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  • Alternative Cannabinoids

May 8, 2023


Estimated Read Time: 15 min

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By Valerie Orta on May 8, 2023

Are you considering trying out HHC or THC-O, two newer cannabinoids? Read on to discover the similarities and differences and what to consider before deciding.

Cannabis enthusiasts rejoice! Long gone are the days of being stuck with just THC. Now, you've got a plethora of cannabinoids to choose from. But with all these options, how can you be sure you're picking the right one? Fear not, my friend! This guide will look closer at two of the newest kids on the block - HHC and THC-O - so you can make an informed decision.

So, what's the deal with these two new cannabinoids? While closely related, they offer different experiences and effects, making them a prime choice for those with specific preferences. So, let's dive in and see how they stack up against each other.

What are Cannabinoids?

Ah, now we're talking about cannabinoids! And for a good reason, as both HHC and THC-O are cannabinoids. Let's dive deeper into what these compounds are.

Cannabinoids are natural compounds found in the cannabis plant. While the plant itself contains over 480 compounds and more than 100 of them are considered cannabinoids.

You may be familiar with some of the most popular ones, like Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 THC, and CBD. Delta 9 and Delta 8 are known for their uplifting effects, while CBD is widely known for its potential wellness and therapeutic benefits without the euphoria.

But as cannabis research continues to evolve, we're discovering more and more cannabinoids. Enter HHC and THC-O.

Now, if you're feeling a little overwhelmed, don't worry! We won't go into detail about all 100-plus cannabinoids. But it's worth noting some of the most well-known cannabinoids, including:

  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabichromenes (CBC)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Other Cannabinoids (cannabicyclol, cannabielsoin, and cannabitriol)

We hope this brief intro to cannabinoids will help you better understand our HHC and THC-O comparison. So, without further ado, let's dive in!

What is HHC?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a new player in the hemp space with relaxing effects. Unlike other, more well-studied cannabinoids, HHC is still being explored due to its recent discovery.

HHC is naturally occurring, which means the plant creates it. But it's a minor cannabinoid because it's only produced in tiny amounts, far less than needed to make HHC products.

Thankfully, now that scientists understand HHC's chemical makeup, the cannabinoid can also be created using hemp cannabinoids that are naturally more abundant. For example, HHC can be produced by exposing delta-9 THC to high concentrations of hydrogen. Alternatively, HHC can also be derived from CBD, often used to create HHC vape carts and other products.

While HHC shares many similar effects with other cannabinoids, such as body-soothing and calming effects, we're still looking for more information about its specific benefits. Interestingly, research has shown that HHC-O Acetate produces similar effects to HHC, although these findings are based on animal testing.

Learn more: What is HHC?

Where does HHC come from?

HHC is a naturally occurring compound in hemp plants. However, it can also be created in a lab through a chemical process called hydrogenation. This process is similar to the one used to produce margarine from vegetable oil and involves high pressure and a catalyst such as nickel and palladium. These critical process elements help transform Delta 9 THC into HHC, resulting in a more potent version of the cannabinoid.

Is HHC man-made?

Yes and no. HHC is a natural cannabinoid produced by the hemp plant. It can also be created with the help of man from other natural cannabinoids. The difference between the types of HHC you have is in how it was sourced.

Naturally, HHC appears in small quantities in the plant. However, the extraction process of natural HHC is expensive and only yields trace amounts.

HHC is created when it is converted from either THC or CBD. HHC is also present in oxidized CBN and in oxidized delta 8 and 10 THC.

HHC potency

Regardless of whether HHC is extracted or created, its chemical makeup and potency remain the same. While your experience may vary, HHC has roughly 70 and 80% of the strength of conventional THC, or delta-9 THC.

HHC is more potent than delta 8 and delta 10, making it an ideal upgrade for consumers of these cannabinoids who want a more intense experience but would be more comfortable with an in-between step before taking on delta 9.

