Delta-10 vs. delta-8: What's the difference?

Delta-10 and delta-8 are two types of THC on the rise.
Delta-10 vs. delta-8: What's the difference?
minute read

With hundreds of combinations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals, hemp plants are more complex and powerful than we had ever imagined.

One area of interest that has earned the attention of researchers and consumers is THC — more specifically, the various forms of THC contained within hemp. While the cannabis plant is known for delta-9 THC and its psychoactive effects, that’s only scratching the surface of this compound and its many variants.

Now, delta-10 and delta-8 THC have emerged as two THC analogs with lots of promise and the potential to create new, specially formulated THC products. As public awareness around these compounds grows, we think it’s worth examining them on a deeper level and comparing their differences side by side.

This article aims to spell out exactly what’s going on in the world of delta-8 and delta-10 THC, including chemical differences, varying effects, and the legality of these hemp products as they saturate the marketplace. With this knowledge, you can make the right choice for your needs and structure a regimen for wellness that takes your health to new heights. Let’s get started. 

What is delta-10 THC?

Delta-10 THC is an isomer of tetrahydrocannabinol, meaning it has the same formula as other THC molecules but with a slightly different arrangement of atoms. This shift in structure — defined by a double bond on the tenth carbon chain — means that delta-10 has unique properties compared to its siblings like delta-8 and delta-9. 

Nevertheless, delta-10 is hemp-derived and does occur naturally in the cannabis plant. It’s a cannabinoid like any other, even though it’s found in relatively low concentrations compared to an abundant compound like CBD (cannabidiol) or standard delta-9 THC. 

As expected, delta-10 acts in the same way as many other cannabinoids. It interacts with cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system — primarily with CB1 receptors — to produce a range of psychoactive and physical effects. However, these psychoactive properties are more subtle in nature, and delta-10 is considered one of the less potent THC variants available. 

Why is delta-10 in the spotlight now? While this compound was discovered by scientists decades ago, it has received much more attention of late due to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Under these laws, many cannabinoids were made legal on a federal level, as long as they did not contain delta-9 THC concentrations surpassing 0.3% by dry weight. As a result, delta-10 achieved unexpected legal status, and now products of all kinds can be found in online stores, gas stations, and everywhere in between.

We still have a ways to go in discovering the mechanisms of delta-10 and how it interacts with the body and brain, though, so it’s best to proceed carefully while research is ongoing.

What is delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is another naturally occurring cannabis compound with a unique chemical structure of its own. This time, the molecule’s double bond exists on the eighth carbon chain, earning this compound the name delta-8 THC. Yet again, this small structural change has big implications for how the compound affects the body and mind, putting delta-8 into a category of its own.

In terms of effects, delta-8 falls somewhere between delta-9 and delta-10 in terms of psychoactive potency. It interacts with the same ECS receptors as these other isomers, providing the usual effects of relaxation, calm, and reduced discomfort. While users might not get the same sensory-altering effects as a traditional delta-9 experience, they can expect a more subtle, cerebral, and uplifting high.* 

Availability is a strong suit of delta-8 THC since it has been on the market for longer. Hemp researchers and product developers have had more time to create unique delta-8 items, with the typical lineup of tinctures, gummies, vapes, and even topicals — and just like delta-10, it’s federally legal since it doesn’t technically qualify as delta-9. 

Delta-8 has carved out a place for itself in the market as users seek an alternative to the potent delta-9 THC, even as more research is needed to fully understand the compound. 

How are delta-10 and delta-8 similar?

Delta-10 and delta-8 have plenty in common, down to sharing a molecular structure and a similar place of origin. To understand these compounds more clearly, let’s walk through some properties and characteristics that tie them together before we examine their differences and offer some guidance for prospective users. 

Interaction with the body

Both delta-10 and delta-8 have similar interactions with the body, specifically the endocannabinoid system. 

When these compounds enter the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier, they bind with CB1 receptors concentrated primarily in the brain and the central nervous system. This is the process that causes sensations of calming, soothing, and relaxation, as well as psychoactive effects like slowed reflexes and an altered sense of time.

Meanwhile, both compounds interact with CB2 receptors as well. These receptors are involved in secondary physiological processes, ranging from muscle and joints to organs, skin, and even the immune system. This constitutes the “body high” sensations often associated with THC.

The exact mechanisms of action differ when we closely examine how delta-10 and delta-8 work, but at a zoomed-out level, these compounds pull the same levers in the ECS and provide similar therapeutic benefits as a result.

Legal status

Because of the 2018 Farm Bill, delta-10 and delta-8 are considered legal, as they exist in categories distinct from delta-9 THC. It’s a legal grey area, however, as some consider these compounds to be synthetic cannabinoid products.

While there’s nothing wrong with synthetic products by definition, delta-10 and delta-8 are derived from other cannabinoids and constitute a chemical structure that could not be obtained organically, at least in large amounts. This has raised some questions among state-level lawmakers who are concerned with the widespread accessibility of products like delta-10 and delta-8, especially in higher-concentration edibles and vapes.

Now, delta-10 and delta-8 face the same dilemma. Some states have moved to ban synthetic cannabis products of all types, rendering the protections of the Farm Bill ineffective in these territories. Meanwhile, states with histories of hemp legalization — such as Colorado — ensure that products like these are still available for distribution and safe use.

As it stands now, the legal landscape around hemp, and specifically THC analogs like delta-10 and delta-8, is in the process of transformation. While it may take longer for amendments to be made to the Farm Bill, users should be aware of any legal changes happening on a state-by-state basis. 

