Weed smell

Marijuana consumers describe the scent of the plant as earthy, herbal, and woody. Sometimes the plant scent carries notes of lemon, apple, diesel, or plum.

Dried marijuana smells a lot stronger than some other dried plants.

How it smells while smoking

When you’re smoking marijuana, the natural scent of the cannabis scent is amplified by the smoke it creates. Fire, smoke itself, ash, and the smell of rolling paper add additional layers to the scent.

When a person is smoking cannabis, notes of lemongrass, pine, fire, and wood may stand out. The distinct “skunk” smell of marijuana is often reported.

What does weed smell like on a person after it’s smoked?

The smell of marijuana smoke can cling to a person’s hair, skin, and clothing. The “skunk” odor mixes with the scent of fire and smoke, and can also layer (and amplify) the smells of sweat and natural odors people naturally produce.

Some people say the after-smoking scent can take on notes of mustiness or a faintly foul, overly sweet scent.

Why does weed smell like skunk?

Cannabis smells like “skunk” because of one of its terpene components — myrcene.

Myrcene is in lots of other highly fragrant plants, such as bay leaf, mangoes, hops, and thyme. Different strains of marijuana can contain more or less myrcene.

It’s interesting to note that the sedation and calming faction in many cannabis strains is linkedTrusted Source to the myrcene content of the plant. Marijuana strains that smell more fruity or skunky may have more “couch-lock” effects.

What does synthetic weed smell like?

Synthetic weed is produced in a laboratory and mixed with other chemical elements. Chemicals are sprayed on plantlike material that is then distributed to be smoked like weed. It’s sometimes called K2, mamba, or spice.

Synthetic marijuana is not related to the cannabis plant. It’s not regulated, and really could contain any kind of chemical. Because of this, there’s no standardized synthetic weed smell.

Why weed smells the way it does

Cannabis is often touted as having a signature scent. Although some believe that indica and sativa plants emit distinctive odors, there’s no hard evidence to support this. According to experts, aromatic terpenes form the basis for the odor profile of cannabis. Terpenes are highly aromatic botanical compounds found in flowers and plants. As many as 140 terpenes have been identified in marijuana, of which 17 are common.

weed smell

Distinct combinations of terpenes create diverse fragrance profiles that can influence marijuana consumers’ preferences. Some cannabis cultivars contain as many as 66 different terpenes.

The single most significant factor influencing the smell of marijuana is its age when harvested. Cannabis that has been harvested at a younger age has a milder, less skunky scent, while weed that’s mature tends to have a more earthy aroma.

The most common cannabis scents

Adjectives used to describe cannabis often include musky, spicy, woody, peppery, citrusy, and tropical. These scents tend to correlate with the terpene profiles of weed strains. 

Some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis can make weed smell like the following aromas:

  • Myrcene: earthy, musky, herbal aromas comparable to mangos or thyme
  • Β-caryophyllene: a woodsy, peppery, clove-like scent
  • Α-humulene: earthy tones with spicy notes, similar to beer
  • Α-pinene: pine needles, rosemary, and basil
  • Limonene: lemon notes, like citrus peel
  • Linalool: a floral fragrance also found in lavender and rosewood

Other aromas prominent in good weed are thiols, sulfur derivatives naturally produced by the cannabis plant. These pungent compounds are found in garlic, natural gas (to which it’s added), onions, rotten eggs, and skunk spray, giving skunk weed its namesake. Rest assured that cannabis that smells like skunk is actually a good thing as thiols are super-efficient antioxidants. 

What does scent reveal about a strain?

Different strains boast their own terpene profiles. The odor can offer subtle insights into the effects of the strain. While cannabinoids wield a strong impact over the mind and body, terpenes are also responsible for some of the effects of cannabis. For example, zesty, zingy-smelling marijuana is likely to contain higher concentrations of limonene, which has been clinically shown to boost mood and serotonin levels and reduce anxiety.

weed smell

A 2018 study published in Plos One asked participants to characterize 11 different strains of cannabis by sniff samples. None of the participants had been trained in sensory description, but almost all were cannabis users. The researchers found that the participants could consistently discriminate between the 11 strains and that the strains formed clusters based on their odor similarity. Cluster A included weed that smelled earthy, woody, and herbal, while Cluster B referred to cannabis with citrus, lemon, and sweet notes.

