Cannabis-derived terpene concentrates are a great way to add flavor to your CBD oil or concentrate.
There’s a lot more to cannabis than just CBD.
One group of compounds in particular — terpenes — makes up a large proportion of the plant’s medicinal value.
Now, you can order concentrated extracts of pure cannabis-derived terpenes. These terpenes can be used to boost the effects (and flavor) of hemp oils, shatters, and e-liquids. They offer the ultimate level of customization for the effects you’re looking for.
Learn how to use terpene concentrates, where to buy them, and what red flags to watch out for as you shop.
Terpenes are found throughout the plant kingdom. They provide the characteristic aroma for herbs like lilac, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and countless others.
The cannabis plant makes a variety of different terpenes too. Each one contributes something different to the overall effect profile and aroma. Some of these terpenes smell like lemon or lime — others bear a closer resemblance to nutmeg or basil.
Different ratios of terpenes influence the aroma and effect profile of a particular strain. Some strains have a higher ratio of sedative terpenes — others are more stimulating and uplifting.
A terpene concentrate is exactly what it sounds like — a pure extract of the terpene profile of a cannabis plant. It’s gone through a process called steam distillation to remove the volatile terpenes (essential oil) without removing any of the other compounds in the plant.
These products come in a concentrated liquid form. You can use these extracts to mix with your hemp flower, distillates, waxes, or CBD oils to give them a flavor boost and add extra health benefits.
Terp juice is another form of extract that’s made with an emphasis on the terpene concentration. They’re made using BHO solvent extraction from freshly harvested plants in a similar way to live resin extracts. The difference is that the final product has an even higher concentration of terpenes (around 60%).
Terp juice is usually combined with other extracts to boost the terpene profile — these should not be dabbed on their own. The exceptionally high concentration of terpenes can actually damage the lungs if it isn’t first diluted with another cannabis extract.
Terp juice is different from liquid terpene concentrates because they contain a small concentration of other phytochemicals — including CBD, THC, CBC, CBN, CBG, and more.
There are literally hundreds of different terpenes made by the hemp plant — each one offering its own unique set of benefits from the next.
Some terpenes are stimulating; others sedative. Some are great for killing pain; others are better for alleviating symptoms of diabetes.
One of the most common reasons for using CBD, in general, is for managing chronic pain.
What many people don’t know is that the terpenes in a high-quality full-spectrum extract contribute a large portion of the painkilling effects of the oil too. When you use a CBD isolate that has had all the terpenes removed, the painkilling effects of the oil becomes weaker.
Many people add painkilling terpenes back into their CBD isolate oil to improve the potency.
Here are the best terpenes to use for pain:
The best strain-specific terpene blends for pain include:
There are several terpenes in the cannabis plant that can help alleviate anxiety and depression. A few of these terpenes are also abundant in other anti-anxiety herbs such as lavender, hops, and chamomile.
The main mechanism terpenes use to relax the mind and reduce anxiety levels is by interacting with a neurotransmitter known as GABA.
GABA is the primary neuroinhibitory compound in the brain — which means it’s responsible for slowing down brain activity when it becomes hyperactive — which is the case for anxiety. This neurotransmitter essentially acts like a brake pedal for the brain — reducing speed when it gets out of control.
The best strain-specific terpene blends for anxiety include:
Some terpenes provide potent sedative benefits — especially in higher doses. Using terpene concentrates allows us to easily increase the potency of these compounds to reach the more sedative doses.
Most of these terpenes work by relaxing the mind to allow it to get to sleep more easily — rather than by directly inducing sleep. These terpenes work best when used with sleep-supportive cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, or low-dose THC.
The best terpenes for sleep include:
The best strain-specific terpene blends for sleep include:
There are some CBD oils that already come with a high concentration of terpenes. Look for high-quality full-spectrum CBD oils that provide third-party terpene tests to find the best products.
Each CBD company sources its hemp from different farms. It’s important to find companies that source their hemp from the same farms and use the same strain for every batch. When a CBD company changes its source of hemp, the terpene profiles change along with it.