Availability and delivery methods

It has only been a few years since the Farm Bill made delta-10 and delta-8 legal, and these two compounds have been in the spotlight as new product types hit the market. Both are widely available, barring states that have issued complete bans on synthetic THC products, and delivery methods are also highly varied.

For example, you can find delta-8 gummies, tinctures, and other product types, just as you might find delta-10 edibles and oils. At Sunmed, we’ve taken it a step further by pairing delta-8 with other cannabinoids, boosting the entourage effect and amplifying benefits.*

This mix-and-match approach to hemp science has proven beneficial for many users who long desired a more transparent and research-backed approach to hemp products. New products and delivery methods are always around the corner, so experiment safely and find the formulation that matches your needs and lifestyle.

What are the differences between delta-10 and delta-8? 

There are definitely plenty of parallels to draw between delta-10 and delta-8, from their basic structure to their legal status and availability on the market. But just as we find similarities between these compounds, there are also some key differences to note. 

Here are some ways in which delta-10 and delta-8 are truly unique to one another. 

Molecular distinctions

A quick glance at these compounds suggests they are chemically identical, but look closer: delta-10 has a double bond on the 10th carbon chain, while delta-8 has a double bond on the eighth. The fact that this subtle change can have such a dramatic impact on the nature of a compound might surprise some, but that’s part of what makes hemp science amazing.

This discovery was made back in the 1940s during a time of intense hemp research, but only now have scientists and entrepreneurs tapped into the potential of these distinct compounds. 

Production process

Delta-10 and delta-8 are not always directly extracted from hemp — in some cases, they are chemically converted from existing cannabinoids like delta-9 or CBD. These conversion processes are similar, but the goals are, of course, different. 

Delta-8, for example, might undergo a process called isomerization to change the structure of CBD and make it more similar to a THC molecule. Delta-10 products may also be derived from CBD, but many producers use delta-9 as a starting point in the process. 

These processes can vary widely and result in different yields, purities, and qualities of their final products. Whether buying delta-10, delta-8, or any type of hemp extract for that matter, it’s important to prioritize transparency. At Sunmed, we go above and beyond regulatory standards to bring you safe, non-synthetic delta-8 — our third-party lab reports confirm the cannabinoid content in our plant-derived THC products so you can enjoy the ultimate peace of mind. 

Effects and benefits

Although these products often find themselves on the same shelf or ecommerce category, delta-10 and delta-8 produce different effects on the body while providing unique benefits as well. 

Delta-10 is known as one of the less potent THC analogs available, potentially offering a milder experience with feelings of enhanced mood, calm, and even focus. Compare this to a “heavy” high that users might expect from hemp products, and it’s a welcome change of pace. Many delta-10 users report that it’s ideal for active and creative endeavors, as it doesn’t cause motor skills impairment or leave them feeling foggy.

On the other hand, delta-8 is closer to a traditional delta-9 THC experience, with more notable psychoactive effects and the expected impact of sensory alteration. Users will feel slowed down, more relaxed, and experience a sharp increase in appetite. These are the calling cards of a classic THC high, though delta-8 is still not on the same level as delta-9 in terms of potency.

How should you use delta-10 or delta-8 THC?

Delta-10 and delta-8 THC each have their time and place, and there are many different ways to take them. The challenge for consumers now becomes picking the right product for their needs and using it in a way that’s safe, sustainable, and enjoyable. 

Here are some ideas on how to get the most from delta-10 and delta-8 THC so that your hemp experience is maximally beneficial on all levels.

What’s the best delivery method?

With delivery method, personal preference is the main determining factor. Many hemp users enjoy the consistency and predictability of an edible, as they can count on the exact same serving size and compound ratio every time. 

For example, our Above product line of delta-8 THC products includes gummies with unique formulations, whether you want a more clear-headed experience or a full-on relaxation session. The one consideration here is onset time, as edibles tend to take longer to kick in because they must be digested. If you want to experience effects more quickly, a delta-8 full spectrum tincture is for you. 

When should you take delta-10 or delta-8? 

Timing is key when mapping out your hemp lifestyle, and the same principles apply to products like delta-10 and delta-8. As mentioned, delta-10 provides a more subtle and clear-headed experience which could be more suitable for outdoor adventuring or creative pursuits.

Conversely, delta-8 is more about kicking back, chilling out, and enjoying some time to yourself in a state of total relaxation. We suggest reserving delta-8 for the end of the day when you’ve checked everything off your to-do list and can ease into the evening stress-free.

The bottom line

The world of THC analogs is quickly expanding, with compounds like delta-10 and delta-8 leading the charge. No matter your goals, you can find a version of THC that brings you relaxation, focus, or anything else you need to achieve a balance of body and mind. 

Sunmed is at the forefront of education and product quality, so you’ve always got support and direction on your journey. After all, the more you can get from your products and your knowledge of them, the more you can thrive with the help of hemp and optimized living.

Sources:

Delta-8, Delta-10, HHC, THC-O, THCP, and THCV: What Should We Call These Products? | NIH

Frequently Asked Questions about Conducting Research with Cannabis and Hemp | NIH

Real or Not Real? The Difference Between Legal Delta-8/Delta-10 THC and Illegal Delta-8/Delta-10 THCO | National Law Review

Cannabis-derived products like delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC have flooded the US market | University of South Carolina

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol: a scoping review and commentary | NIH