Delta-11 vs THC-O: Two Ends of the Potency Spectrum

by Kat Austin June 13, 2023 8 min read

Delta-11 vs THC-O: Two Ends of the Potency Spectrum - Vida Optima™

THC-O has had a good run as the "most potent hemp THC," but it now has a rival. Delta-11-THC is being touted as equally as potent as THC-O, and possibly even more euphoric. If you've heard about these two novel psychoactive cannabinoids and want to learn more, we'll divulge all the Delta-11-THC vs THC-O secrets:

Table of Contents
What is Delta-11?
What is THC-O?
Potency
Effects
Legality
Availability
Manufacturing
Safety
Dosage
Price
Shelf Life
D8 vs THC-O: Which is Best?
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Delta-11 and THC-O are both legal hemp isomers with potent psychoactive effects.
  • Delta-11 is most commonly described as sedating and euphoric while THC-O may be more uplifting.
  • The two are subject to similar laws and come at a similar price point, but THC-O may be the more affordable and accessible option.

What is Delta-11-THC?

Delta-11-THC is a hemp isomer that's made similarly to other hemp THC isomers via an isomerization process that starts with natural CBD extract. Because it's derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC, it falls under the umbrella of federally legal hemp products.

Natural hemp material as it grows outdoors before it is harvested to make various hemp-derived THC products, including Detla-11 and THC-O

It does, however, have potent psychoactive effects that are thought to be nearly three times stronger than traditional THC products.

Delta-11 can be naturally found in hemp, but it's usually only found in low concentrations. This is why it needs to be synthesized from CBD in order to make Delta-8 extract in usable amounts. Synthesized Delta-11 and naturally sourced Delta-11 are identical, and Delta-11 is not anything like the dangerous synthetic cannabinoids found on the street market.

We don't know much about Delta-11. In fact, only two studies currently exist to help us understand the cannabinoid at all, and most of what we do know just reflects how it may be metabolized by different species. Instead, we have to rely on what we know about its molecular structure compared to other, more common THC products, as well as anecdotal reports.

What is THC-O?

THC-O is also a hemp isomer that falls under the same federally legal umbrella. Its psychoactive effects are also thought to be much stronger than traditional THC products. THC-O is naturally found in hemp material in trace amounts and is considered a natural hemp cannabinoid as well.

There have been a handful of studies to help us understand the mechanisms by which THC-O works in the body, but evidence is still incredibly limited concerning its potential medicinal effects. All in all, the two cannabinoids have many similarities, but let's talk about the difference between them

What’s the Difference Between Delta-11 and THC-O?

As we mentioned, Delta-11 and THC-O are similar in many ways, but there are differences to take note of before trying either product. The primary areas where the two differ are their range of effects, accessibility, and price point.

To clearly illustrate the difference in Delta-11 vs THC-O, we’ll break down all of their similarities and differences:

Potency

We don't know as much about Delta-11's potency as we do about THC-O, but most reports put the two on a level playing field. Both are considered to be about three times more potent than traditional Delta-9-THC, which means it's up to 6 times stronger than hemp derived Delta-8.


Let us clarify that by “potency” we mean the cannabinoid's affinity for the CB1 receptors in the brain, which is the cannabinoid receptor responsible for inducing psychoactive effects. The actual potency or intensity of effects you experience from a particular product has a lot to do with your personal THC tolerance, body weight, and the dosage that you take.

Effects

Delta-1 and THC-O may have similar potencies, but they have a totally different range of effects. The effects of Delta-11 are generally described as more relaxing and euphoric, inducing more tingling body effects than cerebral effects. Some people relate this to a "trance" style high, or "couch lock" effect. This type of THC product is notoriously used for sleep, physical discomforts, and relaxation and stress relief.

THC-O, on the other hand, offers stimulating cerebral effects that can boost creativity and mental energy in a way that makes it perfect for daytime use. Some people even describe the effects of THC-O as “borderline hallucinogenic,” although this is likely dose dependent.


Because both Delta-11 and THC-O have extremely potent effects, they may be more likely to cause the negative side effects that are sometimes associated with THC, like anxiety and paranoia. This is especially true when taking too much of either cannabinoids or when combining the two, so be sure to dose cautiously until you’re more familiar with how much THC-O you should take and how much Delta-11 you should take.

Legality

In terms of legality, Delta-1 and THC-O are virtually the same. Both of these cannabinoids are derived from legal hemp material, both are made from CBD extract through similar methods. That means that they both fall under the definition for legal hemp products used in the 2018 Farm Bill, and they're both legal by federal standards.

Of course, some states have created laws that specifically ban hemp THC products, and those laws may or may not apply to THC-O and Delta-11 individually or mutually. Currently, there seem to be no laws specifically surrounding THC-O or Delta-11 legality in any state, but this could change.

For now, it's safe to say that THC-O and Delta-11 fall under the same laws at the state level. To find out if either is legal in your state, you may want to read:

Accessibility

Because both Delta-11 and THC-O are federally legal, they're much more accessible than Delta-9-THC. Delta-9 can typically only be bought in state licensed dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal for either recreational or medical use. Delta-11 and THC-O are both available online and can be shipped directly to your door, assuming you live in a state where hemp derived THC is legal.

As far as variety goes, you're more likely to find a wide variety of THC-O products simply because it is more well known and currently in higher demand. You can find THC-O edibles, flower, vapes, softgels, and more. You may be able to find some of the same dosing styles in Delta-11 formulas as well, but you'll most commonly find Delta-11, paired with other hemp THC extracts, as a vape or edible.

