Terpenes vs E-Liquids: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Each

terpenes vs e liquids

Vaping is a popular activity among ex-smokers, as well as medicinal and recreational cannabis users. Whether you’re looking for a substitute for cigarettes or a convenient way to dose CBD or THC, vaping delivers a similar sensation to smoking without the downsides associated with actual smoke.

Terpenes are relatively new to the scene in vaping and cannabis culture, and there’s often confusion about what they actually are and what they do. While terpenes and traditional e-liquids are related, they do offer some unique pros and cons that you should know about.

What’s the Difference?

If you’re reading this, you probably already know about e-liquids. They’re typically made using vegetable glycerin (VG) and/or propylene glycol (PG) as a base, and then nicotine, THC, or CBD is added, as well as flavoring. You fill the tank of your vaporizer with the e-liquid, and the vaporizer heats it enough to turn it into a vapor, which you inhale like smoke.

Terpenes e-liquids are similar, but they’re made with terpenes as the main ingredient, which are the non-psychoactive compounds from the cannabis plant that give different strains of marijuana their unique aromas and tastes, as well as their signature effects.

For example, liquid terpenes that contain the alpha-pinene terpene will typically have a pine smell and flavor, and they usually tend to be more energetic. Liquid terpenes that contain the myrcene terpene have an earthy flavor and the effects tend to be on the relaxing side.

Some terpenes e-liquids are formulated to deliver the unique characteristics of specific marijuana species or even strains. For instance, you could have a Sativa or Indica-dominant terpene blend, or even a Sour Diesel e-liquid. If you’re the type of cannabis user who loves experimenting with new strains, terpenes should be right up your alley.

As of 2019, there are more than 100 known types of terpenes that come from the cannabis plant. Here are the most common cannabis terpenes found in today’s vaping solutions:

  • Linalool
  • Terpinolene
  • Ocimene
  • Humulene
  • Alpha pinene
  • Limonene
  • Myrcene
  • Beta-Caryophyllene

So, which is better—traditional e-liquids or terpenes? Both have their own benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a quick rundown on the major differences.

Terpenes Produce The Entourage Effect

While plenty of people do enjoy terpenes e-liquids on their own, they tend to be most popular among people who enjoy making their own custom THC and/or CBD blends. This is largely due to a phenomenon called the entourage effect.

Terpenes interact synergistically with cannabinoids, allowing the user to strengthen or customize the taste and smell, as well as the effects. Say you wanted a more energetic vape. You could add a limonene e-liquid for a more uplifting vaping experience (as well as a pleasant citrus taste).

Once you understand the unique effects of each terpene, you can really hone in on the perfect mix for every situation. Unwinding after a long day of work? Linalool is known for its sedation and stress relief.

Terpenes Don’t Contain Nicotine

If your goal is to switch from smoking to vaping, you’re going to want to opt for traditional e-liquids that contain nicotine. While vaping terpenes can be a very enjoyable experience, they don’t satiate nicotine cravings. You may find that the act of vaping helps to keep your mind off nicotine, but terpenes won’t curb the physical cravings associated with cigarettes.

Terpenes Let You Liquefy Your Concentrates

If you’re looking for an alternative to dabbing, you may be interested in vaping your cannabis concentrates. Mixing your concentrates with traditional e-liquids simply won’t work. Many terpenes e-liquids can be blended with concentrates so you can enjoy them anywhere with no elaborate rig required.

Terpenes Don’t Get You High (Unless Specified)

On their own, terpenes don’t cause psychoactive effects. While some THC liquids do contain natural terpenes, you have to seek out THC-specific e-liquids if you’re looking to get high. While some terpenes are based on specific marijuana strains, they’re required to contain less than 0.3 THC unless they’re sold specifically as medicinal marijuana products.

Which Is Right for You?

If you’re just getting started with vaping, the first step is to consider your goals. Are you trying to quit smoking or are you looking for a new way to dose THC, CBD, or cannabis concentrates? Terpenes are e-liquids, but they’re a specific type of e-liquid. It’s up to you to decide if they’re an ideal choice for your goals.

In other words, terpenes e-liquid is just another option on the menu. Some people prefer terpenes because of the more natural, sophisticated tasting flavors—the taste can be similar to essential oils or traditional cannabis, rather than fruit or candy flavors.

Experienced vapers often enjoy using terpenes to make their own custom vaping blends. Are you just looking for a convenient, quick vape? Pre-made e-liquids might be all you need. However, if you want to maximize your customizability, there’s no substitute for terpenes.

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