Why is THC-O Not Water-Soluble?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
July 15, 2021
weed in water, THC-O
weed in water, THC-O

When we consume cannabinoids, they are absorbed into the body’s bloodstream before making their way to the endocannabinoid system. The actual absorption process is quite a fascinating one. Before cannabinoids can effectively bind to cannabinoid receptors to offer the various effects we seek, they must first be turned into nanodroplets by the body. How efficiently they convert depends mainly on one factor: solubility. THC-O-acetate (or simply THC-O) is a relatively new cannabinoid, and a big component of its ability to offer its effects pertains to whether it’s fat-soluble or water-soluble. You will discover: is THC-O water soluble? Ultimately, you will 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 most cannabinoid formulas are oil-based rather than water-based and why mixing a CBD isolate oil into a glass of water is also problematic.

Now, fat-soluble compounds can effectively be absorbed into the body – it just takes longer, thus affecting the onset and the potency of their effects. The body is made up largely of water, and thus fat-soluble compounds take longer to process in general because, to put it simply, 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 that the digestive system is tasked with the role of making them eventually water-soluble. 

So, it is easy to understand why this digestive process takes 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 technology has enabled us to convert many cannabinoids into water-soluble compounds, which are, obviously, absorbed more quickly into the body – being a key selling point of CBD beverages

THC-O: A Completely Different Form of THC

Again, THC-O-acetate is a cannabinoid that many of us are just getting acquainted with. Its outstanding feature is that it’s three times more potent than traditional THC because of its manufacturing process. This involves the application of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), a naturally occurring precursor of THC, 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 different from other cannabinoids.

Is THC-O Water-Soluble?

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 to convert it into a water-soluble form as they can with cannabidiol (CBD) and other popular compounds. Basically, answering “Is THC-O water soluble?”, all of the above-mentioned would mean that by nature, THC-O is not a water-soluble cannabinoid.

However, it isn’t improbable that chemists will develop a means for making water-soluble THC-O, as anything is possible in the future.

What This Means for You as a User

THC-O is not water-soluble, but that doesn’t mean it will not satisfy your hopes regarding its effects. For one thing, the large majority of cannabinoid products on the market remain fat-soluble, as the process 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 not 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 powerful psychoactive effects. So, THC-O’s oil-soluble nature does not interfere with your ability to derive enjoyment from taking it.