Here are some of the best full-spectrum CBD oils that provide consistent terpene profiles with every batch:
Terpene concentrates are very potent — you only need a few drops of this stuff at a time.
You can use terpenes to boost the flavor and effect profiles of several other CBD products.
Here, we’ll cover the major applications of cannabis terpene extracts and how to use these powerful extracts safely.
Hemp flower naturally contains its own set of terpenes. However, if the hemp wasn’t stored correctly or wasn’t very high-quality to begin with they may be a bit lackluster and flavorless.
Hemp flower that lacks terpenes taste more like hay or grass than anything else — frankly, it’s not very enjoyable to smoke or vape.
A good fix for this is to add terpene concentrates back into the flower.
The easiest way to do this is to place your hemp flower in a sealable jar and add a few drops of terpene concentrate. You’ll want to use 1 or 2 drops of terpene concentrate for every gram of hemp.
Drop a few drops of the terpene extract directly into the jar with your hemp. Close it up and give it a good shake to mix it around. Now you’ll want to leave your jar sealed for a couple of hours to let the terpenes diffuse evenly throughout the flower.
The next time you open it up, you’ll find your hemp has dramatically improved aroma profile. Depending on the terpenes you added, the effects of the hemp will be stronger as well.
Caution: a little bit of this stuff goes a long way. Be very careful not to add too much. One or two drops per gram may seem too low, but trust me, it’s plenty.
CBD concentrates are generally very thick and viscous, which can make them hard to use. Adding terpenes to the distillate act like a solvent to thin it out and make it easier to use. Of course, it also adds some flavor that can make using concentrates a little more enjoyable.
The trick to adding terpenes to distillates, waxes, shatters, or other concentrates is to be very conservative. Add a couple of drops and mix them together thoroughly before adding more. A little bit goes a long way, and if you accidentally add too much, it can be difficult to remove it.
In general, you’ll want to add about 3–6% of the weight of the distillate or shatter.
This means that you should add about 1 or 2 drops of terpene concentrates for every gram of distillate.
Once added, mix them together as much as you can. Start with one drop and mix it in thoroughly before you add any more. It’s easy to add too much, so go slow.
You can also add terpenes to your CBD isolate oils to boost the effect profiles and improve the flavor profile of these flavorless oils.
This is a super underrated approach to using CBD oils these days. Not many people know this hack yet.
Adding your own terpenes to CBD oil allows you to tailor the effects of your oil to your specific health goals. You can order a simple and cost-effective CBD isolate oil and add the terpenes that provide the specific health benefits you’re looking for (more on this in the next section).
As an example, if you’re using CBD oil for pain, you can purchase a simple CBD isolate oil and then add terp extracts rich in painkilling terpenes like myrcene or linalool to dramatically boost the analgesic effects of your oil.
To mix terpenes with your CBD oil, you’ll want to aim for about 2% of the oil’s total volume. The maximum you should ever add is about 5% of the volume.
Most CBD oils come in 30 mL (1 oz) dropper bottles. So for a 2% concentration, you should add roughly 20 drops of terpene concentrate. This works out to about 1 mL of terpene concentrate.
Give the oil a good shake for a minute or two so the terpenes can diffuse evenly into the oil before you use it.
Another excellent application of terpene concentrates is to add them to an unflavored CBD vape juice. Make sure you don’t add the terpenes to vape juices that already contain these compounds, or you’ll make it too strong. Too many terpenes in a vape product can be harsh on the throat.
You’ll want to keep the terpene content for vape juices to around 2 or 3% at the most, so you should add between 20 and 30 drops to a single 30 mL bottle of oil at the most.
It’s better to start with a small amount (5 drops) and test it before adding more.
Once you’ve added too much, it’s very difficult to remove the terpenes.
Shopping for terpenes can feel overwhelming. There are so many different options available, which can be a bit overwhelming when it comes time to choose.
