Most people are familiar with THC and CBD. But cannabis has tons of other compounds. They include trichomes, terpenes, and more than a hundred cannabinoids. Today, we’re going to review HHC vs THC vape properties to help you decide what’s best for you. But remember, many vapes have multiple cannabinoids to facilitate the weed entourage effect.
What is THC?
THC means tetrahydrocannabinol, sometimes called Delta 9. And while humans have used marijuana for millennia, THC wasn’t identified and isolated until 1964 by Israeli chemists Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni. Though THC isn’t prescribed for medical use, it has a pharmaceutical equivalent known as dronabinol which is offered as an appetite inducer.
Dronabinol is FDA-approved and is also used against nausea and vomiting. THC is also part of nabiximols. These two medications are recommended for MS, AIDS, and cancer, among others. But right now, we’re focusing on THC in vapes. While THC has a lot of positive vibes, pun intended, it causes dry mouth and red eyes, so stay hydrated and keep eyedrops handy.
Also, THC influences your perceived passage of time so it typically slows your reactions to stimuli – heads up. Just like the other cannabinoids, THC activates your endocannabinoid system, which affects mood, sleep, pleasure, pain perception, appetite, inflammation, and even reproduction. This explains why THC can make you happy, hungry, and libidinous.
But the highness affects your experience of space and time, which could be why it distorts your hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. On a more basic level, THC is lipophilic, meaning it binds to oils, fats, and lipids. That’s why it’s so effective in marijuana vape juice. And vaping THC is healthier than smoking it because aerosols don’t produce tar and toxins.
Pros of THC
- It can be therapeutic in moderate doses.
- It boosts your appetite and reduces nausea.
- THC has varying sedative properties.
Cons of THC
- In extremely high doses and/or prolonged use, it might cause psychosis.
What is HHC?
HHC means hexahydrocannabinol, and some people call it HXC instead of HHC. Judging by its name, you may surmise that it’s quite close to THC. After all, the only difference is in the Greek numbers hexa (six) as opposed to tetra (four). Structurally, HHC has two more hydrogen atoms and one more oxygen atom than THC. But commercially HHC has closer links to CBD.
Very little HHC occurs naturally in cannabis plants. Instead, CBD is tweaked in the lab using strains with low THC. The CBD (or sometimes the THC) is extracted and hydrogenated into HHC. This means they add hydrogen atoms to the CBD or THC molecules. Even when it’s derived from CBD, the HHC is still psychoactive so its effects are within the THC spectrum.
By hydrogenating the CBD into HHC, they make it psychoactive. It’s why some people define HHC as THC-Lite. It still gets you high, but not as high as THC. It’s popular with users who want to get slightly buzzed but maintain their ability to function and retain mental clarity. This is all anecdotal since the FDA hasn’t issued formal findings and very few studies exist.
In essence, these reactions could all be psychological placebo effects. But since HHC is seen to be milder than THC, some people prefer it as a safety measure. We hear that excess THC can cause psychosis and hallucinations, so HHC seems like a better bet. On the other hand, HHC is unregulated so that’s always a risky enterprise. A lot more research is needed here.
Pros of HHC
- Anecdotally milder than THC.
- Can be semi-synthesised from low-THC plants.
- It lasts longer on the shelf than other cannabinoids.
Cons of HHC
- It’s a man-made product while other cannabinoids (e.g. THC and CBD) are natural.
HHC vs THC Vape: What’s the Difference?
In lots of places, people use the terms marijuana, cannabis, and hemp interchangeably. But if you want to get really technical, marijuana is a weed plant that’s high in THC while hemp has low THC (under 0.3%) and high CBD. Cannabis generically describes both types. Right now, we’re going to focus on HHC vs THC vapes and how they affect your experience of holy herb.
One notable point is that weed products are naturally flavored through cross-breeding and intercropping with flowers and fruit trees. This is the opposite of the persuasive but artificial flavoring of nicotine vapes like strawberry mango. But aside from the taste and aroma of a good weed vape, let’s look at some of the similarities and differences in THC vs HHC vapes.
