What Does Weed Smell Like Before And After A Smoke Sesh?

Woman smelling a sunflower

One of the most common questions we get here at Honest Marijuana is, “What does weed smell like?”

As you can probably guess, this question comes almost exclusively from our cannabrothers and cannasisters who’ve never smoked a doobie — nor, evidently, been to a Phish, Pink Floyd, or Grateful Dead concert.

We know that’s the case, because, once a person smells cannabis (even just once), they’ll never, ever forget. The aroma is just that recognizable.

But, what exactly makes it so memorable?

In this article, we reveal what gives marijuana its distinctive fragrance and discuss what it smells like before and after a smoke sesh.

The Chemistry Of Cannabis Smell

A wheel of the types of smells of weed

The chemistry of cannabis smell, and the answer to the question, “What does weed smell like?” largely depends on two factors: terpene content and freshness.

We’ll discuss those variables in the next two sections.


Terpenes are oils secreted by the same pot plant glands that produce THC and CBD during flowering and give weed its unique and distinctive smell.

There are more than 100 terpenes that can combine in infinite ways to produce pretty much every smell you can think of.

For example, the terpenes that give cherry its unique smell and taste can, with the right breeding, be produced in your favorite fruity cannabis strain (Cherry OG, for example).

And that’s just one single terpene. Cannabis can contain combinations of terpenes that can yield novel smells and tastes like skunk and diesel fuel (two decidedly non-plant aromas).

Some of the most common terpenes are:

  • Limonene
  • Myrcene
  • Alpha-pinene
  • Beta-pinene
  • Delta 3 carene
  • Alpha bisabolol
  • Linalool
  • Borneol
  • Caryophyllene
  • Eucalyptol
  • Terpineol
  • Cineole

Because these terpenes are present in most cannabis plants (in different combinations, of course), those plants will smell similar in all the different stages of consumption.


A jar of weed

Another factor that affects the answer to the question, “What does weed smell like?” is freshness.

Old weed that has been improperly stored can smell like an unaired closet, a sweaty locker room, and even urine.

All of these smells indicate that you may be dealing with moldy weed. Not only does moldy weed smell bad, it can also be harmful to your health.

That’s why we always recommend that you take a good whiff of your weed before you light up. If it smells “bad,” you’d be better off cracking your wallet for a fresh zip of weed.

To help you separate good weed from bad, we’ll discuss what weed smells like in its three main forms in the next three sections.

What Does Weed Smell Like Raw?

weed nuggets

When you ask, “What does weed smell like raw?” you’re actually asking two different questions:

  1. What does weed smell like while the plant is growing?
  2. What does weed smell like when you buy it?

These two “sub-questions,” if you will, have distinctly different answers.

Most live plants, regardless of strain, give off the same aroma: a piney, skunky fragrance that intensifies as the plant matures.

Once the plant has been harvested and prepared for sale (dried and cured), the aroma changes from piney and skunky to earthy and woody.

Depending on which terpenes are present, and in what concentrations, your nose might also detect other aromas, including faint (or distinct) hints of:

  1. Lemon
  2. Diesel fuel
  3. Pepper
  4. Clove
  5. Mango
  6. Thyme
  7. Rosemary
  8. Basil
  9. Lavender
  10. Rosewood
  11. Sulfur

Again, this all comes back to the concentration of terpenes the plant produced while it was growing.

What Does Weed Smell Like During A Smoke?

Woman smoking wondering what does weed smell like

During a smoke sesh, the natural smells intensify largely due to the energy that an open flame provides.

First and foremost, this open flame — be it from a match, a lighter, or a torch — decarboxylates the cannabis and makes the THC, the CBD, and the terpenes more readily bioavailable (for taste, smell, and absorption into your bloodstream).

Second, the open flame imparts energy in the form of heat to the terpene molecules, making them move around more than they did when the weed was raw.

NOTE: This is a very simplified explanation of the physics behind phase change (e.g., from solid to gas), and probably won’t cut it on any type of written test. That said, it’s enough information for you to get the gist of what’s happening when you put flame to doobie.

The skunky smell of myrcene often overshadows everything else, but you’ll also detect notes of pine, diesel, smoke, and ash.

