Cannabis 101Lifestyle

The 10 Terp Commandments: How to Preserve the Aroma of Your Cannabis

Published on September 28, 2018 · Last updated January 7, 2022

We’re living in heady times. Cannabis products are rapidly advancing. Connoisseur-level appreciation for them is flourishing.

But look around you and you’ll still see people unknowingly wasting their precious time and hard-earned money, throwing perfectly good cannabis terpenes to the wind. Don’t make the mistake of sullying divine flavors with cheap plastic bags and resiny old pipes.

It’s time to emancipate yourself from mental slavery. Here are ten terpene preservation commandments—guidelines to help you identify, preserve, and appreciate your bud’s flavorful potential.

Running Low On Sweet-Smelling Flowers?

Thou Shalt Smell Your Cannabis Before You Buy It (If Possible)

The nose is the seat of memory and an evolutionary marvel. Let it lead you to the cannabis you’ll instantly know as “home.” The hippies turned out to be right: aromatherapy has empirical effects and it starts with the retail smelling experience.

Thou Shalt Leave No Terp Behind

Plastic degrades terpenes and cannabinoids. Get it out of cheap supply chain packaging and into some glass promptly. Seal your terps up tightly at all times. Smell loud in the air? That’s your hard-earned money, and someone else’s time, resources, and energy off-gassing in a room. Don’t let them escape, except into your nose and lungs.

Thou Shalt Store Strains Separately

Different types of cannabis are called strains, and they’re as real as different breeds of dog. “What breed is it?” “Dog. It’s a dog-type dog.” See how silly that sounds? Showcase your intelligence and preserve them separately.

Explore cannabis by flavor with Leafly’s strain filters.

Thou Shalt Keep Your Pieces Clean of Foul-Smelling Resin

Do you drink wine out of an old glass that’s been sitting outside on your sun deck for few days? No. Look—we get it. Keeping glass clean is hard. Just try, will you? Do it for the terps. The important thing is striving toward goals, not completing them all the time.

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Thou Shalt Burn No Terp Before Its Time

Heat and light breaks the delicate chemical bonds of terpenes, burning them. You’re wasting nature’s gift. Don’t cook terps in your hot car. Preserve flowers in a cool and dark place until it’s time to shine.

Also, dab at low temperatures.

Thou Shalt Use a Grinder

Herb grindersunlock the aroma in the dense, resinous cannabis bud. Mashing an unbroken nug into a bowl and firing it with a Bic Lighter takes 80% of the enjoyment out of smoking.

Thou Shalt Use a Hemp Wick

Just as you light a cigar with a wooden match, you can light cannabis with a tiny bit of hemp wick. The butane in a Bic lighter seemingly masks the terpenes and gives all bud the same dull sweet taste.

Thou Shalt Not Hoard Terps

Time is the thief that steals all. So enjoy your terps fresh and share liberally in cannabis’ long-held tradition. To be miserly or withhold is unbecoming.

Thou Shalt Spread the Terp Gospel with Humility and Grace

Because no one likes a snob.

Got your own terp conservation commandments? Email California Editor David Downs at with your suggestions and we’ll update and credit you.

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David Downs
David Downs
Leafly Senior Editor David Downs is the former Cannabis Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He's appeared on The Today Show, and written for Scientific American, The New York Times, WIRED, Rolling Stone, The Onion A/V Club, High Times, and many more outlets. He is a 2023 judge for The Emerald Cup, and has covered weed since 2009.
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