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July 10, 2020

How To Read Your Cannabis Ash

Although edibles are becoming more popular, smoking is still the preferred method of consumption in the cannabis community. With dispensaries galore and hundreds of strains of cannabis, there’s a growing variety of flower to smoke. However, not every cultivation center or lab facility is made the same. So, how can you gauge the quality of the cannabis you bought? You can go by the reputation of the company or a testing label’s results, but there’s a simpler way to judge the quality of your flower: learn how to read your ash.

Everyone wants clean cannabis, and analyzing the quality of your cannabis ash is one way to weed out the good buds from the bad ones. If you’ve ever had a headache, irritated lungs, or sore throat after smoking cannabis, there are likely leftover contaminants in your flower. With this simple guide on how to read your cannabis ash, we’ll give you the adequate knowledge to inspect your smoldering joint. 

Cannabis Educational Primer: Flushing & Curing

Without the proper treatment in the growing process of marijuana, there may be leftover chemicals still present in the plant once it's packaged. And, these chemicals -- not the cannabis -- may be the reason your throat hurts when you smoke a joint. Before we jump into the simple steps of how to read your cannabis ash, let’s take a look at two factors that may affect the cleanliness of cannabis: flushing and curing. 

Flushing: The process of flushing is when you give the cannabis plants plain water and stop feeding them nutrients. Flushing is a critical step that’s typically performed two weeks before harvest, washing away unwanted nutrients or potentially harmful chemicals. 

Curing: After all the hard work put into meticulously tending cannabis, cultivation experts start curing the plants, which is the long-term process of moisture removal under controlled conditions. 

Flushing is a common step in the cultivation process, which is practiced by a majority of cannabis growers. The procedure helps in cleansing the cannabis or medical marijuana, but curing may play a more significant factor overall. 

Harvested cannabis doesn’t decompose instantly, as it continues to go through metabolic changes. Curing helps control moisture content during this critical period to influence the metabolic process, reducing undesirable components to keep the cannabis clean when done efficiently. So, flushing may play a role in the purity of your cannabis, but curing affects the smoke quality without question. 

two hands holding a cannabis joint on a finger clipObserve The Color

The only way to test the cleanliness of your flower with the method of reading your cannabis ash is to light up a joint. When the ash exposes itself, take a close look at the color. If you notice that the ash is black or dark gray, that’s indicative of unwanted substances and mineral content in the cannabis you're smoking. However, if your weed ash is light gray or almost as white as the rolling paper, the cannabis is considerably clean. 

If you do find dark grey to burned black ash, there’s a good chance the cannabis flower was not properly flushed and/or cured well. With leftover undesirable sugars and minerals due to inefficient curing, you will experience a throat-burning feeling to match the dark-colored ash. Having said that, the color of your cannabis ash shouldn’t be the only detail you observe if you enjoy smoking weed.

finger pointing to cannabis ashNotice The Texture

Another factor to take into consideration when observing your cannabis ash is the texture. Clean cannabis ash is light, delicate, and fluffy. However, if there happens to be any leftover fertilizer, pesticides, or fungicides, the ash is going to be grainy and hard. Additionally, there’s a simple test you can perform to further analyze the ash. 

Tap the lit joint lightly, and if the ash separates easily, the purity of your cannabis hasn’t been compromised by unwanted leftovers. If the ash is crusty and falling apart all by itself, there are residuals present. 

The more the ash resembles a fine powder, the better. Take a few puffs of the joint so you can produce enough ash to analyze. You’ll also want to take note of the ash texture at different lengths of the joint for even more accuracy in your observation. 

Seek Out Clean Cannabis

Reading your cannabis ash should be a method to double-check the cleanliness of your cannabis. The goal is to purchase quality cannabis with the terpene and cannabinoid content you like from trusted, responsible participants in the cannabis industry -- not the black market. Therefore, you should ensure the flower you buy has gone through verified lab testing. And the only way to know if it’s been tested properly is if the cannabis company provides results for their products. 

Cannabis consumers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for test results and seek out cannabis shops that screen their vendors. If the company can’t provide their test results or prefer not to disclose them, you’ll want to steer clear of that cannabis producer. Think of the cannabis white ash test as a safety net, with proper research of brands as the first line of defense. 

Other Ways To Check Cannabis Quality

Reading your cannabis ash is one way you can check the condition of your cannabis. However, there are a couple of other observations you can make if you’re not satisfied with just observing ash. Although these review methods may not be as easy, it doesn’t hurt to give them a try. Here are other ways to check the quality of your cannabis:

Visual Review: Even though different marijuana strains vary in color and consistency, you can still scan the flower for a particular red flag: mold. It’s best to err on the side of caution and not cut off the mold and continue consuming the flower. Not to mention, if the cannabis is yellow or brown, it's most likely a low-grade product. 

Aroma Check: Cannabis has a distinct, fresh scent -- which you can learn to identify through experience -- if it’s been harvested, dried, and cured properly. It’s a bad sign if your cannabis smells like hay or grass.

Learning how to read your cannabis ash is an easy way to start upgrading your knowledge about exactly what goes into making quality cannabis. By enrolling in the comprehensive Cannabis Cultivation certificate program, you’ll dive deep into what it takes to grow exceptional commercial cannabis. The 100% online course was developed by cannabis horticulture experts and will help you elevate your home growing skills while preparing you for a career in commercial cannabis cultivation. 

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