There are two primary angles of approach when deciding what terpenes to purchase:
The first angle is to look for terpenes that provide specific health benefits. You may be looking to add terpenes to your oil to help boost a particular set of benefits for your CBD oil (such as sleep, pain, or anxiety support).
You can either find strain-specific extracts that have the terpenes you’re looking for or order individual terpenes:
The other reason people are adding terpenes to their hemp flower, CBD oil, concentrates, or vape juice is to add a little extra flavor to the mix.
The most popular way to do this is to order the terpene extracts from their favorite hemp or marijuana strains — such as Gorilla Glue #4, Lemon Haze, Purple Kush, or hundreds of others.
Most terpene manufacturers have dozens of different strains to choose from — so there should be something here for everyone.
You can also find extracts that aren’t modeled after known cannabis strains but come with specific fruity flavors instead — such as lemon, grape, or blueberry. Some companies even mix and match these flavors to create more innovative blends like birthday cake, mojito, or chocolate raspberry.
Most terpene companies make these flavors from terpenes extracted from fruits or flowers, but there are some that incorporate synthetic fragrance oils to make these flavors instead (avoid these).
Make sure the company you’re buying from explicitly says they make their concentrated from plant extracts. Some companies use tricky words like “natural flavor,” which doesn’t actually mean it comes from natural sources — it just means it mimics natural flavors.
The third reason you may choose to combine terpene concentrates with other CBD products is to change the viscosity of the products you’re using. This mainly applies to CBD concentrates like shatters or waxes.
These products can be very glassy right out of the container — which makes them hard to work with. You can try to cut the shatter into individual doses, but it tends to break and “shatter” (hence the name). It’s especially hard to use these products in a vaporizer.
A solution to this is to mix terpene concentrates in with your shatter. The terpenes act like a solvent, thinning out the concentrate to decrease the viscosity (make it more fluid).
You can use any terpenes to achieve this — which also adds the benefits of adding flavor to the shatter.
For those who want to improve the consistency of their shatter but don’t want to impart any flavor or aroma — opt for phytol instead. This terpene (technically a diterpene alcohol) is unique in that it doesn’t have a particular flavor to it.
You can also order a flavorless terpene blend designed specifically for this application from True Terpenes called Viscosity — which is made with a blend of phytol, beta-caryophyllene, d-limonene, farnesol, and nerolidol.
Terpenes are sold in a wide range of sizes. You can get small vials containing just 2 mL of terpenes for around $25, all the way up to 500 mL bottles costing a few thousand dollars.
How much terpenes do I actually need? What size should I order?
Terpenes are very potent — you only need a few drops at a time. Most people find a standard 5 mL vial of terpenes is enough to last two months or longer.
A 5 mL vial should be enough terpenes to boost about 5 bottles of CBD oil, 5 bottles of vape juice, 80 grams of flower, and about 60 grams of concentrate.
The larger denominations of terpenes are more applicable for cannabis manufacturers who buy the terpenes to boost the terpene content of their oils, vape juices, or as a thinner for cannabis distillates.
Of course, if you’re using terpenes often and consume a lot of cannabis, it can pay to order larger bottles of terpenes at a time. The larger the bottle, the better value you’re getting.
Terpene concentrates don’t contain any cannabinoids or other hemp-derived compounds. These products are made from the plant’s pure essential oil content — which doesn’t contain any psychoactive ingredients.
No terpene extract will make you high.
They also don’t contain any ingredients that might make you fail a drug test.
The exception to this is terp juice — which is different from a terpene concentrate. Terp juices can be made from either hemp (non-psychoactive) or marijuana (psychoactive). Always check the THC content of the products you’re ordering before you buy.
Terpenes are completely legal in the United States, Canada, Europe, and most other parts of the world.
These products don’t contain any THC — which is the specific ingredient that makes marijuana products illegal. Terpene concentrates are the same as an essential oil — which is legal everywhere.
Extracting terpenes requires some specialty equipment to do properly. More primitive methods involve the use of toxic chemical solvents like butane or hexane. The best companies in this space are using the much safer methods of steam distillation or supercritical CO2 to remove the terpenes.
