Delta 8 THC was the first federally legal (2018 Farm Bill), hemp-derived psychoactive cannabinoid to make it big on the hemp market. Cannabidiol (CBD), which makes up around 20% of the hemp plant’s chemical composition, is quite easy to extract from the raw hemp plant material, but delta 8 is such a trace cannabinoid that companies have had to get more creative to create Delta 8 THC products.
This led to the development of an extraction process known as isomerization, which is fascinating, and can give you more insight into how you’re able to enjoy the psychoactive effects from such a trace chemical compound.
What is the Science of Delta-8 THC?
In terms of its molecular structure, delta-8 THC is very similar to delta-9 THC, which is the compound that is primarily responsible for the “high” caused by consuming cannabis. Both delta-8 and delta-9 THC have a double bind in their molecular chain; in delta-8 THC that bond is on the 8th carbon chain, while in delta-9 THC the bond is on the 9th position in the carbon chain. [Source]
It Starts with Industrial Hemp
While the marijuana plant does produce delta 8 THC, marijuana remains a federally prohibited drug, while hemp is legal. This is why all of the delta 8 that you’ll find on the market comes from the hemp plant. Hemp produces roughly 0.1% delta 8 THC, which can be found in the plant’s flowering buds. Ideally, delta 8 distillate comes from organically grown hemp, which is free of pesticides, and grown locally to ensure the highest quality standards.
Creating Delta 8 THC Distillate
As you can imagine, you’d need a ton of raw hemp material to yield just a milliliter of pure delta 8 THC distillate, since the cannabinoid is so trace in the plant material. This would be hugely expensive and time-consuming for any manufacturer, so another method has been developed which delivers the same quality end product while saving the company money. The method is known as isomerization.
All cannabinoids share a common chemical precursor known as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Therefore, all cannabinoids contain the same molecular components, only they’re arranged in different ways depending on the specific cannabinoid. This means that cannabinoids are isomers of one another. The reason why this is a big deal is because it means that we can take pure CBD, which is easy to extract due to its high abundance in the plant, and just rearrange its molecules to turn it into 100% legitimate delta 8 THC.
So, how is isomerization applied to produce delta 8 THC distillate?
- Applying a Solvent: The first thing that needs to be done is applying a solvent to the plant material, which creates an oil-soluble CBD extract.
- Add an Acid: From there, an acid is added to the solvent. Different acids produce different changes to the molecular structure of a cannabinoid. There are certain solvents that change CBD’s chemical structure to convert it into delta 8 THC.
- Test the End Result: To verify that the end result is pure delta 8 THC, liquid chromatography is used which allows a full analysis of the resulting cannabinoid.
Now, you can see that delta 8 THC is ultimately a naturally derived product, which can only be produced through naturally abundant CBD that comes from raw hemp.
How Are Delta 8 THC Products & Carts Made?
Now, we have a purified delta 8 THC extract that’s ready to go into the product formula. Of course, there are different kinds of products out there that each have their own formula.
- Delta 8 Flower: Delta 8 flower infuses delta 8 THC distillate into raw hemp flower buds, with no added ingredients to the product.
- Delta 8 Vapes: Most high-quality delta 8 vapes, including disposables and cartridges, contain only pure delta 8 THC distillate and terpenes that have been extracted from either the hemp plant or other botanical sources.
- Delta 8 Tinctures: Delta 8 tinctures combine delta 8 THC distillate with a carrier oil, in different concentration levels to offer a specific milligram strength per bottle.
- Delta 8 Edibles: Delta 8 edibles combine the pure distillate with any variety of ingredients to offer a flavorful treat that can be ingested.
- Delta 8 Capsules: Delta 8 capsules take pure delta 8 distillate and encapsulate it in a gel cap. Sometimes, the delta 8 THC is diluted with a carrier oil.
- Delta 8 Concentrates/Dabs: Delta 8 concentrates and dabs are created using various methods, since there are all kinds of concentrates out there. Refined delta 8 THC distillate is a type of concentrate that is, simply, pure delta 8 distillate. Other products, like wax and shatter, apply solvents to the raw plant material to concentrate the compounds, to which delta-8 distillate is added.
Lab-Testing Through a Third-Party Source
Now, it’s time for the delta 8 THC to be shipped off to a laboratory for testing. This is a required process, in which hemp products must be analyzed by a state-authorized third-party laboratory. Here, the hemp is tested for its purity, potency, breakdown of chemical compounds and overall compliance with federal law. These lab reports are then returned to the company and should be made available to the public.
Now comes the last stage, which is packaging. The first priority is making sure the product has an airtight seal, because otherwise, the compounds can degrade, losing both their potency and their flavor. The packaging should also include information about the ingredients inside, the suggested serving size, directions for use, and the milligram strength of the product, if applicable.
Delta 8 THC’s Journey from the Hemp Plant to Your Home
As you can see, delta 8 THC does occur in nature, but the products are made through this safe and easy conversion process we described here today. Overall, delta 8 really changed our relationship to the hemp plant, and that’s all thanks to the technological advancements that made it possible to produce isolated concentrates of the cannabinoid while maintaining a cost-effective method. Binoid Delta 8 Products are all produced using the methods described above, which is why they’re both affordable, and simply the best in terms of quality.