1. Dates and History
We noted earlier that THC was isolated in Israel in 1964. And that can seem contradictory because Roger Adams developed HHC in 1944. That’s two decades earlier! Well, according to the books, Adams – an American – identified the chemical breakdown of marijuana, i.e. he mapped its carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. But the Israelis isolated THC from the rest.
2. Chemical Components
At their definitive level, CBD and THC are surprisingly similar. They both have 2 oxygen atoms, 31 carbon atoms, and 30 hydrogen atoms arranged and bonded in different patterns. HHC diverges from both because it has an extra oxygen atom and two extra hydrogen atoms. Since commercial HHC has a mixture of active and inactive molecules, its effect is lessened.
3. Availability in Marijuana
You’ll often hear people say that THC is natural while HHC is synthetic. This is because the HHC on the market is derived from the CBD in hemp (though it can also be synthesized from THC). In reality, many cannabis plants have trace amounts of HHC – just not enough to be viable. Also, both HHC and THC come from female cannabis plants. Male plants have none.
4. Absorption and Potency
As we said before, both these cannabinoids are fat lovers so they’re perfect for vapes. You can also infuse them into budder, badder, shatter, and crumble. But HHC is said to be less potent than THC so its effects are likely to be milder. The two extra hydrogen atoms make it a more stable compound, making it harder to break down. Plus only half is available to metabolize.
5. Shelf Life
The stability of HHC gives it additional benefits over THC. Because it binds slower, it stays longer in your system, facilitating a lower but longer high. But it’s also less susceptible to UV damage, heat exposure, or deterioration so its lifespan is longer than THC. It will hold on to its potency for extended periods when compared to THC, and it needs less finicky storage.
6. Familiarity in Science Spaces
Depending on who you believe, THC and HHC have been around since the 1940s at least. But while THC and CBD have undergone intense study, little has been done around HHC. This might be because HHC is a lab product so there’s more interest in the cannabis plants that are readily available in the wild. That said, both HHC and THC are underregulated.
7. Therapeutic Advantages
CBD, THC, and HHC all attach to your intrinsic endocannabinoid receptors. This system regulates multiple factors in your body, which means all three compounds can boost your appetite, enhance pleasure, relieve pain, reduce nausea, manage inflammation, adjust your mood, and help you sleep better. The key difference is HHC and THC also make you high…
Understanding the ‘High’ in THC vs HHC
All cannabinoids can affect your mood, appetite, sleep, and pain response. Even CBD has the same effects on you, so CBD can also make you hungry and sleepy while helping with pain or inflammation. And it often influences your arousal levels and libido. But as we’ve mentioned, CBD won’t alter your mind or get you high in the way THC and HHC do. What’s that about?
Well, the high feeling comes out differently in everyone who uses weed. Some people feel relaxed, happy, and giggly. They may get really chatty and can be touchy-feely. Other people get paranoid and overly-anxious. This depends on your body chemistry, personality, context, and the weed strain you’re using. But many people feel spaced out like they’re daydreaming.
Physically, this could affect your coordination and how you move your body. Mentally, some people have difficulty focusing on a single thought. Others find these disjointed connections helpful to their creative process since they can link disparate ideas. People often experience time distortions. Also, it heightens your senses so you enjoy food, music, and art a lot more.
Curiously, while CBD can sometimes increase your appetite when you take it medicinally, it won’t give you the munchies. That’s a direct response to THC – and less so to HHC – where you have intense cravings for sweet, greasy, colorful, and highly textured food. But if you’re vaping recreationally, remember that indulging your munchies will quickly reduce your high.
Breaking Down the T and H in THC and HHC
In layman’s terms, HHC is just a milder form of THC. You can derive it from THC, but it’s more commercially viable to synthesize it from CBD. Allegedly, HHC offers a milder high than THC and can survive longer in your vape cart. But while the high from HHC is lower, it also peaks a bit slower and lasts longer in your bloodstream, so pick your poison accordingly.