Velvet Swing is a presenting sponsor of MERRY JANE's sex week, for more on the company visit their website here
As far as any of us can remember, cannabis is something that's always been infused into oils. Butter, vegetable oil, olive oil, and even animal fats are traditionally used to dissolve cannabis' oily cannabinoids and terpenes. In chemistry, we call this phenomenon "like dissolves like." In other words, water-soluble substances can dissolve other water-soluble substances (e.g. table salt and water). Oil-soluble substances can only dissolve other oil-soluble substances (e.g. butter and olive oil).
Tarukino LLC, a cannabis company based in Washington State, has achieved the impossible: their team – led by Juan Ayala, an MIT graduate and former marketing director for Microsoft — figured out how to emulsify cannabinoids like THC in water. In other words, they figured out how to infuse water with weed. No oils necessary.
"When we saw the cannabis market, we saw this as a huge opportunity for innovation," says Ayala. "Some people get annoyed by the potential for innovation. Other people get excited. We got very excited."
Infused water opens the doors to all sorts of new products and services. For starters, pretty much any dish can now be prepared with cannabis infusions, regardless of ingredients. Tarukino recently kicked off their water-emulsion product line with two drinks: Happy Apple, an infused cider; and Pearl2O, a vitamin water.
Then, to really kick up the innovation, Tarukino brought something entirely new to the table. They've infused the world's first water-based lubricant with weed, a game-changing product called Velvet Swing.
As of right now, Tarukino's products are only available in Washington State and California. However, they'll be available in Oregon and Colorado by early 2018. To better understand this new water-emulsion technology, as well as getting all the gritty deets on Tarukino's weed lube, MERRY JANE spoke with Ayala by phone.
MERRY JANE: How do you emulsify an oil-soluble product in water? You're literally mixing oil and water.
Juan Ayala: That is one of the hardest challenges in the cannabis industry. It took us about two years to do R&D on this. We figured out a way to put two distinct coatings on THC – or any cannabinoid, like CBD, and on oil-based terpenes, too.
The first coating increases the bioavailability of the product, so your body can absorb it much, much quicker than other edibles or topicals. The second coat is what makes it water-soluble, or hydrophilic. The second coat also allows it to be suspended in water.
Everything is made with extremely high-grade ingredients. Our water-soluble platform can be used for edibles, topicals, or inhalable products.
Are your products vegetarian or vegan friendly? Gluten-free?
There are no ingredients on any registered allergy list, but to call something vegetarian or vegan or kosher, those are classifications that require special certifications. Our products are gluten-free, however.
I spoke with a cannabis chef the other night about this emulsion tech. It will completely change the way we cook with weed.
One of the products we have on the market is a vitamin water. It's called Pearl2O. It has a slight mineral flavor, which was due to the regulations in the state of Washington. In Washington, you cannot make a product that is plain water. It has to be a vitamin water or a flavored water. So, it will have a slight hint of the vitamins and minerals, similar to a SmartWater. But it's basically water.
Are you over 18?
We've also produced a cookbook that tells you how to cook with it, making everything from ice cubes to puddings to cakes, coffee, teas, or ramen with this water — without taking away from any of the flavor of the foods or drinks.
Your cider, Happy Apple, is made with the same emulsion?
That is correct. These three products kind of highlight one of the really good things about this technology. Happy Apple only has THC. Pearl2O has an emulsion that contains both THC and CBD in equal amounts, a 1-to-1 ratio, essentially. Velvet Swing is an emulsion that contains THC and CBD in a 3-to-1 ratio, along with a very specific blend of terpenes.
What I'm saying here is that this technology allows us to take any cannabinoids and combine them in very precise combinations, to produce a product that is consistent all year round.
I haven't tried it, but all the reviews for Velvet Swing report that it causes a tingly sensation. What causes the tingling?
That's part of a combination of the cannabinoids with the terpenes. There's some entourage effect going on.
There are already other cannabis lubes on the market. What makes Velvet Swing different, besides its ability to tickle the nether regions?
The number one issue we thought of, with all of our products, is we wanted to reach the highest standards of safety and efficacy. We noticed all the other [cannabis] lubes on the market were oil-based. Those will break down latex, they'll break down toys. We designed something of very high-quality, something someone would buy at the higher-end stores, and that was water-soluble so it had absolutely no reaction with any latex products or standard toy products.
Are you over 18?
With that in mind, we started developing Velvet Swing from scratch. It's our own formula, so there's no copy of it. We used our emulsion for it, since it's safe for all those applications.
We expected some pretty good results. The science behind it is solid. I can tell you, from the actual results when we started testing and took it to market, Velvet Swing went a little above our expectations, which was nice to have.
What do you mean, that it went above your expectations?
The results from our testing was much, much clearer than we thought we would get. When we started sampling the product, and having people test it, they could immediately tell if we changed the concentrations of the cannabinoids or terpenes. There was not a lot of gray area when it came to whether the product was working or not. The results were crystal, crystal clear.
When you're talking about new technology and introducing new products, there's not a lot of material to compare your results to, so you're making your own baselines. But it was nice to see very clear data.
Will this lube get people high?
Velvet Swing does have active, decarboxylated THC. And the product is edible. So, if you eat it, or if you use it anally, your body will absorb it, and it will have an effect. But if you're using it vaginally, in standard sex application, it should not get anybody high.
You noted that Tarukino's emulsion technology increases miscibility and bioavailabity of cannabinoids and terpenes. Does Velvet Swing's high tend to kick in faster than other lubes or edibles?
It does kick in faster, especially on the edible side. On the edible side, we've seen people have a reaction as quickly as five to eight minutes. Again, if you're using it anally or eating it, your body will absorb it incredibly fast.
Are you over 18?
Vaginally, you can use it quite liberally. It's not designed to go through the vaginal wall.
Let's say me and my partner prefer to smoke a joint before we get frisky. What's the advantage of using an infused lube instead of just smoking some weed beforehand?
The lube is designed to have a very intense localized effect. It's designed to get the vagina incredibly aroused and sensitive for sexual applications. It will have no effect on a brain high or a body high. If you smoke a joint prior to using Velvet Swing, the effects are completely different and complementary. They would not interfere with each other.
A double whammy, nice. Are there any contraindications from using Velvet Swing?
There are none. There are no allergens in it. You can't overuse the lube unless it is eaten or used anally. We actually designed the flavor profile very carefully, so it would be pleasant for oral sex. And some people do use it for oral sex, and those people do get high from that, because they're basically consuming it. Be sure you know your tolerance to edibles, because it will have that reaction.
For more on Velvet Swing, visit the company's website here
Follow Randy Robinson on Twitter