Participants were more likely to align the citrus/lemon/sweet cluster with greater potency and quality. This perception has no relationship to THC content, however, because THC is odorless. As the researchers of the study pointed out, few studies to date have related the smell of marijuana directly to its chemical composition.

Raw, cured, and smoked weed: Why do they all smell different?

Unsurprisingly, weed smells discernibly different in its various forms. Changes in chemical composition occur when cannabis is harvested, cured, and smoked.

Cannabis tends to smell pungent, earthy, and complex during the growing process, and most potent when the bud is in bloom. Many home growers observe that some of the subtle notes of the bouquet fade in the days following harvest, with the cut plant taking on a more weed-like smell. This change in aroma occurs because the volatile terpenes can begin to degrade and oxidize.

Curing cannabis can help to preserve the terpenes and the unique scent and flavor profile of the strain. A slow and thorough cure can protect terpenes and preserve the integrity of the plant’s potency.

When it comes to smoking weed, the natural smell of marijuana is intensified in the smoke it emits. Combustion adds different layers to the plant’s scent: ash, fire, and even the aroma of rolling paper can alter the smell. As many have likely experienced, marijuana smoke can often cling to skin, hair, clothing, and surfaces, leaving traces of its presence long after the last puff.

Scents that signal something’s off

The nose knows. While the smell of weed can indicate freshness or maturity, it can also point to the presence of mold or bacteria. Stashes of weed that have been improperly cured or stored may harbor traces of moisture, which provides the perfect breeding ground for mold. 

If your weed smells like an unaired closet, urine (gasp), or like a sweaty locker room, the cannabis may be infected with mold spores. Basically, the scent of moldy cannabis is repugnant. If a whiff of the weed in question has you recoiling, you may have a spoiled batch on your hands. Moldy weed is not safe to smoke, as the fungus spores can be inhaled directly into the lungs, leading to potential infection. If you don’t trust your nose, there are other techniques you can use to check your cannabis.

7 thoughts on “Weed smell”

  1. Dank_of_Canada_420

    Hello. I’m a weed newbie, so I have a question. I’ve heard the smellier the weed, the more potent? Is that always or usually true? Thanks!

    1. Contemporaryshaman420

      Not necessarily, but its usually a good indication if the bud itself isn’t visually spectacular.

      1. anthony taurus

        As most have noted, “not necessarily”. Stinky doesn’t mean better. For example, look up water curing marijuana on Google. The reason people do this is because it eliminates the smell to a great degree. So, your marijuana might not smell like anything and still hit like a truck.
        Then, you have people who spray marijuana to get that strong scent. I can’t say how often it happens but it does happen.
        Now, if the smell hasn’t been tampered with (no water cure and no added scent), the smell still won’t be a perfect indicator of strength. As trees4twenty noted, it’s the sign of a proper harvest and cure. Basically, the cure (closed container) part helps to “bake” the scent into the plant itself. At the same time, if the cure wasn’t long enough, the smell might be light in comparison to something that was bottled.
        One good way to know quality is the look. If you got a nice fat bud, crack it open and look for those diamonds in the sky. If it’s shining like a Swarovski crystal store, you got a winner. If it’s dull and bland, you got a dud.

        1. weedlancer emma

          Water curing is mostly to flush out nonsense, not to reduce smell. I do agree that viewing a high number of trichromes is a good indication but I’ve had plenty of bud that would look mediocre but give off a nice high.

    2. Shirley HIghsky

      Not necessarily. I picked up some super smelly weed a few weeks ago and it was pretty unimpressive. My newest pick up is much more subtle, but it was so potent that I started having mild psychedelic effects after a couple bowls…

    3. Treesfourtwenty

      smell is due to terpenes. so i would say yes and no. Its no indication of how potent it is but it is a indication that it was properly harvested and cured. which lets you know that there is more than likely no mold in it. now as far as potency that will depend on the strain.

    4. It’s not a good tool to measure potency. The terpenes that cause smell don’t indicate a higher THC or CBD count.

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