What are terpenes?
Terpenes are naturally occurring volatile compounds responsible for much of the flavors and aromas within plants. Ever pop open a fresh bag only to be hit in the face with a lemony or pine-forward scent? Those aromas are a result of different combinations of terpenes. But terps affect more than just the aroma and flavor of your pickup— they have a direct effect on your experience.
For example, the terpene Myrcene possesses an earthy aroma and is naturally found in thyme and hops. While Myrcene is responsible for the relaxing “couchlock” effects experienced when smoking, it also carries a variety of specific medical benefits. It’s anticarcinogenic, relieves muscle tension and inflammation, and even treats insomnia. Limonene on the other hand carries citrusy aromas. This terpene reduces stress and works to elevate mood. Limonene also treats heartburn and helps relieve gastrointestinal issues. As research continues, the medicinal values of terpenes are being discovered in droves and giving smokers more control over the effects of their smoking experience. Though terpenes are a relatively new discovery within the industry, their presence on your dabstation establishes a unique medicinal link that was previously unknown.
Terpenes are generally released between 300-450°F, which is drastically lower than the intense temperatures created by a cherried bowl or joint. Cherries can reach temperatures higher than 1000°F. At those extreme temperatures terpenes are burned away rather than activated. This destroys both the flavors and effects of the terps before they have a chance to be released.
Because of their potent nature, concentrates contain large quantities of terpenes. But terps are volatile, and without proper care they will evaporate from your slab! Where it takes both an experienced extractor to create terpene rich concentrates, it also takes a well educated dabber to truly get all of their terps. Follow these steps to get the most out of your terps!
1. Low Temp Dabs
Combustion starts at 451°F. While boiling temperatures vary with every terpene, it’s important to not exceed 450°F to experience the taste and complete effects of your terps. If you take dabs at combustion temperatures, you may incinerate your terpenes before they are fully released. The higher the temp, the quicker this process will take place.
Some dabbers are hesitant to take low temp dabs due to the puddle they leave behind on the nail. This visual can deceive people into thinking high temp dabs are the correct way to dab, as no puddle is left behind. Because terpenes and other chemicals are activated between 300-450°F, low temp dabs enable dabbers to get the most of their concentrates. Hot dabs burn away the terpenes before they can be released, which greatly increases chest discomfort and negates the full effects of your concentrates.
Terpenes are volatile organic compounds and will evaporate when not properly cared for. In order to prevent degradation from happening, dabbers must take care when storing their pick up. Medical grade silicone is an excellent storage container for concentrates. Silicone containers are airtight and nonporous, protecting your terps from the damaging oxygen and light!
Make sure to always tightly seal your container to prevent your terpenes from evaporating. If you don’t have a silicone container, keep your concentrates securely wrapped in parchment paper. If you’re picking up small amounts of concentrates at a time, it’s probably fine to store them in parchment — you’ll likely consume your stuff before the terps degrade. But if you’re scooping larger amounts of concentrates you might want to invest in some silicone. Containers also prevent dust and other gross particles from settling on the surface of your concentrates. If you’ve got an animal, you know the struggle of keeping your concentrates hair-free. Take the precautions to keep your slabs fresh and terpy by sealing them in silicone containers! Click here to learn more about silicone on Smoke Cartel’s knowledge base.
Note: Never use wax paper for concentrates. The wax coating will bind to your concentrates making them unfit and possibly dangerous for consumption. If you’re using wax paper, please, for the sake of your health, head to Smoke Cartel’s oil accessories collection for some silicone dab containers!
While titanium nails are extremely durable, they deliver less flavor than nails made of other materials. If you’re looking to taste your terps, your choices are between quartz and ceramic. Ceramic is less durable than quartz, and when not heated evenly will crack due to heat stress. Quartz heats up and cools significantly faster, making it easy to quickly get to those low temperatures. Dabbers across the country have exchanged their domeless Ti nails for quartz bangers and qfz style carb caps. When used together, qfz style carb caps maximize airflow and turn your banger into a sort of convection oven. These caps allow the quartz to maintain heat for a short time by circulating hot air within the chamber of the banger.
Check out quartz nails at Smoke Cartel for an awesome selection of bangers and other quartz heating elements. Smoke Cartel even has HQX bangers and fitted caps, handmade in Asheville by Jason Hoyes and his team. These bangers are fashioned from the same quality quartz as Evan Shore Bangarangs, Joel Halen Troughs and Honey Holes, and even Quave Club Bangers. The only difference is that you can scoop an HQX for a fraction of the cost!
4. Q-Tip Tech
Q-Tip tech is a relatively new technique that prolongs the life and flavor of quartz nails. After every dab, take a cotton swab and mop up the leftover puddle until the nail is clean. Leftover puddles that aren’t cleaned up will harden and oxidize, permanently affecting your quartz. You know how quartz gets cloudy and gray overtime? That’s a direct result of oxidization. In order to keep your quartz as fresh as new, enact this technique with every dab starting with the first hit on a fresh banger. While Q-Tip tech sound meticulous, dabbers around the world have adopted this as a useful technique to maintain the look and flavor of their quartz.
5. Vapes on-the-go
A general rule of thumb for terps is to avoid combustion. While it’s easy to do at home where you can control the temperature of your dabs, it’s a bit harder to avoid combustion on-the-go. If you’re away from home and trying to taste your terps, I’d recommend using the Galaxy pen by the masters at KandyPens. This awesome pen can be set to either 350°F, 390°F, or 430°F, all of which are below combustion. Plus the Galaxy pen features a dual quartz coil, and we’ve already talked about how quartz is the mayor of flavorcity.
The Roil vape pen by THISTHINGRIPS is another excellent option for terpy vape seshes. The Roil delivers a coil-less vape experience, with three heat settings ranging from 300-500ºF. This pen utilizes a ceramic atomizer to prevent your concentrates from making direct contact with the heating element and combusting. The third heat setting is a bit higher than the Galaxy pen, making the Roil a versatile choice for dabbers who want to switch between smooth flavorful hits and heavier clouds. The Roil is also perfect for discreet-dabbers, as it is cleverly disguised as an actual pen when not in use. You could even have this bad boy in your breast pocket and nobody would be suspicious!
That concludes our terpene guide. If you follow these steps, you’ll be enjoying the full flavors and effects of your concentrates at every sesh. Stay terpy!