The Forecast for Water Soluble Cannabinoids
A continuing trend toward goal-oriented healthy living has led to a sharp decrease in alcohol consumption and a corresponding increase in sales of low-alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks. So much so that major breweries and distilleries are now investing in alternative products like cannabis-infused beverages.
According to Cannabis Tech, “Fortune Business Insights puts the cannabis beverage market at $8.521 million by 2027. The expected explosion of this product segment is thanks to rising consumer demand for non-smokable solutions, continued growth in the CBD market, and investments by several multinational beverage makers.”
Diving into the water-soluble cannabinoid arena may be a solid business decision for some processors, but the effort comes with its challenges.
The Challenges of Water-Soluble Cannabinoids in Beverages
Water-soluble cannabinoids offer several challenges to drink makers, including:
- Cannabinoids are fat-soluble and can be challenging to mix with water-based liquids. This can lead to separation and consistency problems and adversely impact the consumer perception of the product. It also means no bubbly drinks, which are a current consumer favorite.
- Cannabis drinks made from oil can have a taste that’s not appealing and can be difficult to mask.
- The cannabinoid molecules in many current drinks have a late onset of effects. This can cause some people to accidentally take too much, which can result in unpleasant psychological effects, like increased paranoia.
- Developing the proper formulation for water-soluble cannabinoids is more laborious and scientifically-advanced, requiring a higher investment than other cannabis product development.
- Manufacturing of a beverage product is subject to different oversight and regulation because it is being ingested. Currently, the FDA does not have much regulatory process, or approval, in the way of handling cannabinoid-infused beverages. The result is it can be incredibly difficult to have your product approved and brought to market in your state.
Creating Water Soluble Cannabinoids
While there are certainly hurdles to overcome in making water-soluble cannabinoids, there’s good news for cannabis processors. If you have the extraction and post-processing equipment to make THC distillate or CBD distillate and isolate, you already have the majority of the tools you need. Water-soluble cannabinoids can be created using a variety of solvent-based extraction methods, including ethanol, hydrocarbon or CO2 extraction.
The equipment required to further process distillate or isolate into a water-soluble cannabinoid is relatively inexpensive. The biggest investment you’ll need to make is hiring highly-experienced staff and the R&D for your product formulation.
The Technology Behind Water Soluble Cannabinoids
The most common process for creating water-soluble CBD and THC is nanoemulsion. This involves using ultrasonic waves to shatter molecules into dozens of tiny particles called nanoparticles, which are a fraction of their original size.
Creating water-soluble cannabinoids also requires the use of an emulsifier, which forces two typically incompatible substances (such as oil and water) to mix. The nanoparticle cannabinoids need to pair up with water-friendly molecules (emulsifiers) to mix and stay suspended in a liquid. The challenge is finding a suitable emulsifier that helps two liquids mix; typically, an emulsifier for this purpose includes food-grade carrier oils, alcohols, and preservatives.
When processed using nanoemulsion, water-soluble CBD and THC can be absorbed more efficiently than traditional edibles. Due to this quick absorption process, consumers only have to wait minutes to feel “high,” instead of 30 minutes or over an hour for most edibles. This can help avoid overuse due to more prolonged effect onset timelines.
Getting Professional Advice
Suppose you’re considering diving into processing for water-soluble cannabinoids. In that case, one of the best things you can do is consult with at least a few industry experts who have experience with water-soluble cannabinoids. Labs that aren’t familiar with them may not completely understand what it takes to process, measure, and deliver the highest quality product, leading you down a path you don’t want to take. With the volatile nature of the cannabis industry, planning strategically and thoughtfully is always the best way to proceed.
How We Can Help
Precision manufactures and distributes the best extraction and post-processing equipment on the market for ethanol and hydrocarbon extraction. More award-winning concentrates are made with Precision extraction equipment than any other brand.
When considering making CBD or THC infused beverages consult our expert team for the best equipment and system configurations for your extraction process.