First comes THC-A, then comes THC.
What is THC-A?
THC-A is short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, a molecule found in large concentrations specifically in live cannabis plants. As the plant starts to dry, THC-A begins to convert to THC. This precursor is non-psychoactive, which allows you to enjoy the benefits without the high when ingested. As concentrates have grown more popular, many have begun to dab THC-A crystals, which converts to THC with heat.
This is a great solution to remedy an endocannabinoid deficiency for those who are sensitive to THC. Some studies have shown that correcting endocannabinoid deficiencies may help bring relief to gastrointestinal issues, fibromyalgia, migraines, and other neurological disorders.
The best source of THC-A can come from juicing the raw plants. Since drying and heating convert THC-A to THC, higher concentration of THC-A is most likely to be found in the freshest plants. Another important use for THC-A crystals, is for potent and precise THC dosing, especially for high dosage medical patients. Since THC-A crystals are 99% THC-A, there is no guessing around how much THC you’re actually getting in your concentrates. The caveat to this nearly pure THC-A extraction, also means there are no terpenes for flavor. This is why you will often see THC-A crystals in a terpene sauce, to add flavor and some color back into the mixture, like DabsLabs True Spectrum.
How to Make THC-A?
The process typically begins with a cannabis extract combined with acetic acid and hexane to help dissolve the plant matter and maintain the THC. Next, the solution is put through a rotary evaporator to separate the chemicals and plant pieces, producing delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. Rotary evaporators are used to help separate the various particles by means of pressure, heat, and motion.
Then Chromatography is used to remove impure elements from the delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid with more chemicals like chloroform.
Next, the solution in put back into the rotary evaporator to separate the chemical solvents from the solution. The solution is then washed with methanol to remove more residue, which may seem very similar to the drinking alcohol but is toxic to humans. Then it takes it’s third spin in the rotary evaporator.
Finally, the solution is dissolved in pentane to extract even more unwanted parts per million. To remove the pentane, the solution takes one last turn in the rotary extractor. This lengthy process leaves a final product of 99% THC crystals.