Cracking the THCV Code: Strategies to Ensure Product Quality

Jun 30, 2023

Spiking industry sales data shows just how much consumer demand there is for THCV, but working this famously fragile molecule into a retail product is no easy task. Whether it’s understanding how to protect your THCV from oxygen, sunlight and heat, or just figuring out how to incorporate this sticky cannabinoid into your existing manufacturing processes – the quality of your THCV product depends on how well you follow a few basic rules of chemistry.

Oxygen is enemy #1

Similar to how oxygen reacts with iron to transform its molecular structure into rust, oxygen also plays havoc with the molecular integrity of many cannabinoids. In the case of THCV, the effects of oxidation happen much faster than rust forming on metal, but are just as visible. Under controlled conditions in which THCV is held at room temperature and not exposed to air, it has a yellowish amber color and a hard sticky consistency similar to that of a Jolly Rancher. Once exposed to oxygen in the open air, THCV loses its yellowish color and rapidly takes on a distinctive shade of purple or purple-brown.. This color shift happens extremely quickly and is a key visual indicator that quality degradation is taking place.

There’s a lot of potential opportunities for THCV to oxidize, so we’ve compiled a few helpful tips for keeping your THCV potent.

Ask about your supplier’s storage and shipping procedures

Your supplier should make every effort to store and ship your THCV in opaque vessels that are kept cool and completely sealed from the outside environment (more on the dangers of sunlight and heat later). Ask them about whether they utilize a nitrogen, argon, or other inert gas purge in the vessels. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, that’s a sign that you should probably take your business elsewhere.

Ask your supplier for the age of your THCV at time of sale

When you ask for your THCV’s CoA, make sure that you’re also asking for the batch’s date of manufacture. Older THCV isn’t inherently inferior if it has been stored properly (e.g., in an appropriate vessel in a freezer), but if the THCV you’re receiving does happen to be on the older side, any deficiencies in your supplier’s storage and shipping procedures are going to be that much more detrimental to your products’ final quality.

Avoid handling your THCV in open air, and never grind it in an oxygenated environment

THCV isolate is undeniably difficult to work with. Even if you are lucky enough to have advanced equipment like a glove box available in your facility, the challenges of handling THCV can make it tempting to cut corners and treat it like any other ingredient that you’d work with in the open air.

When it arrives, your THCV will likely be at around room temperature, so you can expect it to be in its sticky, “Jolly Rancher” form. Instead of struggling to work with it in that state, we recommend freezing it in the vessel that it arrived in, then breaking the THCV into small shards. (This will also help you get all the THCV out of the vessel it arrives in.) From there, you can heat the THCV to make it flowable, then pour it, mix it, and otherwise work with it as needed. And if you don’t use all of the THCV in the vessel, be sure to flush the head space with nitrogen or argon for storage purposes before sealing it back up.

In a perfect world, you would ensure with 100% certainty that your working environment is perfectly controlled and free of oxygen – but that’s not the reality for much of the industry. As long as you’re careful, this isn’t necessarily going to ruin the quality of your THCV. The amount of oxidation is predicated by the amount of surface area that’s exposed to open air. Since oxygen doesn’t permeate past the surface of THCV when it’s stored in an uncovered container, only the surface layer of the THCV will oxidize. The degree to which this can impact the potency and color of your THCV can vary, but assuming that the exposed surface area is kept to a minimum, you’re probably okay.

The biggest mistake that you can make is grinding your THCV while it’s exposed to open air. Avoid this at all costs. Grinding or powderizing THCV isolate in the presence of oxygen exponentially increases the surface area, and hence the level of oxidation (as opposed to the small surface area in the example above). Doing this will almost certainly degrade your THCV past the point of being usable.

Once your THCV is locked into a medium such as a gummy or a vape or a tincture, the THCV is largely protected from oxidation.

Antioxidants can be helpful, but choose wisely

Adding antioxidants to your THCV products can add an additional element of protection, but given the recent harm done by vape products that added vitamin E acetate to their formulations, it pays to be extra careful with the antioxidant that you choose relative to your product’s route of administration.

Reduce THCV’s exposure to sunlight

Technically sunlight doesn’t cause THCV to oxidize, but functionally, it introduces similar problems. It’s believed that photons from UV light strike chemical bonds on THCV molecules and break its structure apart. This causes a slow, subtle degradation of THCV’s potency.

Minimize THCV’s exposure to heat

Similar to sunlight, heat can also cause degradation of THCV’s potency. We suggest working with suppliers that will ensure that your THCV will remain chilled during transit. Once your THCV arrives, it’s best practice to store it in a freezer and minimize its exposure to temperatures above 65οC wherever possible.

Baymedica understands your quality needs

This isn’t an exhaustive list of potential tips to help you maintain the viability of your THCV, but our team is here to talk you through any specific THCV handling questions that you may have.

For our part, we ship our THCV on ice and use inert gas flushing to ensure that our 92% purity guarantee remains preserved. Contact us to find out how Baymedica and our partners can help you get your customers the THCV that they’re looking for.