When we consume any form of a cannabinoid, it’s absorbing into the body’s bloodstream before making its way to individual cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. But, the actual absorption process is quite a fascinating one. Cannabinoids must first be converted into nanodroplets by the body before they can effectively bind to cannabinoid receptors to offer their various effects that we seek out. How efficiently they do convert depends largely on one factor: solubility. THC-O-acetate (THC-O) is a new cannabinoid, and a big component of its ability to offer its effects pertains to whether it’s fat-soluble and water-soluble. As you’ll see, water-soluble THC-O doesn’t exist, but ultimately, that would not mean that you won’t have a powerful experience with this cannabinoid anyway.
Are Cannabinoids Naturally Water-Soluble?
By nature, cannabinoids are fat-soluble compounds, as they break down in other fats rather than water. This is why the large majority of cannabinoid formulas are oil-based rather than water-based, and why it is also hard to mix a CBD isolate oil into a glass of water.
Now, fat-soluble compounds can effectively absorb into the body – it just takes longer, thus affecting the onset of the cannabinoid’s effects, and the potency of the effects to some extent. The body is made up largely of water, and so fat-soluble compounds take longer to process in general, because oil and water don’t blend together easily. A good example is consuming an edible, which allows cannabinoids to absorb through the digestive tract. One reason why edibles take so long before becoming effective is because the digestive system is tasked with the role of breaking down the cannabinoids until they become nanodroplets, which are tiny particle droplets that eventually gain the ability to absorb in water.
So, it is easy to understand why the process of breaking down an oil-soluble compound into nanodroplets would take a decent length of time, as the oil-soluble nature of the compound is fairly resistant to this process.
Why Do Water-Soluble Cannabinoids Exist on the Market?
Maybe you’ve noticed that water-soluble cannabinoid products do exist on the market these days. Advanced nanotechnology has enabled us to convert many cannabinoids into water-soluble compounds, which is a key selling point in CBD beverages. Water-soluble cannabinoids absorb more quickly into the body, being more bioavailable and therefore absorbing more efficiently and in a shorter period of time to make direct contact with cannabinoid receptors. The process involves the use of a high-pressure emulsifier which converts the compounds into water droplets that are extremely tiny. The process also yields surprisingly stable compounds that are more resistant to heat, light and overall oxidization.
THC-O: A Completely Different Form of THC
Again, THC-O-acetate is a cannabinoid that many of us are just beginning to learn about. A key selling point of THC-O is the fact that it’s 3x more potent than traditional THC because of the process of producing it. This involves the application of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), tetrahydrocannabinol’s (THC) naturally occurring precursor, to a blend of sulfuric acid and acetic anhydride along with heat. The result is a thick, dark brown oil that has a molecular structure that’s totally unique from that of other cannabinoids.
Essentially THC-O is Not Water-Soluble, Right?
The process of producing THC-O yields an isolated cannabinoid that is highly fat-soluble, and therefore not water soluble. And, as of now, the unique nature of THC-O means that someone cannot apply the same nanotechnological methods in order to convert it into a water-soluble form, as they can with cannabidiol (CBD) and other popular compounds. Basically, this means that by nature, THC-O is not as bioavailable as water-soluble conversions of cannabinoids that are available on the market.
However, it isn’t totally improbable that in the future, chemists will develop a means for making water-soluble THC-O, as anything is possible.
What This Means for You as a User
THC-O is not water-soluble, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to satisfy your hopes in terms of effects. For one thing, the large majority of cannabinoid products on the market remain fat-soluble, as the processes of converting cannabinoids into water-soluble products is still something of a novelty that is only employed by certain manufacturers. In other words, THC-O is no less soluble, and therefore bioavailable, than traditional delta 8 carts, CBD gummies and so on. Also, worth mentioning that raw cannabis is fat-soluble, so for any flower enthusiasts out there, you’re already experiencing the oil-soluble nature of cannabinoids. Beyond that, THC-O is enormously potent. In fact, its effects are so strong that if it were water-soluble, it could be too much for many users, as the absorption rate would be more efficient and therefore yield even more powerfully psychoactive effects. So, THC-O’s oil-soluble nature does not interfere with your ability to derive enjoyment out of taking it.