Medically reviewed by Abraham Benavides, M.D.
Edibles are a very popular way to consume cannabis, especially in legal states, but as summer rolls around you can easily run into issues. If you accidentally leave your edibles in a hot car or even just in direct sunlight outside, you might come back to find them fused into some unholy frankengummy.
Although it’s likely to be safe to consume, there are still some important issues to consider before you cut off a chunk and eat it. Originally, the dosage from the edible would have been consistent and well-controlled, but can you be so sure now? Will the THC degrade at all? And how can you avoid problems in the future? Here’s what you need to know.
- Gummies start to melt at around 90 °F / 32 °C and chocolate starts to melt at 104 °F / 40 °C.
- Melting an edible is very unlikely to detract from the strength, unless it’s in the heat for a very long time (like weeks or months).
- They’re likely to be safe to eat (again, other than in extreme cases).
- If multiple gummies or chocolates have melted together, you cannot be sure about dosage.
- It’s best to throw them away, but if you must, start with a small piece and go slowly.
- Store edibles in a cool, dark location in an air-tight container for best results.
When Will Edibles Melt?
Chocolate edibles start to melt at 104 °F / 40 °C and gummies will start to melt at 90 °F / 32 °C, depending on the ingredients. A hot car can easily reach edible-melting temperatures within 15 minutes.
While there are many different forms of edibles, the most common types that could potentially melt are gummies and chocolate. Both of these actually have a similar melting temperature: 90 °F / 32 °C for gummies and 104 °F / 40 °C for chocolate. Around this temperature, you will start to see melting, and if they’re exposed to higher temperatures, the process will speed up.
Although different gummies have different melting temperatures (depending on the ingredients), this value comes from Camino Gummy and can at least be used as a rough guide. However, this does vary quite a bit.
We spoke to Dave Baugh, Co-Founder of R&R CBD, who commented that “we use a special fruit pectin that has been heat tested at over 160 degrees as a melting point, so outside of a black mailbox in direct sun in Arizona in July, we rarely have melting issues.”
Similarly, the value for chocolate depends on how much cocoa it contains, but beyond 100 °F, you’ll probably have issues unless your chocolate has over 85% cocoa solids. Even in that case, it only takes an extra 15 °F to start the melting.
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But how do these temperatures compare to the interior of a car in the summer? According to the National Weather Service, even at 73 °F, it only takes 25 minutes for the inside of a car to reach 100 °F. This means that if you leave either gummies or chocolates in a car for longer than 15 minutes on a hot day, you’ll likely come back to a melted frankengummy.
Will It Affect Their Strength?
It’s unlikely that the overall THC content of the package will be noticeably affected by melting, unless you leave them in high temperatures for several days.
Firstly, the boiling points of THC and CBD are well beyond the temperature it would be possible to generate outside of your oven. According to a paper by John McPartland and Ethan Russo, THC’s boiling point is 315 °F / 157 °C and CBD’s is around 338 °F / 170 °C. So you would quite literally have to cook them to lose THC or CBD this way.
Degradation of THC into CBN is a possibility, though. The good news is that in this study, cannabis stored at room temperature (68 to 72 °F/ 20 to 22 °C) only lost around 16.6% of its original THC in the first year. Another study heated THC over a 29-minute period, but found that at a huge temperature of 248 °F / 120 °C, 97.2% of the THC still remained.
This evidence shows that you may have some issues with degradation if you’ve left an edible in your car for several weeks or even months, but even then not much THC would have been lost. Plus, in that case it wouldn’t be wise to eat it for more important reasons than just the THC content. Molds, bacteria, and other dangerous toxins can form on any of the organic content left behind.
So ultimately, you won’t have lost anything apart from the form of the edibles when you bought them (aside from in extreme situations), but if multiple gummies or chocolates have melted together, you’re likely to have issues getting a consistent dosage because of that.
Are They Still Safe to Eat?
In terms of food safety, it’s still likely to be totally safe to eat gummies, chocolates or anything else that’s freshly melted.
We asked Dave Baugh if gummies that had melted together would still be safe to eat, and he agreed that dosing is a bigger concern than food safety in the short term:
“Provided the gummies are still hermetically sealed, yes, they should be safe to eat if well within the best-by date and any melting occurred over a short timespan. The concern is mostly around dosing – if the gummies are melted together in a point where you can’t tell one gummy from another – you may have a difficult time properly dosing.”
Of course, it’s better to put them in the refrigerator or otherwise let them re-solidify before you eat them, but that’s for convenience rather than safety. Again, unless you’ve left them in a warm place for a very long time they’ll be just as safe to eat as they were originally.
Will It Affect Dosage?
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a consistent dose if your gummies have melted together to the point where you can’t tell one from another. If you want to still eat them, it’s best to take a smaller-than-average amount to ensure you don’t take too much THC.
