Drink up: 5 strategies for making CBD cannabis-infused beverages
Cannabis activists have been saying for decades that the plant should be regulated like alcohol. Now science is helping to make cannabis act like alcohol, too.
Extraction scientists and formulators are racing toward faster and cheaper ways to make cannabinoid molecules – which are naturally hydrophobic and therefore impossible to dissolve in water – suitable for incorporating into drinks.
Cannabis binds readily to fat but not to water, which explains why people have long incorporated THC into buttery baked goods such as brownies.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is water-soluble, so it’s commonly mixed into drinks but less so into foods.
But technology is giving cannabis producers better ways to change cannabinoids’ fat-loving ways and incorporate the molecules into water, sodas and even energy drinks.
The innovations help cannabis drinks overcome limitations in taste and stability that have long left consumers with a bad taste in their mouths – literally.
Analytics giant NielsenIQ reported a 25% increase in products containing hemp-derived CBD sold in grocery, drug and convenience stores in 2020, despite cooling sales for CBD drinks overall.
And still more cannabis drinks are coming. Just this month, CBD extractor c received a grant of 227,000 euros ($274,000) from the German Ministry of Economic Affairs to develop water-compatible THC-free cannabinoid emulsion.
Longtime cannabis-product developers say the secret to success in the cannabis beverage game starts at the very beginning, when products are formulated.
Hemp Industry Daily caught up with senior cannabis-product manufacturing executives to find out what makes a successful water-compatible formula and what it costs to bring a product to market. Here are five of their key takeaways:
Start with taste
need to pair up with water-friendly molecules to get into a liquid and stay
suspended there. The challenge is finding the right emulsifier that helps two
start talking to a customer about water solubility, we talk to them about the
desired consistency, the desired aroma,” said Casey Flippo, CEO of Natvana, a
contract hemp processor in Little Rock, Arkansas.
what flavor or aroma you’re going for. For example, something with a milky
consistency might be great for products that already have some form of
discoloration but not for a water.”
Think about packaging
cannabis product can be judged by its cover, because packaging can have a
significant impact on the product inside.
cannabis emulsions can “stick” to plastic bottles or the polymer linings in
traditional aluminum cans, reducing potency. Others need opaque packaging to
keep out light.
product manufacturer must consider how the liquid cannabinoid product will be
compatibility is big,” said Harold Han, founder of Vertosa, a company in
Oakland, California, that makes THC seltzers for Pabst Labs to sell under the
Pabst Blue Ribbon label.
putting THC in an aluminum can? In a glass bottle? They’re all different.”
Timing is flexible –
to a point
Have a time
horizon in mind before developing a cannabis-infused drink.
that make water-compatible cannabis can either sell you a ready-made formula –
say, a citrusy mix-in – or work with you to develop your own recipe.
his company worked for three years to get the Pabst Blue Ribbon lemon seltzer
ready for sales.
some things ready to go, like a unique cider or some unique gumming formula.
(But) it’s just a formula. It’s not really a finished product,” he said.
client or a big company, we go forward with a lot of research. We want to have
something repeated so we can license that recipe to them.”
customers that making a cannabis drink that tastes good and stays homogenous
encourage our clients to be patient. No one has the patience to wait and to
follow the data because they need a decision tomorrow. But you have to balance
Watch for new
manufacturer in Colorado is using chelation, a process of causing metal ions in
water to bind to other molecules, to bypass emulsion and make cannabinoids more
used to soften hard water, chelation is being used at Vantage Hemp to bind
to Chief Operating Officer Deepank Utkhede, cannabis emulsions will always
struggle with long-term shelf stability. Chelation, however, prevents settling.
a complex whereby you take that … water-hating molecule, and you basically
encompass it. You basically put it into a complex that gives it an outside
sphere. The outside part of it is able to dissolve in water.”
about the difference between chelation and emulsification? That could be a sign
to follow the fifth takeaway.
Don’t go it alone
product manufacturers concede the internet is awash in easy-to-order
emulsifying powders and products that promise to make a cannabis extract
Technology have come along way, and we have years of
experiencing specializes in the Water Soluble technology for the Cannabis and CBD
Industry, said, Jeff Allen, President of Nano
first started R&D on water concentrates, we were probably spending
somewhere in the ballpark of $2,500 to $3,000 a kilo to produce the right
that outsourcing water compatibility makes sense for most product
it yourself,” Han said. “You buy software, right? Already made by the software
company. You don’t hire 20 coders to code Excel for you. You just buy it, and
it can be customized to you.”
Kristen Nichols can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nano Hydrate specializes in making CBD / Cannabis-infused beverages. If you are searching for a beverage solution, Nano Hydrate is the perfect partner to provide you with the quickest, easiest, and most affordable way to introduce your brand into the booming CBD and Cannbis markets. Contact us today to get started!