Why Water Soluble Cannabinoids are the Next Big Thing in the Cannabis Industry

“Water-soluble cannabinoids” is a popular buzzword phrase on the cannabis scene. Canna-beverages have made a grand entry into the non-alcoholic beverage market, with a 2019 market value of $919 billion. This figure is projected to grow significantly over the course of the next eight years due to cannabis legalization across the globe and the shifting customer preference towards healthier beverages. Even Coca-Cola is eyeing the space.

Gummies, capsules, chocolates, and other edibles have come a long way. Consequently, manufacturers have been challenged to find creative ways to infuse beverages with potent and tasty cannabinoids. However, one major challenge exists; water and oil do not mix well.

Cannabinoids are bioactive compounds found in cannabis as well as hemp. [1] Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are by far the most popular cannabinoids. They occur as lipophilic or fat-loving compounds. This means that they cling to fat molecules and repel water molecules. When cannabinoids are mixed with lipids such as coconut oil to make canna-butter (a common ingredient in edibles), the fat-loving cannabinoids bond seamlessly with the coconut oil.

When it comes to water-soluble cannabis beverages, it’s a different ball game.

Problems With Cannabis Beverages

Our bodies are almost 70% water, so naturally, the bloodstream quickly absorbs water-soluble molecules. Since cannabinoids are fat-loving molecules and can never mix with water, cannabis beverages aren’t always pleasant to drink. Common canna-beverage complaints include:

Poor mixing results in cannabinoids settling at the bottom, or floating on the surface of the beverage. This affects both the appearance and taste of the beverage.

Delayed onset of action as the fat-loving cannabinoids are slowly absorbed by the digestive tract.

The solution seems to be water-soluble cannabinoids, a mix where cannabinoids seemingly disappear into the water. But how exactly do you go about creating water-soluble cannabinoids?

Water Soluble Cannabinoid Technology

Technology has overcome some of the inherent challenges present in creating water-soluble cannabinoids. Creating macroemulsions (what you get when you mix two immiscible liquids like oil and water) is relatively affordable and straightforward. The problem is that macroparticles are visible in the liquid, form a cloudy suspension, can be tasted, and typically sink to the bottom of the beverage because of their weight. These factors combined result in an unpleasant experience, both in terms of appearance and taste. Now, let’s talk about microemulsions.

Microemulsions allow for cannabinoids to be broken into tiny particles that can attach to water molecules. Since the human body is 70% water, the body can efficiently absorb these compounds. Easy absorption means no delayed onset of cannabis effects. Tiny particles that can bond with water also means no thick, cloudy suspension to choke down.