How to Add Terpenes to Your Vapes: A Beginner's Guide
Every year we learn more about the medicinal and therapeutic potential of terpenes as a result of various studies by medical researchers. Terpenes can also add unique flavor profiles (including anything from zesty & peppery aromas to fruity dessert flavors) to a whole range of consumables — including roasts, pastries, and even cocktails.
Considering all of the benefits associated with terpenes, as well as their increasing accessibility to the public in recent years, it's no wonder that vape-connoisseurs have started adding them into their DIY cartridges and e-liquids. Terpenes can significantly enhance your vaping experience with complementary flavors and aromas or lend to the overall entourage effect when vaping cannabis or CBD.
As of this writing, terpenes are already commonly used by DIYers to build upon the profiles of several products to mix and match terpene effects and taste, including:
- Bud (or flower)
So how do you go about mixing terpenes into vapes? In this post, we go over everything you need in terms of equipment and considerations — as well as some beginner-friendly methods to get you started.
Setting Up Correctly
It's worth noting that terpenes can be significantly potent, are functional flavoring agents, and aren't meant to be vaped in large proportions. In the same way that pure vanilla extract is intended for mixing rather than straight consumption, terpenes should always be mixed into a primary solution of botanical compounds, cutting agents, or carrier fluid.
Also, if you're looking to make DIY cartridges or e-liquids, be sure to do your research and buy the correct hardware. If opting for a vape pen or pod-mod instead of a tank-style vape, grab a device that doesn't use proprietary pods or cartridges. You'll also want some flexibility in terms of power and voltage ranges to give you more control over the heat settings, and therefore a wider variety of DIY liquids you could make.
Working With Oils and E-Liquids
A safe rule of thumb when infusing terpenes is to start low and ramp up as needed in subsequent solutions. As such, when working with oils or e-liquids, it's best to follow a 1-2% of net weight rule to start.
As an example, take a 60ml bottle of CBD oil which you'd like to infuse with terpenes specifically to promote restful sleep. You would only need to infuse 0.6-1.2ml (approximately 12-24 drops) of myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, or alpha-pinene to get an appreciable change in flavor, aroma, and effect.
If you'd like to use combinations of terpenes, you could make use of strain profiles in which the terpenes you prefer most are dominant. In the case of the restful sleep infusion example above, a good strain would be Granddaddy Purple terpenes.
When not using unflavored e-liquids, it's a good idea to match their flavors with complementary terpenes or strain profiles — such as limonene with lemony flavors, Blue Dream with berry flavors, and so on.
Working With Cannabis or CBD Concentrates
Practically all terpenes and secondary cannabinoids are stripped out during mainstream refining processes for producing cannabis and CBD concentrates. This in turn dissipates most of their flavors and aromas, setting up a less than ideal vaping experience. For this reason, we recommend a 2-5% of the net weight rule when infusing terpenes into concentrates — starting off low, of course.
In the case of cannabis concentrates, match your terpene profile to the strain for best results (as in Northern Lights to Northern Lights, Jack Herer to Jack Herer, etc.).
When infusing terpenes into CBD concentrates, you get more flexibility in the terpenes or strain profiles you can use. Go by desired flavor, aroma, effects, benefits, or even by price to suit your budget.
Practice (and Experimentation) Make Perfect
As you get a feel for mixing precise ratios and incorporating the use of carrier oils, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), and odorless terpenes as diluents and cutting agents to manipulate viscosity, you'll naturally be able to progress on to more complex processes. One such example would be working with high-ratio tinctures or diluting distillates to make custom cartridges.
All it takes is practice, which will be a fun and rewarding experience in itself.