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What Does Weed Smell Like?

That unique weed smell.

There’s nothing quite like that unique smell of weed. That strong skunky smell and pungent odor. The delicious floral fragrance. Even those who’ve never tasted good weed can recognize that distinctive smell.

What does weed smell like? 

It can range from sweet to skunky, earthy, or fruity on different weed strains. All these different cannabis smells happen due to volatile organic compounds called terpenes.

We will explore what makes up the odor of cannabis as well as how PGR bud smells different from high-grade marijuana strains. We’ll also see why synthetic marijuana has a particular odor and answer some common questions about the fragrance of marijuana in general.

What does high-grade marijuana smell like? Where do all these different smells in bud and marijuana smoke come from? Why does cannabis smell like skunk?

Keep reading to discover that and more about cannabis and its unique aroma.

cannabis outdoor grow

Key Takeaways: The Weed Smell

  • The aroma of marijuana is caused by aromatic compounds called terpenes that interact with other components, such as THC.
  • The marijuana smell varies according to the strain and can help you identify each variety’s terpene profile.
  • The marijuana odor is vital to recognizing good and bad marijuana.
  • A lack of smell is a red sign in flowering a cannabis plant or harvested buds.

What Does Marijuana Smell like?

The cannabis smell is often described as herbal and skunky, sometimes with earthy tones.

The scent can vary depending on the strain. Some have a pungent odor, while others are more subtle.

When growing cannabis plants indoors, it’s important to be aware that the strong odors produced by these plants may linger in your home for some time after harvest if proper ventilation isn’t provided. 

This means you should take steps to ensure adequate air circulation when cultivating cannabis indoors so that any lingering smells don’t become too overwhelming for those living nearby or visiting your home.

Each strain also has its own unique terpene profile, which contributes to its distinct smell and flavor profile.

This includes compounds like myrcene (which gives off a musky/earthy scent), limonene (a citrus-smelling compound), and pinene (an evergreen-smelling compound).

Terpenes and their varying concentrations will make marijuana smell like a bunch of different scents from the natural world.

Why Does Weed Smell Like Skunk?

To a greater or lesser extent, marijuana can smell like a skunk, both the bud and the smoke.

This phenomenon has a scientific explanation. The smell released by skunks and cannabis belongs to a family of prenylated volatile sulfur compounds (VSC).

The research discovered this after scientists set out to unravel why some weed strains gave off such a skunk-like smell.

The studies found that some of the VSCs skunks produced in their spray are replicated in some marijuana strains.

One VSC embodies this odor more than any other: 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol. Scientists and a panel of test subjects determined that this VSC was present in all weed strains with the most intense skunky smell.

cannabis flower under a microscope

What Makes Weed Smell So Unique?

Several factors affect how marijuana smells, but the most determining element is a strain’s terpene profile.

There are different types of aromatic terpenes, such as pinene, myrcene, and limonene. The smell of marijuana will depend on the kind of terpene that prevails in that particular strain.

Different types of terpenes can be isolated and extracted to add aroma and properties to cannabis-derived products otherwise devoid of them, facilitating the entourage effect.

The smell of marijuana and each particular strain will depend on which type of terpene predominates. For example, different strains with higher concentrations of limonene tend to have more citrusy aromas, while those with myrcene may smell like earth or musk.

Furthermore, curing techniques used after harvest can also influence scent profiles. A more thorough curing process always rewards you with better-smelling (and tasting) weed.

Once cured, always remember to keep your marijuana in an airtight container to ensure it stays fresh and potent.

Most Common Cannabis Smells

There’s a vast array of cannabis strains that all smell distinctly different. Following are some of the most common cannabis smells you’ll find, as well as some of the strains that accompany that particular scent. 

Musky and Herbaceous: Myrcene is the terpene responsible for a musky, herbaceous aroma, and it’s one of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis. It is also found abundantly in mango and hops. Some strains that contain high myrcene content include, Blue Dream, Mango Kush and Mango Puff. 

Citrusy: If your weed smells citrusy, there’s a high probability that there’s limonene in it. This terpene contains lemon notes and herbal aromas comparable to fruits like lemon and grapefruit. Limonene is highly concentrated in strains like Banana OG, Berry White and Black Cherry Soda. 

Earthy and Woodsy: Pinene is one of the most well-known terpenes found in marijuana. It gives off an earthy smell that can be described as fresh pine needles or damp soil after rain showers. The smell of pinene is often compared to walking through a forest on a sunny day! Marijuana strains high in pinene include Jack Herer and OG Kush.

Minty: Eucalyptol (or cineole) has been known to give off minty aromas when present at higher concentrations. It’s present in cannabis, as well as bay leaves, ginger root, rosemary, sagebrush, tea tree oil, eucalyptus trees and more. A couple popular strains that contain eucalyptol include Dutch Treat and Super Silver Haze. 

Fruity: Terpinolene is the main responsible for fruity smelling cannabis. Other plants which contain terpinolene include apples and pears. Strains with terpinolene are a bit rare, but some include Ghost Train Haze, Dutch Treat and Jack Herer. 

