What Are Terpenes? – All You Need to Know

terpenes

You’ve probably already heard of THC or CBD, but did you know that there are several other compounds in cannabis called terpenes responsible for its therapeutic effects? 

Terpenes are considered the building blocks to the essential oils of many of the plants known to humanity. They’re known to give plants their unique characteristics, such as scent and smell, and are highly varied, coming in several different types. 

That said, terpenes play a critical role in cannabis, shaping a particular strain’s high, flavour, and aroma.

But how? Keep on reading, and we’ll give you the rundown on several different types of terpenes and their unique effects on the human body.

Where do Terpenes Come From?

terpenes definition

Terpenes are a naturally-occurring compound found in nearly all plant species and, in some cases, animals as well. 

Not only do terpenes give plants their unique scents and flavours, but they also work as a defence mechanism and chemical signal to repel predators and attract pollinators. Of course, many factors are involved when determining a plant’s terpene composition. 

Factors such as the environment, climate, and age of a plant can influence its composition. It can even be so specific that terpene composition may vary depending on the time of day.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes

Along with cannabinoids, the cannabis plant also contains a wide variety of terpenes. In fact, more than 100 various types of compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes, have been discovered within the cannabis plant, with each strain having a different cannabis terpene type and combination. 

As a result, strains like Tangerine Dream and Lemon Skunk will have a terpene composition that closely resembles citrus fruit, giving them a sweet and tangy citrus-like aroma and flavour. The same concept applies to all other cannabis strains like Sour Diesel, which carries a more peppery and earth flavour profile.

The Terpene Touch

Like terpenes play a critical role in the cannabis plant’s composition, they can also significantly impact the makeup of cannabis concentrates and the various traits that they possess. 

Terp Sauce

terpenes terp sauce

What sets Terp Sauce apart from other concentrates is its unique production process. Once the weed is grown and harvested, it is immediately flash frozen rather than cured to preserve and maximize the terpenes and cannabinoid profile. 

From there, it’s cured and extracted using butane to make sure the cannabinoids and terpenes remain intact. As the sauce thickens, THCA crystals will start to form. Then, it is poured into a container kept just above room temperature. 

Two to three weeks later, pressure will have built up to show that the crystals and terpenes are ready to be separated. 

From there, they need to be purged. But we don’t mean in an Ethan Hawke, dystopian kind of way.

Terpenes usually take around 60 hours, while THCA crystals take about 72. They are then put back together and stored in a UV-proof container until the mixture becomes thick and gooey, made up of roughly 30-50% cannabinoids.

The unique process to create Terp Sauce and the high concentration of terpenes in it create the most aromatic and flavourful cannabis concentrate available on the market!

Rosin

terpenes rosin

Rosin is one of the most popular cannabis concentrates because it is easy and straightforward enough to make at home. You can make it by pressing cannabis flower with heat and pressure over a short time to draw out the concentrate. 

Rosin is made by using two opposing heated plates. All you need to do is add pressure to the weed and extract all the good, cannabis stuff we all know and love from each sticky, icky bud to produce a light brown product with a natural, earthy flavour.

squish extracts citrus haze

One important thing to know about rosin is that temperature can make or break your product. Ideally, you should keep the heat below 300 degrees. Anything higher runs the risk of destroying terpenes, which means you’ll lose the delicious flavour.  

HTFSE

HTFSE

The fanciest extract of the cannabis world, HTFSE can only be made in a professional lab using specific materials and very fancy equipment. Think Dexter’s Laboratory from Cartoon Network, but for weed. 

HTFSE, which stands for High Terpene Full-Spectrum Extract,  is an extract packed full of terpenes and cannabinoids. Like when you’re cooking anything else, it’s all about the ingredients. 

The extraction process consists of carefully extracting the compounds from fresh frozen nugs using incredibly cold temperatures and carefully removing the solvent to reintroduce low temperatures. 

Once this process is done, you’re left with a two-part concentrate made of gritty liquid and THCA diamonds. The liquid is what’s used to make HTFSE.

Even though the creation process is complicated, you can’t go wrong with the unbelievably flavourful, potent, and all-around savoury concentrate that HTFSE produces.

Live Resin

terpenes live resin

Contrary to what you might think, live resin is not actually alive. However, it is strong enough to make you feel incredibly alive. 

What sets it apart from other concentrates is its production process. 

First things first, the bodacious bud used to create live resin is as fresh as can be. It is frozen before extraction and kept at incredibly low temperatures. You might be thinking, sure, that’s how most concentrates are made. But let us finish! What’s different about this is how quickly the weed is used after it’s harvested.

