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Terpenes: CBD's Secret Sauce

October 21, 2019 3 min read

Terpenes: CBD's Secret Sauce

McDonald’s has their secret sauce. KFC does, too. And so does Ignite - but ours is provided by terpenes, a special class of organic compounds that give you the scents and flavors you love so much in all natural things. Terpenes, or “terps” as they’re affectionately known by enthusiasts, can be found in just about everything that grows in the ground - from plants and trees to fruits, flowers and even some insects. In fact, terps are at the heart of this burgeoning multi-million dollar industry, because, without terpenes, you’re just left with burned grass.

So what are they? Terpenes, by definition, are the oils created by the glandular trichomes in hemp plants – the same glands that, when flowering, produce both THC and CBD (the terpenes don’t produce either). So whether you prefer a strain with earthy taste or a fruity taste, it’s down to the terpenes used in the making of it.

Terpenes are hydrocarbons and estimates suggest there are well over one hundred of them. They can contribute not just to the taste of the THC or CBD but also – because they bind with receptors and neurotransmitters in our bodies – can also affect mood or energy.

But it’s not just these plants that secrete terpenes; they are created by all plants and so a lot of aromas and flavors can be created – as scientists mix and match various terpenes.

There are two main types of terpene; the monoterpenes are less dense so they weigh less and add the floral flavors/aromas that some strains have. Think apple, kiwi, rose, geranium, and jasmine. Then there are sesquiterpenes which are heavier and carry more pungent aromas such as tea tree, diesel fuel, skunk, musk, and patchouli. One of the best ways of ensuring a heavier, sesquiterpene flavor is to dry cure and decarboxylate the plant, because that reduces the monoterpene count.

So what are the types of terpenes available?


Looking for the source of those citrus tastes and smells? Meet Limonene, named after, what else, the lemon. Some of its main sources include peppermint, rosemary, and fruit rind. You can also find it in everything from creams and ointments to bubblegum - as well as in our very own Recharge line.


It sounds like the period that followed the dinosaurs, but myrcene is actually a terp that can be found in mangos, bay leaves, sweet basil, parsley, thyme, and even hops. Indeed, the myth that eating mango prior to getting high increases your experience is based on this terpene. It makes up 20% of all the terpenes found in the plant. You can find myrcene in our Calm products.


Because of the deep pine-tasting punch that comes with beta-pinene (it’s found in pines and conifers), you’ll find it pairs best with ale or lager. It has a scent people compare to petrichor – the earthy, oh-so-delicious scent that’s produced whenever rain falls on dry soil. Indeed, it’s the most popular terpene that nature produces. And, here at Ignite, we use it in our Lucid products.

Delta 3 Carene

This is an earthy-flavored terpene which is produced naturally by rosemary.

Alpha Bisabolol

You’d think someone was high when they came up with these names... Alpha Bisabolol is the terpene responsible for giving chamomile its relaxing flavor and is known as a floral, herb-like terp.


If you have a sweet tooth, then linalool is for you. It has a sugar-and-spice vibe to it and is found in cinnamon, mint, and some types of fungi. Think lavender. You can also find the linalool terp in our Calm products.


This is a terpene that’s also used in traditional Chinese medicine. Borneol has a minty, almost woody/bark-like (or “camphor-esque”) quality to it.


This terpene, aka beta-caryophyllene, is another that captures the essence of hops because it can be found in them – so it’s associated with beer, ales and lager.


This is the terpene that Koala bears munch on and, as the name implies, is found in eucalyptus. It’s spicy and also used to treat respiratory tract infections, acne, coughs and sore throats.


A terpene that carries with it the aromas of the forest; a mix of clove and pine that give it a true earthy kick. As such, it shows up in a lot of soaps and perfumes.


Spice. Mint. Fresh. Three words that are commonly associated with the cineole terpene, which can be a real eye opener.

Check out the entire Ignite CBD line and you can experience terpenes for yourself!