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What is HHC

What Is HHC?

We’ve officially entered the era of non-traditional cannabinoids. Delta 9 THC and CBD are no longer enough.  There are now several different types of cannabinoids available. Delta 8 THC is a more relaxing variant, while delta 10 THC is a more stimulating and energizing variety. THCP and THC-O are powerful variants that provide a psychedelic vibe. There’s also another type known as HHC.  HHC will most likely be the cannabinoid astronauts choose to take with them when they go to Mars.  Why, you ask?

What is HHC?

HHC is a cannabinoid molecule that stands for hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol. There are several versions of this hydrogenated THC derivative.


The comparison of HHC is to THC, is like comparing margarine to butter.

The shelf life of this cannabinoid is extended considerably by saturating it with hydrogen atoms, without sacrificing much in the way of effect profile.


HHC is naturally occurring in tiny amounts, although it may be extracted. To sell this cannabinoid, manufacturers will need to create it in a laboratory.

Types of HHC:

  1. 9-OH-HHC — 9α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol(CAS# 36028-45-2)
  2. 7-OH-HHC — 7-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol (CAS# 64663-39-4)
  3. HU211 — 1,1-Dimethylheptyl-11-hydroxytetrahydrocannabinol (CAS 112924-45-5)
  4. HU243 — 11-Hydroxy-3-(1′,1′-dimethylheptyl)hexahydrocannabinol (CAS 140835-14-9)


Others include 10α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol, 10aR-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol, 7-oxo-9α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol, 1S-hydroxycannabinol, 8-oxo-Δ9-THC, Δ9-THC aldehyde A and cannabiripsol.

What is HHC and how does it work 2

Simply stated, HHC is THC with no double bonds in its chemical structure. It’s the polar opposite of CBN (cannabinol), which emerges from THC as it breaks down and adds extra double bonds.

With HHC, all the double bonds have been broken and replaced with hydrogen (AKA hydrogenation).

The end result of this is that the molecule’s shape and binding affinity for the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, as well as TRP pain receptors, are altered.

This difference is significant. The chemical structure has been altered in such a way that the THC becomes significantly more stable – meaning it will retain its strength longer than other types of THC. This is because hydrogenated vegetable oils last considerably longer than normal vegetable oils, and it’s for the same reason that hydrogenated oils are less prone to oxidation and deterioration.

As a result, the longer it sits in your medicine cabinet, the better. This cannabinoid is also more resistant to mishandling or exposure to heat and UV light. HHC would be an ideal apocalypse cannabinoid because of its long shelf life.

The most common naturally-occurring type of THC, Delta 9 THC, but it’s also the least stable. It oxidizes as it loses hydrogen atoms, creating two new double bonds on its top ring structure. THC changes into CBN (cannabinol) when this happens, which has only 10% of the psychotropic effect of THC because it contains no hydrogen.

11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC) is the most stable form of THC with a significantly longer shelf life than other forms of THC. It’s resistant to heat, UV light and insect damage too. There is some evidence that HHC doesn’t convert to 11-hydroxy-THC.

Why should I buy HHC?

  • HHC is a hydrogenated form of THC
  • HHC offers similar effects & potency compared to THC
  • HHC has a substantially longer shelf-life & is more resistant to high heat or UV exposure
  • The safety profile of HHC is still unclear, but there’s no evidence to suggest it’s dangerous

What Are The Effects of HHC?

The THC analog HHC has comparable effects. It generates euphoria and excitement, altered visual and auditory perception, changes in heart rate and body temperature, as well as altered headspace and thought.

The effect of HHC is similar to that of Delta 8 THC in terms of being more weighted toward relaxation than stimulation, according to many users. Delta 8 THC is stronger than HHC, but it is also less powerful than Delta 9 THC.

Although HHC is still relatively new, there aren’t many research on its potential therapeutic benefits because it hasn’t been studied as much as other THCs — but thus far, it appears to have similar therapeutic effects as other types of THC. There’s even been some animal testing demonstrating that beta-HHC has significant painkilling abilities when tested on rats.

The questions being asked of HHC include:

  • Can it help manage chronic pain?
  • Can it reduce inflammation?
  • Can it promote deeper, more restorative sleep?
  • Can it alleviate nausea or vomiting?
  • Can it alleviate anxiety (may also increase anxiousness)?

The actual advantage of this cannabinoid is its lengthy shelf life, not to mention the physical effects. It has comparable advantages to THC but in a more stable form.

