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What is Water-Soluble THC? |

VSthe legalization of annabis has led to a large and bustling market for edibles, including premium confectionery, savory dishes, and a revolution in home brewing from Coffee at cream at Thanksgiving dinners. But through it all, cannabis drinks have been scarce. The main reason for this is that THC, the psychoactive compound cannabis is known for, is not water soluble, which means it does not dissolve in water for quick and easy digestion.

Many drinks have experimented with small amounts of oily concentrates with varying degrees of success, but from the start water soluble THC has been to the edibles market what the moon landing has been to the race. ‘space. So where are all the THC drinks and THC powder sachets?

In this article, we review the science behind water soluble THC, its benefits over tobacco or edibles, and what more to expect on the horizon.

How is water soluble THC made?

THC is a lipid, or fat, with an incredibly low solubility in water: 0.003 mg / ml. For perspective, a standard edible dose of 10mg of THC would require more than three liters of water to dissolve. Like other aromatic terpenoids, THC easily dissolves in other lipids and alcohol. This has been exploited for the production of a myriad of petroleum and alcohol based drinks in today’s cannabis market.

For those looking for alcohol-free THC, the options are limited to cannabis drinks who try to mix oils with water. Inevitably, emulsifiers were needed for this task.

Cannabis plants find it difficult to recover from frost or snow. Photo credit

Like raw milk or salad dressing, these mixtures can settle and separate, requiring vigorous agitation. Traditionally, these oils hid poorly, often dictate the flavor and the mouth feel of the final product.

However, recent advancements in the science of emulsions, genetic modification, and cannabis chemistry have resulted in THC being almost completely water soluble. This opens the door to entirely new products that were previously out of reach. Given the infancy of this new field, many companies and brands are entering the market with very different approaches to the same goal.

The science behind water soluble THC

Most of the currently available water soluble THC products have taken advantage of innovative oil-based delivery methods. Producers learned from molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine, using technology to rethink food.

These microemulsions are usually obtained by packaging cannabis extracts in tiny bubbles, or micelles. Vegetable starches like maltodextrin and “carrier oils” are involved in this process. These “micro-bubbles” can easily be mixed with water or other liquids by shaking or stirring lightly. PHOTO CURRENT OK This process is used for prepared and packaged beverages, many of which are low or zero calorie and use different approaches to mask the minimum remaining flavor and texture. Some use carbonation and familiar archetypes like cider or beer to forgo even smaller additives.

A few other brands go even further in this microencapsulation by drying the final product to a fine powder. It is the most advanced form of water soluble THC to date, with the ability to add it directly to any drink or food. These are edible that have taken convenience and discretion to a whole new level. In fact, for security reasons, the creator of Ripple, a soluble powder made by Stillwater Brands, stresses that the product does not dissolve clearly, preventing any unexpected additions to your drink.

The future of water soluble THC

Although not currently available, some products will be coming to market soon, completely removing the need for additives or emulsifiers. In their purest forms, they’re nothing more than flavorless THC in purified water. The approaches pursued are innovative and much more advanced than your average emulsion.

Trait biosciences solves the solubility problem by learning about our own body and the cannabis plant itself. By attaching a sugar molecule to THC, which organisms naturally do, the compound instantly becomes water soluble. They accomplish this “glycosylation” both directly in genetically modified plants and afterwards by enzymatic fermentation.

A glass of water next to the water soluble powder of Still Water Ripple

Stillwater’s Ripple is perhaps the most famous water soluble product on the market. Photo credit

Infusion Biosciences claims that their “Aqueous Plant Recovery Process” (APP) produces a whole plant extract dissolved only in water, THC and all. A THC drink derived from this technology has not yet been marketed, but in August 2020, Infusion Bio announced a partnership with Kalo to release a drink that uses this process with hemp, infusing Kalo with full spectrum CBD.

Why water soluble THC is great for all consumers

For a dozen different reasons, fewer people smoke cannabis, and look to other alternatives for their THC infusions. The edibles market has exploded to fill the void, with products that are both salty and sweet. Practical, sustainable, discreet and tasty, this booming form of consumption comes with new challenges.

The nature of cannabis use delays and prolongs the effects, progressing through digestion before reaching the bloodstream. This often results in varying and unpredictable timeframes for the experiment. These unintended consequences are one of the main reasons people report avoiding edibles.

Conversely, water soluble THC, when consumed on an empty stomach, can reach its full effect in 15 minutes.

Medicinally, this fast acting is incredibly helpful for quick relief. Recreationally, the equally accelerated duration can be appealing to those with things to do later in the day. In addition, the delivery of liquid or powder allows precise mixing and dosing: no more surprises in a strong corner of the brownie.

Finally, something most edibles can’t claim: water soluble THC rarely contains more calories than if it had been smoked. Many water soluble THC products have very low calorie counts, due only to the added sugars, oils or other ingredients. Along with the calories, the signature cannabis flavor that permeates so many edibles is nowhere to be found.


Can you infuse water with THC?

Water can be THC infused with the right products, currently there are only a few. THC occurs naturally as a lipid, a fatty substance that only mixes with other fatty lipids. In the past, microemulsion was used to infuse tiny bubbles of concentrate into watery drinks, but new technologies are starting to produce powdered THC that can be mixed into any drink.

Is THC soluble in water?

No, THC cannot be dissolved in water naturally.

How does THC become soluble in water?

Currently, the most common way to infuse water with THC is through nanoemulsion, which breaks down THC molecules into smaller nanoparticles. Unfortunately, these are still lipids and still require an emulsifier, or a mild thickening agent, to keep the nanoparticles suspended in solution (instead of separating like, well, oil and water).

Other state-of-the-art proprietary methods are being developed by different companies, but don’t expect the science to be revealed until patents are granted.

Are there any water soluble cannabinoids?

No. All natural cannabinoids are fat soluble.

Have you tried water soluble THC? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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