At moderate servings, HHC produces the same uplifting effects as THC but without the grogginess that often accommodates THC use.

HHC effects

HHC bears a striking resemblance to Delta 9. However, while the effects of the two cannabinoids are very similar, HHC is known to have a stronger impact than Delta 8.

Although many hemp and cannabis enthusiasts find the effects of HHC to be less potent than regular THC, there are some notable differences.

HHC produces effects comparable to Delta 9 THC, such as mental relaxation and uplifting sensations. One distinction between the two is that HHC delivers these benefits with mental clarity so that you can stay mentally active on a project or task.

As you can imagine, HHC can be enjoyable when taking on a creative project, tackling chores at home, or conversing with friends and family.

Is HHC psychoactive?

Yes, HHC has noticeably elevating effects that you can feel. Most experience a pleasant euphoria and sense of relaxation. At the same time, your mind will stay clear so you can remain focused on a task or project.

If you've tried delta 8 THC, you can expect the HHC effects to be similar but more potent. But, HHC's effects are less intense than those of delta 9.

Is HHC legal?

Yes, HHC is legal under federal law in the U.S. The legality of HHC is covered in the 2018 Farm Bill, which stipulates that hemp and its derivates are legal to buy and use as long as they contain no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight.

Although HHC is nationally legal, its legality at the state level can vary. Therefore, you should check the legal status of HHC in your locality before purchasing or using any HHC products.

Advantages of HHC

When you take HHC, you can expect mental relaxation comparable to Delta 9 THC. But it's also grabbed attention for additional numerous wellness benefits like:

Stress relief

People often use cannabinoids like HHC and others to deal with racing thoughts and stress. HHC's calming effects can help you feel re-centered if faced with a particularly stressful time.

Experts believe HHC interacts with neurotransmitters like serotonin which positively influence your mood and behavior. However, the amount of HHC you take determines how your body responds. At higher servings, HHC and other cannabinoids might make you feel more on edge.

Delivers a sense of calmness

One of the best-known benefits of HHC is its ability to make you feel relaxed. It does this by interacting with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Because of this effect, HHC consumers often feel relief from stress, tension, and nervousness after taking HHC.

Creative stimulation

By quieting unwanted thoughts and keeping your mind clear, HHC may help shift or unblock creativity or generate new ideas. So whether you're a painter, writer, filmmaker, or musician, breathing in HHC with the help of an HHC disposable vape or HHC vape cart can be helpful if you sometimes struggle to get your brain juices flowing.

Sleep support

HHC fans report they fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer after using HHC. HHC may help support better sleep in multiple ways:

  • Quieting busy thoughts
  • Making you feel more relaxed
  • Encouraging a healthier sleep cycle

What is THC-O?

THC-O, also known as THC-O Acetate, Acetate THC X, ATHC, and THC Acetate, is the latest buzzword in the hemp world. It's a highly potent cannabinoid, expected to be about 300 percent more powerful than Delta 9 THC. THC-O's impressive strength has skyrocketed its popularity.

Unlike HHC, THC-O is not a naturally occurring cannabinoid. Instead, scientists create it using other naturally occurring hemp compounds.

THC-O's discovery dates to 1940, when the U.S. military experimented with natural, non-lethal substances. Although THC-O is far more potent, it and Delta 9 THC share the same chemical structure.

Learn more: What is THC-O?

Where does THC-O come from?

THC-O has been around for decades, but it has only become popular among fans. Unlike delta 8 or delta 10, THC-O is an ester of THC, which means it's chemically distinct from the compound used to create it, much like HHC. Manufacturers use a process that involves acetic anhydride and sulfuric acid to create THC-O.

The manufacturing process for THC-O starts with extracting CBD from hemp plants. From there, the extract goes through several steps to reach its final form. The process can be complicated, but the result is a highly potent and sought-after cannabinoid.

Is THC-O man-made?

