[Looking for Help!] THC Nano Emulsion Taste Issues

Hello,

First off, thank you! The information and help I have received through this community has been inspiring. Thank you to everyone that has provided a wealth of information and passion for knowledge.

Now to the down and dirty://

I have a product I have been working on for some time now and I cannot find a solution.

I am in trials for producing a 2oz, 50mg Nano THC beverage. I know…high dose/low volume can be a challenge, I’m persistent though, very keen on figuring this out!

I have tested and produced numerous working stable nano emulsions ranging from ~25nm to 250nm. The problem for me lies in making a palatable beverage.

Beverages taste excellent at lower doses/higher volumes, 2oz is proving to be tricky though!

The Deets:
I have successfully created NEs with multiple surfactants (65% quillaja extract, Tween 80, liquid lecithin, powdered lecithin, Stuph, cannasol nano optimizer)

The NE concentrate(pre-dilution in final bev) has been taste tested from 20mg/ml up to 50mg/ml

I have tried maybe 7 bitter blockers with zero success including: MagnaBlock, MagnaPharma, ClearIQC100, ClearIQA500, 1,3 propanediol).

I have tried NaCl, glycerine, sucralose, monk fruit, erythritol, plain sugar, stevia all barely suppressing bitterness.

If anyone has any advice on bitterness suppression for 50mg 2oz drink, I would love to talk to you!

Possible Solutions:

  1. Cyclo-dextrins: Have read literature describing the mode of encapsulation with certain cyclodextrins can block the bitter notes.

  2. More effect combination of sweetener and Bitter Blocker

  3. Specific fractions of lecithin that suppress bitterness

  4. The cannabis gods come down and bless me with an answer, ending my perpetual torment.

Thanks again everyone!

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Im R&Ding a similar product and am running into similar problems. I will be lurking in this thread collecting spoons…

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I just do gummies but have noticed some flavors mask better than others? Have u tried various flavors to see if one hides better than others?

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Yes, unfortunately the effect of bitterness and throat pungency persist through the numerous flavor profiles/ingredient decks of the line up.

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I have legitimately only had one product that was at this potency/volume and there was not bitterness, aftertaste, etc.

My suspicion is their product is not a sub 300 nm emulsion, but a larger diameter NE held in solution with a stabilizer/weighting agent. (They have instructions to shake bottle for settling)

Yes im limited with gummies on how much oil i can add before iit over comes flavor. I havnt used bitter blockers but have been doing loran flavor additives to offset the oil over powering. .
Hopefully ill learn something from this thread as well.
Ill do some reading on this as well as subject interests me

Welcoem to the site, @TerpeneDreams.

It’s hard to advise you when we don’t know what you’re using and concentrations. You listed many the surfactants, additives, and stabilizers you’ve tried, but what did you decide on for your SOP?

More info would help us help you. For example:

  • What is the surfactant system?
  • Are you using distillate? If so, what’s the % THC?
  • Are you using carrier oil(s)? If so, what oil(s)?
  • What is your dispersed phase concentration?
  • What is your SOR (surfactant-to-oil ratio)?
  • What is the maximum process liquid temperature?
  • How are creating NEs? Ultrasonic, high-pressure, microfluidization, etc?
  • When are you adding the bitter blocker? And have you tried increasing the use rate?
  • What preservative are you using? And when are you adding it?

Don’t add NaCl to nanoemulsions because that’s a great way to break them. And I would consider the addition of cyclodextrins as the last resort because it will take more R&D to create a stable, transparent NE when including them.

Without significant masking agents (bitter blockers and flavors), Tweens will taste terrible, as will Stuph because I assume it’s a mixture of synthetic non-ionic surfactants. And you don’t want to produce a beverage using synthetic surfactants.

Have you tried reducing your SOR? You want to use the minimum amount of surfactant(s) you need. A primary benefit of NEs is that they require much less surfactant than MEs (microemulsions).

Have you tried TruBlock or TruBlock Ultra? It has worked well for me with very bitter NEs. However, I use the lowest possible SOR, keep temps down, and implement other optimizations:

Is the liquid clear, cloudy, or white? You’re correct that stable NEs don’t need to be shaken, assuming they aren’t exposed to extreme heat or cold while in storage or transport.

Typically, by particle size, NEs are defined as ≤100 nm.

Good luck! And DM me if you want to discuss a consult.

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It as lightly cloudy and little white. malto and as well as “stabilizers” are listed in that product. I think its just a more efficient water compatible emulsion.

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I have used tween 80/liquid & de-oiled lecithin, Quillaja Sap. and de-oiled lecithin with various carrier oils, pre-blended surfactant systems marketed as tasteless in themselves.

Disty @ 75-80%

Carrier oils have used: sunflower oil, safflower, mct, ethanol

Dispersed faze concentration: 2, 5, ~10% depending if carrier oils are used

SOR: with tween it was about a 1:1, with QS about ~1:4, tried 2:1 to 4:1 Cannasol NO, stuph had a ridiculous SOR though way too high imo

max process liquid temp: 50-55C

Ultrasonic, some success with SNEDDS

Bitter Blockers are added to the bulk beverage pre infusion.

preservatives are in the pre infused bulk beverage: sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate.

I’ve reduced the SOR to its minimum holding stability and targeted sub 100nm and sub 250nm range. Based on existing literature it seems I’m definitely on the lower end of SOR range

I’m going to try to increase the various BBs 5 fold and see if that makes any significant difference.

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Yeah, it sounds like a macroemulsion or a coarse (rough) emulsion. If you have more, I’d shake and pour it into a centrifuge tube, then leave it in the dark for a week to see if anything settles out.