Manufacturing

Both THC-O and Delta-11 are hemp isomers made from hemp extract through a process called isomerization. You can learn more about how this works by reading "How is THC-O Made?" but we'll break it down briefly below.

During the isomerization process, CBD is exposed to acetic acid. This rearranges the CBD molecule into Delta-8. This is possible because Delta-8 and CBD are isomers, meaning they are molecules that share all of the same components, just arranged in a different order.

The final product is refined and the remaining CBD, acids, and chemical byproducts are removed.

To make THC-O, manufacturers take this process a step further. Delta-8, when exposed to an acid, becomes THC-O. Then the final products can be carefully refined to remove unwanted compounds. In some cases some Delta-8 is left behind, and in others it's removed to create a THC-O product with high purity.

Introducing different acid components and altering the wait times for acid exposure are what alter the isomer's structure, so different versions of this process are used to make different hemp-derived THC molecules, including Delta-11.

Safety

Currently, there's no evidence that proves that either Delta-11 or THC-O is unsafe. The safety of a Delta-11 or THC-O product depends heavily on the formulation and how it's made. In other words, Delta-11 and THC-O themselves may not be inherently unsafe, but low quality formulations could contain fillers, chemical byproducts, pesticides, or other dangerous contaminants.

As far as the research goes, there's more research available regarding the use and safety of Delta-8, and alternate cannabinoids like THC-O and Delta-11 are still awaiting research results. For instance, one of the most heavily cited studies about Delta-8 found it to be 100% effective at reducing nausea and vomiting in pediatric cancer patients, noting that it was much less likely to produce any adverse effect than Delta-9-THC.

The study suggests that Delta-8 was safe for therapeutic use even in children, and no such study currently exists for THC-O or Delta-11. That's not to say that either is inherently unsafe, of course, and time will likely allow researchers an opportunity to fill this gap in evidence.

Dosage

The average dosage of Delta-11 and THC-O are usually similar because they are equally as potent, but it all depends on many unique factors, like tolerance, body weight, formula, and desired effects.

For new consumers with a low tolerance, you may find that 1-5 mg of either THC-O or Delta-11 is enough to produce prominent psychoactive effects, while more experienced consumers may use 10-20 milligrams of either products to produce the same level of effects.

Keep in mind that THC-O and Delta-11 are both frequently paired with other hemp cannabinoids, and the overall formula will change the potency of the dose. For instance, pairing THC-O with Delta-8, which is milder by nature, will produce slightly less potent effects.

Price

THC-O may come at a slightly more affordable price point than Delta-11, simply because it's more common and requires fewer manufacturing steps. In many cases, THC-O products may also contain Delta-8-THC, which may make them a bit more affordable. Usually, they are still both more affordable than Delta-9-THC products, which may be subject to a special state tax when bought at licensed dispensaries.

Shelf Life

One primary benefit to alternate hemp derived cannabinoids is that they are known to be much more shelf stable. For instance, Delta-8 is known to be much more stable when compared to Delta-9. Experts theorize that this potentially makes Delta-8 more useful for pharmaceutical applications.

Why? Usually it's because hemp-derived THC products are a slightly degraded version of the Delta-9 or CBD isomer chain, the chain of reactions that happens to natural cannabis material as it degrades and it's cannabinoid composition changes. That makes most isomerized THC molecules less reactive to their environment and therefore more stable.


Delta-11 and THC-O, when stored properly, can last for months. To learn more about the shelf life of your hemp-derived THC, read “Storing Delta-8-THC.”

A woman holding a yellow THC-O vape against a yellow background

D11 vs THC-O: Which Should I Choose?

If you’re still stuck comparing Delta-11 vs THC-O to decide which is right for you, here are our final thoughts:

Choose Delta-11-THC for a deep body euphoria and relaxing experience.

Delta-11s potent effects are notoriously useful for getting that sedating buzz you may need to unwind, rest up, or stave off body aches. Some sources report that Delta-11 may be useful for pain, managing anxiety, or supporting sleep, though there's currently no research available to support any medical claims. Choose delta-11 products that are made from high-quality hemp by experienced manufacturers and learn to dose slowly and carefully to help reduce the risk of uncomfortable side effects.

Choose THC-O for an uplifting, potent head high, but do it wisely.

THC-O is highly potent and is a good option for experienced cannabis consumers, but you should take care when working out a THC-O dosage plan. The amount of THC-O you should take is much smaller than the amount of Delta-9 or Delta-8 you may need to experience a smooth high.

Combine the two for a level, hybrid experience.

In reality, there’s no reason you can’t take Delta-11 and THC-O together. In fact, many products may use this combination (or a similar combination) to replicate the natural effects of traditional THC products, offering a high that falls somewhere between THC-O’s stimulating effects and Delta-11’s relaxing effects.


Keep in mind that you shouldn't stack two full doses, rather you should take half what you would normally take of each cannabinoid to create one full dose. In reality, it may be useful to keep both on hand since Delta-11 and THC-O may both be useful in different situations. If you want to shop for legal, hemp-derived THC products, check out ourElev8 Collection.

Vida Optima Cloud 9 Delta-9-THC Gummies

Resources

  1. “2018 Farm Bill” https://www.usda.gov/farmbill

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