How does distillation work in the case of Delta 8 THC production?

Are you wondering what is delta 8 THC? Delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol or Δ8 THC is one of the trendiest cannabinoids in the whole world. However, you can find it in only 1% of the cannabis plant, and it has psychoactive properties.

According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta 8 is “an analog of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.” As a result, it’s gradually making its way to the mainstream market. Generally, delta-8 hemp distillate is extracted from the hemp plant because of legal issues. But how was this precious cannabinoid produced? How does the distillation process work? This article is going to answer all your queries about delta 8 THC production.

What is distillate?

A cannabis extract, stripped of all the other compounds and materials except for one specific cannabinoid, is called the distillate. It has a potency of 99%. It is infused in various edibles, vape cartridges, and other cannabis products. The psychoactive property of the distillate depends on the type of cannabinoid. In the case of delta-8 hemp distillate THC, you will probably get high. But, if you are using CBD distillates, it does not have any mind-altering effect. Distillates are a kind of cannabis oil. It is popular among customers for its potency.

What are the processes of making Delta 8 THC?

There is a very minimal amount of delta-8 present in cannabis plants. So, mostly it is made in the laboratory. The general processes are,

  1. Distillation from hemp.
  2. Conversion of other cannabinoids in delta 8 THC.

Distillation of Delta-8 THC from hemp plants:

Delta-8 is a rare and beneficial cannabinoid. Although the delta-8 THC present in hemp flowers is less than 1%, extraction of delta-8 from raw hemp plants is unnecessary and very expensive. So, manufacturing companies do not use this process.

The raw cannabis flower extract liquid is boiled, and it produces vapor of higher potency. Then the steam reaches the fractional distillation column. By varying pressure and temperature and increasing the rotating band force of the spinning band, the separation continues. After that, the higher boiling components go back into the boiling flask from the spinning band, and the lightest compound is collected. The delta-8 gained by this process is almost 80% pure. Later it goes through a further refinement process which produces 99% pure delta-8.

Delta-8 can also be extracted from hemp using a standard carbon dioxide extraction process. Then by nanotechnology, a small amount of delta-8 is made. But, unfortunately, it is also a costly and tedious process.

Conversion of other cannabinoids in delta 8 THC:

All the cannabinoids come from the same family and have the same generic structure. So, through simple chemical reactions, one cannabinoid can be converted into another. Not just delta-8, this conversion process is also used in making delta-9, cannabichromene, or CBC, cannabinol, or CBN. Time, light, and heat are the three factors that help to convert one cannabinoid to another. Cannabigerol acid or CBGA is called the “mother of all cannabinoids.” It synthesizes into different cannabinoids as the plant grows. The THCA level of the plant increases with heat and time. But the THC level should be below 0.3% on any day because of the legal limit. With the help of some solvents, reagents, acids, and bypassing through a chemical reaction, delta-8 can be produced from other cannabinoids. Here we are going to discuss the two most common cannabinoid conversions.

Conversion of CBD to Delta 8:

Hemp plants contain 12%-18% cannabidiol or CBD. This is the most abundant amount of cannabinoid found in hemp. The CBD is extracted from the plant by the CO2 extraction process or solvent extraction process.

In this method, carbon dioxide gas is compressed into liquid in a pressurized chamber. Then the liquid CO2 is mixed with the cannabis, and it removes all the cannabinoids from there. After that, the solution is taken back to room temperature and pressure. Then the CO2 converts to its gaseous form and evaporates leaving the cannabidiol behind. In the large-scale production of CBD, this method is often used. CO2 extraction is also used to extract other cannabinoids. This method is wildly popular for producing the purest CBD.

The solvent extraction method is quite similar to CO2 extraction. But it is faster and cheaper. Here butane, propane, or ethanol is used as a solvent instead of liquid CO2. After it strips away all the cannabinoids, the solvent is separated by heating or cooling. The drawback of the method is that the remains of the solvent may result in an unpleasant taste in the final product. Both CO2 extraction and solvent extraction methods are effective but highly dangerous as CO2, and all the other solvents are highly combustible. 

After extracting the CBD from hemp, the CBD goes through an isomerization process where the CBD isolate converts into the delta-8 distillate.

Conversion of Delta-9 to Delta-8:

The amount of Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol present in hemp is much more than delta-8 THC isomer. The delta-9 THC cannabis oil is extracted from the hemp plants in the same spinning band fractional distillation process. Then the cannabis oil is mixed with 4% acidic alumina silicate. The acidic alumina silicate catalyzes the conversion of delta-9 to delta-8. Then through distillation, the THC is produced. These processes produce a large amount of delta-8 at a much lesser cost. The final product comes in liquid form, though it can become semi-solid or solid at a cooler temperature.

Conclusion

The delta-8 hemp distillate THC is the fourth most searched cannabinoid in the world. It is potent. Delta-8 distillate or any other distillate should only be manufactured in laboratories under expert supervision. These processes are dangerous. One should not try it at home. Delta-8 THC is federally legal in the United States if it is extracted from hemp plants. You can get delta-8 hemp distillate THC in oil form, tinctures, vape cartridges, dabs, soft gel capsules, and other edibles. It has several potential benefits. Lot of products mix delta-8 and other cannabinoids or terpenes to enhance the result.

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