Since the cannabis plant is flash-frozen before harvest, the terpenes don’t oxidize, meaning that they remain in high-quality condition and are incorporated into the final product, resulting in a rich, flavourful, incredibly dank cannabis concentrate!

BHO Concentrates

terpenes bho

While butane hash oil (BHO) concentrates are super popular and used by a wide variety of tokers, ourselves included, if you’re looking for a concentrate that has more of those tasty terpenes, you may be slightly bummed.

hooti death star

To get a higher level of THC, most BHO concentrates and distillates have a majority of the terpenes in the bud purged.  It doesn’t necessarily make these forms of concentrates any less “bad” than the others. Still, it is important to note if you’re wondering why your weed oil isn’t as tasty as it could be.

The Most Common Terpenes Found in Cannabis

terpenes cannabis

Beta-caryophyllene: The primary terpene responsible for the spicy and distinctive scent of black pepper. Aside from producing black pepper’s spicy aroma, Beta-caryophyllene is a potent antioxidant with gastric-protective effects. Beta-caryophyllene is also thought to have medicinal value because of its anti-inflammatory and pain-numbing effects.

Alpha-Humulene: Responsible for the earthy and woody aroma found in hops, Alpha-Humulene is also found in beer. Alpha-Humulene is known for its appetite-suppressing effects and has excellent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Limonene: Predominantly found in the rinds citrus fruits, Limonene is responsible for the fresh citrusy aroma in fruits like lemons and limes. Due to this, it’s also used in many fragrances and foods for its refreshing scent. In terms of medicinal value, Limonene is known to be great at fighting against anxiety and depression.

Linalool: Known for giving lavender its therapeutic floral scent, Linalool also carries a robust list of medicinal properties. It is known to be great at alleviating anxiety, pain, and inflammation while also producing sedative effects, perfect for those who have trouble falling asleep.

Myrcene: Found in many herbs like thyme, parsley, and bay leaf, Myrcene is a common terpene that gives these herbs their spicy and herbal scent. Myrcene is another excellent remedy for pain relief and a powerful antioxidant. Myrcene may also have sedative properties if taken in large quantities.

Alpha-Pinene: Alpha-Pinene is what gives pine trees their distinctive fresh scent. It can be found in abundance in rosemary and coniferous trees, acting as a defence mechanism, protecting plants from predators like parasites. It is also a great antibacterial terpene that can open up airways in the lungs, making it suitable for those suffering from asthma. Alpha-Pinene may also be a potential dementia treatment due to its memory-enhancing effects.

Terpinolene: A primary ingredient in turpentine, giving it a floral, piney aroma. Terpinolene is also found in nutmeg, tea tree, and cumin. This terpene is an antioxidant with antibacterial and sedative effects.

Ocimene: Found in tropical fruits such as mango and bergamot, Ocimeme creates a highly coveted aroma evoking essences of sweet, tropical, and musky scents. Ocimene is also valued for its use in fragrance and IPA beers. Ocimene is known for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

Eucalyptol: A terpene you’re most likely already familiar with. Eucalyptol is found in the eucalyptus tree, cardamom, and sage. Eucalyptol is another terpene with a combination of anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant characteristics. Most notably, Eucalyptol is known to be an inhibitor of senile plaques, a driving factor in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Geraniol: Giving roses their beautiful scent, Geraniol is a terpene regarded for its intense floral profile. Geraniol is fantastic for pain relief and carries with it anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. Due to its perfume-like qualities, Geraniol is widely used in bath and body products and is highly absorbent through the skin.

How They Impact Your High

Terpenes in cannabis may also have importance in dictating which direction the high will go. While they’re not too noticeable on their own, their power lies in working synergistically with the cannabinoids in cannabis. 

In the cannabis world, we call this the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect can magnify certain aspects of the cannabis plant’s unique elements and benefits, differentiating strains by achieving different results. When it comes to the compounds in cannabis, it is the whole that is much more valuable than the sum of its parts.

While it is known that cannabis generally works better when consumed as a whole, studies and research are in its early stages, requiring a more thorough investigation to yield the most accurate results. But make no mistake about it, terpenes definitely have a lot to give when it comes to shaping your high. They usually affect cannabis in more positive ways than one.

Terpenes – More Than Just Flavour 

The understanding of cannabis and all of its compounds’ inner-workings is an ever-changing landscape, with new discoveries made every day. 

Terpenes are critical in the overall makeup of a cannabis plant and play a critical role in determining not just the flavour and scent of a bud, but also what kind of high you’re going to have and what effects to expect.

Like with any great piece of art, the beauty is in the details. Terpenes are the ultimate building blocks for any cannabis experience.

We hope this article helped you understand a bit more about what gives cannabis its therapeutic and aromatic qualities.

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