The legality of cannabinoids like HHC or Delta 8 THC is a point of contention. Because it is naturally occurring, selling HHC is completely legal. However, similar to many of the other THC analogs, it does not exist in significant amounts in nature and must be produced in a laboratory in order to offer any usable supply.

Whether it’s a natural or synthetic compound is up for debate.

The claim that HHC is naturally derived is based on its presence in hemp and marijuana flower. If caffeine is produced in a laboratory, we do not refer to it as synthetic caffeine; it’s still just caffeine.

The claim that HHC is synthetically produced focuses on the fact that in order to obtain any appreciable amounts, it must be manufactured from various chemicals and methods.

On a federal level, if the end product is considered natural and no Delta 9 THC remains in the final product after processing, as long as the starting material comes from hemp, it’s legal.

HHC is prohibited on a federal level, and it has the same penalties as Delta 9 THC.

Related: What are synthetic cannabinoids?

The legality of the entire alternate cannabis market is an issue at this time. While certain interpretations make these substances seem legal, there are other laws that may prohibit them in the future — such as the Federal Analog Act. This legislation makes it unlawful to produce or sell anything that is a derivative of a listed Schedule I drug (such as Delta 9 THC).

How is HHC Made?

There are a variety of ways to manufacture HHC. The use of acids (synthetic gastric juice) to convert THC to HHC was formerly used, but it is now replaced with the conversion of citronellal or hydrogenation using palladium catalysts.

Because THC is illegal, and the businesses that produce and sell HHC are mostly focused on the “legal” market, HHC must be produced from something other than THC in order for the manufacturing plant to avoid breaking any laws.

The best option is to convert CBD to HHC using artificial gastric juice, as this results in 9α-OH-HHC, 8-OH-iso-HHC, and Delta 9 THC. The Delta 9 THC must be removed from the end product.

Let’s cover each process in more detail:

  1. Hydrogenation of THC to HHC

Delta 8, Delta 9, and delta 10 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are all Isomers of THC that can be used to create HHC through hydrogenation. The majority of the processes described below transform THCA to HHC.

The technique is to apply high pressure, hydrogen atoms, and a catalyst containing inactive metals like iridium, palladium, rhodium, nickel, ruthenium, platinum, or rhenium to concentrated THC.

The process causes the THC molecule to become unbalanced by forcing the double bond in its structure to break. Hydrogen is required to keep the molecule stable (hence the name “hydrogenation” — hydrogen atoms are “added”).

Mark Scialdone, an organic chemist of the University of West Georgia, has filed a new patent (No. 20160324909A1) on hydrogenated cannabis oil (HCO).

Example process outlined in Scialdone’s patent application:

  1. THCA-rich cannabis extract is dissolved in ethanol
  2. Palladium/carbon catalyst is added (10%) and stirred in
  3. Hydrogen gas is bubbled through the mixture under pressure and left for several hours
  4. The mixture is filtered through Celite to remove the catalyst
  5. Solvent removed via rotary evaporation

In yet another US patent (No. 2419937A), hydrogenation of THC to HHC was described using a catalyst known as “Adams Catalyst,” which is made up of platinum dioxide.

Caution: The procedure must be done under a vacuum and in the presence of an inert gas. Oxygen in the air can cause it to combust. Only experts with appropriate lab equipment should attempt this reaction.

  1. Conversion of CBD to HHC Using Artificial Gastric Juice

Artificial gastric juice was used in an older technique to convert CBD to 9α-OH-HHC, 8-OH-iso-HHC, and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. There haven’t been many modifications since the initial study was published in 2007.

  1. Hydrogenation of Terpenes to HHC

The terpenes citronellol and L-carvone can also be converted into HHC using many different catalysts, high temperatures, pressure, and hydrogen atoms.

A method has been proposed (source unclear) for converting L-carvone to HHC using a catalyst called Wilkinson’s catalyst (tris-triphenylphosphine rhodium chloride).

In 2008, a team of researchers published a technique for turning citronellal to HHC using the hetero-Diels-Alder reaction.

Is HHC Safe?

There have never been any safety tests for HHC, so all information regarding the compound’s safety is anecdotal.

With that in mind, HHC’s popularity is on the rise, and many people are already using it on a daily basis. There have thus far been no reports of serious adverse effects. According to early research, it appears to be safer than THC.

The most common concern about HHC is the use of harsh chemicals during production, as well as the formation of undesirable chemical byproducts that can be incorporated into the finished product.

