Cannabis connoisseurs (or cannasseurs, if you will) love their novelty. This love for all things differeAll Postsnt and new heavily translates into the cannabis market. From homemade bongs to moon rock weed to sploofs, vape pens, and concentrates of all sorts, the inventiveness of the developing marijuana industry seems to know no bounds. And just when you think there’s nothing new on the horizon—BAM!—up pops something new that you never knew you needed.
Case in point: the THC strip. You may have heard your friends talk about this nifty new cannabinoid delivery system, but what exactly is it? What are they used for? How are they made? And what are their benefits over smoking and eating? The experts at Honest Marijuana are here to answer all those questions. In this article, we’ll go through the science behind this unique method of dating Mary Jane and give you everything you need to know about the next big craze in cannabis.
What Are THC Strips?
THC strips are small squares of edible “paper” that dissolve when they come in contact with water. In the case of THC strips, it’s your saliva that causes the whole thing to dissolve. Have you ever seen or had a breath strip? THC strips are pretty much the same thing only they contain an extra ingredient—THC—to give it more kick.
What Are THC Strips Used For?
THC strips are used as an inconspicuous way to get a dose of THC anytime, anywhere. These type of dissolvable strips are especially useful for those who take THC or CBD for medical reasons. There’s no need to light up and suffer the stigma associated with the tell-tale marijuana smell just to get a bit of pain relief or to take the edge off of post-traumatic stress disorder. THC strips are just one in a long line of cannabis dosing methods that includes, smoking, dabbing, edibles, tinctures, waxes, oils, shatters, and pretty much everything else that you can think of.
How Do You Use THC Strips?
THC strips work similar to the more-familiar breath strips, only with a slight twist. Instead of placing the breath strip on your tongue and swallowing the dissolved material, you slip the THC strip under your tongue and allow the dissolved material to absorb into your bloodstream through the sublingual artery. An alternative delivery method involves placing the THC strip against the side of your check. This results in a slightly slower on-set with a more mellow, longer-lasting effect.
THC Strips Vs. Other Types Of Edibles
THC strips are consumed through the mouth like other edibles, but this is where the similarity ends. With regular edibles, that you swallow (let’s say a cookie, for example), the cannabis in the mixture is bound to the fat molecules. Your stomach acid has to break everything down before the cannabinoids can be absorbed through either your stomach lining or your intestinal lining. After they’re absorbed, they pass through your liver before entering your bloodstream and being carried to your brain. All of this takes time. This long trip through the digestive system, and through the filter that is your liver, serves to remove some of the potency of the THC ingested. This concept is known as bioavailability. Edibles provide less bioavailability because of the destructive properties of your stomach and liver.
THC strips, on the other hand, provide increased bioavailability because the cannabinoids are absorbed directly into an artery (sublingual) which is only a hop, skip, and a jump from your brain (where the THC takes effect). From the sublingual artery, the unfiltered THC travels to the external carotid artery, to the internal carotid artery, and then to your brain.
As you can see, it’s a pretty short trip from under your tongue to inside your brain. That’s the beauty of the THC strip. The sublingual absorption of the THC basically skips the extra step of traveling through the stomach and liver before reaching the bloodstream.THC strips even provide better bioavailability than smoking or dabbing because the cannabinoids don’t have to travel through, and be filtered by, the lungs before reaching your bloodstream.
How Are THC Strips Made?
Each manufacturer will have their own unique method. But to give you an idea of what goes into those dissolvable strips, here’s a basic recipe.
- 22.4 grams pullulan
- 1.0 gram carrageenan
- 0.15 grams xanthan gum
- 0.15 grams locust bean gum
- 0.8 grams sorbitol
- 71.85 grams water
- 2.5 grams emulsified mint oil
- 0.5 grams herb extract (not THC)
- 0.3 grams aspartame
- 0.25 grams citric acid
- Microencapsulated THC extract (liquid THC)
- Measure pullulan, carrageenan, xanthan gum, locust bean gum, sorbitol, aspartame, and citric acid into a large mixing bowl.
- Mix well.
- While stirring, slowly pour water into the bowl.
- Continue mixing until you’ve created a gel.
- Add emulsified mint oil, herb extract, and THC extract.
- Combine ingredients until everything is homogenous.
- Cover loosely (doesn’t have to be airtight) and store overnight.
- Pour on a baking pan and spread to desired thickness.
- Dry in an oven set between 140 degrees Fahrenheit and 175 degrees Fahrenheit until the mixture is dry to the touch (about 3-8% moisture).
- Remove the large sheet from the pan, let it cool, and then cut into small strips.
We don’t suggest that you try this at home. For one thing, some of those ingredients are hard to find. For another thing, they can be rather expensive. Then there’s the whole issue of getting everything just right (thickness, dryness, THC content) so as to actually produce a viable product. We never want to discourage you from experimenting with your cannabis products. That’s where most of the new innovations came from. But this process may be beyond the average Mary Joe or Mary Jane in its cost and complexity. We recommend leaving it to professionals. Save yourself a lot of time and a major headache and just buy your strips from your local dispensary.
Don’t believe us? Look at it this way: Do you know what microencapsulated THC extract is? We didn’t think so. Read on for the answer.
What Is Microencapsulation?
The word “microencapsulation” means to put a substance into a microcapsule. In this case, we’re putting THC extract into those microcapsules. The thing about all this is that those microcapsules are tiny little things (invisible to the naked eye) suspended in liquid. When the liquid dries or evaporates, the microcapsules are left behind, in this case, on the dissolvable strip. Before it was used for the likes of breath strips and THC strips, microencapsulation was, and still is, mainly used in the transport, administration, and targeting of therapeutic drugs for cancer treatment and other diseases.
Microencapsulation of THC, and their subsequent inclusion in the dissolvable strip, provides a number of benefits over just adding THC extract into the mix.
- Encapsulated THC is protected against degradation (or spoilage) for extended periods of time.
- Encapsulation provides a means to control the release rate of THC.
- Encapsulated THC makes consumption simple with a variety of ingestion methods available.
In essence, microencapsulation is a way to control the dosage of the strip, makes the strip easy to consume, and helps the THC last longer. All the things you want from THC you can take anywhere.
Can You Get Other Cannabinoids In Strip Form?
While THC strips may be the most popular, you can certainly get dissolvable strips with other combinations of cannabinoids. Manufacturers usually make a variety of strips with indica, hybrid, and sativa strains. These are just a few of the options you have available:
- 10 mg THC strip (regular)
- 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC (e.g., 10 mg CBD and 10 mg THC)
- 2:1 ratio of CBD to THC (e.g., 10 mg CBD and 5 mg THC)
- 5 mg THC strip (low-dose)
- 20 mg THC strip (extra strength)
At this point, you may be wondering why would you want the combination of CBD and THC in one strip? Two words: entourage effect. The entourage effect refers to consuming THC in tandem with CBD (and other cannabinoids) to mitigate a lot of the undesirable effects that THC can produce. That means less paranoia, less uncontrollable thoughts, less uncomfortable feelings. All you get is the good stuff.
Should You Try THC Strips?
Yes, you should. It’s the only way you’ll know for sure if this method of delivery is right for you. But before you run out and purchase the first THC strips you can find, talk to the professionals at your local dispensary. When you do find a product you like, start small and start slow. THC consumed through edibles and strips can take longer to act. Sometimes they can take as long as thirty minutes or more before you feel any effects. Until you know what you’re doing, resist the temptation to take another strip in the hopes of making things go faster. This is just a recipe for a bad trip.