August 03, 2022 7 min read

Delta-8-THC has garnished a good reputation as "the legal THC," but it's not the only one. As other hemp-derived THC products make it to market, many people are wondering–what's the difference in Delta-8 vs THC-O?

With both cannabinoids competing for the front line position, it's important to understand the difference between their effects, accessibility, legality, and more. You may find that although the two have totally opposite effects, they have plenty of similarities, and they make a good team.

In fact, a combo Delta-8 + THC-O dose offers effects that are closest to traditional THC products. Before you choose for yourself, let's break down the differences in Delta-8 vs THC-O that you need to know:

Table of Contents
What is Delta-8?
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-8 and Delta-10 are both legal hemp isomers with mild psychoactive effects.
  • Delta-8 may have slightly stronger effects than Delta-10.
  • Delta-8 is most commonly described as relaxing while Delta-10 may be more uplifting.
  • The two are subject to similar laws and come at a similar price point, but Delta-8-THC may be the more affordable and accessible option.
  • To date, more is known about Delta-8’s effects and therapeutic profile.

A model comparing the Delta-8, Delta-9, and THC-O molecules to show their similarities.

What is Delta-8-THC?

Delta-8-THC is a hemp isomer that's made from CBD derived from hemp material. 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.

It does, however, have mild psychoactive effects that are not quite as strong as traditional THC products.

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

What is THC-O?

THC-O is also a hemp isomer that falls under the same federally legal umbrella. However, its psychoactive effects are thought to be much stronger than traditional THC products.

Whereas Delta-8 is made from CBD, THC-O is made from Delta-8. THC-O is, however, naturally found in hemp material in trace amounts and is considered a natural hemp cannabinoid as well.

What’s the Difference Between Delta-8 and THC-O?

As we mentioned, Delta-8 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 potency, effects, and price point.

To clearly illustrate the difference in Delta-8 vs THC-O, we’ll break down all of their similarities and differences:

Potency

Potency is the primary area where Delta-8 and THC-O differ. In fact, Delta-8 is thought to be about half as potent as traditional THC, while THC-O is thought to be about three times as potent. That’s a huge difference, and it impacts the dosage thresholds and overall effects for both cannabinoids.

We want to 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-8 and THC-O not only have different potencies, but they have a totally different range of effects. The effects of Delta-8 are generally described as more relaxing, and many people claim that Delta-8 gives “indica energy” that’s soothing, relieving, and can support sleep.

THC-O, on the other hand, is stimulating and 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.

This parallel of effects is another reason why a combination of Delta-8 and THC-O may be useful since it creates a “hybrid” effect that’s a bit more balanced.


Because Delta-8 is milder than traditional THC, its thought to be less likely to induce some of the negative side effects that are sometimes associated with THC, like anxiety and paranoia. THC-O, because it is stronger, may lean in the other direction, so it’s important to dose cautiously until you’re more familiar with how much THC-O you should take.

Delta-8 flower and a THC-O vape, two different dosing methods available for both cannabinoid formulas.

Legality

In terms of legality, Delta-8 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 Delta-8 products, and those laws may or may not apply to THC-O as well. Currently, there seem to be no laws specifically surrounding THC-O's legality in any state, but this could change.

For now, it's safe to say that THC-O and Delta-8 fall under the same laws at the state level, but Delta-8 is often the one in the spotlight. To find out if Delta-8 is legal in your state, read “Where is Delta 8 THC Legal? A State By State Guide to Delta-8 Laws.”

Availability

Because both Delta-8 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-8 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 Delta-8-THC products simply because it is in higher demand. You can find Delta-8-THC edibles, flower, vapes, softgels, and more. You may be able to find some of the same dosing styles in THC-O formulas as well, but you'll most commonly find THC-O as a vape or edible. In many cases, THC-O products also contain Delta-8 because Delta-8 is a natural part of the THC-O manufacturing process.

Manufacturing

Delta-8-THC is a hemp isomer made from CBD 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.

Safety

Currently, there's no evidence that proves that either Delta-8 or THC-O is unsafe. Delta-8-THC may be considered a safer option by default simply because it's not as potent, so the potential of overdoing it is much lower.

Generally speaking, however, the safety of a Delta-8 or THC-O product depends heavily on the formulation and how it's made. In other words, Delta-8 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. 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. That's not to say that THC-O is inherently unsafe, of course, and time will likely allow researchers an opportunity to fill this gap in evidence.

Dosage

It's hard to compare the average dosage of Delta-8 and THC-O because dosage size generally depends on many unique factors, like tolerance, body weight, and desired effects.

In general, THC-O is used in munch smaller dosages than Delta-8 or even Delta-9-THC because it is much more potent. You may find that 1-5 mg of THC-O is enough to produce prominent psychoactive effects, while consumers may use 10-50 mg of Delta-8 to produce the same level of effects.

Price

Delta-8-THC undeniably comes at a more affordable price point than THC-O, likely because it requires one less step during manufacturing and is easier to make. Because THC-O is a bit newer and is still in it’s “trendy” phase, prices are often inflated.

In most cases, though, THC-O products 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 Delta-8 compared to Delta-9 is that it is known to be much more shelf stable. Experts theorize that this potentially makes Delta-8 more useful for pharmaceutical applications.

Delta-8, when stored properly, can last for months. Luckily, THC-O is equally as stable and can last a long time when stored under similar conditions. To learn more about how to extend the shelf life of your hemp-derived THC, read “Storing Delta-8-THC.”

D8 vs THC-O: Which Should I Choose?

If you’re still stuck comparing Delta-8 vs THC-O to decide which is right for you, here are our final thoughts:

Vida Optima Elev8 THC-O + Delta-8 Vape

Choose Delta-8-THC for a chill experience, affordability, and reliability.

Delta-8 has established a name for itself in the hemp community and is known for providing a smooth and reliable ride. It also comes at a price point that's much more affordable than many traditional THC products. Some sources report that Delta-8 may be useful for pain, managing anxiety, or supporting sleep.

You may also find a broader variety of product styles, like Delta-8 Flower or Sublingual-style Edibles.

Choose THC-O for an uplifting, potent head high, but dose 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-8 and THC-O together. In fact, many products (like our Delta-8 + THC-O vaporizer) make this super simple. The combo is designed to better replicate the natural effects of traditional THC products, offering a high that falls somewhere between THC-O’s stimulating effects and Delta-8’s relaxing effects.

In reality, it may be useful to keep both on hand since Delta-8 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.

Resources

  1. “2018 Farm Bill” https://www.usda.gov/farmbill
“An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7776837/

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