Additionally, many companies are selling synthetic fragrance oils under the guise of all-natural terpene extracts. These products are very different. Not only do fragrance oils not offer any health benefits, they bring a risk of an allergic reaction, irritation, or other harmful side effects. Some of these compounds have even been shown to interfere with hormone activity in humans.
Terpenes have only recently started to become a popular product in the cannabis space. We’ve seen a lot of new specialty terpene companies entering the market in the last 24 months as more people learn about the benefits of mixing terpenes into their CBD or marijuana products.
Here are 4 factors to consider when shopping for cannabis terpenes:
Thanks to poor regulation, there are a lot of unethical companies operating in the cannabis space at the moment — so it’s important to do some quick vetting of the company you’re looking to order from before making your purchase.
Look for companies that don’t hide their leadership team. They should have a clear about us page, as well as a LinkedIn page or equivalent professional accounts to prove they’re legit.
It also helps to look for reviews on the company before you buy. These reviews should be taken from different sources. Look for industry expert reviews as well as reviews from past customers.
Some red flags to watch out for are an abundance of negative reviews or no reviews at all (this could be a sign the company is either a scam or too new to gauge effectively.
We judge a cannabis company a lot on the quality of their website as well. If the site is hard to navigate, doesn’t read very well, or is full of typos or incorrect information — it makes us wonder what other areas the company has been cutting corners on.
Third-party testing is something we talk a lot about in terms of CBD oils, but it’s important for terpene products as well.
Third-party tests involve sending a sample of the final product to a separate lab that has no affiliation with the manufacturer. This lab conducts its own set of tests to determine the potency of the extract and check for signs of contamination.
The most common contaminants in terpene concentrates are pesticides or herbicides, heavy metals, and chemical solvents that may have been picked up during the manufacturing process.
A reputable company will publish the results of this third-party testing live on the company website.
If these tests aren’t available, we suggest you keep looking. There are enough high-quality terpene companies on the market these days that do tests to justify ordering from companies that don’t take this important safety precaution.
We’ve covered this already, so I’m only going to touch on this briefly.
Ask yourself what your goal for using CBD or cannabis products is. If you’re using it to help manage pain, anxiety, sleep, or other health conditions, there are terpenes you can use to make these effects even stronger.
It makes sense to keep this in mind while you shop to help get a terpene extract that provides an improvement in both taste and effect profile.
There’s a big difference between terpene concentrates extracted from hemp or other plants compared to synthetic fragrances.
First of all, real plant terpenes are much more expensive than fragrance oils. You don’t want to drop a good chunk of money for a terpene concentrate only to get a few dollars worth of a fragrance oil.
The second major difference is that actual plant terpenes provide a variety of legitimate health benefits — while synthetic fragrances are usually harmful to our health.
You’ll want to avoid synthetic fragrance oils as much as you can. These compounds are far inferior to proper plant terpene extracts and are known to cause irritation and inflammation in the lungs and arteries. Additionally, some of these compounds have even been shown to interfere with hormone balance in the body — especially estrogen-based hormones.
Unfortunately, there are a few companies unethically positioning fragrance oils as the real deal. They use tricky language like “natural fragrance.” The word “natural” is unregulated — which basically means it doesn’t mean anything. If a company says natural fragrance, what they mean is that the synthetic fragrance they’re using is modeled after natural scents.
Always make sure the company you’re buying from is explicit about not using any synthetic fragrances in their products before you buy.
Terpene concentrates are becoming more popular every year. They’re made by extracting and concentrating the active terpenes or “essential oil” of the hemp or marijuana plant. These products contain no active CBD, THC, or any other cannabinoids — just pure, aromatic terpenes.
Terpene extracts can be added to CBD oils to boost their effects and improve the medicinal value or added to concentrates to thin them out and make them easier to use.
Always look for reputable brands when shopping for terpene extracts to avoid ordering low-quality synthetic fragrance oils by mistake.