Unlike HHC, which occurs in the plant naturally, THC-O does not. It's only available when created from other hemp-derived cannabinoids. It can't be extracted from any part of the plant and is made through the acetylation of THC or THCA.

THC-O potency

THC-O is not for beginners. This cannabinoid packs a punch and is three times more potent than delta-9 THC. You need to be a seasoned cannabinoid user to handle this stuff. Seriously, don't even think about trying it if you're new to the game.

Beginners using THC-O should start slow. Begin with a small serving and work your way up until you find the sweet spot. If you vape it with a THC-O vape cart, wait a few minutes between draws to monitor your feelings before taking another. Even if you're a pro, don't be overconfident. THC-O's intense strength can catch you off guard.

THC-O side effects are comparable to delta 9 and delta 8 but can be amplified by the cannabinoid's intense strength. But don't let that scare you off. If you're looking for a cannabinoid that'll give you a wild ride and you have a high tolerance, THC-O could be your go-to.

THC-O effects

THC-O is known for its intense uplifting effects but has other benefits—fans of the cannabinoid report experiencing relaxation and introspection. THC-O is often called the "spiritual" cannabinoid because of its powerful and immersive effects. Considering THC-O's potency, buying THC-O products from reputable brands is essential to achieve the best results.

It's worth noting that everyone's experience with THC-O is different and depends on various factors. Practice caution when consuming THC-O, starting with a lower serving and increasing it slowly to avoid mild and temporary side effects like paranoia. By doing so, you'll set yourself up to have a positive experience.

Is THC-O psychoactive?

Yes, THC-O has strong uplifting properties. Most anecdotal reports of THC-O lovers describe the uplifting effects of THC-O as:

  • About three times as potent as standard delta 9 THC
  • The results are more spiritual, relaxing, and calming compared to other cannabinoids.

Is THC-O legal?

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and its derivatives are federally legal. To most, this includes cannabinoids like THCO.

But the legality question of THC-O is complicated. Your state and local jurisdiction can also determine whether THC-O is legal to buy and use. Some states have opted to restrict some hemp derivatives like THCO.

The best bet is to check its legality where you live before making a purchase. Also, get quality THC-O products from reputable brands that adhere to federal regulations. THC-O products are only federally legal if the extract used to make the THC-O is hemp-derived and contains less than 0.3% THC.

Advantages of THC-O

Although THC-O is best known for its powerful elevating effects, its other advantages make it a sought-after cannabinoid. These are:

Body-soothing benefits

THCO binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the Endocannabinoid System. These receptors are in the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord and all over the immune system. They play a role in keeping the body balanced and running optimally. This response can promote a state of tranquility hence the natural relief fans describe.

Healthy appetite support

THCO can help people encourage healthier eating habits by making eating more enjoyable. In addition, through its positive influence on your body's endocannabinoid system, THCO might increase eating motivation.

Boosting creativity

Taking THCO might help restore creativity and encourage your mind to roam if you find yourself in a creativity block. It could boost creative thinking by encouraging inhibited imagination to unlock your mental activity's full potential.

THC-O Vs. HHC: What's the Difference?

By now, you've likely picked up on a few differences between THCO and HHC. But if you're still curious about how the two compare, wonder no more! We've put together a handy guide to help you understand the differences between the two cannabinoids and make the best choice for you.


Both THCO and HHC originate from the hemp plant. However, while HHC can be found in trace amounts, THCO is not naturally present.

Manufacturers have to create THC-O by converting CBD to THC and then using acetic anhydride to change the structure of the final compound.

HHC occurs naturally in plants but only in trace elements. So it too can be created by adding hydrogen atoms to THC, a process similar to how margarine is made.

Types of effects

THC-O is known for its highly intense uplifting effects, even in moderate amounts. It is a cannabinoid usually reserved for experienced users, and beginners should start with smaller servings and gradually build up. Some hemp enthusiasts who have tried high servings of THC-O report having a profoundly spiritual experience.

