The way that Delta-8-THC is made has everything to do with whether it’s legal, safe, and effective. Unfortunately, not every company is willing to expose the gritty details behind their manufacturing process, but we’re going to break it down.
So, how is Delta-8-THC extracted so that it’s legal? And why does the Delta-8-THC extraction process matter so much?
Here’s what you need to know:
Before we can answer questions about how Delta-8-THC is extracted, we need to discuss where Delta-8 actually comes from:
Delta-8 is a natural cannabinoid found in almost all varieties of cannabis, including hemp. CBGA, a cannabinoid acid that’s known as “the mother of all cannabinoids,” becomes THCA, which becomes Delta-9-THC through a process called decarboxylation, or a precise amount of heat exposure.
Delta-8-THC is a degraded version of Delta-9 that’s created when oxidation happens. This may be the reason that Delta-8 is thought to be less potent than Delta-9, and the reason that it doesn’t degrade quickly when exposed to air, giving it a long shelf life.
Since Delta-8 is a product of Delta-9 degradation, it’s safe to assume that it’s available only in low quantities, especially in legal hemp material (which must contain less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC by law). In fact, Delta-8 is usually found in quantities lower than 1%.
Originally, this posed an issue for the researchers who discovered Delta-8-THC, especially after cannabis was made illegal in 1970.
That is, until one prominent cannabinoid researcher, Raphael Mechoulam, discovered that Delta-8-THC existed as a CBD isomer, meaning the CBD molecule could be rearranged to create Delta-8-THC. Mechoulam filed for a patent in the early 2000’s that detailed a method for converting CBD into Delta-8-THC.
CBD is available in abundance in hemp material that is legal and accessible according to federal law. Extracting CBD is the first step to making many of the Delta-8-THC products on the market today.
Before Delta-8-THC can be made from CBD, the CBD needs to be extracted from legal hemp material, usually using hemp flowers or hemp biomass (meaning the entire hemp plant). There are a variety of different extraction methods that can be used, but they all share a similar first step: Decarboxylation.
The decarboxylation process, commonly called “decarbing,” involves heating the hemp material to precise temperatures. Heat converts CBDa to CBD, which helps boost the CBD content.
After the material has been decarbed to increase the CBD content, one (or a combination) of various extraction methods can be used to remove the CBD material from the dried plant material.
The extraction methods used to make CBD products vary greatly, but they boil down to three popular, basic methods: solvent-based extraction, solventless extractions, and oil extractions.
(Read Hemp and CBD Extraction Methods to learn more about the various extraction techniques and how they differ.)
After the CBD material is extracted, it is carefully refined (through methods like winterization and distillation) to create CBD isolate. CBD isolate, a form of CBD that is 99% pure, is the material that is most frequently used to make Delta-8-THC products in the U.S.
Once the CBD isolate material is ready, it needs to be transformed into Delta-8-THC through a process called “isomerization.”
More specifically, CBD has to be dissolved in a certain acid, most commonly glacial acetic acid. This chemical process first converts some of the CBD to Delta-9-THC, but after 72 hours over half of the original CBD material will become Delta-8-THC.
Finally, the material is carefully refined once more to remove any unwanted materials, like leftover acids, to create a pure and potent Delta-8-THC oil. This material can be used to make the wide variety of Delta-8 products you’ll find on the market today.
In some cases, the Delta-8 extract is used as-is, or it may be mixed with various carrier oils, terpenes, cannabinoids, or flavor additives to create a Delta-8 product that is entirely unique. Regardless of whether the material is used to make vaporizers or edibles or something in between, a good manufacturer will also use a batch-testing process to verify potency and safety.
Although Delta-8-THC is a natural cannabinoid, there are various things that could go wrong during the isomerization process that would result in low Delta-8 concentrations. For that reason, third-party lab tests are used to hold a manufacturer accountable, prove label accuracy, and otherwise mark a Delta-8 product as honest and legitimate.
Since Delta-8-THC can be made through various methods, consumers must be careful to ensure that the Delta-8-THC they buy is made through legal cannabinoid extraction techniques.
At Vida Optima, all of our Delta-8-THC products are 100% Farm Bill compliant and are accompanied by lab tests that prove label accuracy. For legal Delta-8 products you can buy online, check out our entire Delta-8-THC collection.
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