Always double-check lab testing for heavy metals (including tests for iridium, palladium, rhodium, nickel, ruthenium, platinum, and rhenium) and chemical solvents (including hexane, benzene, heptane, toluene).

What Are the Side Effects of HHC?

There are some side effects that have been reported. These effects are similar to the side effects experienced with high-dose THC:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness & confusion
  • Increased hunger levels
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Paranoia

Will HHC Show Up On a Drug Test?

HHC is commonly marketed as a THC alternative that’s won’t show up on a drug test.  And because other THC alternatives, such as Delta 8 and Delta 10 THC, will both cause a failure on urine or blood testing for THC, this has a lot of people interested.

Beware, this is not true.  HHC itself won’t but it will metabolize into something that will.  Regardless, anecdotal evidence of individuals testing HHC has suggested that it does not avoid drug tests.

Here’s why.

Some of the HHC is transformed into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is the main metabolite of THC that drug tests are intended to find.

HHC vs. THC: What’s The Difference?

The Difference Between Delta 9 THC and HHC Cannabinoid

THC and HHC are structurally almost identical. THC has only one double bond in its top ring structure, which HHC lacks.

HHC is more stable than THC long-term and has a different capacity to bind with various receptors in the body, overall, HHC is thought to be around 80% as powerful as THC (some experts claim it’s greater).

The effects of HHC and THC are virtually identical. Any strain of THC with a side chain containing more than three carbon atoms has psychotropic properties. In general, the stronger the psychoactive effects, the greater the number of carbons in the chain.

Tetrahydrocannabinols Potency Ranking (Weakest to Strongest):

  1. THCC — one carbon and is non-psychoactive.
  2. THCV — three carbons and is about 25% as potent as THC.
  3. THC —delta 8, delta 9, and delta 10 all have five carbons. The delta 9 isomer is the strongest of the three.
  4. HHC — five carbons and is placed somewhere in between the potency of delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC.
  5. THC-O-acetate — a prodrug of delta 9 THC. It’s stronger because it has a higher bioavailability than natural THC.
  6. THCP — seven carbons and is the strongest of them all — somewhere between 5 and 33 times as potent as delta 9 THC

Is HHC Found In Nature?

In terms of basic science, various types of HHC have been discovered in Cannabis sativa plants. It’s produced as a degenerative by-product as THC decomposes. This is comparable to the situation with Delta 8 THC, which is technically present in nature but isn’t manufactured by the cannabis plant itself.


Cannabinol was first discovered in hemp in 1979. Cannabiripsol is the form of HHC found (6aR, 9S, 10S, 10aR)9,10-dihydroxy-hexahydrocannabinol.  This was later confirmed in 2015 along with 8α-hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, 8β-hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, 10α-hydroxy-Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol, 10β-hydroxy-Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol, 10α-hydroxy-Δ9,11-hexahydrocannabinol, 9β,10β-epoxyhexahydrocannabinol, and 11-acetoxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A.


Another study from 2016 found several other forms of HHC in a sample of high-potency Cannabis sativa [1]:


  • 9α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol
  • 7-oxo-9α-hydroxyhexa-hydrocannabinol
  • 10α-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol
  • 10aR-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol
  • Δ9-THC aldehyde A
  • 8-oxo-Δ9-THC
  • 10aα-hydroxy-10-oxo-Δ8-THC
  • 9α-hydroxy-10-oxo-Δ6a10a-THC
  • 1S-hydroxycannabinol (hydroxylated cannabinol)

Is HHC Naturally-Occurring?

The most abundant form of THC in the cannabis plant is Delta 9 THC. This applies to both hemp and marijuana strains.

Delta 9 THC is broken down when it enters the body. The majority of it is changed to CBN, but a tiny amount is converted to delta 8 THC, Delta 10 THC, or HHC.

Because Delta 9 THC is so prevalent in the plant, it may be extracted and concentrated without additional work.

All of the other types of THC are present in insufficient amounts to be extracted using this technique. To acquire enough of this chemical, companies would need to process enormous quantities of marijuana.

Companies, on the other hand, produce HHC and other types of tetrahydrocannabinols through isomerization or hydrogenation methods. Delta 8 and Delta 10 are created via the isomeric change of CBD, while HHC is produced through a hydrogenation technique utilizing THC that has been converted from CBD or obtained in its natural form. Citronellol may also be used to make HHC.

thc vs hhc graphic

Chemical Structure of HHC

There are several THC analogs on the market right now, and many more are anticipated to arrive in the next few months.

