Even if your cannabis is legally prescribed, there may be times when you don’t want to draw attention to it.
This article was originally published on The Cannigma and is reprinted here with permission.
Pine trees and grapefruit juice, skunk and diesel fumes, fresh soil and ground pepper — the broad range of aromas given off by cannabis flowers is part of what makes consuming it such an enjoyable, immersive experience.
But there are many times in life when you may not want the unmistakable aroma of cannabis rising off your clothes, or wafting through your living room when you have unexpected house guests.
If you’re looking to be more discreet with your cannabis, then there are basically two main things to focus on: how to prevent the smell, and how to mask it when it gets out of control.
Hold your breath, we’re going in.
In the UK cannabis is only legal when prescribed by a specialist consultant and must be vaporised rather than smoked.
Because vaporisation heats up cannabis without combusting it, it doesn’t produce any smoke — only vapour. Not only can this make it much easier on your lung and throat, but it also means you don’t need to contend with plumes of cannabis smoke.
That said, vaping does produce a distinctive odour, though it’s not nearly as strong as cannabis smoke and it dissipates quite quickly.
READ MORE: How to use a cannabis vaporiser
When smoking cannabis*, especially a potent, pungent strain, the aroma can carry a long way and fill up an enclosed space in no time.
If you’re somewhere that you don’t want to smell say, your home office, make sure that the space is well ventilated. Open a window and if you can, a door to help the air circulate.
Try to consume as close as possible to the open window, exhaling outside as much as possible. If you have a small fan, prop it up facing out the window as an exhaust fan of sorts, and try to blow through the blades from behind.
When you’re finished, leave the window open and turn on a ceiling fan if possible, allowing the room to ventilate for at least half an hour.
For cannabis flowers, the same principle applies — the aroma of pungent flowers can hang in the air in a closed space, so make sure to keep a window cracked.
The smell of cannabis doesn’t always dissipate the moment the smoke has cleared. Paraphernalia like pipes and bongs, can give off a powerful aroma for some time, so make sure to clear them and store them away after you’re done.
If you’re consuming at home, make sure to close any closet doors, otherwise the smoke can get in and leave an aroma on your clothes.
A tried and true trick for people wanting to keep their cannabis use discreet is to seek out an underused spot for consumption.
At home, this could mean stepping out to the back porch, or if you’re at work or a social function, heading out to the parking lot or for a quick “run to the store.” Your sudden absence may cause suspicion, but in the absence of any nearby cannabis smoke, you could be in the clear.
Consuming next to the bathroom window with the exhaust fan on and the shower running to create steam can also help mask the scent, though you may also have to actually take a shower to pull off the ruse.
The other main form of cannabis odour management is masking the smell after it’s already in the air.
Incense fragrances like nag champa, sandalwood, or lavender, can be strong, even overpowering, but help rid a room of the smell of weed. On the other hand, because the smell of incense is often associated with head shops and stoner or hippie culture, it could send the not so subtle message that “weed was just smoked here.”
Essential oils like patchouli, peppermint, or rosemary can also help mask cannabis and can be easily applied to the hands and behind the ears. You can also use a diffuser to help spread the aroma around the room.
Air fresheners such as potpourri sprays can be used liberally in a room that has a powerful or lingering smell of cannabis. You can also buy car air fresheners — for instance the little tree-shaped ones people hang off their rearview mirror — and hang them in an area. This could be an especially effective method in a small area like a closet.
Air purifiers use a variety of methods to clear pollutants from the air, including carbon filters, ionisers, and HEPA filters, that can trap and remove the airborne particles that help create the odour of cannabis. Though they can be on the pricey side, air purifiers can be effective at reducing the smell of cannabis, and regardless, can help rid the air inside your home of pollutants and common allergens.
While many of the tricks for masking smoke also work very well for hiding the smell of cannabis flower, there are some specific steps you can take and products on the market to keep your stash from stinking up the place.
There is no better way to store your cannabis flower than in airtight glass jars. Not only is there no risk of static charge removing trichomes (like with plastic bags), they also keep your herb safe from air and moisture and lock the odour in.
Get a sturdy mason jar with an airtight lid, and make sure not to open and close it more than necessary. This will help the buds stay fresh longer, and a closed mason jar of cannabis produces no smell.
