August 19, 2021

How To Make Delta-8-THC From Hemp CBD

Delta-8 is a naturally-occurring compound. But it can also be created by people. In this quick post, we’re breaking down scientific barriers — explaining in everyday terms how cannabis processors create D8 in a lab or manufacturing setting.

What Is Delta-8-THC?

Delta-8-THC (commonly called delta-8 or D8) is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid found in both industrial hemp and marijuana. Its chemical structure is very similar to delta-9-THC (what most people think of and refer to as plain ol’ “THC”). But, it’s a separate and distinct cannabinoid with its own unique properties.

For a thorough explainer on delta-8, check out our post entitled Delta-8-THC: What It Is, Where It Comes From, How It Differs From CBD & Delta-9-THC.

D8: Man vs Mother Nature (aka Why Manufacture Delta-8)

It may sound cray cray to create delta-8 when it’s already generated by nature and already right there in the cannabis plant.

Here’s the deal, though. The amount of D8 that’s inherent to cannabis is in such minute quantities that it’s not economical to use. You’d have to grow so much cannabis to get a usable amount of delta-8 — the numbers just don’t work out from a business or agricultural perspective.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy and very affordable to mass produce substantial quantities of D8 in a lab or processing plant. Delta-8-THC can be made from the crops growers already have on hand. Plus, the amount of delta-8 humans can get from each cannabis plant is significantly greater than what nature is able to yield.

Why Make D8 From Hemp-Derived CBD

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp and its byproducts — like CBD — that contain no more than 0.3% THC are federally legal in the US. This means that hemp and hemp-derived CBD are abundant, affordable, and OK to sell to eager consumers.

And as such, every day the infrastructure to farm, transport, transform, and market hemp and CBD oil products is expanding and solidifying. Seriously, have you noticed the explosion in CBD retailers and infused goods out there?!

For the same reasons, hemp CBD is an ideal input for making delta-8-THC.

 

CBD à Delta-8-THC Process

In the beginning, all cannabinoids start out as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). As the cannabis plant grows, various influences convert the CBGA molecules into the lineup of cannabinoids we all know and love. Moreover, nature-made delta-8-THC is formed when delta-9-THC degrades over time.

This is an important fundamental concept to keep in mind: Cannabinoids are naturally morphable. They’re born changelings! It’s their MO to evolve, whether the nudge to do so comes organically or from a guy in a lab coat.

In The Lab Making Delta-8

There are a few ways to transform the chemical structure of CBD into that of D8. The well-established technique below is probably the most common because it’s easy, quick, uses readily available materials, and is cost effective. It’s not magic — just the result of smart and industrious pros!

  1. Extract CBD from hemp. You can learn about CBD extraction in our From Seed To Sale: How CBD Oil Is Made
  2. Dissolve the CBD. A solvent is combined with the CBD extract to separate out its parts.
  3. Add an acid. An acid is incorporated into the solution, which is then heated and mixed for up to 18 hours.(1) This causes a chemical reaction that rearranges the molecules to form a substance that contains delta-8 and delta-9.
  4. Neutralize the acid. This balances out the acid from the previous step.
  5. Clean it up. The new substance needs to be washed to remove remaining traces of the acid and solvent used in the chemical reactions.
  6. Distill the new substance. This further purifies and isolates the D8 and D9.
  7. Dilute or remove the D9. While the final distillate is mostly delta-8 (60-70%), it also contains about 2-6% delta-9-THC.(2) Processors will refine the distillate to the target D8/D9 levels (e.g., to make it fall within legal THC limits).
  8. Test for potency and contents.The final delta-8-THC is analyzed to determine or confirm the amount of delta-8 (and other cannabinoids) it contains. Testing will also reveal any other substances — residue from processing compounds, pesticides, etc. — riding the D8 coattails.

This is a basic how-to. Actual outcomes will vary by producer since they likely use different solvents, acids, cleansing solutions, process variations, etc.

When Life Gives You Hemp CBD, Make D8

Hemp-derived CBD can be converted into delta-8-THC through a relatively simple process. Product makers do this because D8 doesn’t naturally occur in cannabis in large enough amounts to be commercially profitable. Making delta-8 in a lab is an easy and cost-effective alternative.

GET YOUR HEMP-CBD-DERIVED DELTA-8 NOW

References

  1. McKeil, J, (2021). How Delta-8 THC is Made in the Lab. Cannabis Tech. https://www.cannabistech.com/articles/how-delta-8-is-made-in-the-lab/
  2. Ruscitto, A. (2021). Understanding Delta-8-THC: Where Does It Come From? Hemp Grower. https://www.hempgrower.com/article/delta-8-cannabidnoid-how-its-made-extraction-testing-measuring


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