THC diamonds – more accurately THCA diamonds – are a rare and expensive treat that’s only started to make waves in the cannabis concentrate market over the last few years. Unless you live in a legalized area, the odds are good you haven’t run into one of these yet, but if you’re here, you’ve likely at least heard about this interesting and unique crystalline form of marijuana and are looking to learn more. We’ll go on a deep dive about this up-and-coming extract in our article below.
What Is a THCA Diamond?
THCA is the natural root form of THC. But, as discussed in our “How to Decarb Weed” article, THCA is not a substance that will get you “high.” Instead, THCA requires heat to turn into the headier THC molecule we all know and love, which is why we smoke or vaporize marijuana rather than eating it outright.
THCA still has its benefits, and though THCA in its raw form may not deliver the same buzz as THC, it still has significant interest from a medicinal standpoint, able to serve as a stress and pain-relieving remedy without giving the stoned sensation as the THC we usually look for in our cannabis products.
THCA contains a chemical chain of carboxylic acid in its chemical makeup that disappears when turned into THC through applying heat or decarbing (hence the name “decarboxylation”). The lack of this acid chain means that THC is and will always be an oily substance; even shatter, which appears hard, easily turns into liquid again when exposed to any fashion of heat.
The carboxylic acid chain gives a crystalline structure to THCA that helps force bonding, meaning that THCA can be turned into a solid substance that will only melt when exposed to high temperatures. Unfortunately, this also means that it can be distilled and concentrated down to a frankly ridiculous amount of purity – Expect to see over 99% THCA content in an average diamond.
How Are THCA Diamonds Made?
First the THCA must be gathered from a fresh marijuana plant, often using the exact same process for producing live resin (and if you haven’t read our “What Is Live Resin” article yet, we recommend doing that real quick and getting back to us here when you’re done). Quick recap: Freshly cut cannabis is flash frozen before being processed through a low-heat/high-pressure extraction method – This is designed to preserve the fresh terpenes & cannabinoids only available in marijuana bud that has not been cured or dried. This means the THCA preserved is at its freshest and most potent, with no degradation (or enhancement) of the plant’s cannabinoids from the curing process.
People who have purchased or smoked live resin may have noticed separation inside their jar before, with small crystals forming inside the amber/brown liquid. This is due to the crystalline THCA structure – The THCA naturally wants to bond to itself, often leading to living resin concentrates needing to be stirred or otherwise mixed on occasion. These little bits of crystal, typically referred to as “sugar,” are often prized among cannabis connoisseurs – In fact, it’s become a common practice on the manufacturer end to “seed” live resin products with small amounts of THCA crystal to encourage the growth of the sugar as the jar of resin settles.
THCA diamonds available for sale are the same concept but on a much larger scale, formed in a process commonly referred to as “diamond mining.” This procedure begins with a low-temperature solvent-based extraction, very similar to the technique used to create hash oil (as detailed in our “How to Make Hash” article) before moving on to further chemical treatments designed to strip as much plant material as possible out of the product.
After a number of different solvent and evaporation procedures are complete, the final solution is placed into a sealed vacuum environment for a minimum of several weeks. Here, the THCA crystals finally separate from the terpenes, growing into a crystalline form under intense pressure.
Once the diamonds are ready to come out of the pressure oven, they can then either be packaged and sold as-is or mixed back in with the extracted terpenes, referred to as “sauce.” Often this terpene sauce can be found as a separate product for sale alongside the pure THCA diamonds; this allows the end-user to completely customize their smoking experience with a blend of THC and terpenes set to their personal tastes.
Will THCA Diamonds Get Me High?
Absolutely! Again, THCA diamonds are made from uncured marijuana that hasn’t been decarbed, meaning it hasn’t been activated – Unlike hash and other concentrates, diamonds are not ready to be used in edibles or tinctures (at least ones designed to get you high – more on this later). The only thing separating THCA from THC is heat, and when you smoke or dab a diamond, it will turn directly into pure THC as it is vaporized. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that pure THC will give you the high you’re looking for.
THC is, by itself, just THC – It’s a chemical that will get you stoned. But as anyone who’s tried different strains of marijuana will tell you, different types of weed will get you high in different ways. That’s where our friends’ terpenes come into play.
