What Are Terpene Isolates And What Do I Do with Them?


A relatively recent advancement in the world of cannabis is terpene isolation. Before you wonder What is terpene isolation? it’s good to have a basic understanding of terpenes. Think of terpene isolates as the flavor extracts or the essential oils of the fragrance world. The distinctive aromatic and flavorful properties of your bud can be traced back to its terpene composition. Without terpenes, your stash wouldn’t taste or smell like much. Terpenes are also associated with effects that give each strain its particular quality, whether it’s a strain that boosts your focus, lifts your mood, or chills you out.

What is Terpene Isolation?

Terpene isolation is a process in which these specific aromatic compounds are literally isolated from plant matter so that their unique characteristics can be applied therapeutically or culinarily. Since each terpene has a particular smell, flavor, and effect on the body (with hundreds of terpenes known to exist), using isolated terpenes is a way to zero in on the qualities that you’re looking to tap into.

Terpene isolates can be derived synthetically or naturally. For example, linalool, the terpene that gives lavender its sedative effects, can be derived naturally from the lavender plant itself. Or, linalool can be derived synthetically through the chemical manipulation of geraniol, a terpene known for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. There are several different methods for isolation, processes akin to essential oil extraction, but we won’t go into those here.

What to Do with Terpene Isolates

Strain-specific terpene blends can be used to refresh old bud, mimicking some of the flavors and aromas that characterize a particular strain long after your stash has gone stale. The Potlander recommends adding a drop to a container of old weed, giving it a healthy shake, and letting it “steep” for about an hour before you pack your pipe with your freshly perfumed flowers.

Using food-grade terpene isolates in the kitchen takes a little more care, as terpene isolates start to break down when exposed to higher temperatures. You’ll get the most out of your terpene isolates by using them in low-temperature preparations or avoiding heat altogether. Feel free to use terpene isolates in non-THC culinary projects — they aren’t psychoactive.

Perhaps the purest way to consume the unique characteristics of isolated terpenes is through tinctures. A tincture that is formulated to boost your alertness would benefit from the addition of a terpene blend rich in alpha-pinene, whereas a tincture for bedtime would be complemented by a terpene blend that contains myrcene and linalool.

Basic Guidelines to Follow When Using Isolated Terpenes

Jacobs recommends using 3 to 10 percent concentrations when blending terpene isolates with vape oil concentrates. For food and beverage, aim for 1 to 3 percent. While isolated terpenes make dabbing a tastier experience, he advises that people not coat their dab in terpene isolates; you will be using way too much of the concentrate. Also, keep in mind that you’ll be exposing your terpenes to extremely high temperatures, releasing unwanted compounds that are classified as carcinogens.

If you’re shopping for terpenes, one way to home in on what makes a manufacturer reputable is to go with a company that offers clear education on how to use its product. Like essential oils, terpene isolates should be used sparingly due to their potency. Steer clear of companies that don’t offer explicit information on how to safely dilute their product.

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