As their name suggests, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) diamonds are characterized by their crystalline appearance. Appearing on the medical cannabis market in Arizona in 2017, this specific extraction has become increasingly popular in the recreational market in recent years. But what exactly are THCA diamonds and how are they made?
THCA is the acid form of THC and its precursor. Cannabis only starts producing THC when the THCA molecule is exposed to heat, such as sunlight or the flame of a lighter, a phenomenon called decarboxylation. THCA is sometimes used in cosmetics or other concentrated forms and does not produce the psychoactive effects of THC if ingested without heating. It also contains no fats, lipids, flavonoids or terpenes, so it has very little odor and color.
The idea behind THCA concentrates is to allow patients to inhale a virtually pure substance, where most concentrates, for example in the form of vape pen or extracts, are between 70 and 90% THC. Many patients consume the diamonds alone but some choose to add them to their blunts or pipes to increase the THC concentration.
But to fully understand the appeal and cost of diamonds, it is useful to see how they are made.
How to make THCA diamonds?
n countries or states where cannabis is legal, THCA diamonds are made by mining companies with a specific license. The extraction requires professional equipment and the handling of toxic and volatile solvents. In other words, there is no need to hope to do this in your kitchen or outside a regulated laboratory with strict security measures.
THCA diamonds are made from cannabis oil extracted cold from fresh plants. The goal is to ensure that the THCA does not convert to THC during and after the extraction process. The THCA will then crystallize under the right conditions. THC will not. The solvents used afterward may differ according to the methods, but the principle is the same: purify the extract as much as possible by removing impurities and evaporate the solvents.
The oil is then winterized, i.e. mixed with ethanol, then put at cold temperatures before filtering it and removing the lipids. The precipitate is then passed through a rotary evaporator (a rotovap) to remove the ethanol.
The oil is then immersed in a pentane solution to remove any remaining plant matter and passed through the rotovap. At this point, the oil is passed through chromatography to transform the oil into crystals under pressure. The diamonds are then allowed to dry for 3 to 12 days.
What to do with THCA diamonds?
If, as we have seen previously, they can be consumed as they are, they are also used in a solid crystalline form to make THC-A Crystalline or added to Sauce to get unique tastes.