Terpenes and other cannabinoids help alter the high given to you from THC by changing it into either more calming or more active states. Without those additional cannabinoids, the best you can say pure THC will do is get you good and buzzed – Nice, sure, but perhaps lacking a certain amount of… personality. By adding terpene sauce back into your diamonds, you can not only dictate exactly what strength of buzz you get from your smoke but also what sorts of effects; you can even mix and match different strains and sauces to your heart’s content. Finding the right diamond-to-sauce ratio & blend can be as much art and personal preference as it is science. Still, typically it’s an experimental process most tend to enjoy.
As mentioned previously, terpene sauce is often either added back on top of the THCA crystals before being sold or packaged in its own separate product, allowing the user to choose how much sauce to use on their diamond. Even if not smoking THCA diamonds, adding a splash of sauce to other concentrates can lead to its own unique effects; there’s a lot of room to play around with when it comes to diamonds, and sauce and experimentation are encouraged.
Can I Make THCA Diamonds At Home?
In short: Sort of. As we outlined earlier, the standard process for diamond “mining” in the cannabis industry involves many chemicals and specialized equipment. If you don’t have access to your own pressure oven setup, you’re probably out of luck for making anything, too spectacular. But that doesn’t mean you can’t produce something.
As we mentioned earlier, if you’ve ever bought a jar of live cannabis resin and kept it hanging around on the countertop for a few weeks, you might have noticed small bits of sugary crystal hanging around in the bottom of the jar – Those are THCA diamonds, albeit in a very rudimentary form.
As cannabis resin sits, it naturally tends to form a crystalline THCA structure. If you ever made rock candy or played with one of those “grow your own crystal” kits when you were a kid, this works on the same principle – The THCA molecules want to bond with each other due to their composition, and given enough time (and some fashion of seed) will eventually settle into small diamonds on their own.
THCA diamonds start with live resin, always. So the trick to making your own cannabis diamonds at home is simply to start with a live resin product or hash oil and let it sit at room temperature for however long it takes before you see crystals (often referred to as “sugar”) forming in the solution. Please note: Trying this with anything other than pure, 100% live resin will cause the experiment to fail. The presence of THC among THCA molecules will prevent the crystal structure from properly forming, as the THCA molecules will try and fail to bond with the now acid-less THC. This means no mixing together cured & uncured cannabis; diamond mining has to be a resin-only project.
If at all possible, try to introduce a seed into your mixture. Having something that has already been “set” into the crystalline formation we’re looking for will encourage the other molecules to follow suit, giving them something to latch onto more easily. But, again, you only need a very small amount, and if you have a bit of pre-existing sugar or another diamond hanging around, dropping these into your resin jar can help get the process started.
Using this technique, heat and air will also help the crystal formation – Setting your jar somewhere with a warm temperature will encourage the crystals to form as air wicks away any residual moisture in the concentrate. If you’re not quite so patient, you can attempt heating your solution but be warned that imprecise temperature control can result in your expensive resin being completely wasted, so attempt doing so at your own risk. Methods involving a double boiler are common, but this can introduce condensation into your concentrate; our recommendation is to use a heating pad set to medium-high. This will help reduce the time needed for diamonds to form without potentially ruining your product.
How do I Smoke a THCA Crystal?
THCA diamonds are generally treated like any other cannabis concentrate, and the process for smoking/vaporizing one isn’t too different from how you’d treat shatter, wax, or hash oil. We’ll list out some of the most popular methods below and note if there’s anything special to keep in mind when it comes to using diamonds and sauce.
Just like you use your dab rig every day, dabbing diamonds works the same as other marijuana concentrates. For cannabis diamonds, as they are again pure THCA, you’ll likely want to make sure they have some terpene sauce on top; if you bought the sauce separately from the diamond, just use your dab tool (tweezers recommended here) to pick up the diamond and dip it into the terpenes. Once it’s been good and coated, you’re ready to dab away.
With the separate terpenes dabbing diamonds on a nail setup can be a bit tricky and messy; we recommend using a banger to make sure none of the sauce ends up running out into hard-to-reach spots (and for more information on the different ways you can set up a dab rig at home, make sure to check out our “How to Smoke Dabs” article elsewhere on the site).
