Terpenes vs. e-Liquids: What’s The Difference?

terpenes vs eliquids difference

If you’ve spent any amount of time in a vape shop, you likely need no introduction to e-liquids. After all, they are what make the vaping process enjoyable.

But more recently, you may have noticed another liquid solution that’s becoming increasingly prevalent on vape shop shelves: liquid terpenes. Are these just another type of e-liquid, or is there more to the story?

While e-juices and liquid terpene products are often confused with one another, terpenes are actually much more versatile and should play a bigger role in your quest to create more sophisticated e-juices.

Terpenes 101

Terpenes are found in all plants as organic compounds and are mainly recognized as what gives plants – from blueberries to conifers – their distinct smells. Liquid terpene products typically contain a combination of cannabis terpenes. Some products have more of an Indica profile while others have more of a Sativa or Hybrid profile to encourage specific physical effects.

The essential process here is to identify terpene ratios commonly found in Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid strains and reverse engineer the process, but skipping the cannabinoids.

See our article on the differences between Indica and Sativa.

Create The Perfect Combination

The original purpose of these aromatic oils for the plant kingdom were (like most things in nature) to ward off predators while also attracting pollinating insects, not unlike flowers. But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on the versatility of these liquid compounds and how they are key to customization for practically everything.

The same glands that produce the popular cannabinoids THC and CBD are also where terpenes are created, so they naturally have the ability to carry and create complicated cannabis combinations – thanks to what is commonly known as “the entourage effect.” Simply stated, terpene-based liquids are so effective because of their natural ability to fuse different cannabis strains together, giving enthusiasts incredible control over what they are going to feel when they vape. In the cannabis plant alone, over 100 different terpenes have been identified, each with its own effects.

Here is a basic breakdown of some of the major terpenes:

  • Alpha Pinene – Found in cannabis as well as pine trees and has a distinctive pine smell. Can potentially increase alertness and memory retention. Might be able to help in treatment for asthma, anxiety, and more.
  • Myrcene – Described as an “earthy” aroma and found in mango, hops and thyme; Effects are said to include sedation-like “couchlock” for relaxation. Potential treatment for insomnia.
  • Limonene – Has a citrusy aroma and is found in certain fruits, rosemary, and peppermint; Effects tend to be elevated mood and stress relief. Studies have shown that this strain has been able to fight skin cancer and reduce tumor activity in lab rats (much more research is needed, however), and it could potentially be a treatment for depression and anxiety.
  • Beta-Caryophyllene – Known for a spicy, pepper-like aroma, it is found in black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Typically used for stress relief. Studies show that it may also have potential as a painkiller and as a means to help absorb and remove the toxic chemicals used in chemotherapy.
  • Linalool – A floral-scented strain found in lavender. Effects are sedation and mood enhancement. Possible medical use may be in the treatment for anxiety, inflammation, and more.
  • Humulene – With its hoppy, earthy aroma, this strain is commonly found in hops, cloves, and basil. Main effects are anti-inflammatory and as a potential appetite suppressant. The medical potential in treatment for bursitis, arthritis, and obesity. Humulene is also found in beer, particularly IPAs.
  • Ocimene – A sweet-smelling strain that you usually find in mint, parsley, mangoes, and pepper. May find use in antiviral, anti-fungal, and antiseptic treatments.
  • Terpinolene – Found in conifers, apples, nutmeg, and more, this strain has a mixture of piney and floral smells; you can expect a relaxing effect. Might find medicinal use as a sedative and antioxidant.

Once you’ve decided on the effects you’re hoping for, you also need to understand that — like anything involving plants and/or crops – terpenes of the same strain may have varying levels of the same effect. This is due to the large number of factors involved in the process of growing, harvesting, and curing the plants – from climate and weather to even the kind of soil used to plant in. So, unless you’ve got a nose like a wolf and have a farmer’s almanac handy, you should rely on lab-tested products that will inform you of exactly what you’re paying for.

Master the Heat to Control Your Flow

Another intriguing aspect of terpenes as part of your vaping experience is temperature control with your method of ingestion. Knowing the specific vaping temperature for what you’re using will need to become second nature to you if you want to get the most effect from your tokes – so investing in a vaporizer with that functionality is key.

For example, if you’re looking to achieve a nice mental high without getting completely baked, you’re probably going to need a terpene product with your desired levels of limonene, myrcene, and/or beta-caryophyllene (combined with your favorite cannabis concentrate). In order for your juice to give you those desired effects, your vaporizer is going to have to burn between 350-360 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be sure to read our whole articles dedicated to the right temperatures for:

Those articles go into great detail about which temperatures are best for each intdended effect.

Here is a simple breakdown of what your temperature setting should be when using different terpene and cannabis strains:

…With a Splash of Lime

Finally, beyond finding the right terpene profile to trigger your desired effects and a device to ensure that your hard work doesn’t go up in smoke (pun intended), you can also use various flavors to create a taste that you enjoy. Mixing and matching various terpenes to the levels and flavors of your liking gives you a level of control and personalization that people who buy simple vape cartridges may never get to experience.

So, if you’re in the mood for a jolt of energy, you can load your vape with some sativa-heavy terpenes and get your day started off with a happy, energetic sensation (Hint: check out the top strains of cannabis for energy).

Technically, you could even create your own “pre-workout” vape blend.

On the flip side, if you’re in need of something to help chill or even drift off to sleep, a strong indica profile will force-push you right into a serious couchlock (Hint: Check out the top strains of cannabis for chilling).

By using targeted terpenes to liquefy your favorite concentrates, you can create a flavor and a high that’s completely your own.  

The cover image of this article is credited to BlackNote.

About Katie Tejada 1 Article
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional who writes about the latest developments in cannabis law and medical research. She writes for a number of publications in the cannabis and vaping community including Vapeur Terp.

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