What Is a Delta 9 THC Distillate?
A distillate is an extract that’s made through a process called distillation. Delta 9 THC distillate is a thick, syrupy liquid with high concentrations of delta 9 and trace amounts of other cannabinoids.
Distillates are the most potent form of delta 9 THC available. All the waxes, terpenes, and other cannabinoids have been removed.
Some companies add terpenes back into the distillate or combine other cannabinoid distillates like CBD, CBC, or CBN.
How Are Distillate – D9 Made?
Distillate – D9 are made by converting CBD to delta 9 THC and then distilling the result to separate the individual ingredients.
The distillation process involves heating up crude cannabis extracts to cause them to evaporate.
Molecules will evaporate at different temperatures, which allows manufacturers to separate different extracts (called fractions).
This is the same process used to separate ethanol from water and other elements when making spirits like gin, vodka, or rum. Alcohol evaporates under lower temperatures than water. The liquid is heated until the alcohol evaporates, which is then collected in a separate container — leaving the water behind.
This process works for making cannabis extracts as well. As the crude extract boils, elements evaporate and float into a cooling tube, causing it to turn back into a liquid. This liquid is collected into different fractions to separate the delta 9 from other elements like CBD (cannabidiol), delta 8 THC, delta 10 THC, and various other compounds like waxes or phytosterols.
The lighter elements evaporate first, which are collected and removed. This is called the “heads” fraction. The heads may include any solvents that might have been added as well as the terpenes or other small molecules. These elements evaporate quickly before the delta 9.
Next is the main fraction, which contains the cannabinoids. Depending on the purity of the starting material, manufacturers may collect just one main fraction containing all the delta 9, or they may take several in order to separate the delta 8 THC from other cannabinoids.
The final fraction is called the “tails,” — which includes all the heavy elements. This fraction may contain some delta 9, but the longer the distillation process is performed, the more unwanted compounds make their way into the final product. Most companies will reuse the tails in a future distillation run to separate the delta 9.
There are several different ways of distilling delta 9 THC, including thin-film distillation, short path distillation, and spinning band distillation — but the fundamental concepts are the same for all of them.