Article written by
Shanti RyleContent Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
THC crystals are solid cannabis concentrates that appear in crystalline form and contain pure cannabinoids. These crystals offer one of the purest ways to consume THC, isolated from other cannabinoids and terpenes.
However, there’s a slight misconception about THC crystals: THC doesn’t form a crystalline when isolated, so what’s colloquially known as THC crystals is THCA, which turns into THC when heated.
This article dives into the details behind THC crystals, where they come from, and their potential uses in medical cannabis.
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What Are THC Crystals?
THC crystals, also called crystals, diamonds, or crystalline, are a cannabis concentrate that resembles coarse sugar, similar to the kind used to decorate baked goods. THC crystals contain THCA, free from any plant matter, other cannabinoids, or terpenes solely. As such, they are entirely flavorless and odorless.
When heated — a process known as decarboxylation — THC crystals convert into pure THC and produce the psychoactive effects for which the cannabinoid is known. These crystals contain only THCA, though you can often find CBD or other crystalline cannabinoids on the market. Conversely, ingesting raw THCA will not produce intoxicating effects but can still deliver many of its potential benefits.
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How Are THC Crystals Made
THC crystals are formed by thoroughly and repeatedly refining cannabis oil into a single substance. Crystalline is often the base isolate for cannabis product formulations, particularly edibles or vape cartridges. It can be precisely measured and have predictable, consistent effects when consumed in the same dose.
The starting material for THC crystals comes from raw cannabis plants. Processors mix cannabis with solvent (acetic acid and hexane), applying precise heat and pressure conditions to separate the THCA from the plant matter and allow the compound to join into crystalline formations.
Crystalline is formed by thoroughly refining cannabis oil into a single compound; it is a base for formulated cannabis products. While possibly more potent, crystalline lacks the flavor of other concentrates and some of the potential medicinal benefits due to its isolation from the original terpenes.
A word of caution: manufacturing crystalline can be extremely dangerous and is illegal in many jurisdictions. It’s best to leave it to the professionals.
Potential Benefits and Uses
THC crystals can be used in various ways, making for a versatile option for cannabis consumption. Patients can ingest THC crystals orally by adding them to a homemade edibles recipe or melting them in butter or cooking oil. Crystals can also easily dissolve into olive oil or coconut oil to make homemade tinctures. However, one would not experience psychoactive effects unless the THC crystals are decarboxylated first.
Those seeking a higher, more immediate burst of THC potency can also put THC crystals directly into a dab rig. A dab rig is a smoking device that vaporizes heated cannabis concentrates, allowing them to be inhaled in measured doses. THC crystals can also mix with other cannabis concentrates or concentrated terpenes to boost their potencies or obtain more targeted effects.
Some patients may seek products containing high amounts of THCA/THC. For example, people with chronic pain may need THC to distract from their discomfort. However, missing out on cannabinoids and terpenes like cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and beta-caryophyllene could also mean missing out on their potential anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects. Focusing purely on THC is not necessarily ideal.
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Potential Risks and Side Effects
THC crystals exposed to heat represent a powerful method of consuming cannabis, which may be less than ideal for those easily overwhelmed by too much THC.
However, you may not experience the same sorts of effects as you would with cannabis, as crystallized THCA lacks the terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids found in flower and other cannabis concentrates. Terpenes contribute to the unique aromas and effects in each strain/cultivar. Without them, crystalline cannot provide the same benefits that could otherwise apply with the entourage effect.
The Bottom Line: Should You Use THC Crystals?
THC crystals offer a versatile, high-potency concentrate that patients can use in many ways.
However, THC crystals lack the terpenes and other compounds that produce specific, targeted effects, so if you’re hoping to use cannabis for a particular condition, you may want to look at other products. Some extraction methods may also use harsh chemicals, and patients should avoid badly-made isolates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do THC crystals come from?
Processors extract THCA crystals from raw cannabis plant matter, using a solvent and precise heat and pressure conditions to remove all other materials and result in pure THC crystals.
Do THC crystals get you high?
THC crystals are a highly potent cannabis concentrate that will produce psychoactive effects, but only when heated from THCA into THC.