We've all heard the old adage, "diamonds are a girl's best friend". But how about a cannabis extract producer's best friend? Say hello to THC-A diamonds, the revolutionary concentrate taking the legal marijuana market by storm.
Among the most potent cannabis extracts to ever hit dispensary shelves, THC-A Diamonds are a relatively new addition to the world of legal cannabis, and boy, have they made a splash. Holding aesthetics that offer a sense of opulence combined with the heartiest of kicks that are sure to leave you in a heavenly daze, these little gems have buried their way into the hearts and minds of not only extract producers but also consumers coast to coast.
But what are they exactly? How are they made? Are they legal everywhere? And how do you consume them? Let's start with the basics.
What Is THCA?
A little-known fact that the vast majority of even the most earnest cannabis connoisseurs may not be aware of is that cannabis doesn't actually produce THC (the main psychotropic compound in weed that gets you high) - Nope, it's actually THC-A contained in those frosty trichomes covering the buds and sugar leaves - among a range of other cannabinoids and terpenes.
THCA is actually the result of the "mother of all cannabinoids", CBGA (Cannabigerolic Acid), breaking down and splitting into the primary cannabinoids that include THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) and CBDA (Cannabidiol Acid).
What's The Difference Between Thc-A And Thc?
The key difference between THC and its acid form, THCA, is that the latter needs to be put through a process known as decarboxylation - essentially heating it to the point where it loses a carboxyl ring - in order to turn THCA into its more popular form, THC (and make it proactively available).
Decarbing can be achieved through a range of heating methods. Lighting up a joint or a bowl does the trick, as does dabbing onto a rig nail. But, for producers looking for large-scale decarboxylation options, there are more than a couple of options available, chief among these being specific decarboxylation ovens.
What Exactly Are THCA Diamonds?
THCA Diamonds are a form of cannabis concentrate that closely resemble quartz or diamonds and are comprised of almost totally pure THCA (usually between 96% to 99.9%). While there are some very diminutive amounts of both terpenes and other cannabinoids contained in the crystal-like structures (between 1% to 4%), THCA Diamonds are thought to be the most purified and potent extract option currently available on both the legal and black (or gray) market right now.
Is There Any Way To Tell The Potency From A Quick Glance?
Yes, there actually is. The purest THCA Diamonds will come out in an almost perfect and unblemished shade of white. If there are some lingering terpenes or other cannabinoids, the diamonds will have a slightly yellow or amber tint.
These potency levels put THCA Diamonds at around 3 to 4 times stronger than even the most top-shelf, hard-hitting flower options currently available - meaning they should be treated with a healthy dose of respect, even by the most seasoned cannabis consumer.
How Are THCA Diamonds Made?
There are a few common methods for producing THCA Diamonds. It all really comes down to whether the process is being done in a commercial or home setting.
Commercial THCA Production
The production of THCA diamonds at scale requires a commercial-grade machine referred to as a "short path distillation". This is basically a complex, closed-loop system with a few main purposes. It's used to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from one another, as well as refine the cannabinoids to achieve the desired purity level. The cannabinoids go through a raft of purging processes, as well as a vacuum-pressure chamber, to make sure the cannabinoids don't get overheated.
Most business owners in the cannabis extract game will also be using some form of vacuum oven to produce pure THC diamonds on top of offering straight-up THCA Diamonds. Instead of using these ovens for a decarboxylation process, they are used to purge any remaining solvents from the crystalline. These ovens are also very effective for preparing the precursors for cannabidiol (CBD) edibles, lotions, and tinctures.
Home THCA Diamond Production
At home, THCA production is commonly referred to as "Diamond Mining", and is a much more low-tech affair. While there are multiple steps to be followed, and a few key pieces of specialized equipment are needed, the actual job of creating THCA Diamonds is relatively easy. It does require a certain amount of patience, though.
Let's run through the process.
- Make your BHO (Butane Hash Oil) or Live Resin - Traditional BHO is made from dried, cured cannabis material, while Live Resin is produced from Fresh, Frozen cannabis material. The process of making THCA Diamonds starts with a solvent, usually a blend of butane and propane, and uses a method called Supersaturation and Precipitation. Supersaturation and Precipitation follow the idea that warm solvents can hold more solubilized content; once the temperature is reduced under pressure, the cannabinoids begin to precipitate out, growing diamond-like crystalline.
- The thick, runny extract is then poured into an airtight mason jar and stored in a darkened area with a controlled temperature range of 26 to 28 degrees Celcius.
- Over the next 2 to 4 weeks (depending on the temperature) the extract will slowly but surely separate into two separate products - 'Terp Sauce" and THCA diamonds. This process produces pressure, so ensure you open up the jars once every few days.
- Once the curing period has passed, it's time to grab that specialized equipment - a vacuum chamber and a heating pad. Place the jar on the heat pad, set the temp between 85 degrees and 105 degrees F (depending on the type of oil you are diamond mining with), and place it inside the vacuum chamber. Set the chamber to full vacuum power and let it run for 24 hours.
- Once that's all done, you just have to decide whether you're going to keep the THCA Diamonds floating in the Terp Sauce or separate them. Keep in mind that the bulk of the flavor and aroma-producing chemical compounds are contained in the Terp Sauce, and consuming both together will allow the entourage effect to come into play (which we highly recommend)
How To Consume THCA Diamonds?
That's really up to you, but for the most part, THCA Diamonds are put through a dab rig (and usually accompanied by some of that delicious Terp Sauce). This process gives you an unparalleled, transcendent experience that's super concentrated and fast-acting.
Another popular way to consume THCA Diamonds is to crush them up and sprinkle them on top of a bowl or into a joint or blunt. Just keep in mind THCA Diamonds are no joke. If you're new to the diamond trade, it's always best to start low and slow - a little goes a long way. Let's make that first THCA experience one to remember, and not for the wrong reasons.