such as mason jars and candy molds for just a few dollars more.
So, is the Ardent Nova actually worth it? If you’re looking for a quick answer and don’t want to drill down into the details, our answer is absolutely “yes.” If you decarb cannabis at home and have the means to pay the $210 asking price, you are going to be extremely glad that you bought the Ardent Nova. In this review, we’ll explain exactly why. Before we go too far into the details, though, let’s answer the biggest question about this device: What actually is the Ardent Nova?
What Is the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator?
The Ardent Nova Decarboxylator is an appliance that automatically decarboxylates your cannabis, making the THC and CBD bioavailable so you can absorb those compounds simply by eating the herbs or by infusing them into an oil or tincture.
- The Ardent Nova works with whole buds or ground herbs.
- It can decarb up to 1 oz of flower or 5 oz of kief.
- It has single-button operation. Just load your herb, press the button and wait. After about an hour and a half, the light turns green to indicate that the process is over.
- It has a microprocessor-controlled decarb routine that ensures consistent results regardless of ambient temperatures or the amount of material you’re using.
- It contains the smell of the cooking cannabis with a virtually airtight silicone seal.
- It has a one-year manufacturer warranty.
What Is Decarboxylation And Why Is It Necessary?
In the cannabis flower, psychoactive THC exists as a precursor called Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid or THCA. CBD has a similar precursor. In addition to having no psychoactive properties, THCA has no known medical use. In order to convert THCA to THC, you need to apply heat. Heat triggers decarboxylation, removing the carboxyl group from the THCA molecule and expelling it as carbon dioxide. That’s why you smoke or vaporize cannabis; heating the flower instantly decarboxylates the THCA, turning it into THC that your body can use. Until you heat cannabis, it won’t do anything for you.
There are many people, though, who prefer not to smoke or vape cannabis. It’s not something that’s easily done discreetly in public, and smoking is also not an option — not an easy option, at least — for those who live in apartments and condos. Some people have difficulty inhaling the smoke or vapor. Others simply prefer the absorption profile — slow and long lasting — of cannabis that’s consumed orally.
The problem with oral products such as cannabis edibles and tinctures, though, is that you can’t just eat the flower and expect a dramatic effect. A small percentage of the THCA in the flower undergoes decarboxylation when the flower is dried. If you want to maximize the potential of the THC in the flower, though, you need to heat it manually before you make food, butter or a tincture from it.
That’s why decarboxylation is necessary — and as we mentioned in our review of the Magical Butter DecarBox, you can decarb your herb with nothing but an oven, a Pyrex dish and an oven bag. You can even dispense with the oven bag if you don’t mind the smell.
Why, then, does anyone need a $210 appliance for decarboxylation?
Why Do You Need the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator?
If you’ve used the Pyrex/oven bag combo for decarbing your herbs, you know that it basically works; the oven bag definitely mitigates the smell, which would be extremely potent if you decarbed your herbs in an open dish. It doesn’t eliminate the smell completely, though. Humans can smell cannabis in the parts per million, and even when that scent is partially confined by an oven bag, smelling it for more than an hour every time you decarb starts to get a little old.
The second problem with decarboxylating in your oven is that you’re basically guessing as to whether you’re baking at the right temperature and cooking for the right amount of time. If you google “how to decarb cannabis,” you’re going to get a range of temperature and cooking time recommendations. That’s not a very precise way of doing things, and cannabis is a very expensive product to buy. You want to be as certain as possible that you’re maximizing the herb’s potential but aren’t going too far and burning some of the cannabinoids off.
The final problem with using an oven for decarboxylation is that terpenes are much more volatile than cannabinoids and evaporate at lower temperatures. If you decarb your cannabis in an open tray, you’ll lose terpenes forever. If you decarb in an oven bag, vaporized terpenes will cling to the bag, making reclamation impossible. The higher you set your oven’s temperature, the more terpenes you’ll lose. Many people want to keep the terpenes in their cannabis as intact as possible, both for their unique flavors and scents and for the additional benefits they can provide.
So, those are the three problems with decarboxylating in your oven. As it turns out, the Ardent Nova is specially designed to address those three pain points.
