A term used in the cannabis industry to describe crystalline structures, primarily THCA, that are developed in sauce extracts or isolated on their own.
“My sauce is full of THCA diamonds.”
“I like to add terpenes to my diamonds before dabbing.”
In a cannabis context, the term diamond has a few different meanings. It’s often used to describe pure tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) crystalline, also known as “THCA diamonds” or “THC diamonds,” as well as THCA crystalline that was developed in the presence of a terpene-rich solution.
In a jar of sauce, diamonds are the crystalline structures that develop at the bottom of the container. Concentrate enthusiasts will be familiar with sauce carts, or vape cartridges loaded with terpene-heavy sauce. These cannabis diamonds may also refer to the crystalline structures left over after terp sauce has been removed from the initial sauce mixture. These diamonds are usually coated in residual sauce. Diamonds can also refer to pure crystalline THCA that have been isolated from refined oil.
The central difference between these types of diamonds is the context in which they’re extracted and further processed. Whether presented as a saucy, high-terpene extract, or packaged as isolated THCA, diamonds are always crystalline structures of pure THCA. Remember, these diamonds may be inaccurately referred to as pure THC, but in reality, they come in the pure THCA form.
The size and shape of diamonds don’t necessarily reflect the quality of input materials. The size and shape is influenced by temperature, moisture, chemical impurities, and solvents used in the extraction process.
Diamonds range in size from very small to large chunks. THCA is a pseudopolymorph, meaning it can crystallize into multiple forms, but only when acted upon by variables such as temperature, moisture, and chemical impurities. Sterols, lipids, and even terpenes can impurify and alter the course of crystallization.
Similar to the way chemical variables interfere with sugar crystallization to create molasses, terpenes and other intruding compounds disrupt THCA crystallization to varying degrees, which has an effect on the diamond’s structure. Unique terpene profiles, that are dependant on the cannabis variety that is being extracted, can alter the size and composition of the diamonds created in an unrefined cannabis extract. The final size and shape is also influenced by the interference of solvents that are used during the extraction process. However, different shapes and sizes don’t necessarily mean different levels of purity. A diamond’s physical attributes are more a record of its path to crystallization than an indicator of how pure the diamond is.
THCA is non-intoxicating on its own, but converts into the intoxicating THC when exposed to heat through decarboxylation. When THCA diamonds are vaporized through a dab rig, e-rig, or vaporizer, THCA decarboxylates into the active THC, which in turn binds with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce an intoxicating effect.
Though not technically scheduled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, THCA’s active counterpart, THC, is still federally classified as a Schedule I drug, which means the government considers it to have no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. Consuming THCA diamonds means decarboxylating and consuming THC, which is federally illegal. Always consult your local cannabis laws and regulations to know whether THCA is a legal substance where you live.
Diamonds can be made one of two ways: by utilizing a closed-loop system with a unique solvent removal procedure, or following the same multi-step process used to make pure cannabinoid crystalline. This process is very similar to the one used to make all other solvent-based concentrates, with the major difference being the solvent removal process.
All solvent extractions use the same basic workflow: A liquid solvent is used to separate the active compounds from the trichome gland to yield a solution. This solution is a mixture of the solvent used for extraction and the desired compounds from the cannabis plant material. The solvent needs to be removed from that solution before it is considered a finished product.
With most solvent-based extractions the goal is to remove that solvent as quickly as possible. This is not the case when making sauce and diamonds. In fact, the opposite is true.
Using a closed-loop system to create diamonds requires technicians to change the way in which the solvents are purged from the system. Instead of removing the majority of solvents within the system and immediately purging residual solvents with a vacuum oven, 10-15% of the solvent is left behind to create a solution that is supersaturated with the THCA cannabinoid. The process of supersaturating THCA within a terpene and solvent-rich solution, and slowly purging off the solvent allows the crystalline structures to form. This process can take anywhere from two days to several weeks.
Producing cannabis crystalline involves mixing a highly refined cannabis concentrate, one that has had all lipids and terpenes removed, with a solvent to create a supersaturated solution. Heat and pressure are then applied and the solvent is slowly evaporated creating the right environment for crystals to form. The process is similar to making rock candy. If THCA crystalline is being produced, any THCA will precipitate, or separate, out of the solution at the bottom of the vessel. Under the right temperature and concentration, the THCA will chemically bond to other THCA molecules to form crystalline structures.
Diamond mining is an industry term for the process of making diamonds and harvesting them from sauce. Depending on the size of the cannabinoid crystals and overall consistency of the sauce, the crystals can be separated entirely from the concentrate. Ideally, diamond mining should result in two separate products — pure crystalline diamonds and terp sauce, usually consisting of more than 50% terpenes as well as all other extracted cannabinoids.
Courtesy of Weedmaps.