What Are Flavorants?

Author: Shannon Agonis | Posted: 11.9.2023

Aroma is one of the many factors that determine which cannabis products consumers choose. Terpenes are commonly credited for cannabis aromas and creating unique profiles, as well as potentially containing medicinal benefits. However, it is puzzling when two cannabis strains with different perceived scents have similar terpene profiles, this led to further research on the aromatic properties of cannabis. Flavorants have been known to the cannabis community for a while, but their aromatic properties have been largely unconfirmed.

Recently, a study has found that flavorants may be major contributing factors to the unique aromatic profile of cannabis strains.1 In particular, a class of tropical volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) has been identified as contributing to more fruity or tropical scented cannabis strains, with compounds such as 3-mercaptohexanol (3MH), 3-mercaptohexyl acetate (3MHA), and 3-mercaptohexyl butyrate (3MHB). These compounds have also been found in grapefruit and passionfruit.

In addition to tropical scents, savory or pungent scents have been traced to the compound skatole. Interestingly, this compound has also been identified in bird and mammal feces. Skatole, when isolated, is extremely strong and is said to have a strong ammonia scent. Lastly, indole was another compound identified to have a floral-mothball scent.

In conclusion, terpenes may not have as large of an impact on cannabis aroma as previously thought. Instead, flavorants may be the compounds to look for when choosing cannabis strains.

1Oswald, I. W. H.; Paryani, T. R.; Sosa, M. E.; Ojeda, M. A.; Altenbernd, M. R.; Grandy, J. J.; Shafer, N. S.; Ngo, K.; Peat, J. R. III; Melshenker, B. G.; Skelly, I.; Koby, K. A.; Page, M. F. Z.; Martin, T. J. Minor, Nonterpenoid Volatile Compounds Drive the Aroma Differences in Exotic Cannabis. ACS Omega 2023, 8 (42), 39203-39216.