The world of cannabis consumption has changed drastically over the last couple of decades. Cannabis consumers used to need connections if they wanted to secure high-quality cannabis, but many of today’s consumers have access to regulated dispensaries with safe and effective products.
While nothing from a dispensary is going to hurt a consumer, low-quality products still exist. One way to determine the quality of cannabis flower is the shelf it’s sold on at the dispensary, but there are numerous other indicators—including the state of the ash after the flower is burned.
The Hunt for High-Quality Cannabis
Have you ever smoked a bowl or joint that felt harsh on your throat, maybe even leaving it feeling a bit dry and scratchy? If you are a regular cannabis consumer, chances are you’ve run across some smoke like this. Some folks might dismiss this kind of experience as simply the norm when it comes to smoking cannabis, but quality flower actually shouldn’t affect you like that.
So how do you ensure that you’re smoking solid cannabis? Do you check the color, bud density, aroma, trichome coverage, or one of the most popular factors, the amount of THC? Actually, you should be keeping an eye on all of these things.
Signs of High-Quality Cannabis
- Heavy trichome coverage
- Strong aroma
- Wide cannabinoid profile
- White, soft ash
Signs of Poor-Quality Cannabis
- Little to no visible trichomes
- No smell or bad smell
- Lack of cannabinoid profile
- Black, chunky ash
Threats to Good Cannabis
Many factors play into high-quality cannabis. For starters, the cultivation process should be performed a specific way—and cannabis cultivation isn’t exactly easy. Cannabis plants are very particular about how much light and water they get, as well as the pH level of the water, what type of nutrients they’re fed, humidity levels, C02 levels, and environmental temperature. If any one of these is off, cannabis plants quickly become unhappy and not as fit for consumption.
Some growers make the mistake of feeding their plants too much during cultivation. These products may help boost yield and flavor but run the risk of doing more harm than good if they are not used properly. With cannabis cultivation, more isn’t always merrier—the last thing you want to do is put so many growth additives into your plants that you end up seeing them in the finished products’ ash.
Following cultivation, cannabis must also be flushed properly before being harvested. This important step helps get rid of any of the nutrients left hiding in buds. After a good flush, it’s time to harvest and cure cannabis. The curing process for cannabis takes an average of two months or longer and involves closely watching it, giving it a certain amount of air each day, and keeping it in a cool, dark, moisture-free environment.
If the curing process is not long enough, the cannabis will not have a chance to reach its full potential. This can harm the flavor, smokability, and potency of the plant. When cannabis is cultivated and cured to perfection, it produces beautiful ash upon burning. The ash is white and very soft, like a fine powder when broken up. This is a product of quality cultivation and curing techniques.
Time to Check Your Ash
Now that you understand what contributes to quality cannabis and how to identify it, let’s home in on one of the most underappreciated signs of good cannabis: good ash. The next time you’re smoking a joint or a bowl, check your ash. That’s right, take your ash and examine it. You can tell a lot about the quality of cannabis by the color and consistency of the ash it produces.
Have you ever tried to smoke a joint that just didn’t want to burn correctly? Perhaps you lit it and it simply burned around the outside or just down one side. Not only is this aggravating, but it’s also wasteful. Cannabis that burns like this was almost certainly mishandled at some point during the process of cultivation and curing. When burned, it will likely have black ashes that hold their shape and are very stiff.
It’s also easy to tell if the cannabis was exposed to too much humidity based on the color of the ash. Humidity can lead to mold, mildew, and nuisances like pests. When the end product is finished, it will have remnants of all of these problems and be of poor quality. The ash will have a black and chunky characteristic to it.
What You Want to See in Cannabis Ash
- White color
- Even, consistent ash all the way through
- Soft, powdery feel when broken up
What You Don’t Want to See in Cannabis Ash
- Black ash
- Ashes that don’t appear to be burned all the way through
- Ashes that are gritty or coarse when broken up
Generally, healthy trichome coverage combined with a strong aroma and wide cannabinoid profile tends to equal quality when it comes to cannabis flower. However, this isn’t always the case. Remember to check your ashes the next time you smoke, and you might learn a little bit more about the cannabis you’re consuming.
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