By Noel Palmer, Ph,D, Chief Scientist, Evolab & CBx Sciences
Terpenes give cannabis its personality. They are responsible for flavor, aroma, effects, and add to the overall cannabis experience in ways that we still don’t fully understand. More than 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis.
Terpenes are small organic molecules that are aggregates of smaller molecules – isoprene units – small building blocks found throughout nature. In fact, researchers have discovered that terpenes also serve as the building blocks for cannabinoids. Without terpenes, there would not be any cannabinoids.
Terpenes are produced in a variety of plants, and hence there are many different plant derived sources for purified terpenes, apart from cannabis. Limonene can be extracted from cannabis – or from lemons, limes, or any other number of plants. And limonene is the same molecule whether it is derived from cannabis, or citrus. However, unless an extremely precise extraction process is used, purifying terpenes from sources other than cannabis results in an essential oil that has terpenes and other impurities that are not found in cannabis. Whether out of an inability to preserve terpenes throughout the extraction process or to add stronger flavors, many cannabis companies use refined terpenes from non-cannabis sources to augment the terpenes in their extracts.
At Evolab, our Alchemy, Chroma and FreshTerps vape oils only include terpenes that are 100% derived from cannabis. Further, FreshTerps and Alchemy are ‘strain specific’ meaning that the terpene content is designed to be as close to the starting plant material as possible. So what does that mean?
In fresh or properly cured cannabis flowers, a user will experience the full spectrum of terpenes – some at high levels and others in trace amounts. In combination with THC, CBD and other cannabinoids, this spectrum of terpenes is essential to what many refer to as the Entourage Effect. However, with extracts, the terpene content is entirely dependent on how the material was treated during processing. Most processors are blindly focused on maximizing THC content and thus do not take the special precautions needed to retain the native terpene (and cannabinoid) content.
At Evolab, we’ve been refining our extraction processes for nearly a decade. We understand the importance of capturing a true full spectrum of terpenes in our products. That’s why we continually invest in our internal analytical facilities. Our goal is to exactly match (and then multiply) the terpene profile of the original plant. If a batch of Lemon OG has .233% limonene, .156% pinene, .006% linalool, etc. – we want our extract to have the same ratio so that the user can get the same experience as their favorite flower – but purified and amplified. So over the years, we’ve created unique processes using our CO2 technology to carefully preserve the exact terpene profile of each strain from plant to cartridge.
In addition to simply sending our products out to third party labs – we internally test every batch of raw material and finished extract to compare how good of a job we’re doing. And while we’ll never be able to 100% match every trace terpene and cannabinoid, we’re proud to get a whole lot closer than ever before. As you can see below, our latest batches are nearly as true to the original strain we started with as possible. We’ll keep working on getting as close as we can to our favorite strains.