To collect additional data, I would also test the pH. I use the Apera spear pH meter for testing emulsions (and solids). IMO, Apera makes the best pocket pH/EC meters and top-of-the-line benchtop meters (their “research-grade” and “precision” models). I only use Apera pocket and benchtop pH/EC meters:

Some people are genetically predisposed to an acuate sense of bitterness, while others are less so. Do you get the same bitterness from all formulations? And are multiple people conducting organoleptic testing?

Your plan seems appropriate. I have quote your points worth further consideration:

  • I take a minimalist approach to beverage and emulsion formulation. If I can’t identify an ingredient’s unique (non-redundant) necessary attribute, I don’t use it.
  • Your disty is on the lower end of THC purity. Have you tried with higher purity? Running ≥92-95% will reduce your disty load and, hopefully, the bitterness.
  • I like to keep process liquid under 45’C to avoid producing off-flavors and affecting bitterness; or when I include terps. If you’re using a modified coconut oil emulsifier (NanoOptimizer or All-In-One) you can run a cooler process liquid temperature, but doing so will increase processing duration.
  • Ultrasonication of MCT oil (LCT oil less so), depending upon the MCT oil type(s) and storage conditions, especially at high temp, may cause off-flavors and bitterness due to oil oxidation from cavitation.
  • Do you add antioxidants? If not, I recommend their addition for potential bitterness reduction and the preservation of the cannabinoid and flavor profile. I have tried a few water-soluble and oil-soluble antioxidants. While the order of addition is essential to prevent fall-out, I had success with a couple, and one oil-soluble antioxidant was particularly effective.
  • Both sorbic acid and benzoic acid are slightly bitter. While I assume you’re keeping both below the allowed concentrations in beverages (reduced when used together), over application could affect beverage bitterness.
  • Considering we’re most concerned about fungi, sorbic acid is preferred over benzoic acid, making sodium benzoate unnecessary and quasi-redundant.
  • For improved NE stability, it’s best not to reduce pH too low to avoid increasing the emulsion zeta (ζ) potential, which ideally is -40 mV or lower. And being that benzoic acid needs a low pH (≤3.5) for the greatest activity, and sorbic acid is active at mild acidity (~4.5), omitting benzoic acid ensures a lower ζ-potential.
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sucrose acetate isobutyrate is the most common emulsifier listed in WA, never had a taste issue with it at 100mg/12oz concentrations

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Purified ingredients is important I’ve found. Try making blank emulsion with just your emulsifiers or emulsifiers with carrier oil to test what ingredients contribute taste (I’ve found de oiled lecithin to be particularly bitter). The purer your extract the better as well.

I recently learned from an analytical person about CBD isolate degradation conditions and she said the ambient moisture caused a reduction in potency. I’ve found even isolate is bitter and it may be this process which may be inevitable due to the presence of water. Maybe degassing your water and sonic at lower temps could help?

Ive also found that tuning your HLB is also important. One system I worked with I found an hlb of 13.5 was very bitter (25 mg in a glass of water) and as I stepped it down to 12 it got better and got more translucent.

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Good points. Doing a blank emulsion test is always the best starting point, adding ingredients one by one to test their impact on flavor, aroma, clarity, etc.

I’ve often thought about degassing and at what stage it would be most appropriate. I suspect degassing before making a coarse (rough or pre) emulsion would be a waste, at least for me, because I use high shear for the coarse emulsion. Degassing may be worth a try before sonicating in batch mode. But flow-through processing with a process liquid tank degassing would be a waste.

Also, good point about HLB, although HLB is valid only for synthetic surfactants. I don’t think he’s using synthetic surfactants in his SOP, but if so, he’ll need to conduct rHLB (required-HLB) testing to find the rHLB for his disty; I’d guess it’s around 11.5-13 rHLB. I found rHLB values for CBD isolate in a published paper a few years ago, but I haven’t found rHLB for THC or disty. And considering his disty is impure, I wouldn’t trust any disty rHLB values I found.

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@SoluScience_Travis can probably help you out. Their WSL tastes great even on its own. They can set you up with their SOPs for a reasonable fee.

I’d say your surfactant choice and probably the suppliers thereof are a large part of your taste problem.

This nano emulsion has 6% approx for sweetener and front end/back end bitter blockers with great success. Bitterness is not eliminated but masked quite well even when SOR is quite high such as 10:1.

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The ultrasound should degas for you, it’s just a matter of doing it to your water before adding ingredients since ultrasound can also catalyze reactions.

I don’t like flow cells manly due to the fact that it’s hard to achieve clarity in a reasonable amount of time. I prefer bigass batch mode

Yeah you basically have to tune each surfactant system. I had 2 that I calculated as 1.8 and 16 and found that 12 worked well for it (may differ for you)

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CBDExportInc We can help you with a near tasteless, crystal clear water soluble. Just DM me and we’ll setup a brief call.

Travis

Unfortunately, I have even tried so called flavorless emulsion systems, emulsified sunflower oil, no taste in final product.

When I add distillate, BAM, bitter!

I have gotten multiple BBs from different companies, but unfortunately they have not specified on their front end or back end properties.

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Soluscience has a unique tech. They license it out. I highly recommend contacting @SoluScience_Travis and ordering some D8 WSL from them just to get an idea of what they can do with distillate. I dont think they handle D9 in house because they are only licensed for hemp, but they can set you up to do it yourself.

Their shelf life and clarity are also the best in the industry and their molecule size is very small. Around 35nm.

Im just a customer of theirs and not affiliated with their company. Just trying to help you both out.

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Travis?