Ardent Nova Decarboxylator Review
The Ardent Nova is a dream come true if you’re tired of looking for instructions on how to decarboxylate cannabis and finding an endless variety of different directions everywhere with absolutely nothing to back all of it up. The Ardent Nova has a built-in decarboxylation routine that’s controlled by a microprocessor and dual temperature sensors installed at different locations in the device. There’s absolutely no research or thought involved. Just load the device and press the button. The indicator light turns red during decarboxylation and changes to green when the cycle is complete.
The exact length of the cycle depends on the ambient temperature and the amount of material that you’re decarbing, but it’s typically around an hour and a half. The Ardent Nova also waits for the chamber to cool down. When the light turns green, the device’s metal insert is safe to handle.
How Do You Use the Ardent Nova?
Loading the Ardent Nova is incredibly easy. Just twist open the lid and pull out the metal insert. Place the desired amount of material in the insert — ground herbs or whole flowers are both fine — and replace the insert. The Ardent Nova comes with a silicone cap that goes between the insert and the device’s lid. When you screw on the device’s lid, the lid presses down on the silicone cap to make a virtually airtight seal.
Does the Ardent Nova Have Any Smell?
The Ardent Nova emits almost no smell during decarboxylation. The silicone cap contains the odor so well that you probably won’t even notice it if you’re on the other side of the room. You may catch a faint whiff of cannabis if you’re standing right next to the unit while it’s heating, but that’s it.
Does the Ardent Nova Make Herbs More Potent?
The folks at Ardent Cannabis claim that the algorithm, dual temperature sensors and thermal insulation of the Ardent Nova allow it to deliver a near-total conversion of the THCA in your cannabis to THC, every time. Proving that claim would require testing capabilities that we lack. Based on our experience, though, we would say wholeheartedly that we have never created a cannabis tincture or butter via manual decarboxylation that was as potent as what we’ve gotten with the Ardent Nova. For us, the Ardent Nova has truly been a “set it and forget it” device that produces the most potent THC edibles, infusions and tinctures possible.
Does the Ardent Nova Preserve Terpenes?
The Ardent Nova preserves the terpenes in your cannabis during decarboxylation to the fullest extent possible. Since some of the terpenes in cannabis vaporize at lower temperatures than what’s necessary for the decarb, your only hope is to contain the terpenes and prevent them from escaping into the air. Since the Ardent Nova is nearly airtight, that’s exactly what it does. Some of the terpenes may evaporate during the heating phase, but they’ll condense during the cooldown phase and will remain captured inside the container.
The Ardent Nova decarboxylates at the lowest temperature possible to minimize the loss of terpenes.
What Is the Ardent Nova Concentrate and Infusion Sleeve?
You’ve probably noticed that some Ardent Nova packages include a silicone sleeve for concentrates and infusions costing a few extra dollars. The sleeve makes it easier to work with oils and sticky concentrates. If you want to add a cannabis concentrate to food, for example, you can’t just add it directly to the food unless you used heat during the extraction. The silicone sleeve makes it easy to decarb your concentrate so it’s ready to use.
You can also use the silicone sleeve to make cannabis-infused butter or oil. Decarb the herbs as normal in the Ardent Nova. Then, combine the herbs with the butter or oil in the silicone sleeve before placing the sleeve inside the Nova’s metal insert. Start the Ardent Nova again, and when it’s done, the butter or oil is ready to use. Just strain the herbs out.
How to Make a Cannabis Tincture With the Ardent Nova
Our favorite thing to make with the Ardent Nova Decarboxylator is cannabis tinctures. We like our cannabis tincture recipe because it doesn’t cook the extremely flammable alcohol or create high pressure inside a closed mason jar. We’ve refined this method to produce the most consistent results possible and to keep the smell almost completely contained.
Ardent Nova Cannabis Tincture: What You Need
Here’s what we use to create a cannabis tincture.
- Ardent Nova Decarboxylator
- High-proof drinking alcohol (e.g. Clear Spring, Everclear, Bacardi 151)
- Kitchen scale (we’ve been using this one for six years)
- Herb grinder
- Pyrex measuring cup (easy to clean; has a spout for mess-free pouring; we use the 2-cup size for this recipe)
- Half-pint mason jar (straight sides work best)
- Nut milk bag with very fine mesh (we use this one)
- Two 2-oz amber glass bottles with droppers
- Small funnel (this one will fit an amber glass bottle)
- Quart-size zip-top bag
For the first part, you’ll need the Ardent Nova, cannabis, grinder, alcohol, kitchen scale and mason jar. For the second part, you’ll need everything else. If you’re in a rush, you can find items like nut milk bags, amber glass bottles and small funnels at your local health food store. You’ll pay a lot more for those items, though, than you would pay on Amazon.
