September 19, 2022 4 min read

THC-O is a synthesized cannabinoid, but it’s not synthetic in the same sense as K2 and other street cannabinoids are synthetic because it is synthesized from real hemp material. Of course, this not-synthetic-but-synthesized status leaves consumers pretty confused about how THC-O should look, taste, and feel. Here, we’re going to explore one of the most confusing parts of THC-O’s sensory experiences–should THC-O taste like chemicals? Or should it taste more like the plant it comes from?

The answer is no, THC-O products should definitely not have any chemical residue leftover after being properly manufactured. It's possible, however, that the flavor you may mistake as a "chemical taste" actually comes from terpenes.

Understanding what tastes to expect is a great way to help ensure that the THC-O you have is high-quality and well made. Let’s jump in:

Key Takeaways

  • Pure THC-O has very little flavor, but the flavor of a product is altered by its additional ingredients..
  • If you experience a strong chemical flavor, something may be wrong with your THC-O products.
  • Check lab tests to verify the quality of a particular product and reach out to the brand if you believe the product to be contaminated.

What a THC-O "Chemical Taste" Really Means

We’ll repeat: THC-O products should not have an overwhelming chemical taste. If you grab a batch that tastes like your all-purpose cleaner smells, be very afraid that something has gone terribly wrong–usually during the manufacturing process.

During manufacturing, various chemicals and extraction techniques may be used to create THC-O. The original CBD material is extracted either using solventless CO2 extraction or using one of many extraction chemicals (like alcohol or butane). Then, the CBD is converted to Delta-8 and then to THC-O using an isomerization process, or the process of introducing the plant material to an acid in order to change its molecular structure.

Regardless, any excess chemical should be removed at the end of the manufacturing process. This part, known as the “refinement” phase, is crucial, but it’s sometimes skipped by shady manufacturers hoping to save on time and money in exchange for a subpar product.

But that's why it's important to only buy hemp products from a high-quality, trustworthy brand that uses modern manufacturing techniques and a third party testing process to ensure potency and quality.

If you know that you bought your THC-O from a trustworthy brand but you still notice a funny aftertaste, there may be a different explanation.

Terpenes Could Explain a Mild Chemical Taste

a photo of a THC-O cart a lemons, a rich source of limonene, a terpene that may be found in many THC formulas

THC-O products may be finished with terpenes, a process known as strain profiling. This helps to create a diverse array of THC-O products, each with unique effects and therapeutic properties. Many people rely on knowing the terpene content of a product to predict how it will make them feel. For instance, a product with a sativa-leaning terpene profile will be more uplifting while a product with indica-leaning terpenes will be more relaxing.

In addition to carrying their own therapeutic profiles, however, terpenes (in the cannabis plant) are also responsible for giving different cannabis strains their unique aromas. But many of these terpenes, especially when concentrated and added to a product, have an aroma that could be mistaken as a chemical taste.

For instance, linalool is a terpene known for its bold, earthy, spicy aroma that’s found in lavender and cinnamon. These aromatic compounds may taste sort of odd, almost perfume-like, to someone who isn’t accustomed to the natural flavor. In fact, terpenes are often used to make perfume and other fragrances, which only adds to the taste and smell confusion.

Still, the taste from terpenes should be incredibly subtle, so if your product has an overwhelming chemical flavor, something is wrong. If the chemical taste you're describing is pretty subtle, try checking the product ingredients to see if it has added terpenes. In some cases, products may also contain essential oils that have a similar diluted chemical flavor.

What Should THC-O Taste Like?

We can’t narrow down THC-O to any specific flavor profile because all THC-O products are made and finished differently. THC-O distillate, the raw concentrate used to make THC-O products, generally has almost no flavor or smell at all because it has been thoroughly refined to remove and extra or unwanted plant materials.

Of course, THC-O is not always sold in this pure form. Instead, the flavor of your THC-O products will depend on its ingredients, like the terpenes we mentioned earlier, but also any other flavor additives, sweeteners, oils, vitamins, or other ingredients used to make the particular product.

Where to Find High Quality THC-O Products

When you shop for THC-O, look for a product that is:

  • Made from high-quality, organically-grown hemp
  • Manufactured in a cGMP compliant facility
  • Tested before and during the manufacturing process
  • Third-party batch tested after production to ensure label accuracy
Vida Optima Elev8 THC-O Vape Cart

Whether you are looking for a THC-O edible, vaporizer, or otherwise, take some time to check the formula for terpenes so that you can understand what flavors to expect. Our THC-O + Delta-8 Vaporizers, for instance, contain terpenes for strain profiling, but the flavor is reminiscent of natural cannabis flower.

If you cannot confirm that the “chemical” flavor of your THC-O product is actually the flavor of terpenes or other intentional ingredients, we recommend that you stop using it and reach out to the brand. If they can’t confirm the quality and purity of the product, you should definitely start searching for a new brand.

If you want to skip the footwork and buy high-quality THC-O and other hemp-derived THC products that taste great, check out our Elev8 Collection.


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