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Why Does Marijuana Smell?

Marijuana has an undeniably powerful aroma.

We’re certainly not saying it smells bad; we know some of you would make it into colognes or perfumes if you could.

The issue is that the smell—that beautiful, sweet scent—is a bit hard to conceal, especially if you have nosy neighbors.

It doesn’t matter how you try to store it; you could double-bag it in Ziplocs and put that in a Tupperware, and you would still be able to smell it a mile away.

Battling the odor of marijuana is one of the biggest battles for any grower. There are about a billion products out there to mask the smell, but the real question is:

Why is the aroma of marijuana so potent?

Indoor growing

The Jist

As with everything, there’s a very reasonable explanation for this, and the more you know about something, the better you can deal with it.

Marijuana plants contain a type of chemical called terpenes.

Terpenes, the precursor of terpenoids, are found in almost all flowering plants, found in almost over 60,000 varieties. This chemical carries a generally pleasant scent.

Because it’s present in many flowering plants, it’s actually “generally recognized” by the Food and Drug Administration as safe.

What sets “tomato” plants and their aroma apart is that your sticky-icky actually produces over 200 different kinds of terpenes.

Yep: little plant, powerful odor-producing chemicals. A whopping average 1% of a harvest’s weight is in the terpenes.


The scent that a strain carries depends on which terpenoid is most predominant, and depending on the strain of marijuana, the concentrations of terpenes will vary.

Myrcene—present in hops—is the most common terpene, which has a scent sort of like balsamic vinegar. It’s also a recognized sedative.

Other common ones are limonene, terpinolene, pinene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, nerolidol, phytol, and ocimemne.

Terpenes and terpenoids don’t only produce odor, but they also alter the effects of cannabinoids like THC.

Some studies have suggested that the scent actually gives growers a clue about what sort of effect the strain will have, i.e. aroma is directly correlated with effect.

It’s even been suggested that the two work together to decrease such things as pain, inflammation, and anxiety. Terpenoids might actually enhance the beneficial properties of THC.

Cannabinoids, terpenes, and terpenoids come together and cause an “encourage effect,” which means they cause a greater impact together than they do apart (romantic, no?).

Well, Now What?


ONA Block

So now that you know why your plants smell the way they do, what can you do to combat it?

Like we previously said, there are a ton of popular options that will help you mask that odor.

These popular options include carbon filters, circulation and exhaust fans, ozone generators, and odor masking agents.

Carbon filters are one of the most efficient ways to clean the air. These filters use activated charcoal (carbon), and dirty air passes through it and cleans it.

This means that odorless air is what leaves your box.

Activated charcoal is very low maintenance, and can last up to a year and a half.

Carbon scrubbers do the same thing, but you need to use a fan to “push” or “pull” air through the carbon filter.

Odor neutralizers, such as Ona Block, literally do just that: neutralize the smell.

They either add a neutral scent or a fragrance.

Ona Block is one of the best filtering products out there. It contains an odor-neutralizing agent that’s formulated with a combination of essential oils derived from plants and trees.

It’s available in a number of different scents, such as Fresh Linen to Polar Crystal.

Air purifiers and ozone generators are also used, but they have been shown to be less effective. Not only that, but ozone generators are also very bad for the environment. In some places, they’re illegal.

Studies have also shown that ozone generators are actually bad for humans, too; some have reported lung damage from using them.

So, you know, if you want to keep your lungs healthy, you might want to avoid ozone generators.

BCNL grow boxes use odor eliminating carbon filters and ONA Block, which have proved to be the most efficient methods time and again.

What do you guys use to cover up the scent?

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