The past few years have seen the cannabis industry expand from only cannabis flower and edibles to all kinds of concentrates and infused beverages. Thanks to constantly improving technology, the average cannabis consumer has a wide variety of products to choose from, and at the moment, cannabis-infused drinks are enjoying a surge in popularity. But because cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, which are the chemical compounds responsible for cannabis’ effects, are not water soluble, players in the cannabis industry needed to find a way to infuse cannabis into beverages that ensured consistent product quality and user experience.
Nano-emulsification turned out to be the best option. Since cannabinoids are highly fat-soluble, they readily bond with oils and fats. While this may work great for creating edible cannabis products using cannabutter and cannaoil, beverages are a different story entirely. Not only do cannabis companies have to infuse cannabis into beverages, but they also have to ensure those beverages have a good taste and texture that stay consistent throughout the entire product line. Emulsion provides an effective means of turning raw cannabis into consistently smooth, high-quality beverages over the long term.
The process involves breaking down the cannabinoid of choice — either THC, CBD, or both — into tiny, microscopic particles and mixing those particles with a substance called an emulsifier, which helps the cannabinoid oil dissolve in water. Simply put, an emulsifier is made of two parts, with one part binding to the oil and the other binding to the water. Once the microscopic oil particles have bonded with the emulsifier, the cannabis emulsion is added to the water base ensuring a seamless marriage between the cannabinoids and water.
The result of this emulsification technology is that cannabis beverages have become much better than they used to be when they first hit the market. Lynden Henderson of Outbound Brewing says that when he first encountered a cannabis-infused beverage, it was chunky with bits of cannabis still floating throughout the drink, and had an unpleasant consistency. The experience inspired him to create his own line of cannabis beverages with colleagues at Outbound Brewing, where they leveraged nano-emulsification to develop consistently smooth drinks with a pleasant texture.
Consistency is especially crucial as users will not make repeat purchases if different bottles of the same drink have different tastes and textures. However, despite all emulsion has done for cannabis beverages, it still has limitations. Emulsions react poorly when exposed to certain packaging materials and harsh thermal conditions, or even when they are exposed to the air. Technology is constantly evolving, fortunately, and as cannabis companies further develop emulsification, they will hopefully find a solution for these issues.
Emulsion techniques are evolving rapidly, and companies such as The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) (CSE: WTER) are pushing the possibilities to the edge as they make infused drinks.
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