A bit of pure THCA can make a great addition to a joint or a bowl of weed and can help punch up what would have been a quick buzz to a serious high. If your diamonds are “pure,” IE: sans terpene sauce, just take one and mash it up; a small mortar and pestle would work wonders here, but you can accomplish the same thing with the back of a butter knife on a flat, non-porous surface. Once your diamond has been ground up into a fine powder, it’s perfect for sprinkling into some cannabis bud.
If your crystals came with sauce already attached, you could still use the above method, though the mashing process will be trickier and much less precise. Once you’ve gotten the crystals as small as they can be, just take your ground-up cannabis flower and roll it around in the sticky mash; this may make your bud a bit trickier to roll in a paper, so we recommend using pipes or bongs if going this route.
Either way, once your diamond has been pulverized and added to your weed, you’re ready to smoke. For best results, try to layer the powdered diamond underneath the surface of the weed to avoid direct contact with the lighter flame – Too much heat will just destroy the THC before it turns into smoke. When smoking a joint or a blunt, this isn’t too much of a concern; for a bowl, just place the powder in the middle of the packed cannabis rather than simply sprinkling it on top. You’ll thank us for the tip later.
If you have a vaporizing machine that can handle any other solid concentrate, you are 100% good to go on using a THCA diamond inside. As we mention elsewhere (and somewhat repeatedly) on our site, vaporizing is the most effective and efficient method of “smoking” cannabis, as well as one of the most healthy, and using your diamond in a vape rig is absolutely our recommended choice given how expensive THCA diamonds can be.
If your diamond is coated in sauce, you will need to make sure your vaporizer can handle semi-solid or liquid concentrates; if not designed to handle things other than hash and regular cannabis bud, you could end up with wasted concentrate and a broken machine. Otherwise, if your machine can handle liquid extracts, set up your diamond-to-sauce ratio as you please and hit the button – You’ll be good to go as soon as it’s ready.
At the top of the article, we talked about how THCA still had benefits even if not exposed to heat and turned into THC. Eating THCA, either in the form of edibles or a tincture, has effects similar to CBD-type products, promoting relaxation of both the body and mind, and can be a good alternative for medical patients over the more psychoactive properties of THC.
To eat THCA as THCA means that the diamonds cannot be exposed to anything more than mild heat – No baking brownies or basting a roast chicken in THCA cannabutter. Instead, the crystals should be eaten as close to raw as possible, either taken as a supplement or with some kind of cold drink. But, again, don’t expect ingesting THCA to get you blazed. Still, for patients suffering from complications such as seizures, pain, and other issues, THCA can potentially work wonders without the accompaniment of being stoned.
If for some reason, you’d like to decarb your THCA and turn it into THC you can use for more traditional edibles, you can accomplish this, though we don’t really recommend it. If you decide to go this route, make sure you take caution, as losing track of your decarbing process can swiftly result in a burned batch of diamonds destined for the trash.
To decarb a THCA diamond, you’ll need to set your oven to 250 °F / 121 °C. Next, place your THCA diamonds into a flat, oven-safe dish (a glass pie plate works well here) and set them in the oven on the middle rack for roughly 30 minutes. As the color of your concentrate shifts into a brownish amber, the THCA inside is being changed into THC by the destruction of the carboxylic acid chain. After your time is up, remove the pie plate from the oven and let it cool before scraping up the remains with a blade or other flat implement.
If you let this process go too long or at too high of a temperature, the THC will begin to either evaporate or burn away, just as if it was smoked, so make sure not to wander off during the decarbing process; if you have an oven thermometer now would be the perfect time to put it to use.
The main reason we don’t like the above method is based primarily on its lack of control – Ovens can have wide variances in their operating temperatures, and a difference of even ten degrees can spell doom for your diamonds. Unless you have a device specifically designed for decarbing, we don’t think running the risk of ruining such an expensive concentrate is worth it; make your edibles with other cannabis products and try one of our alternative methods above to enjoy your diamonds.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this unique cannabis concentrate as much as we’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. Again, if you aren’t fortunate enough to live in a legalized area, finding diamonds may not be a task easily achieved, but if you do have a local dispensary nearby, it’s definitely worth seeking out the experience. The unique ability to combine near-pure THC with a customized blend of terpenes is a one-of-a-kind way of getting high, and if you’re an aficionado of cannabis like we are, it’s not to be missed. Happy smoking!