What are terpenes? Where do they come from? Can you vape them? And, if so, how do you go about vaping terpenes? All will be explained below…
By now, it’s safe to say that vaping has supplanted smoking. The CDC reports that, as of 2019, only 14% of American adults still smoke cigarettes; that’s down from 21% in 2005.
The emergence of vaping has had a lot to do with this. The trend is clear: young people are smoking less and vaping more.
Of course, vaping is far more than just an alternative to tobacco. Take cannabis, for instance. A lot of marijuana users are choosing to vape their bud rather than smoke it.
By doing so they avoid inhaling tar (i.e. the toxic chemicals produced by combustion) and spare themselves bouts of throat burn.
Other benefits of vaping weed include stronger effects and better flavors and aromas.
These flavors and aromas, by the way, are produced by terpenes.
Different marijuana strains have different terpene profiles; hence the subtle variance in the way they smell and taste.
Terpenes are an essential component of the overall cannabis experience. As such, they’re routinely added to e-liquids by people who want recreate the sensory characteristics of their favorite strains.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s quickly go over the basics.
What Are Terpenes, Anyway?
Terpenes are organic, highly fragrant chemicals that naturally occur throughout the plant kingdom.
Specifically, they’re found in the essential oil of plants and flowers. You can thank terpenes for many of the most recognisable smells in nature, such as lavender, pine, lemon, rosemary and eucalyptus, not to mention cannabis.
Because of their aromatic properties, terpenes are commonly added to cosmetics, perfumes, lotions, cleaning products and insect repellent.
They’re also widely used in aromatherapy.
On top of that, scientists have begun to study terpenes in terms of their health benefits.
To take one example, the therapeutic effects of limonene (a terpene abundant in citrus fruits and many cannabis strains) include:
Science has also shown us that terpenes participate in the entourage effect, which means they interact with THC and CBD, complementing them and helping to optimize their effects.
So it’s not just that terpenes give weed its unmistakable aroma; they also contribute to its medicinal properties.
How To Vape Terpenes
First you have to get your hands one some naturally sourced terpene oil. If you know what your favorite cannabis strains are, you can try shopping for terpenes by strain.
Suppose you like Northern Lights. You can probably find a company that sells a Northern Lights terpene oil.
Of course, not all terpene oils are cannabis-themed.
Like e-liquids in general, they run virtually the whole gamut of popular flavors, from watermelon to vanilla to menthol.
Depending on where you live, it can be easy or difficult getting vapes online, as laws differ by state.
Once you’ve got your terp oil, it’s simply a matter of adding a little bit to a vape juice of your choosing.
Needless to say, the two flavors ought to complement each other.
For instance, you might add a few drops of French vanilla-flavored terpenes to a coffee-flavored e-liquid for a sweet and creamy vape cocktail.
Another option is to make your own terpene-infused vape juice.
Typically this will consist of a base liquid (e.g. propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin) along with THC and/or CBD concentrate, and last but not least your terpenes.
The quantities of each ingredient will vary according to the effects you’re trying to induce. With that said, don’t go crazy with the terpenes — they’re extremely pungent.
Will Vaping Terpenes Make You High?
No. Terpenes are non-intoxicating. They do not have psychoactive properties, so on their own they will not get you high.
But remember that they play a role in the entourage effect by synergising with THC and CBD. Without terpenes, the effects of cannabis wouldn’t be as impressive.
For example, in a 2018 study, researchers compared the effects of pure CBD isolate and a CBD-rich extract on epilepsy patients (CBD is often used to treat seizure disorders).
They found that the extract, which contained terpenes and other cannabis constituents, led to greater symptom relief with fewer side effects. That’s the entourage effect in action.
It is not known whether, in the context of the entourage effect, terpenes influence the high you derive from cannabis. But it’s possible.
The point here is that you should not expect to receive any kind of high from vaping terpenes — unless of course they’ve been combined with THC concentrate.