More about Crystalline
What is Crystalline?
Crystalline, also referred to as “crystals,” “THC crystals,” or “diamonds,” is a cannabis concentrate that comes in a solid state. It resembles coarse sugar, the kind typically used for decorating sugar cookies or glittering the tops of baked fruit pies. Crystalline is produced to be free of plant matter or terpenes, which are the distinct aromatic and flavor qualities of a cannabis cultivar, or strain.
What Cannabinoids are Available in Crystalline form?
Crystalline is produced to have just one cannabinoid. The only cannabinoids available in crystalline form are THCA, CBDA, and CBD. Anyone consuming THCA, CBDA, or CBD will not experience an intoxicating high, though THCA converts to THC when exposed to heat, making the crystalline intoxicating.
What is THCA Crystalline?
You may have heard the term “THC crystals” or “ THC crystalline ” used to describe crystalline, but THC, which produces an intoxicating high, is not available as crystalline; chemically, THC cannot hold a crystalline structure. In other words, what’s often referred to as “THC crystals” is not pure THC , but rather a form of pure THCA . THCA crystalline converts to active THC through decarboxylation at the time of consumption.
Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Is Crystalline Better than Other Concentrates?
When exposed to heat, crystalline is quite potent, though the body may not experience the full effect of this extract, as it lacks the terpenes found in flower and other concentrates. Terpenes help provide the unique flavors, aromas, and other effects of each high associated with different cultivars. Without these terpenes, crystalline isn’t able to provide the same health benefits attributed to the entourage effect .
Terpene removal is part of the crystalline production process and the resulting cannabinoids in the final product are the same, regardless of the starting plant material. For example, if a crystalline manufacturer used Durban Poison cultivar for one batch of THCA crystals, and Northern Lights cultivar for a separate batch of THCA crystals, the final products would produce the same effects. The isolated THCA crystals from one strain are identical to those from another. Dispensaries won’t carry strain-specific crystals; they simply don’t exist because THC or CBD Crystalline has no terpenes to give each cultivar its unique characteristics.
How Can Crystalline be Used?
Crystalline can be ingested orally, either added to a recipe when making edibles, or dissolving in oil to create a tincture-like product. For homemade edibles, crystals can be dissolved in cooking oil or butter, and used as an ingredient in recipes. Olive oil and coconut oil are the most popular for dissolving crystal to make a tincture-like product.
Crystalline can be smoked, or dabbed, using a dab rig. A dab rig is a type of smoking apparatus, similar to a small water bong, that vaporizes heated crystalline to be inhaled in single, measured dosages.
What is CBD Crystalline?
Dabbing CBDA or CBD Crystalline, the purest form of CBD-heavy concentrate, allows users to feel non-intoxicating effects quickly, but dabbing THCA will produce the intoxicating and psychoactive effects of THC, which may explain why they’re often thought of as “THC crystals.”
To dab CBD crystals , preheat a “nail” at one end of the dab rig using a handheld butane torch. Once the nail reaches the correct temperature, use the spoon-shaped end of a dabber to scoop and pour the appropriate dosage of crystalline on the nail. The crystals will instantly heat and vaporize on the heated nail. While inhaling the vapor through the mouthpiece end of the rig, place a cap on the nail to catch as much vapor as possible.
THCA crystalline can also be combined with other cannabis Concentrates, like live resin Shatter, to increase their potency. Mixing THC crystals with concentrates that have terpenes and other cannabinoids may aid the uptake of the THCA, CBDA, or CBD into the body.
Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
How is Crystalline made?
WARNING: THE MANUFACTURING OF CRYSTALLINE SHOULD ONLY BE PERFORMED BY SKILLED PROFESSIONALS AS THE PROCESS CAN BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND ILLEGAL IN MANY JURISDICTIONS.
Crystalline is produced from a cannabis extract. The starting material for THC crystal extraction can come from raw cannabis plants . Crystalline has a unique, subtle taste and smell, but it lacks the chemical compounds that give other cannabis Concentrates their aroma and flavor.