Odour-proof bags are a great solution for hiding the smell at home or on the road. For the outdoors types, there are also many waterproof storage bags on the market. These bags typically range in size from small pouches to larger smell-proof cases about the size of a camera bag or a small laptop bag.
The larger ones also often come with locks and compartments to store pipes or other items, so they can actually serve as an all-in-one odour-proof home storage case for your cannabis and accessories together.
A classy and very effective solution for weed odour prevention could be an odour-proof wooden box, which like the larger storage bags, can also be used to store accessories and paraphernalia. Typically these are similar in size and appearance to small cigar humidors, and are airtight to keep weed fresh and prevent odours. You could also invest in a “cannador,” a small, sealed cannabis humidor that locks in the odours of your stash and also manages the humidity inside.
If you’re especially concerned about odour and aren’t convinced that your glass jar or smell-proof pouch will do the trick on its own, you may consider “double-bagging” it. For instance, you could keep your flower in a small mason jar inside of a larger tupperware container, providing two layers of smell protection.
A popular method used by home cannabis growers for dispensaries is odour absorbing gels. While it may be more than you need to cover up the smell of an eighth or so of fresh herb, they aren’t expensive and it could be worth a shot.
Odour neutralising gels typically come in a container about the size of a scented candle, and are made of a mix of essential oils suspended in gel. Simply place a container of gel in the area in question, and it should do the trick on its own. One important note, though: Make sure not to keep the container open next to your buds or inside a grow room — it can get in contact with the buds through the air, potentially changing the taste and smell permanently.
Much of the smell of cannabis smoke and flowers can also be carried on your body. After smoking, this can stick to your clothing, your hair, your skin, and your fingernails, even if you are no longer anywhere near any weed.
Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly once you’ve stopped smoking and consider changing your shirt or throwing on a hat to cover up some of the smell. Your breath could still give you up, so you may want to brush your teeth and/or chew some gum if you’d like to keep things incognito.
Splashing on a little cologne or perfume can also hide some of the scent, though you are arguably just replacing it with a strong smell of cologne, which may turn heads, especially if it’s out of character for you.
Changing clothes may not always be an option, but a few spritzes from a clothing odour eliminator like Febreeze can have you smelling like freshly-folded laundry in no time.
The scent of decarboxylating cannabis can be rather strong, especially if you live in a small apartment and/or have poor ventilation in your kitchen.
Luckily, the smell of decarboxylation doesn’t linger very long, and within a half hour of turning off the oven it should be long gone.
Also, for the most part, prepared edibles should not smell like cannabis. Cannabis oil can have a toasty, nutty aroma, and brownies may have a hint of a plant or earthy aroma, but neither compare to the smell of an open jar of cannabis flower or a plume of smoke. And THC gummies, mints, and chocolates? You shouldn’t expect any scent whatsoever.
Regardless, you should be keeping edibles sealed and stashed away from children and other house guests, which will further eliminate any potential odours.
How long the smell lasts has a lot to do with where you consume it and the steps you take to minimise the odour.
If you smoke in a moist room with wall-to-wall shag carpets and no windows or ventilation to speak of, then the smell should linger.
But if you keep the area well ventilated, and you make sure to exhale out the window, or use a sploof and a strong ceiling fan, there will be less odour to contend with. And if the smell lingers a bit, generous use of air fresheners can make a big difference.
When it comes to your body, if you’re really concerned about the odour your only safe bet is to change your clothes and take a shower. That should take care of the smell, though you may still need some eye drops for the redness.
The bottom line? Even if your room really reeks in that first hour or so, if you leave the door or the window open, by the morning it should all be fine.
For many cannabis consumers, the smell is a pleasant, comforting feature of the plant, and one which over the years they may have gotten much less sensitive to.
Keep in mind that people who don’t smoke tend to be much more sensitive to the smell: They can notice it on clothes, hair, or furniture, even if your nostrils have become somewhat desensitised by an accumulated layer of trichomes.
Be mindful that other people may be more sensitive to the aroma and a bit less forgiving than you. Act accordingly. Make sure to ventilate common areas of your home or office and also consider adopting the approach that if you’re smoking cannabis, the chances are the smell is stronger than you think, so take steps to counteract this.
*This article was originally published by The Cannigma. Cannabis is only legal in the UK when prescribed by a specialist consultant and must be vaporised rather than smoked.
Find out more about how you can access a prescription here. Always speak to your doctor before making any changes to your medical care.
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