Cannabis Terpenes: What are Cannabis Terpenes & Their Effects

Curious about the best way to smoke weed and get the most out of the experience? It’s no longer about choosing the right indica or sativa strain—it turns out cannabis terpenes (aka terps) may play a bigger part than you may think.

A recent study conducted at Dalhousie University claims that the terms “indica” and “sativa” are actually meaningless when it comes to describing the effects of modern-day cannabis flower. 

Researchers revealed, “It was frequently the case that strains labeled indica were just as closely related to strains labeled sativa as they were to other strains labeled indica.”

So if indica and sativa can’t tell us what a cannabis strain will make you feel, what will? Cannabis terpenes. But what are terps?

Terpenes give all plants their natural flavor or aroma. In cannabis, terpenes also play a vital role in how a specific strain may affect you. If the cannabinoids like THC are the gas, then terpenes are the GPS system guiding your high.

Many people shop for cannabis by looking for the highest THC levels, but more discerning customers follow their noses. A study recently published in the journal Psychoactives showed that cannabis aroma was more appealing to consumers than cannabinoid percentages when comparing products.

There are thousands of terpenes in the natural world, but there are eight that tend to be prominent in the majority of commercial cannabis strains:

Terpene profiles vary from strain to strain. The individual profiles are mostly determined by genetics, but growing environments and methods, processing, and storage may also factor in. This explains why the same strain may hit differently between brands. 

Let’s dive deeper into some of the elements that may affect your weed experience—and its terps.

How curing affects cannabis terpenes

Cannabis flower needs to be dried and cured post-harvest to smoke properly. Stalks are taken from the ground and then hung up or laid flat for 10-14 days to dry, depending on environmental conditions. 

Once dry, buds are removed from the stalks and placed in airtight containers like mason jars, storage bags, or tote bins to cure. The containers are opened occasionally and agitated to help circulate air. 

Most cultivators will cure for at least two weeks but some will cure even longer, up to a month. The curing process is important because it provides a smoother and tastier smoking experience.

During the dry and cure process, cannabis terpenes will naturally evaporate. Fortunately, there are ways to help save the terps in your weed.

Cannabis storage, RH, and terpenes

To prevent terpene evaporation, growers must use the right containers, maintain proper humidity, avoid high temperatures—and use a humidity-control pack like Boveda

Airtight jars and bags are the first step in saving the terps. The more oxygen in the container, the higher the risk of terpene loss—and over-drying. Sunlight can also be harmful to your cannabis, so using opaque containers that are kept in cool, dark places is key.

Relative humidity (RH) is one of the most important factors in saving terpenes. RH is the ratio of water vapor the air can hold at different temperatures. Storing weed in an RH between 55% and 65% is the best way to prevent terpene loss. 

Fortunately, Boveda’s 58% and 62% terpene shields will get you there quickly and precisely.

How different consumption methods affect cannabis terpenes

Not everyone knows how to smoke weed to get the most terpenes out of the process but there are plenty of tips and tricks.

Smoking a joint or a bowl relies on combustion, i.e., you light the bud on fire. While this consumption method is among the simplest, it may not allow you to reap the full benefits from your terps. This is due to the fact that terpenes have a lower boiling point (usually between 200 and 400 degrees depending on the terp).

Using a dry herb vaporizer is a great way to get a full terp experience. These devices use a special oven instead of flame, heating the flower evenly and slowly. This provides a smoother, tastier hit but likely less vapor.

Also, if you’ve been curious about how to smoke weed without coughing, vaporization may be the answer.

Cannabis terpenes—guiding your weed smoking experience

Cannabis is beloved for its many positive effects and therapeutic benefits but if it wasn’t for terpenes, the experience would be far different. 
Terps are one of the most crucial parts of the cannabis plant. The sad fact is once they evaporate, they’re gone for good. To maintain your terpenes and preserve the quality of your bud, always make sure to properly store it—and always use a terpene shield from Boveda.


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