A number of methods are used for making THC Crystalline, but the essential crystallization principles are the same. One way to understand the crystallization process is similar to the making of rock candy. Hot water is supersaturated with sugar, then as the water cools down, sugar crystals start to form on a string or stick. Hot water allows more sugar to dissolve than under room temperature. As the unstable sugar solution is removed from the heat and allowed to cool, sugar crystals start to precipitate out of solution and will eventually begin to form on the stick. The THC crystal formation will grow over time until the final product is successfully achieved.
The production of cannabis crystalline is essentially the process of mixing a refined cannabis concentrate with a solvent, then applying specific heat and pressure conditions to evaporate the solvent, allowing crystals to form. For example, if THCA crystalline is being produced, any THCA will precipitate, or separate, out of the solution. Under the right temperature and pressure conditions, the THCA will chemically bond to other THCA molecules, forming crystalline structures.The purest form of cannabis Concentrate, this Extract consists of a single type of cannabinoid, usually tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), or cannabidiol (CBD). Crystalline is formed by thoroughly refining cannabis oil and serves as a base for formulated cannabis products.
THCA and THC: What’s the difference?
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- Why we get high on THC and not THCA, how cannabinoids convert, and raw cannabis as a superfood
- THCA vs. THC: decarboxylation process
Why we get high on THC and not THCA, how cannabinoids convert, and raw cannabis as a superfood
Surprise! You’re just not going to get high by eating that freshly picked weed. At all. When cannabis is harvested and raw, no matter how much potential resides within, there is practically none of marijuana’s most famous and intoxicating cannabinoid, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There is, however, a wealth of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), an inactive compound found within the trichomes of living cannabis plants.
So, if someone ever asks you “ what does THC stand for?” don’t confuse the two similar terms. As you’ll soon discover, they are vastly different in both chemical structure and how they interact with the human body.
THCA is a cannabinoid that until recently has been closely compared to THC. Though THCA doesn’t get one high and THC certainly does, there is a relation: THCA is the precursor to psychoactive THC effects .
So why does THC get us elevated and THCA doesn’t? The reason is due to the three-dimensional shape of the THCA molecule. It is a larger molecule that doesn’t fit into our cannabinoid receptors, specifically the CB1 receptors. A cannabinoid must fit into a body’s CB1 receptor in order to have an intoxicating effect at all.
The cannabis plant produces hundreds of cannabinoids , the chemical compounds responsible for the therapeutic and psychoactive effects of cannabis. Only a few cannabinoids contribute to the euphoric high that is unique to the cannabis plant, though. The most celebrated, researched, and sought-after is THC.
It’s commonly assumed that as a marijuana plant grows, it is ramping up THC levels until ripe for the picking. But the primary cannabinoid being produced is actually THCA. How does THCA become THC?
The simplified answer is through heat and light — or the process of decarboxylation . Heat removes a carboxylic acid group of atoms from THCA, converting it into a molecule and altering the THC chemical structure , thus becoming the perfect shape to fit into our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the CB1 receptors that run throughout the central nervous system, producing that classic elevated experience.
In a process called decarboxylation, heat removes a carboxylic acid group of atoms from THCA, converting it into a molecule and altering the THC chemical structure.
The non-intoxicating effects of THCA are a big part of the reason that fresh, raw, unheated cannabis is a superfood. You may have heard of juicing cannabis or adding raw cannabis to smoothies for health enhancement. There’s good reason for that.
Like other superfoods, including avocados, kale, Greek yogurt, green tea, and garlic, raw cannabis has the potential to ease arthritis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and other ailments.
THCA is believed to offer an assortment of medicinal benefits and is commonly used as a nutritional supplement and dietary enhancement for its:
- Anti-inflammatory properties – A 2011 study published in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin suggested that, along with other cannabinoids, THCA demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties.
- Anti-proliferativeproperties – A 2013 study that analyzed cell cultures and animal models concluded that THCA could prevent the spread of prostate cancer cells.
- Neuroprotective properties – In a 2012 preclinical study published in Phytomedicine, researchers found that THCA showed the ability to help protect against neurodegenerative diseases.