There are two variables of THC that can be tweaked to create a new analog:

  1. The location of the double-bond in the top ring structure on the THC molecule
  2. The length of the side chain extending off the bottom ring structure (benzene ring) on the THC molecule

The first variable is modified by a HHC shift. There are no double bonds in the first ring structure, which is characteristic of this variation.

Here are a handful of the various forms that might be created by modifying the THC molecule’s double bonds:

  • Double bond at the tenth carbon — delta 10 THC
  • Double bond at the ninth carbon — delta 9 THC
  • Double bond at the eight carbon — delta 8 THC
  • Double bond at the fifth or seventh carbon — delta 7 THC
  • Maximum number of double bonds — CBN
  • No double bonds — HHC

(R)-HHC vs. (S)-HHC: What’s The Difference?

You might come across two distinct stereoisomers on HHC lab reports. Stereoisomers are chemicals with the same form and structure, but varying three-dimensional shapes. It’s similar to having two hands, one of which has its thumb on the left and the other has its thumb on the right.

(R)-HHC is active, while (S)-HHC is inactive.

Stereoisomers are formed at the same time, although the ratio of each can vary according to the THC type used to create it.

However, in practice, most preparations result in a 50/50 blend of both isomers.

Delta 10 conversion has the highest efficiency for generating the 9R isomer (90 percent) according to some studies, but this must be verified.

It’s possible to concentrate the active (R)-HHC (also known as a racemic mix), however doing so is extremely complicated and costly in most cases. The majority of HHC goods available on the market will have approximately equal amounts of (R) and (S) HHC.

Where Can I Buy HHC?

Here at Hemp Lively we offer the highest quality HHC products and we’re considered one of the few decent, trusted sources of HHC right now. Many businesses are interested in selling this cannabinoid, especially because it is said to be undetectable on regular THC tests.

This can’t be stressed enough, quality products should have lab testing results available. It’s critical that HHC products are tested, but businesses that don’t should be avoided.

Only a small percentage of businesses test their products thoroughly, and few are aware of the various types of HHC they employ. Most do not even check for metals.

Be wary of where you purchase HHC. A number of fraudulent firms release new cannabinoid goods prior to the market’s opening to take advantage of the void in competition. They’re able to get into this business so quickly because the product itself has very little genuine cannabis. They’re almost always total hoaxes with products that could contain any combination of untested and potentially hazardous substances.

At the moment, finding high-quality HHC is difficult. Hemp Lively is one of the few companies that has a convincing lab panel and discloses both the type of HHC we’re using and that there are no heavy metals present. We test for palladium, rhodium, or rhenium (which are frequent catalysts for HHC conversion).

No matter where you buy your HHC, proceed with caution until more high-end and reputable vendors enter the space… besides us.


Ahmed, S. A., Ross, S. A., Slade, D., Radwan, M. M., Khan, I. A., & ElSohly, M. A. (2015). Minor oxygenated cannabinoids from high potency Cannabis sativa L. Phytochemistry, 117, 194-199.

  1. Bloom, A. S., Dewey, W. L., Harris, L. S., & Brosius, K. K. (1977). 9-Nor-9-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol a cannabinoid with potent antinociceptive activity: comparisons with morphine. J Pharmacol Exp Ther, 200, 263-270.
  2. Watanabe, K., Itokawa, Y., Yamaori, S., Funahashi, T., Kimura, T., Kaji, T., … & Yamamoto, I. (2007). Conversion of cannabidiol to Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and related cannabinoids in artificial gastric juice, and their pharmacological effects in mice. Forensic Toxicology, 25(1), 16-21.
  3. Lee, Y. R., & Xia, L. (2008). Efficient one-pot synthetic approaches for cannabinoid analogues and their application to biologically interesting (−)-hexahydrocannabinol and (+)-hexahydrocannabinol. Tetrahedron Letters, 49(20), 3283-3287.
  4. Boeren, E. G., ElSohly, M. A., & Turner, C. E. (1979). Cannabiripsol: A novelCannabis constituent. Experientia, 35(10), 1278-1279.
  5. Radwan, M. M., ElSohly, M. A., El-Alfy, A. T., Ahmed, S. A., Slade, D., Husni, A. S., … & Ross, S. A. (2015). Isolation and pharmacological evaluation of minor cannabinoids from high-potency Cannabis sativa. Journal of natural products, 78(6), 1271-1276.