The distinctive aroma of cannabis has something in common with eggs, skunk spray, and hops, researchers have discovered.
As Science News reports, a new study conducted by cannabis industry researchers found for the first time that weed does, in fact, contain sulfur — and that a little goes a long, long way.
Using instruments that detect sulfur chemiluminescence, gas chromatography, and mass spectroscopy, chemists at the company Abstrax Tech — whose business is producing the scent compounds known as terpenes that characterize fancy weed — discovered that the smelliest strains do, in fact, contain sulfur.
What's more, the researchers also found that the most common sulfur molecule found in loud bud is prenylthiol, the same compound that gives "skunked" beer its notorious Pepé Le Pew-esque scent and taste. Other sulfuric molecules found in the Cannabis sativa that Abstrax studied included some that are structurally similar to garlic, the report noted.
While it's unclear why nobody thought to look for sulfur in cannabis before, the relatively small amount found by Abstrax may have to do with it. Analytical chemist Iain Oswald, who worked on the study, told Science News that sulfur "can be in very low concentrations on the flower, but still make a huge impact on the smell."
And smell psychologist Avery Gilbert, a person whose job title is as cool as this new finding and who also works with cannabis smells at the Colorado startup Headspace Sensory, told Science News that this research could both help mask the skunky scent of weed or amplify it, depending on the wants and needs of particular consumers.
"The spectrum of cannabis odor is just amazing," Gilbert told Science News. "I think it beats the pants off of wine."
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