Ensuring you have purchased a quality product starts with the knowledge of what a quality product is. First, it is important to know how the product is made. Understanding the production process will give you a better idea of its quality. Another way to ensure quality is to check if your cannabis product has been lab-tested.
In this article, we will explore how Delta-8 THC is made. This includes several methods to make D8, its origin, and how some D8 products are made.
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol or Δ8 THC comes from the cannabis plant. It exists naturally in small concentrations of both hemp and marijuana, totaling about 1% of the plant material. Some strains are bred to have higher Delta-8 concentrations to maximize the potential output of the prized cannabinoid.
Recently, the FDA has declassified hemp from the Schedule I list of controlled substances through the passing of the Farm Bill of 2018. This bill has constituted the legality of the sale and production of cannabis products with a hemp origin, which includes hemp derivatives like Delta-8.
Delta-8 has “antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties” according to the National Cancer Institute. Along with these health benefits, D8 produces a pleasurable uplifting high which has become popular among recreational users. It is after all a form of THC. But because of its low psychotropic potency, the effects of Delta-8 are said to be much more manageable than a Delta-9 high.
However, since Delta-8 is much rarer than some of the other popular cannabinoids, its creation is a bit more complicated.
To create a solution of pure Delta-8, there are a few methods that can be used, all with their pros and cons. The making of D8 can be done through:
- Distillation or extraction from hemp
- Conversion from distillate or isolate of other cannabinoids
Distilled or Extracted From Hemp
Since Delta-8 occurs in such small amounts in the hemp plant, it is costly and wasteful to extract it directly from cannabis. You need a huge amount of hemp plant material just to get to the 1% that is Delta-8.
However, a few producers use a fractional distillation process of cannabis flower. This process involves a thin film distillation that varies temperature and pressure to isolate Delta-8. This process can create distillate that contains over 80% Delta-8. The distillate can be further refined to higher concentrations of over 99% delta-8.
Another way to extract naturally-occurring D8 from hemp is through a standard CO2 extraction process. This involves pressurized carbon dioxide to lift Delta-8 from the plant material. Then, technicians must use nanotechnological means to isolate the very small amount of D8, creating an extract.
The cost in these cases far outweighs the benefits it would offer. These methods are difficult, tedious, and expensive. Let’s take a look at the more common methods of making Delta-8.
Since the structure of cannabinoids is very similar to each other, it is possible to convert one cannabinoid to another. This is done through a simple chemical reaction.
Cannabinoids are so alike, they can even change themselves into each other over time, with light, or with heat. THCA turns into Delta-9 THC with a certain amount of heat and with just the right amount of time. And while marijuana is smoked, this conversion occurs, producing a THC high.
All cannabinoids begin as cannabigerol acid (CBGA). For this reason, cannabigerol (CBG) has often coined the term “mother of all cannabinoids.” It is naturally synthesized into other cannabinoids as the plant matures. Due to it being the natural origin of cannabinoids, it can be converted to other cannabinoids.
Conversions of cannabinoids have become standard industry practice. Conversion processes are often used not only to create Delta-8 isolates but also Delta-9, cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), among others.
Delta-8 THC is made through the use of solvents, reagents, and acids. Typically this is done using a base of distillate or isolate and then through a reaction becomes Delta-8. This is most often done using the popular cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). To understand how D8 is converted from CBD, we must first know how CBD is obtained.
CBD is extracted from the trichomes of hemp flowers due to their high CBD content. Trichomes are resin glands with minuscule fine hairs and bulbous heads. The making of CBD is done through one of the following methods:
CO2 extraction:This method for producing CBD employs the use of carbon dioxide gas. Using a closed-loop extractor which is a pressurized chamber, CO2 gas is compressed into a liquid, after which it is combined with cannabis. The CO2 liquid strips away the plant’s cannabinoids, including CBD. Then the solution is returned to normal temperature and pressure, at which the CO2 returns to gas form and evaporates.
The cannabidiol is left behind, separate from the remaining plant material. This method can also be used to extract other cannabinoids and terpenes. CO2 extraction is often used for the large-scale production of CBD.
Solvent extraction: This method for producing cannabidiol oil occurs through a similar process, though it is cheaper and faster. This method can be performed with the use of butane, ethanol, or propane.
One of these solvents is washed over the cannabis and the CBD, other cannabinoids, or terpenes are released. Next, the solvent is slowly and methodically heated or cooled to cause a separation from the extractions without damaging them.
One downside of this method is that the solvents may extract impurities from the plant, which can leave an unpleasant taste in the resulting product.
Both CO2 and solvent extraction methodologies are dangerous due to their highly combustible properties. These methods should only be performed in a lab with the proper equipment, by trained professionals.
CBD to Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC
Next, CBD can be converted to THC in a very simple isomerization process. This involves the chemical adjustment of the CBD isolates to produce Delta-8 distillate. Here is that process:
- Dissolve 1-gram of CBD in 10 mL 0.005molar H2SO4 in glacial acetic acid.
- Once it has dissolved, let the solution stand at room temp for about 3 hours. At that point, the solution will be 52% Delta 9 and 2% Delta-8.
