Extraction Products

Liquid Diamonds – THCA Crystals

Written by Christina Major

Have you run into these diamonds, the THCA crystals? Not quite sure what they are? Let’s talk about this new and trending product in the cannabis world. For some people, it might open up a whole new world of benefits. But, it does come with risks.


What is Crystalline THCA?

THCA is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, and it is the precursor of THC.[1] THCA naturally slowly converts to THC as the cannabis plant is dried or heated. Before conversion, THCA is non-psychotropic and has no potential to cause an altered mental state.

When extracted, THCA forms beautiful, clear crystals that closely resemble coarse sugar. Pure THCA products are free of any other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.

THCA is abundant in raw cannabis plants and it has potential beneficial effects on health. Unfortunately, there is still lack of information on the precise mechanisms of action on human body and dosing recommendations.


How Do Liquid Diamonds Differ From Distillates?

THCA can be extracted through the use of solvents such as butane, CO2 etc. starting from frozen plants to obtain a live resin. This can undergo fractional short-path distillation process to obtain an odorless and flavorless distillate product, often containing high levels of THC and no terpenes because of the heating during the purification step. The live resin can be also purified through crystallization avoiding high temperatures and THC formation through decarboxylation. Pure crystals of THCA can form spontaneously from highly pure THCA containing extracts and they can be removed mechanically from the live resin. THCA is often combined with other extraction fractions including terpenes, CBD and other cannabinoids forming “liquid crystals”.


So, What’s Better A Liquid Diamond Or Distillate?

This would all depend on the results you want. Currently, under US law, THCA is considered an illegal substance. Additionally, in some areas, possession of THCA crystals is considered a worse infraction than possessing whole cannabis leaf or other broad-spectrum products because of the potential conversion of THCA to THC.

Because of the synergistic action [2] of cannabis phytochemicals present in the final product, THCA liquid crystals can induce more health promoting benefits than the single cannabinoid alone.

Because of the instability of the molecule that can easily convert to the psychotropic THC, it is always good practice to store properly THCA extracts to avoid unwanted decarboxylation process to occur.



[1] Shoyama Y. et al. Structure and function of ∆1-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) synthase, the enzyme controlling the psychoactivity of Cannabis sativa. J Mol Biol. (2012); 423(1):96-105. .[Journal impact factor = 5.469 ] [Times cited = 108]


[2] Russo EB. et al.Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol 2011 Aug;163(7):1344-1364.[Journal impact factor = 8.740 ] [Times cited = 1456]


Image: https://pixabay.com/it/photos/cristallo-griglia-molecolare-griglia-3185671/

About the author

Christina Major