how is HHC made

How is HHC Made?

“HHC“ is known as Hexahydrocannabinol is now grown and it is not extracted. HHC is created by converting it from a CBD isolate into a full hydrogenated derivative of tetrahydrocannabinol (or “THC”). The first step of the process is for the CBD isolate to be converted into Delta-8 (Δ8-THC). And then from Delta-8 (Δ8-THC) it is converted into HHC. HHC is essentially a hydrogenated derivative of THC (where one additional hydrogen molecule is added).

Key takeaways

  • Hydrogenation of CBD oil into Δ9-THC or Δ8-THC intermediates and then into Hexahydrocannabinol is the most common way to create “HHC.”
  • Older methods of creating “HHC” included using gastric juice to create very similar reactionary conditions as the method of using hydrogen, nitrogen, and palladium. These methods would convert the CBD oil THC compounds into Δ9-THC or Δ8-THC intermediates and then later into a Hexahydrocannabinol (or a derivative of tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC”).

How is HHC made?

In short, HHC (Hexahydrocannabinol) is made by converting a CBD isolate into Delta-8 where the carbon atoms have a double bond on the eight chain. And then converted one more time where the double carbon bonds are then replaced with hydrogen.

Hydrogenation of THC to HHC

When someone makes HHC (in a non-commercial setting), they usually have some of the following tools for the job:

  • A boiling flask.
  • Heating stir mantle or hot plate.
  • CBD oil.
  • Ethanol.
  • Nitrogen.
  • Hydrogen.
  • Palladium.
  • A filtration apparatus.
  • And lastly, a Celite and balloon/septums.

The very first step is for a CBD to be dissolved in a 3:1 ratio of ethanol to CBD oil. This oil solution will be used later for a reaction flask setup. Usually, a chemist will use a 200-proof cane ethanol in the mix for this solution. 

A Schlenk line or vacuum gas manifold setup is then used to create a pressure transfer system utilizing both the nitrogen and palladium over carbon to create a chemical reaction process. The CBD solution is syringed into a reaction vessel in this Schlenk line and using hydrogen balloons, pressure is kept into the vessels creating a dry and chemically inert reaction.

The current method of mass production for HHC (or hexahydrocannabinol) relies on hemp-derived CBD extract. Initially, this extract undergoes cyclization to form a mixture of Δ8 /Δ9 -THC. Subsequently, the catalytic hydrogenation gets used to yield a blend of (9R)-HHC and (9S)-HHC epimers. Preclinical research suggests that (9R)-HHC exhibits pharmacological properties very similar to THC properties.

The entire process is done to create an end product which is a hydrogenated derivative of tetrahydrocannabinol (or “THC”). Which is known as (9R)-HHC. The product is then used to apply onto or into products for consumption (this could include hemp “flower” where the oil is applied or directly into consumable products).

Artificial gastric juice

An older method to produce HHC is by using a conversion of CBD to 9a-OH-HHC, 8-OH-iso-HHC, and 9-tetrahydrocannabinol using artificial gastric juice. Artificial gastric juice is mostly composed of sodium chloride, dilute acid, and pepsin. 

The gastric juices were used to obtain HHC in a similar way as using hydrogen and nitrogen. The method synthesized HHC by subjecting CBD to the acidic treatment (using gastric juices) and created reaction conditions that led to the formation of Δ9-THC or Δ8-THC (sometimes referred to as Delta-8 and Delta-9) intermediates. And then later into hexahydrocannabinol.

Common questions about how HHC is produced

Since HHC (or hexahydrocannabinol) is a very new product to be brought to market, many consumers have a number of questions about it and how it’s made. Here are some of the most common questions that we see.

How is an HHC distillate made?

The “HHC distillate” is made using the distillation process in chemistry. Distillation is the act of purifying a liquid through heating or cooling. When we think of how HHC (Hexahydrocannabinol) is created, it is made through a hydrogenation reaction of CBD oil.

The end process for this is a distillate. And that distillate can be put into a number of consumable products (including vaporizers and oil used for other consumable products).

A “distillate” in this sense is the same thing as a “concentrate” which you may see marketed to the public through a number of HHC (Hexahydrocannabinol) products available for purchase.

Is HHC natural or synthetic?

Technically, Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is just a hydrogenated derivative of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid. While the chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) is a naturally occurring chemical, the process of hydrogenating cannabis extracts would be considered “synthetically produced.”

Is HHC considered “genetically modified?”

Not in the same sense that we think of “GMO” or Genetically Modified Organisms. Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is considered a “synthetically produced” distillate that originates utilizing the conversion of CBD oil into Δ9-THC or Δ8-THC and then later, hydrogenating that compound to add a hydrogen molecule.

How is HHC “flower” made?

HHC “flower” is made by taking flower buds from hemp and applying the HHC distillate directly onto the flower bud so that it can be smoked or inhaled by the consumer. To learn more about how HHC flower is made, visit our resource right here.

Other HHC resources

Related HHC resources:

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