Experts have ultimately sniffed out the molecules driving marijuana’s skunky aroma.
The heady bouquet that wafts off of clean weed is really a cocktail of hundreds of aromatic compounds. The most popular floral, citrusy and piney overtones occur from a widespread class of molecules known as terpenes, suggests analytical chemist Iain Oswald of Abstrax Tech, a private corporation in Tustin, Calif., that develops terpenes for cannabis products (SN: 4/30/18). But the resource of that funky ganja notice has been really hard to pin down.
Now, an examination is the initial to establish a team of sulfur compounds in cannabis that account for the skunklike scent, scientists report November 12 in ACS Omega.
Oswald and colleagues had a hunch that the offender may well consist of sulfur, a smelly factor uncovered in hops and skunk spray. So the crew began by rating the skunk issue of flowers harvested from far more than a dozen versions of Cannabis sativa on a scale from zero to 10, with 10 being the most pungent. Up coming, the team established a “chemical fingerprint” of the airborne components that contributed to every cultivar’s special scent making use of fuel chromatography, mass spectroscopy and a sulfur chemiluminescence detector.
As suspected, the scientists observed smaller amounts of a number of aromatic sulfur compounds lurking in the olfactory profiles of the smelliest cultivars. The most dominant was a molecule called prenylthiol, or 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, that offers “skunked beer” its infamous taste (SN: 11/27/05).
The sulfur compounds have been discovered in character, but under no circumstances prior to in hashish, claims Amber Sensible, an analytical chemist with Medication Creek Analytics in Fife, Clean., who was not involved in the examine.
Oswald was shocked to find that prenylthiol and numerous of the other sulfurous suspects in cannabis share structural similarities with molecules uncovered in garlic. And like these alliaceous analogs, a minor goes a lengthy way.
These compounds “can be in extremely low concentrations on the flower, but nevertheless make a massive impact on the smell,” Oswald states. The sulfur molecules are most considerable in cannabis bouquets when they get to maturity and for the duration of the curing course of action.
Scent psychologist Avery Gilbert of Headspace Sensory, a startup firm in Fort Collins, Colo., that specializes in quantifying the quite a few scents of cannabis, is energized to see the molecules added to marijuana’s chemical repertoire. “The spectrum of hashish odor is just awesome,” he suggests. “I believe it beats the trousers off of wine.”
The discovery of prenylthiol in cannabis, Gilbert states, is the first stage to masking its nuisance odor — or maximizing its perversely enjoyable stink.
Prenylthiol has a “polarizing scent,” Oswald states. Though several people today believe it reeks, some cannabis consumers will spend top rated dollar for skunky grass, which some take into account an indicator of high-quality.