The Nose Knows, training your cannabis nose

Everything you need to know about how you interpret aromas and how to train your nose guide your cannabis experiences

Cannabis aroma is subjective

Similar to wine, cannabis has a range of varietals, all of which have differing characteristic smells, tastes, and effects. Aging cannabis can also induce changes to potency, flavours, and aromas. What you smell and taste is highly subjective, as with anything the smells that are appealing to one person may not be appealing to others. Variations to interpretation of smells and aromas come down to environmental and psychological factors. While subjective there are methods of interpreting smell and taste that can help improve your cannabis consumption experience, the nose knows.

… But first, some background information.


What’s going on in your nose?

All our senses and thoughts are prone to something called saturation, too much of anything and it becomes less impactful. Think of walking into a new fragrant room and then compare that with having sat in that room for an hour or two.  As time passes the aromas lessen and you become nose blind. Nose blindness occurs as our olfactory receptors become over saturated and no longer trigger those same sensory neurons. Cannabis is no different, if you consume an aromatic strain, you won’t be able to differentiate as accurately between the aromas of any subsequent strain you smoke after.


Identifying cannabis aromas

The most important thing is to consider the method of consumption, vapes will volatilize different compounds at different temperatures while smoking will combust everything in one go. If you are consuming distillate anything the flavours will be artificial and not indicative of a specific strain. You won’t be able to appreciate aromatic terpenes, thiols, and esters of your specific strain if you take them in edible, topical, or tincture form. If you plan on smoking, ensure whatever device you’re using is clean to pre, any contaminant in a pipe can alter the taste of your cannabis. The best way to pick out subtle flavors in cannabis is through a vaporizer; play around with the temperature to catch different flavour and aroma profiles.  

On each inhale, let the air sit in your mouth, be present and enjoy. If possible, exhale slightly and then let it sit again. As our sense of smell plays a large role in our taste you should be able to get a good idea of the flavor prior to smoking, see if the taste matches what you thought. The entire consumption experience should center around being present and should not be rushed.

Cannabis can feature a wide array of aromas from pine, citrus, fruit, and spice to floral and earthy scents. When sampling products it can help to choose lower THC strains as the psychoactive effects can cloud our judgment. It never hurts to take smaller puffs than you think in order to keep a clear mind as you explore the different flavors and aromas of cannabis.


Training yourself

Sometimes we need to clear away the noise to recognize individual compounds. Inhaling isolated terpenes can help with recognizing these terpenes in a bouquet. Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis and smells like cloves. Limonene, another dominant terpene, typically has a strong scent of citrus (think lemons). Caryophyllene, is found in black pepper, it has a spicy aroma and can sometimes cause lung irritation (coughing) for some. Knowing the individual terpene smells and where you can find them will train your nose to detect these scents when you encounter them in cannabis.


Storing your cannabis

In order to retain as much of those aromatics as possible, you must store your cannabis properly. This should be done in an airtight container in a dark and cool environment. Heat and light can cause these chemicals to breakdown leaving you with different chemical compositions in your plants and fewer of the aromatics as they flash off. What you are smelling in your cannabis are the aromatic molecules and if these are allowed to escape, they are gone, leaving you with muted flavor and aroma profiles.

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