- After letting the solution to set for 3 days, you will have the following:
- 15% Delta-9
- 54% Delta-8
- 10% Delta-8-Iso
- 10% CBD
Delta-9 to Delta-8
Another process that is possible is the conversion of THCA to THC and then to Delta-8. THCA is a naturally occurring non-psychoactive THC precursor found in cannabis. It is created originally from CBG, or cannabigerol acid (CBGA), its precursor.
From CBGA, Delta-9 THC is created through decarboxylation. Heat, ultraviolet rays, or other agents to change THCA to THC. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is much more abundant in cannabis than the lesser-studied Delta-8 isomer. This makes it a good candidate for D8 conversion.
THC can be converted to Delta-8 through an aging process of cannabis. Delta-9 THC does this naturally through an oxidation process. These two cannabinoids are analogs which means they have the same structural formula but with a different arrangement.
D9 has a double bond on the 9th carbon chain, while D8 has a double bond on the 8th. These structural similarities are what produce asimilar high. This is because they influence cannabinoid receptors within our endocannabinoid system similarly, explaining why the two both have psychoactive effects. Yet D8 has far fewer side effects and includes a much more manageable and clear-headedhigh.
Besides the natural oxidation that occurs in cannabis to create D8, D9 can be converted to D8 through a spinning band distillation system as follows:
- Mix 4% acidic alumina silicate with winterized crude cannabis oil extract.
- The cannabis oil is distilled, and THC is collected. The heat of the boiling flask will work with the acidic alumina silicate to catalyze the rearrangement of the molecules from Delta-9 to Delta-8.
The end product is typically liquid at room temp, but some products may become semi-solid to completely solid at cooler temperatures.
Delta-8 THC is made through the use of solvents, reagents, and acids. Due to the danger of some of these substances, only lab technicians with the proper training and knowledge should attempt Delta-8 conversion. The bases that are used must be properly removed from the final product to ensure the safety of consumption.
Therefore, we don’t recommend the everyday D8 user to give any of the above processes a try.
Delta-8 THC Products
Once Delta-8 THC has been made, it is produced into the forms that can be found at dispensaries, or online, then delivered straight to your door. Here are several forms D8 takes on:
Delta-8 distillate: Since D8 is found in cannabis in such small amounts, the best way to produce the highest quality is to extract it from CBD isolate. From there, it goes through an isomerization process which produces Delta-8 distillate. This substance is highly potent because the high heat from distillation has fully activated the compound.
Be sure to check the color, potency, brand, and clarity before buying to determine if it is a high-quality Delta-8. Quality D8 distillate will be either a clear to rose-red color or golden color. A clear rose indicates a natural solution that hasn’t been bleached, and a clear color indicates it has been bleached for clarity.
Delta-8 infused hemp flower:This variety is produced when hemp flowers have been infused with Delta-8. Although a small amount of D8 is already present within cannabis, it is not enough to perceive its presence. Therefore growers spray hemp flowers with Delta-8 distillate, sometimes adding terpenes to reduce their viscosity.
Additionally,D8-rich strains are being bred to produce higher amounts of this wonderful substance. Having the compound more naturally present within the plant is more advantageous than infusing the plant.
- Delta-8 tincture: A tincture is a liquid extract produced when growers soak the hemp in alcohol. This process causes the D8 to release. Typically a hemp strain high in CBD and low in THC is used. Tinctures may also be made by diluting D8 in a carrier oil. Often it comes as flavored drops, which you simply drop onto your tongue.
Delta-8 THC vape cartridge (“carts”):Carts include D8 distillate with added terpenes. If you are into vaping, this is an excellent option for immediate effects. Carts pair with vape pen batteries that power an atomizer in the cartridge. This then heats the oil, which activates the components in the compound.
Then you inhale the vape smoke and enjoy the effects. It is important to choose a cart that doesn’t have additives or fillers that can harm your body such as vitamin E acetate. We recommend using a ceramic coil cart rather than a metal one so there is no risk of burning the distillate.
Dabs: Dabbing is the vaporization of cannabis concentrates that have been applied to a hot surface and then inhaled. With a dab, a little goes a long way. To dab, you need a dab rig, a nail, a dabber, and a cigar torch.
Edibles:Gummies and chewing gums contain D8 distillate and are the most common form of edibles. Sometimes D8 is sprayed on. Besides gummies, you can also find Delta-8 infused a variety of baked goods, and sometimes even in dishes served in specialty restaurants.
Delta-8 Softgel Capsules: Typically D8 soft gel capsules contain a carrier oil such as MCT oil and Delta-8 inside a gel capsule.
Delta-8 THC products and CBD products come with a wide selection of properties and potential benefits. Selecting the strains the product is made from can produce varying effects. CBD and D8 products often combine with other cannabinoids and terpenes to enhance their properties.
Rare Cannabinoid at Your Doorstep
The making of Delta-8 can be difficult due to its rarity. However, with evolving processes like CBD to D8 conversion, the process can be a little simpler. This has allowed for the wideavailability of this wonderful cannabinoid, straight to your doorstep. As Delta-8 increases in popularity and strains are bred purely for their heightened cannabinoid content, we will see this exciting industry change in even more ways. Stay tuned…
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