Ardent Nova Cannabis Tincture Recipe
Making the Cannabis Tincture
- Set your kitchen scale to measure fluid ounces. Place the mason jar on the scale, tare the scale and pour 4 oz of alcohol into the mason jar. We lower the amount of alcohol to 3.5 oz when using lower-quality cannabis. Close the jar and put it in the freezer.
- Set your kitchen scale to measure grams. Place the Ardent Nova’s metal insert on the scale, tare the scale and put 8 grams of herbs into the insert. We increase the amount to 10 grams when using lower-quality cannabis.
- Grind the herbs and put them back into the metal insert. Place the insert inside the Ardent Nova. Place the silicone top on the insert, close the lid of the Ardent Nova and press the button. Wait about an hour and a half for the light on the front of the Ardent Nova to turn green.
- Take the mason jar out of the freezer. Open the jar and put it on a sheet of paper to contain any spills. Open the Ardent Nova and gently pour the cannabis into the mason jar. Close the jar, seal it in a zip-top bag and give it a good shake. Return the jar to the freezer. Freezing the tincture breaks the cell walls of the cannabis, aiding the extraction.
- Remove the jar from the freezer and shake it vigorously at least once per day.
Bottling the Cannabis Tincture
How long you keep your tincture in the freezer is up to you. You can allow the tincture to steep for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The ideal steeping time will depend on the strength of the alcohol you’re using; if you strain and bottle the tincture too soon, you’ll get a weak result. To gauge the strength of the tincture, you can remove the jar from the freezer and sample it with an eyedropper.
When it’s time to strain and bottle the tincture, follow these instructions.
- Put the measuring cup on your counter and place the nut milk bag over the mouth of the cup.
- Pour the entire contents of the mason jar into the nut milk bag.
- Wring the bag thoroughly to get all of the liquid into the measuring cup. Cannabis is expensive stuff; every drop counts! Once you’ve gotten as much liquid out as you can, you can put the herbs down your garbage disposal or use them as compost. They’re completely spent.
- Place a funnel in an amber glass bottle and carefully pour the tincture in. This recipe will fill two 2-ounce amber glass bottles. You may also want to have a third bottle handy in case you have a little extra.
- You can wash and reuse the nut milk bag and funnel if you like, or you can just throw them away. Cannabis residue is very sticky, so cleaning these items won’t be easy. Use plenty of dish soap.
- Rub the inside of your Pyrex measuring cup with a bit of hand sanitizer if you have trouble removing the residue. The alcohol dissolves the residue easily. At that point, you can wash the measuring cup with plain soap in your sink or dishwasher.
How to Use Your Ardent Nova Cannabis Tincture
To use your cannabis tincture, consume just one dropper at a time until you gauge its effects. Remember that it may take two hours or more for the cannabinoids to reach peak levels in your bloodstream; wait at least that long before taking more.
Dilute the tincture with some water before taking it. High-proof alcohols like Clear Spring are extremely strong and will burn your mouth. If you can tolerate it, hold the tincture under your tongue for several seconds before swallowing it.
Is the Ardent Nova Worth It? The Bottom Line
The Ardent Nova is very expensive, and for that reason, we put off buying it for a long time. After all, as we’ve mentioned several times, you can do the same thing far more cheaply with a Pyrex dish and an oven bag. As we’ve also mentioned, though, decarbing cannabis in your oven has a lot of drawbacks — and the Ardent Nova eliminates all of them. Now that we’ve finally sprung for one, we can’t imagine making a cannabis edible or tincture without the Ardent Nova. If you can afford it, you won’t regret buying it.
- Completely automatic microprocessor-controlled decarb routine; press a button and walk away
- Tight silicone lid eliminates virtually all smell during decarboxylation
- Designed for complete conversion of THCA/CBDA to THC/CBD and maximum preservation of terpenes
- Decarbs whole or ground flowers
- Also makes infused butters and oils
The Not So Good
- Very expensive