And, again, depending on the concentration of other terpenes in the bud, you might smell berry, lemon, herbs, fruit, and spices.

What Does Weed Smell Like After A Smoke?

Woman wondering what does weed smell like

The smell of weed after a smoke sesh has the same skunky, fruity, woodsy aroma, but with much less intensity.

The aromas are more muted than they were when you were actively toking, and they’ll also mix with other ambient smells such as natural odors from people, pets, and furniture.

As such, you might smell the tang of sweat or the acidity of ammonia more prominently than you did before. And after a while, the air will start to smell musty, faintly foul, and even sickly sweet.

Of course, this all depends on where you’re burning down. If you’re in an enclosed space with poor ventilation, the smells will be more pronounced. If you’re out in the wild, or somewhere with lots of moving air, the smells will be less pronounced.

Additives And Aroma

A field of weed plants

The healthiest bud grows naturally — as Mother Nature intended — without the addition of damaging fertilizers, harsh chemicals, or pesticides.

Not only do these additives affect aroma for the worse, they can also have negative effects on your health!

Unfortunately, many growers resort to these methods in an effort to get the largest crop possible. But just because it’s a large crop doesn’t mean the buds themselves are good quality.

Fertilizers and pesticides contain harmful chemicals and toxins that remain on the flowers in trace amounts after harvesting, drying, and curing. These toxins are not natural and are not supposed to find their way into your body.

When you smoke, eat, or otherwise consume cannabis that has been treated with these damaging fertilizers or pesticides, over time, the toxins build up in your body and cause real problems.

Similarly, some growers spray their plants with heavy metals (such as cadmium, mercury, and lead) and salts in order to provide nutrients for the growing plants and to prevent mineral deficiency.

Just like the toxins and harsh chemicals, trace amounts of these heavy metals and salts stay on the plant after harvesting, drying, and curing and find their way into whatever ganja-based product you take (even external-use products like lubes, creams, and patches).

Not only are these metals and salts potentially dangerous for you, but they are also dangerous for the environment.

And some of these substances mix with the water you use to grow your plants, where they eventually run off into and pollute the soil, rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world.

So, think about it for a minute. Would you be comfortable taking a deep breath of a chemical used to wipe out organisms en masse?

We certainly hope not.

But consuming low-quality, non-organically grown strains introduces those substances into your body, where they can collect and cause problems down the road.

Protect Yourself

weed plant

The best way to protect yourself against fertilizers, pesticides, and heavy metals is to only use high-quality, organic cannabis.

Choosing organically grown marijuana that doesn’t rely on toxic substances is a good idea however you consume your pot — whether that’s smoking, eating, popping a pill, or rubbing it on your skin.

Remember all cannabis products come from the cannabis plant in one way or another. It doesn’t matter which form you choose; if the grower used chemicals to treat the plant, traces of those chemicals may remain in the product you take.

You can avoid this issue entirely and feel, taste, and smell cannabis the way it was meant to be with organic marijuana and marijuana products from Honest Marijuana.

Quality Bud Smells Best

Marijuana Blue Dream

You can avoid this issue entirely and feel, taste, and smell cannabis the way it was meant to be by choosing the highest-quality, organic marijuana and marijuana products available.

Anything less than the best and you run the risk of having a bad trip and seriously stinking up the place — and not in a good way. No one wants that.

What exactly is the best?

It’s fresh, high-quality, organically-grown cannabis, like the ganja gold we grow at Honest Marijuana.

Sure, you could save some dough by buying regs or mids, but they’re going to deliver an unsatisfying experience that will harsh both your buzz and your sense of smell.

Instead, whenever possible, always buy the best beasters — or better yet, headies if you can swing it — for your pot-smoking experience.

With a high-quality, organic strain like those grown at Honest Marijuana, you’ll need less weed to experience the effects you’re after. A toke or two from high-quality bud goes a long way.

With Honest Marijuana, you’re guaranteed to get the freshest, tastiest, highest-quality, best-smelling strain possible.

So, don’t ask, “What does weed smell like?” Ask, “What should weed smell like?” The answer is Honest Marijuana.

For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100% all-natural marijuana products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.

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