Everything You Need To Know About Cannabis Trichomes
When you first started smoking weed, did you think you would be diving deeply into the chemistry of plants and microscopic organisms? Neither did we. But the more you learn about cannabis, the more interesting every single part of the plant becomes!
Look closely at photos of cannabis plants. Does it ever look like they’ve been kissed with morning dew? Well, that crystally “dew” isn’t just from humidity or rain. The crystals growing off of your cannabis plants are trichomes. They are small, yet mighty. Some would say that they smoke cannabis just for the trichomes!
So let’s dive deep into cannabis trichomes. If you’ve been around cannabis plants, you’ve been around an infinite amount of these tiny little crystals, but you probably didn’t notice them at all! Once you’re in the know, you’ll understand that these tiny, tiny parts of the cannabis plant make a big impact on your experience.
What Are Trichomes?
Trichomes on cannabis are resinous glands that cover buds and leaves, although most are invisible to the naked eye. Trichomes exist in one of a few different shapes; some look like hairs and others look like little mushrooms.
Trichomes aren’t just on cannabis plants (or other plants like algae) to look pretty. They protect the plant from pests and UV rays! What’s more important about trichomes is that they contain the cannabinoids and terpenes that make our strains different.
That’s right - THC, CBD, CNA, linalool, limonene - they’re all found within these “crystals” on the marijuana plant. Depending on the lifecycle of the trichome, the quality of the plant, and the way they are handled throughout harvesting, drying, and curing, these trichomes can make the difference between bud that knocks you on your butt and bud that is just “okay.”
Trichomes and Concentrates
Have you ever seen someone make resin by using a hair straightener and wax paper? Maybe you’ve even tried this at home. Well, when you use this method, you’re working to get trichomes off of their cannabis plant in the process! Trichomes are extremely potent, and extracting or removing them is the key to making a wide variety of cannabis concentrates.
Trichomes and Kief
If you’ve been smoking weed for a while, you’ve probably been making concentrates without even knowing. What’s crazier is that you’ve probably been throwing away concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes without knowing it!
When you grind cannabis with a two-piece or four-piece grinder, trichomes fall off of the bud and into the bottom of your device. When trichomes are dried and extracted (through this and many other methods,) it’s called kief. You’ve probably heard of kief before. There are many, many ways to use kief, including making other concentrates. Trichomes are the base material for making hash, shatter, and other concentrates.
To intentionally collect and use kief, we recommend a four-piece grinder. Grinding cannabis buds shakes the kief off the plant, where it usually falls to the bottom of the grinder. A four-piece grinder allows you to collect that kief in its own chamber that you can use once you’ve got a decent stash. (It might take a while if you don’t smoke that often.)
Other methods of collecting kief include sifting it off using a pollen box, silkscreen, or similar tool, or separating it with dry ice.
What To Do With Kief
Once you’ve collected these dried trichomes, you have many options for using them to enhance your cannabis experience. Remember - this is potent stuff!
Sprinkle it in a joint to elevate potency
Add it to a piece or a bong and smoke it
Infuse it into butter or oil to make edibles
Add it to hot food or coffee (high temperatures will decarboxylate the kief and convert THC-A to THC)
Add it to vape juice
...the list goes on and on!
The Lifecycle of Trichomes - Clear, Cloudy, and Amber
As a cannabis plant grows, trichomes will change in appearance. At first, trichomes appear clear. Then, their appearance becomes more cloudy, like a milky white. After some more time goes by, the trichomes become amber in color.
These colors are like the story of the three bears, but they show when a plant is too young, too ripe, or just right. Cannabis with clear trichomes should be left alone. Cannabis with amber trichomes is past its prime. Cloudy, milky white trichomes indicate that the plant is as potent as it can be. If you grow your plants at home, use this as a sign of when to reap what you’ve sown.
How To Look At Trichomes
Trichomes can be viewed with any tool that allows for at least 50x magnification. Magnifying glasses, jeweler’s loupes, and portable microscopes are all favorites among cannabis growers.
Why Don’t I See Trichomes on My Bud?
Trichomes are delicate. Mishandling, or even anything short of pristine handling, can destroy the trichomes on the outside of a bud. Does this mean that all THC is lost from your cannabis? Absolutely not. But they can be destroyed, making your cannabis less potent. Properly harvesting, drying, and curing your cannabis is key to keeping trichomes intact and getting the most out of your bud.
The process of protecting trichomes starts in the growing phase. Humidity is key to keeping trichomes happy and healthy. Too much humidity could cause mold that devours trichomes. Too little humidity may cause breakage within the plant! It’s not easy keeping these plants happy, but it’s worth it in the end!
If you are buying weed from someone else, ask how they preserve the plant. One way to keep your trichomes safer is to avoid handling your bud in a plastic bag. Glass jars will preserve your trichomes better than other materials.
Get The Most Out of Your Cannabis With the Herb Collective
Seeing trichomes on your bud is a sign that you have some high-quality marijuana. Both genetics and environmental factors play into how trichomes grow and contribute to the chemical makeup of your plant!
If you live in California, you can get high-quality medical cannabis, in both bud and concentrate form, delivered straight to your door! Join The Herb Collective today to get started.