Dave Baugh was skeptical about this, “I would say to be very careful when doing this, or don’t do it altogether, because that could lead to a very negative experience if you take too much (especially with psychoactives).”
The big issue with dosing in this situation is that while each individual gummy or chunk of chocolate has a precise amount of THC and/or CBD, when multiple doses have melted together, the only thing you can (possibly) be sure about is the total amount in the melted mess. It’s tempting to think that if you take a “gummy” sized piece from the bulk, you’ll end up with about the right amount, but that’s risky.
“A user could absolutely take this action to still use the gummy – it just may be difficult to actually truly dose.” Dave says, “I’ve done it personally, but usually stay on the ‘small’ side to ensure I’m not taking too much, especially if a D9 psychoactive gummy, for instance.”
Really, the most sensible advice would be to simply not eat the melted edibles and go get more. However, if you’re anything like me (and Dave, and many others) you’ll probably want to try to get your money’s worth from what you’ve bought. In that case, you’re very much proceeding at your own risk.
In the simplest case where two gummies have fused, you can probably just split it in two and get a reasonable dose. But as soon as you add more gummies or chunks of chocolate to the mix, it’s increasingly likely that the dosage will be unevenly distributed. This is because the THC distillate used in the original product has also been melted and it can concentrate in certain spots depending on the temperature, UV radiation, and gravity force applied.
This means that even if you’re very careful, there’s a chance that the first chunk you take will have tons of THC and you’ll end up in a bad spot.
That said, in most cases if you follow Dave’s advice and start with a small piece – ideally a little smaller than the average amount, just in case – and wait a few hours before re-dosing, you’ll be fine. It can take a while for edibles to take effect and you don’t want to make the classic mistake of taking more only to have the original piece take effect a few minutes later.
Storing Your Edibles Safely
While the already-melted edibles are likely best to be simply thrown away, you can take a few simple steps to make sure that you don’t run into the same issues next time you buy.
Dave Baugh explained the key points to us:
“We advise our Summit and R&R customers to keep them in a cool, dry place out of sunlight – like a cabinet, drawer, kitchen counter, or nightstand. Most importantly, they should be kept away from direct sunlight as the UV rays can degrade not only the cannabinoids but other ingredients in the gummy that can change taste and efficacy. The same is true of high humidity – the moisture can affect a jar of gummies left open pretty dramatically over time, just like if you left them open in a dry area, that would significantly dry them out and make the gummies too firm.”
So with this in mind, here are a few simple tips to keep your edibles safe:
- Keep them cool: Even if melting isn’t a concern, it’s better to keep your edibles away from sources of heat. It can change the flavor or texture, and in extreme cases or over prolonged periods it can impact the dosage too. So find a cool and preferably dark location to store your edibles. If you’re only storing them short-term, the fridge is perfect.
- Find a lockable, air-tight container: Keeping edibles locked up is crucial if you have kids or pets, but finding a good container will also help maintain shelf life too. If you leave edibles exposed to air it can lead to them either drying out or absorbing moisture, depending on the humidity, and neither is ideal.
- Individually wrap soft candies or chocolate: For soft candies (like caramel) or chocolate, individually wrapping them can be useful for many reasons. It will protect them from moisture even more, and even if they do get hot, you won’t have issues with multiple edibles fusing into a single monster. Foil is a good solution in either case.
- Avoid leaving them in the car: While it isn’t always possible to avoid having your edibles in a hot car on the way back home from the dispensary, you should minimize the time they’re sat in a hot car wherever possible, because this is one of the most likely times for you to run into issues. It would be wise to keep a cooler in your car and store the edibles inside until you get home.
So overheated edibles are very unlikely to cause you any serious problems, but if you decide to eat a chunk anyway, you need to be very careful about dosing. The best advice is to just get some more, but if you’re going to take a risk, start small and go slow. And to avoid problems in future, keep your edibles in a cool location and put a bit of thought into storage if you’re going to keep them for a long time.
View All References (3)
- McPartland, J. M., & Russo, E. B. (2001). Cannabis and cannabis extracts. Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, 1(3-4), 103–132. https://doi.org/10.1300/j175v01n03_08
- Ross S.A., ElSohly M.A.. (1999) CBN and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol ratio as an indicator of the age of stored marijuana samples. Bulletin on Narcotics. 1997–1998;49/50(1&2):139–147. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/bulletin/bulletin_1997-01-01_1_page008.html
- Repka, M. A., Munjal, M., ElSohly, M. A., & Ross, S. A. (2006). Temperature stability and bioadhesive properties of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol incorporated hydroxypropylcellulose polymer matrix systems. Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy, 32(1), 21–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/03639040500387914