Spicy: Caryophyllene is a common terpene that can be easily identified by its spicy notes and rich scent. It’s commonly used as an additive flavoring agent due to its strong aromatic properties. Bubba Kush, Sour Diesel and GCS all contain significant levels of caryophyllene.

Does PGR Weed Smell?

Weed grown with synthetic plant growth regulators (PGRs) can mean a huge increase in harvest for growers. These artificial hormones affect the plant’s development and help maximize production. 

But the chemicals used in the process makes PGR weed a bit different from natural cannabis flower. 

Not only does PGR weed taste different, it can also lose that classic cannabis aroma. 

This is because the chemicals used for PGR weed compromises its cannabinoid and terpene profile. Terpene degradation means PGR weed won’t smell strong like natural weed. The loss of cannabinoids also means it won’t get you as high.

How Does High-Grade Marijuana Smell Like?

The smell of marijuana is essential in identifying the weed’s strain and quality. 

Good weed usually has a pleasant aroma – a distinctive and strong natural scent that can vary depending on the type or strain you smoke.

Although it’s not always the case, marijuana with a higher THC content will smell better than low-potency marijuana. 

As we’ve mentioned previously, different strains have their own unique terpene profiles, which contribute to their distinct odor. This includes compounds like myrcene, limonene, and pinene (an evergreen-smelling compound). 

The intensity of these aromas will depend on how mature the plant is and other factors such as growing conditions, curing methods used during harvest, etc. 

Generally speaking, if your marijuana smells great, it is probably going to be a nice smoke. Concentrates found in weed carts also smell when vaped, not as much as smoking but there’s definitely an aroma.

Additionally, some people find certain scents more appealing than others, so having knowledge about different types of cannabis can help you choose one that best suits your preferences when shopping for weed.

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What Does Bad Weed Smell Like?

Your nose does not lie, and if your weed smells unpleasant, it is because it is of low quality or a bad batch.

Bad or moldy weed usually has a musty smell, indicating that the cannabis is aged or compromised.

Beware that moldy weed is not only disgusting to use, but it can also be hazardous to your health. Smoking moldy weed can cause various symptoms like coughing, nausea and even vomiting in extreme cases.

For those with allergies to mold, it can cause sinus pain, drainage, congestion, and wheezing. People with weakened immune systems or lung conditions are especially at risk of developing serious symptoms.

What Does Synthetic Marijuana Smell Like?

Synthetic weed is commonly sold under the names Spice or K2. It’s made with various types of dried plants mixed with ethanol and alcohol and various chemicals that mimic the effects of THC. 

There’s nothing natural about these synthetic cannabinoids used in Spice and K2, however. And the smell of synthetic weed doesn’t come close to the real thing.

Synthetic marijuana smell is decidedly different from top shelf (or even bottom shelf) marijuana. It’s sprayed with a cocktail of different chemicals. Some synthetic weed may smell fruity and other synthetic cannabinoids might be more spicy. 

One thing’s for sure, though. Synthetic marijuana odor does not smell like real weed. Synthetic cannabinoids aren’t something you want to mess with, and not only because of their foul smell.

Spice and K2 are considered dangerous drugs that have been linked to serious adverse effects.

cured weed buds

Why Doesn’t My Weed Smell?

The terpenes in cannabis are the determining factor for the smell and smoke flavor profile. If you do not detect any natural scent (whether in your bud or marijuana smoke), it’s probably due to a lack of terpenes.

The lack of terpenes is common in cannabis plants harvested too early, and it also affects its natural growth pattern. When the plant is harvested too early, its terpene count is abruptly cut off and cannot be restored.

Improper curing after harvest can also lead to terpene degradation, ultimately decreasing the distinctive smell of good weed. 

Keep in mind that, besides generating the smell, terpenes interact with THC and other components. Fewer terpenes in the plant mean less potency and effects.

On the other hand,  the lack of aroma in cannabis can signify that it is PGR weed.

Wrapping Up The Weed Aroma

The smell of marijuana is a crucial factor in recognizing the plant’s strain, type and quality. Organic compounds called terpenes give the plant its smell.

They also interact with other parts of the plant to produce different effects and properties.

Thanks to these distinct terpenes, weed strains obtain unique identities. In addition, smell and its intensity are reliable parameters (with some exceptions) for recognizing quality weed.

Our nose can also help us detect the odor profile of moldy weed, as it generally smells musty and overall off.

A lack of smell can signify that you are dealing with PGR weed or that your plant was harvested too early and its terpene profile was depleted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Sweat Smell Like Weed?

Your sweat may smell like weed because one of the main functions of sweating is to send waste out of the human body. The sweat glands can discharge cannabis metabolites.

If you smoke or ingest marijuana in any way, your body can exude traces of it through your pores. This is exactly why cannabis users may detect a subtle (or not so subtle) marijuana odor in their sweat.

How Far Does Weed Smell Travel Outside?

How far weed smell travels outside is dependent on weather conditions. While the smoke dissolves almost instantly, the pungent aroma of dank weed can travel up to 25 meters. These aromatic molecules travel further on cloudy days than they do on sunny or windy days.