Trichomes: The Complete Guide
Cannabis plants are made up of many parts from the stem to the small pistils or hairs that grow on top of the buds. When most people think of cannabis, they probably think of the dried and cured flowers or buds, also known as weed or marijuana. However, the effects of marijuana come from the small, bulbous crystals on the plant. These are known as Trichomes.
Trichomes are the most important part of the plant as these are where the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other potent chemical compounds and oils in marijuana are produced. They also serve various purposes. Users buying weed might check out the Trichomes to see how potent a certain strain is. They’re also very valuable for growers as they can tell you whether your plants are ready for harvest.
Since they’re packed with cannabinoids and terpenes, Trichomes are also the main target for anyone looking to create cannabis concentrates. They can be extracted from the plant in various ways to create exciting extracts or infused into products such as Tinctures and Edibles. The resulting products give you powerful effects as they’re made up of the most potent part of the plant.
While some users might have a basic understanding of Trichomes, there’s a lot of depth to them. From the kind of compounds they contain to the ways you can extract and use Trichomes, it’s worth learning more about them. Here’s a complete guide to Trichomes to cover everything.
What Are Trichomes?
Trichomes are made up of pistils and crystals that grow on the end of cannabis buds. The word “Trichome” even comes from the Greek word for hair as you might see them as small hairs growing on your cannabis. Despite how small and insignificant they may seem, Trichomes are the most important part of the marijuana plant and have various functions.
When you smoke marijuana, it’s the Trichomes that get you high and give you potent, euphoric effects. Trichomes also contain the chemical compounds that give you medical benefits such as relief for pain, stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. During the growing stage, Trichomes are where THC, CBD, CBN, and other cannabinoids are formed.
Not only do they contain a wealth of cannabinoids, but Trichomes also contain many terpenes. Terpenes are essential oils that give cannabis strains their flavor. As well as contributing to the aroma and taste of cannabis, Terpenes are also said to have medicinal properties and can enhance the effects of your cannabis in what’s known as an entourage effect.
Trichomes aren’t just important for marijuana consumers, they also have functional benefits for the plant itself. Trichomes can help ward away pests who try to eat or damage cannabis plants. They also help protect the plants from UV rays. As such, Trichomes play a huge part in the successful growth of marijuana plants and can also tell you when they’re ready for harvest.
Types Of Trichomes
Although you might not see all of them with the naked eye, there are three different types of Trichomes. These differ in their shapes, sizes, and how many cannabinoids and terpenes they produce.
Bulbous Trichomes are tiny Trichomes made up of a small handful of cells. While they’re small, they grow across the entire surface of your plants, although you won’t be able to see them with the naked eye. Bulbous Trichomes are usually only around 10-15 micrometers, meaning you’ll only be able to see them with the help of a microscope.
Capitate sessile Trichomes are relatively abundant in cannabis plants, albeit not the most abundant type of Trichome. These types of Trichomes produce a fair amount of cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis and are large enough to observe. They’re made up of a head and a stalk and while they’re larger than Bulbous Trichomes, they’re much smaller than Capitate-stalked Trichomes.
Capitate-stalked Trichomes are the main type of Trichomes known for their high production of cannabinoids and terpenes. These are the largest type of Trichome and the type you’ll see in the form of bulbous crystals on your buds. This is where most of the THC, CBD, and other compounds are developed, offering much more than the other types of Trichomes.
What Are Cannabinoids?
One of the main functions of Trichomes in cannabis plants is to grow and produce cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that can be found in all cannabis strains in differing amounts. They’re also the chemicals that give you the powerful effects that cannabis products are known for.
The most well-known and impactful cannabinoid is THC. THC is the only psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. In other words, this is the chemical compound that gets you high when you consume marijuana. Originally, Trichomes in cannabis produce a cannabinoid known as THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). However, after the plants are dried, cured, and decarboxylated, THCA converts into the psychoactive THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
Growers often control the growing conditions of their cannabis plants carefully to create marijuana that’s full of THC. As such, you can now find marijuana strains with levels of 25% THC or higher. When consumed, THC boosts your mood, makes you feel euphoric, and heightens your senses for an enjoyable high. It also has various medical benefits.
Another commonly-used cannabinoid is CBD. CBD is short for cannabidiol, and unlike THC, it doesn’t give you any psychoactive effects whatsoever. Despite that, CBD has become extremely popular as a high-free alternative to cannabis, and surveys show many users find it practical for a variety of uses. CBD is often extracted from hemp terpenes as these contain high levels of CBD and low levels of THC.
Growers can often tell a lot about the cannabinoid content of cannabis plants as they grow thanks to the Trichomes. As plants continue to grow, THCA starts to break down more into CBD and other cannabinoids. At this point, Trichomes change in their color and texture.
Other cannabinoids include CBN, CBG, and CBC. These are also non-psychoactive, but studies suggest they can also have various benefits. The different levels of cannabinoids in trichomes can impact the effects you’ll get from consuming each strain. These compounds work in unison alongside terpenes to provide entourage effects.
What Are Terpenes?
As well as producing a range of cannabinoids, Trichomes are also known for producing terpenes. Terpenes are essential oils that contribute to the taste and aroma of plants. The terpenes in Trichomes generally work in unison with cannabinoids to enhance the flavor and effects of different marijuana strains.