HHC, on the other hand, is not as potent as THC-O or delta 9 THC. Its effects are more subtle and can leave you feeling calm and motivated without the intense uplifting effects of THC-O. HHC can trigger energizing and stimulating effects in larger servings, making it a good choice for days when you need a creative spark.

It's worth noting that your interaction with THC-O and HHC might differ depending on various factors, such as your physiology and the amount you consume. However, these effects mentioned above are the most commonly reported by individuals who have tried either option.

Manufacturing process

THC-O is an analog of delta 9 THC. Its production follows a complicated production process that can be summarized as follows:

  • CBD is extracted from the hemp plant in an extract that contains less than 0.3% delta 9 THC. After removing the crude full-spectrum extract, the CBD is converted to delta 8 THC.
  • They then add acetic anhydride to an ester of THC.
  • After the chemical process, the resulting product is a THC-O acetate or simply THCO.

THCO has no odor or flavor, but it has a thick tincture. It can be combined with a carrier oil to create a tincture or edible products like THCO gummies.

Some THCO distillates can be combined with terpenes to extract more synergy and profound effects.

HHC has a more straightforward production process. Although it can be extracted directly from hemp plants, its concentration in the plants is not worth the trouble or the cost. Most manufacturers prefer this because the resulting product is identical to its naturally occurring counterpart.

Producing HHC also requires a lab. The current process triggers hydrogenation using catalysts like palladium, rhodium, and nickel. The reactions are more effective and efficient in producing high-quality HHC.


While shelf-life may be a low priority for some, it can be a consideration for those who like to take advantage of discounts or bulk purchases.

When it comes to THC-O and HHC, there is a difference in their shelf life. THC-O has a shorter shelf life and can last up to a year with only a slight loss of potency.

HHC, on the other hand, has a much longer shelf life of up to two years or more when stored properly. The difference in shelf life is due to the chemical structure of both compounds. HHC has a more stable chemical structure that is less prone to oxidation, allowing it to retain its properties for longer.


If you're considering cannabinoids, including HHC or THC-O, you should consider how they interact with your body and whether they can have side effects.

HHC and THC-O appear to have a similar safety profile to conventional THC, although more research is needed. Anecdotally, they're well tolerated by most people, and side effects appear rare, mild, and temporary.

A consideration of HHC and THC-O safety is their potency. This is particularly important with THC-O, among the strongest cannabinoids out there. It's easier to take too high of a serving that exceeds your tolerance and delivers more intense effects than you hoped.

If you're interested in getting started with the cannabinoids but are concerned about the safety of HHC or THC-O, it's best to first speak with your medical professional. Also, be sure to do your due diligence and only buy high-quality third-party lab-test products. Lastly, we recommend going easy on serving size at first and then building your way up as desired.

THC-O Vs. HHC: What are the Similarities?

Just as there are differences, there are plenty of similarities between THC-O and HHC. Although these might not help distinguish which products work best for you, they can help you know what to expect with either cannabinoid.


First are the effects. THC-O and HHC produce uplifting results, though THC-O is generally more potent and intense.

Drug tests

HHC and THCO are closely related to THC and likely produce the same metabolite as delta-9 THC. This metabolite is what most drug tests screen for, and unfortunately, most tests cannot determine which cannabinoid was used. So, regardless of being federally legal, THC-O and HHC can cause you to fail a drug test.

If you're subject to testing, the best bet is to refrain from using cannabinoids. However, if you want to take the risk, you should understand the timelines for the body to clear the cannabinoid from the system and ensure you observe them to avoid positive results.

Getting Started with HHC and THC-O

HHC and THC-O are relatively newly available hemp cannabinoids that have recently gained popularity. THC-O is known for its highly potent introspective effects, while HHC offers relaxed mind clarity.

Whether you choose to use HHC or THC-O, it's best to use high-quality products, start with a low serving, and stay within your comfort zone to enjoy a safe and enjoyable experience. Visit the Koi shop to buy HHC products and THC-O products.

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