Exploring THCA Wax: Extraction, Potency, and Effects

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From smoking and edibles to tinctures and topicals, there is a massive influx of cannabis products in the market and more ways to experience the health benefits of the cannabis plant. One such product is THCA wax. The THCA wax is a concentrated form of cannabis containing high levels of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. It is widely known for its potency and unique effects on the human body.

In this article, we will explore the extraction, potency, effects, and consumption of THCA wax.

Understanding THCA

Let’s start by understanding what THCA is before we delve into THCA wax. THCA is one of the most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant contains mostly THCA and very little THC after harvesting. It is non-psychoactive because it does not bind to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system due to the carboxylic acid group. 

However, it readily undergoes decarboxylation to lose the acid group and become tetrahydrocannabinol, THC. THC has a smaller shape and subsequently binds to the receptors. This induces psychoactivity in the brain, causing the high we feel when we take cannabis products.

Now, let’s move to THCA wax. THCA wax is a concentrated cannabis product developed by extracting and purifying THCA from other components of the cannabis plant. It appears in white a crystalline form. However, it may have a brown or amber color if terpenes have been added during the extraction process. It has a high purity level, which causes it to be highly potent when consumed.

Extraction Methods for THCA Wax

There are various methods of extracting THCA from the cannabis plant to make THCA wax. Here are some of the most common extraction methods.

Butane Hash Oil Extraction (BHO)

This is one of the most popular methods to extract THCA. It involves heating liquid butane and passing it over the cannabis material to dissolve cannabinoids and other plant materials. Then, the resulting mixture undergoes evaporation to remove butane from the mixture. This leaves behind THCA wax. However, this extraction method does not offer the best purity because butane and some other materials may be left behind with the THCA wax.

Supercritical CO2 Oil Extraction

This method works similarly to the Butane Hash Oil Extraction method, but carbon dioxide replaces butane as the solvent to remove cannabinoids from the plant matter. Carbon dioxide first undergoes gas liquefaction to convert it to liquid. Then the liquefied carbon dioxide is passed through plant matter to pull out cannabinoids from cannabis plant matter. The resulting liquid evaporates to remove carbon dioxide and leave behind THCA wax. 

This method is a safer alternative to BHO extraction because CO2 is non-toxic and environmentally friendly. The manufacturers can also reuse the gas multiple times. However, it requires specialized equipment to execute.

Ice Water Extraction

Unlike BHO and CO2 extraction, this method does not employ a solvent. Instead, the plant will be submerged in ice water. The freezing temperature causes the trichomes, which house the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant materials, to fall to the bottom of the container. Then the trichomes are collected and passed through mesh screens to create the wax.

Heat and Pressure Extraction

This involves applying heat and pressure to the cannabis buds. This causes the trichome to burst and release resin. The extracted resin can now make wax, shatter, and other concentrates.

The Potency of THCA Wax

THCA wax contains high levels of THCA, making it a very potent version of the cannabinoid. However, the potency depends on the quality of the cannabis plant material and the extraction method used to create the concentrate. For instance, THCA wax made from the BHO extraction has about 80% percentage by weight of THCA. On the other hand, one made with the ice water extraction will have between 50% to 70% percentage by weight of THCA. 

High-quality THCA wax can have as high as 90% or higher THCA level, making it one of the most potent forms of cannabis. It is also important to note that other cannabinoids and terpenes can affect the potency of the wax.

Effects of THCA Wax

THCA wax provides a variety of effects to the human body, such as pain relief, anti-inflammatory, relaxation, increased appetite, improved mood, and enhanced focus. It is non-psychoactive and will not induce a high like THC until you apply heat. If you prefer not to get high, add it to food or drinks without heating them. On the other hand, if you want the full range of experience that the wax can offer, you can consume it by dabbing, vaporizing, and smoking.