Each cannabis strain contains a range of different terpenes which grow in the trichomes of the plant. These terpenes are largely responsible for the differing properties of each cannabis strain. Although there are many different kinds of terpenes out there, there are a few that are particularly prominent in cannabis.
For example, Limonene is a terpene known for delivering a sharp citrus taste. It’s also said to help with mood disorders and nausea. A-Pinene contributes a more earthy, pine-like taste to marijuana strains, but it can also boost energy and focus. Myrcene is a musky, herbal terpene that can add to the sedative and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis.
How To Assess Trichomes
Trichomes can be highly useful for growers as they can tell you whether plants are ready for harvest. What’s more, growers can often determine the cannabinoid levels of their plants based on how the Trichomes look.
When Trichomes start developing, they’ll look translucent and watery. You’ll be able to see when Trichomes are beginning to produce cannabinoids when they’re milky white. At this point, around half of the pistils of the plant have darkened. It’s best not to harvest at this point, but it’s a good indicator that they will be ready soon.
Usually, when the Trichomes go from being milky white to a cloudier color, it’s a good time to harvest for stimulating effects. However, waiting will result in Trichomes that are better for producing Hash and delivering relaxing effects. When the Trichomes begin to turn amber, they’ll have produced a wealth of cannabinoids prime for delivering a soothing and sedating high.
For mixed effects, it’s best to harvest buds when the Trichomes are between being cloudy and amber. The weed harvested from these plants will deliver more of a mixed body and head high. It’s best to use a magnifying glass to monitor your Trichomes closely so you know when to harvest.
How Trichomes Are Extracted
Since Trichomes are packed with cannabinoids and terpenes, they’re often extracted to create potent and powerful cannabis products. For instance, various extraction processes can be used to extract the Trichomes from marijuana buds to create concentrates like Hash, Shatter, and Wax. Trichomes are also infused into products like THC Tinctures and Topicals.
High-quality cannabis concentrates are usually made using complex extraction processes. These processes involve using lab equipment to blast Trichomes with solvents such as butane hash oil. The resulting product is then purged to remove contaminants and residual solvents until you’re left with a concentrated cannabis product high in cannabinoids.
While these solvent-based extraction processes are dangerous and shouldn’t be carried out by amateurs, there are also some easy ways to extract THC concentrates from Trichomes. For instance, putting some weed between two pieces of parchment paper and applying heat and pressure with a hair straightener can quickly extract a concentrate known as Rosin.
Strains of weed usually contain THC levels of around 13-25%. Since cannabis concentrates are made by extracting the most potent parts of the plant, they can have THC levels as high as 60-90% and even more in some cases. While creating high-quality cannabis concentrates can take some work, collecting and using Kief is one of the easiest ways to experience the strong effects of Trichomes.
What Is Kief?
Kief refers to the particles of dust that break away from the trichomes of marijuana buds. You’ll often notice Kief collecting at the bottom of your grinder, and you can even find devices designed for collecting high quantities of Kief. It’s worth accumulating as much Kief as possible- it’s a cannabis concentrate with high levels of THC that can be used in numerous ways.
When marijuana is first harvested, the buds often contain plenty of fresh and sticky Trichomes. You can even rub fresh marijuana buds through your hands and you’ll notice resin sticking to your hands. However, these Trichomes soon dry out and break away from the buds- especially when you grind marijuana.
The best way to collect Kief is by using a multi-chamber grinder. These devices will sift your Kief away from the rest of your bud. Not only does this make it easy to collect your ground weed for use in joints and bowls, but it also makes it easy to collect a good amount of Kief. Alternatively, you can also buy Kief online if you don’t want to wait.
Since Kief is made up of dried-out Trichomes, it contains a high concentration of cannabinoids. You can use Kief to enhance the potency of your joints or bowls or even use it to make cannabis concentrates. Thanks to the high levels of THC, it’ll give you stronger effects than you’d expect from weed.
How To Use Kief
Once your Trichomes have dried out and you’ve collected a good amount of Kief, you can use it in various ways. Using Kief is a fantastic idea for users who want something a little stronger than weed. It’s a highly versatile product that can be used to enhance your weed or used on its own for a potent high.
One of the most common ways to use Kief is by adding it to a joint. After adding some ground weed to your joint, sprinkle some Kief on top. This will enhance the effects due to the high concentration of THC in Kief. You can even use different strains of weed and Kief if you want a unique high.
Similarly, you can also add Kief to the bowl of your Bong or Pipe. Add your weed first and sprinkle some Kief on top to enhance the effects. You can also vape it along with weed using a Dry Herb Vaporizer. Some Vaporizers can even vaporize Kief on its own.
There are many ways to create cannabis concentrates using Kief. For instance, wrapping Kief in some parchment paper and rolling a jar of hot water over it can result in a nice block of Hash. Kief can even be decarboxylated and added to foods and drinks for tasty marijuana edibles.
Trichomes are the most interesting part of the cannabis plant. As well as deterring animals and protecting plants from the sun, Trichomes are also responsible for the cannabinoid and terpene production of cannabis plants. Growers often choose when to harvest based on how Trichomes look, and they can also be extracted and used to make cannabis concentrates.
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