Cannabis Odors: It is All in the Terpenes – Mostly



Cannabis has a very distinct odor. You can clearly smell it just by handling freshly harvested plants. Depending on how a person consumes cannabis, its telltale odor can give things away in short order. If you do not understand any of this, it can all be summed up in a single word: terpenes.

Terpenes are what give plants, trees, and flowers their distinct odors. A rose smells like a rose because of the terpenes it contains. The same is true for pine trees, honeysuckle, and on and on. The thing about most plants is that their terpene profiles create very distinct smells that make it easy to distinguish from one species to the next.

●                  Multiple Cannabis Terpenes

Cannabis is not all that unusual in the fact that it contains multiple terpenes. Just like the plant offers more than a hundred cannabinoids, there are several terpenes that contribute to its unique smell. Cannabis processors who know how to isolate terpenes can play with terpene profiles in order to create unique flavors and odors for their products. It happens all the time.

You could walk into the Pure Utah medical cannabis dispensary in Payson, UT – with a valid medical cannabis card, of course – and find numerous products with similar medical characteristics but different terpene profiles. Differences in terpenes affect what a product tastes and smells like.

●                  Combustion Makes a Difference

Although it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in Utah, that does not change the fact that combustion influences the unique smell associated with cannabis. Combustion not only releases terpenes, but it also causes oxidation. The combustion process itself creates a certain odor our noses recognize as typical of burning material.

Combine combustion odors with the natural terpenes in cannabis and you have a very distinct smell unlike anything else. That smell can permeate an entire home. It can also linger, thanks to smoke’s tendency to embed itself in wall and window treatments, flooring, furniture, and linens.

●                  If You Don’t Want the Smell

Perhaps you are a cannabis user wary of leaving behind a definitive smell every time you consume. Well, there are ways to use without leaving any traces behind. Just find products that do not create odors during use. That eliminates smoking right off the bat.

Dry heating cannabis flower and vaping cannabis liquids both produce odors. Those odors are not nearly as strong as those produced by smoking, but they are still present and evident. You might want to avoid dry heating and vaping in favor of something else.

You have a number of less odiferous choices:

  • Capsules and tablets
  • Edibles (cookies, brownies, etc.)
  • Gummy products

A tincture is a concentrate you place under your tongue. Just a drop or two is all you need. Tinctures are completely odorless once under the tongue. But for the brief moment you might have a bottle open, some odor will emanate from it.

Topical products, like ointments and creams, are not as powerful as cannabis flower and vaping products. However, they are not as quiet as capsules, tablets, and edibles. Be careful about using them if you are committed to consuming without anyone knowing. People may still smell your ointment or cream.

●                  The Smell Molecules

When it comes to the unique smell we associate with cannabis, it is all about terpenes. Some have described terpenes as smell molecules. They are quite odiferous, and perhaps they are nature’s way of attracting friends and warding off enemies. They are what give plants and trees their distinct smells. Now that you know, you can be more careful about the cannabis products you use.

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