Edibles offer a discreet, portable and familiar way to consume cannabis, but some of the most popular formats — such as gummies, chocolate and baked goods — are high in sugar.
That’s where dissolvable powders come in, said Missy Bradley, co-founder and head of sales and marketing for Caliper Holdings, maker of Ripple. In addition to containing low to no sugar, they also offer consumers flexibility in application and dosing.
“There was a whole piece of the market that we felt was open — not necessarily the health sector but for consumers who wanted an edibles experience but didn’t want sweets,” Bradley said. “Within dissolvable powders, you are able to have your favorite drink as an edible or your favorite salad dressing as an edible. It really gives consumers the ultimate choice over their experience.”
“It can be easily carried around and the amount they take is measured, so they understand exactly how much they are taking at any given time,” he said. “We find many enjoy adding it to their daily routines through a morning coffee, afternoon smoothie or a cocktail to help unwind.”
Building on the format’s flexibility, makers of cannabis-infused dissolvable powders are now offering products that consumers can pour directly on their tongues, allowing for even more convenience.
Bradley said Ripple utilizes a slow drying process that turns a slurry of ingredients into a powder. She and McDonagh both emphasized the importance of honing in particle size for powder cannabis emulsions.
“The manufacturing process is very precise and carefully monitored,” McDonagh said. “Every detail of the emulsion is measured, such as particle size and the final emulsion fingerprint and potency.”
Bradley noted Ripple has conducted research with Colorado State University to better understand absorption rate and dial in the emulsion particle size. Furthermore, the company has developed a tight spec for the powder granule size to facilitate filling of individual packets.
“If it’s all craggily and different shapes and sizes, it’s not going to go into the filler,” Bradley said. “We have such a small amount of powder that exists in those packets, you really need to control for the shape and size of those granules so it flows into those packets correctly.”
Once the powder packets are filled, both Ripple and NextEvo Naturals check-weigh the powder packets to guarantee the cannabinoid dosage is consistent.
“Because accurate dosing is important, we weigh all of our finished packets of product to ensure they deliver precisely what the label says they will,” McDonagh said.
Ripple first hit the market in Colorado in 2016, but recently, the company decided a brand review was in order.
“The market, here in Colorado at least, has changed over time and the Ripple brand had not,” Bradley said. “It was still very much a piece of what it had been when it launched, and then we’ve done some iterative changes over the years, but we never took a step back to understand where the market was today, what consumers were looking for, and what we could offer as a brand and a company.”
After conducting budtender focus groups and soliciting consumer surveys, Ripple relaunched to offer functional, effects-based products. The Ripple line of unflavored dissolvable powders combine THC, CBD and minor cannabinoids to support the following need cases:
- Revive: 10 mg THC/10 mg CBG per packet
- Balanced: 5 mg THC/5 mg CBD per packet
- Relief: 20 mg CBD/0.5 mg THC per packet
- Sleep: 10 mg THC/5 mg CBN per packet
The brand also offers Pure, which features 10 mg THC per packet. Bradley said the rebrand has been well-received.
“The consumer response and the industry response has been everything that we wanted it to be,” she said. “We have heard that the product feels relevant again. It feels fresh.”
When Ripple asked consumers how they used the product, the company learned about 25% were pouring the unflavored product directly on their tongues. Another subset of consumers were mixing the product into a shot glass of water.
Ripple recognized its QuickSticks product, which originally launched in March 2020, could be retooled to better serve this audience. Earlier this year, the company introduced Ripsticks, which includes flavored powder sweetened with 1 gram of sugar per packet. Ripsticks are designed to be poured directly on the tongue, and the brand updated the packaging to reflect that.
“It’s been night and day to when we launched the original QuickSticks product,” Bradley said. “The flavors are fun. There are either devotees of the Blue Raspberry flavor or the Watermelon flavor. The people who had tried the original QuickSticks product and have now tried the Ripsticks product have recognized the leaps and bounds from the original incarnation of that product.”
NextExo experienced a similar phenomenon with its Caliper CBD brand, McDonagh said.
“We noticed people liked to use the unflavored product directly in their mouth, so we thought we should come up with a product that was truly meant for that use,” he said.
Caliper offers flavored Swiftsticks, which are available in Lemon Lime, Cool Mint and Mixed Berry varieties. Each packet offers 20 mg CBD.
Taking it a step further, Ripple has been introducing small-batch, live rosin versions of the Ripsticks and Quicksticks products. Bradley said the company was better positioned to move into the growing live rosin category, especially after working primarily with distillates.
“Within the rebrand, it felt like this was a space that we could now explore because we were making the product relevant again,” she said. “Live rosin holds a much larger stake in the market now than it once did. There’s also much more supply in the market. It’s much easier for us to get our hands on good, fresh hash.”
Utilizing its low-temperature powderization process to preserve terpenes, Ripple partnered with Nokhu to introduce two strain-specific varieties: Lost Cause and Tropicana Banana. In July, Ripple launched Hazelnut Cream, a collaboration with DabLogic. Bradley said the DabLogic batch sold out in six weeks, and the company is currently working on its fourth live rosin introduction.
“It’s really become a staple of ours and something we want to keep offering,” Bradley said. “We want to work with new extractors and we want to address a piece of the market we hadn’t been able to previously.”