Not All Terpenes Are Made Equal: Knowing the Difference

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Terpenes
are
aromatic
hydrocarbons
that
help
make
up
the
smell
found
in
the
essential
oils
of
certain
plants
like
cannabis.
Ten
years
ago,
the
word
meant
nothing
to
the
average
cannabis
consumer.
Now,
it
is
one
of
the
most
cherished
aspects
of
the
plant.
In
fact,
a

study

on
terpenes
showed
that
the
smell
of
a
strain
influenced
people’s
perception
of
the
value
and
potency
when
compared
to
others.

Additional

research

has
suggested
they
work
with

cannabinoids

to
alter
effects.
Since
then,
isolated
terpenes
became
a
popular
product
that
could
be
sold
to
concentrate
consumers
to
mix
with
their
own
dabs
or
vape
makers
to
add
flavor
and
act
as
a
cutting
agent
in
cartridges.
They
are
also
used
to
reintroduced
terpenes
in
products
that
may
have
lost
them
during
the
growing,
curing,
drying,
or
extraction
process.
We’ll
go
over
everything
you
need
to
know
about
the
various
forms
of
extracted
terpenes.


Terpene
Profiling

Many
connoisseurs
can
use
their
nose
to

interpret
terpenes
.
There
are
strains
that
smell
earthy,
citrusy,
creamy,
floral,
gassy,
and
more.
The
various
terpenes
in
the
strain
are
what
gives
it
a
unique
smell
and
flavor.
There
are
more
than
two
hundred
different
known
terpenes
in
cannabis.
Most
of
the
terpenes
found
in
cannabis
are
also
found
in
other
plants;
as
a
result,
not
all
terpenes
on
the
market
are
derived
from
cannabis.

Some
strains
have
unique
shapes
and
colors
but
most
have
a
unique
terpene
profile.
Products
with
slim
to
no
flavor
like

distillates

or

THCa
crystalline

can
be
enhanced
with
the
addition
of
various
terpene
products.


Food
Grade
Terpenes

According
to
thousands
of
years
of
cannabis
smoking,
the
terpenes
that
naturally
occur
in
cannabis
seemed
safe
enough
to
inhale.
On
the
other
hand,
humans
haven’t
been
known
to
consume
food
grade
terpenes
via
inhalation.
Food
grade
terpenes
are
derived
from
plants
other
than
cannabis.
It’s
worth
noting
that
just
because
something
is
safe
to
consume
in
food
doesn’t
mean
it
is
safe
to
vaporize.
Food
grade
terpenes
may
contain
more
than
pure
terpenes
as
long
as
it
is
safe
to
use
in
food.
There
is
no
research
on
the
safety
considerations
of
vaporizing
food
grade
terpenes.

Moreover,
the
level
of
terpenes
in
the
natural
cannabis
plant
almost
never
exceeds
four
percent.
As
a
result,
we
don’t
know
the
effects
of
higher
concentrations
of
terpenes
on
humans.
Cannabis
consumers
using
food
grade
terpenes
to
enhance
the
terpene
profile
of
their
extracts
may
be
tipping
the
natural
balance
of
terpenes
found
in
cannabis.


Extraction
vs.
Distillation

There
are
multiple
ways
to
get
terpenes
from
cannabis.
High
terpene
extracts
differ
from
isolated
terpenes
because
they
consist
of
more
than
just
terpenes.
There
is
also
a
cannabinoid
content.

Furthermore,
it
is
extracted
using
hydrocarbon
solvents
rather
than
distilled
with
steam
or
water.
And
there
is
usually
a
small
cannabinoid
content
on
top
of
the
terpenes
in
high
terpene
extracts.


Distillation

Isolated
cannabis-derived
terpenes
have
no
cannabinoid
content
and
are
mostly
produced
by
a
steam
distillation
or
hydrodistillation.

One
way
to
steam
distill
involves
a
basket
of
plant
matter
hanging
over
boiling
water.
Hydrodistillation
places
the
plant
material
directly
into
the
boiling
water.

The
main
downside
to
these
techniques
is
the
high
levels
of
heat
required.
The
heat
destroys
or
alters
components
found
in
the
natural
essential
oil
of
the
plant.
What
you’re
left
with
is
a

hydrosol
,
not
anything
that
would
resemble
the
actual
essential
oils
found
in
the
plant
prior
to
distillation.

There
are
companies
with
isolated
terpenes
that
claim
they
are
not
steam
or
hydrodistilled,
but
their
techniques
remain
proprietary.


Hydrocarbon
Extraction

On
the
other
hand,
solvent
extracts
can
produce
the
natural
balance
of
terpenes
and
cannabinoids
found
in
the
plant
that
was
extracted.

Furthermore,
not
all
terpenes
are
soluble
in
steam.
You’ll
be
getting
mostly
monoterpenes.
However,
the
full
spectrum
of
cannabis
terpenes
consists
of
sesquiterpenes,
triterpenes,
diterpenes
and
other
classes
of
terpenes,
not
just
monoterpenes.
You
can’t
expect
the
full
spectrum
experience
with
only
monoterpenes
present.


Mechanical
Separation

These
days,
there
are
ways
to
extract
terpenes
without
the
use
of
hydrocarbon
solvents
or
steam.
This
is
thanks
to
the
evolution
of
solventless
extracts
like

rosin
.
The
same
mechanical
presses
used
to
make
rosin
can
be
used
to
separate
the
high-terpene
liquid
portion
of
the
product
from
the
solid
THCA
crystals
that
lack
the
aroma
of
the
strain.
Mechanically
separated
terpenes
are
not
completely
isolated
so
there
should
still
be
a
cannabinoid
content
to
them.


Supercritical
CO2
Extraction

Another
method
for
extracting
terpenes
is
with
a
supercritical
CO2
extraction
machine.
CO2
extraction
machines
use
fractionation
to
separate
terpenes
from
other
components
in
the
essential
oils
of
cannabis.

People
are
using
isolated
terpenes
to
reintroduce
terpenes
that
may
have
been
lost
during
the
curing
and
extraction
process.
However,
cannabis
strains
consist
of
many
different
combinations
and
concentrations
of
terpenes.
As
a
result,
it’s
hard
to
mimic
the
terpene
ratios
found
in
the
natural
plant.
A
cannabis
product
with
unnaturally
high
terpene
levels
will
be
uncomfortable
to
inhale.

As
of
now,
there
is
no
research
on
the
inhalation
of
high
concentrations
of
terpenes
or
hydrosols
in
humans.
Furthermore,
there
is
no
research
on
the
impact
of
byproducts
that
can
come
from
distillation
methods
used
to
extract
terpenes.

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