Does THC vaporize or turn into an aerosol? The true boiling point of THC
It is common knowledge that THC boils at 155 to 157 degrees Celsius. At least that’s a common misconception, given that THC actually boils over 400 degrees Celsius. However, vape pens operate at temperatures well below the true boiling point of THC. How does the cannabinoid turn into an aerosol and get into the lungs?
… THC is transported into your lungs in oil droplets …
Photo courtesy of Mr. Grodski Chemistry.
How do boiling points change?
Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius at normal atmospheric pressure. However, this temperature changes as the pressure changes. This change can be achieved by sucking the air out of a special, sealed chamber with a pump or, much more easily, with a change in height.
In fact, it is easier to boil water in a vacuum oven because the pressure can be reduced to near vacuum. At these low pressures, water can boil at room temperature. And only at such low pressures does THC boil around 155 to 157 degrees Celsius, not at the atmospheric pressure of sea level.
How did THC’s boiling point get so ambiguous?
The boiling point of THC is listed as 155 to 160 degrees Celsius on many chemical reference sites and even Wikipedia, but that’s at 0.05 millimeters of mercury (HG) or near a full vacuum. The normal earth atmosphere at sea level is approximately 760 mm of mercury if you look at a diagram in a book that represents one unit of atmosphere, or 101.351 kilopascals (KPA).
How can we determine the real boiling point of THC from this data when we have no other references?
What the hell is the Clausius-Clapeyron equation?
One way to find out the true boiling point of THC is to use a fancy math tool that can be used to set the boiling points under different pressures. This tool is known as the temperature-pressure nomograph and is based on the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. An even easier way to discover the misinterpreted properties of THC is to simply call a scientist.
Sometimes it’s best to just #AskAnExpert
I was honestly reminded of the true boiling point of THC while tracking CBDV on Linkedin, a laboratory in British Columbia, Canada licensed by Health Canada to test and research cannabis and psilocybin. This lab is now owned by Delic Labs and was headed by Dr. Markus Roggen, who has a doctorate. Inorganic chemistry.
CBDV leads the way in testing emissions from vape pens and joints, a test that will be mandatory in the US through 2022. That’s why I decided to meet Dr. Calling Rye to learn more about vape pen testing and the status of THC while it’s vaporizing, especially considering that remarkably higher boiling point of around 425 degrees Celsius.
Dr. Markus Roggen with a THC molecule.
The THC molecule falls apart before boiling in a normal setting. How does THC get into the lungs from a vape pen when it’s not boiling?
For that we have to mention aerosols. THC doesn’t turn into gas. The THC is an aerosol phase, i.e. in the form of really tiny droplets …
… THC droplets are flown into the lungs by the terpenes, which turn into gases. So you turn certain parts of your vape formulation into a gas, and then you also have a stream of air that goes through the vape cartridge and picks up tiny droplets of oil. You breathe in these droplets of oil.
It is known that an additive, propylene glycol, can turn into formaldehyde when cooked at high temperature. However, vape pens can operate at relatively low temperatures, which avoids the production of aldehydes and other toxins from known additives.
The hot air from a joint or steam cartridge is between forty and sixty degrees Celsius.
Thank you, Dr. Markus Rye. The call will continue in the following series.
In a vape pen, the gases are the terpenes and the aerosols are the cannabinoids. No cannabinoid boils in the stream of a vape pen or on the surface of the earth.
What about the boiling point of caryophyllene?
Leafly posted an infographic about terpenes that showed the boiling point of caryophyllene at 160 degrees Celsius. (1) Beta-caryophyllene, however, boils at 168 degrees Celsius with 35 millimeters of mercury. Additionally, this author recalls in memory that at 129.3 degrees Celsius, this terpene cooks even closer to a full vacuum.
On the earth’s surface, however, beta-caryophyllene only boils at around 262 to 267 degrees Celsius.
Let us know in the comments iIf you always knew the true boiling point of THC and caryophyllene. Read the episode below to learn more about testing vape pens.
Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay. JRByron.