- Antiemetic properties (increasing appetite and decreasing nausea) – A 2013 study conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario found that both THCA and CBDA were effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in rat models, even more so than THC and CBD, respectively.
Most cannabinoids, including cannabidiol ( CBD ), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin ( THCV ), are in the acidic form (CBDA, CBGA , and THCVA) when cannabis is harvested. The unactivated forms of THC and CBD , along with other cannabinoids, have benefits themselves that we are still learning about.
It’s only after these unactivated cannabinoid acids go through the decarboxylation process, though, that they become the cannabinoids we’re most familiar with and that most interact with our ECS.
The acidic precursors are considered “thermally unstable,” which is another way to emphasize that they will alter when exposed to heat. Because of this instability, the molecules lend themselves to several different methods of decarboxylation.
THCA vs. THC: decarboxylation process
Here are the most common ways that weed is decarboxylated:
Sunlight conversion: THCA converts to THC in varying degrees through exposure to heat or light. If a cannabis plant sits in the warm sun for an extended period of time, its THCA molecules will slowly convert to THC.
Room temperature conversion: THCA also converts to THC when stored at room temperature for a long enough time. In olive oil, 22% of THCA will convert over the course of 10 days at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25 degrees Celsius. Under the same conditions, 67% will convert in an ethanol extraction. And over time, cannabis stored at room temperature and with little light exposure, will convert 20% of its THCA into THC.
Smoking: When a flame is used to smoke dried, cured bud, a high degree of heat is applied in a short amount of time, resulting in the rapid conversion of THCA to THC. However, not all THCA will convert and, though smoking is the most common way to enjoy THC’s effects, it’s not the most efficient.
When a flame is used to smoke dried, cured bud, a high degree of heat is applied in a short amount of time, resulting in the rapid conversion of THCA to THC. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Vaporizing: This is perhaps the most efficient way of decarboxylating ground nugs. When heated at a low temperature, the cannabinoids are converted and released. Continuing to increase the heat will make sure that the prime amount of THCA is converted into THC and binds to CB1 receptors.
Vape pens: Even more efficient than vaporizing flowers is the use of already decarboxylated cannabis distillate found in preloaded vape pens. Since the THCA is already mostly converted to THC and the following vaporization takes care of even more, this is a good, efficient method of taking in intoxicating cannabis. Be sure you’re using a reliable brand of vape pen, for safety’s sake , and do your best to purchase products that are recyclable.
Cannabis concentrates: By isolating the THCA content from a cannabis plant, THCA crystalline can be extracted and consumed in dabs. Similar to vaporization, decarboxylation transpires rapidly when using the dabbing method, breaking down the THCA into active THC. In its pure form, THCA crystalline has little flavor or aroma, as most cannabis extractions aim to strip away the terpenes and flavonoids to isolate the cannabinoids. But many producers reintroduce cannabis-derived terpene blends back into the concentrate. Not only does the addition of terpenes improve the flavor, but these distinctively aromatic plant molecules also work together with cannabinoids to produce entourage effects that enhance the therapeutic potential of cannabis.
Conventional oven: When making edibles, you’ll want to activate, or decarboxylate, the weed before adding it to the butter, oil, or other medium. When weed gets ground up, spread evenly across a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper, and is baked at 230 degrees Fahrenheit, or 110 degrees Celsius, for 30-90 minutes (depending on the bud’s moisture content), it slowly converts most THCA into THC.
When making edibles, you’ll want to activate, or decarboxylate, the weed before adding it to the butter, oil, or other medium. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Whether cannabis is smoked, eaten, vaped, or juiced raw, understanding the plant’s properties and how and why they interact with our bodies the way they do is crucial in achieving the desired effects and avoiding adverse side effects . Cannabis molecules each have their own benefits and as raw cannabis is further studied, we can rest easy knowing that it’s safe to integrate it into a healthful diet.There is a big difference between THCA & THC. Learn the differences between the two and how that affects your body. ]]>