Sugaring occurs when cannabis concentrates have not been waxed and therefore degrade in consistency over time. Even a clear, translucent shatter will “sugar” when exposed to light or heat. This exposure causes nucleation of cannabinoids which purges some terpenes, waxes, and lipids.
These concentrates once smooth and clear, become crystal and granulated, and cloudy in appearance. Sugared concentrates are less flavourful and may be less potent than those kept in proper environments. Cannabis that has gone through the sugaring process has potentially lost some of its flavour, but will typicaly still keep its potency.
This cycle can occur if cannabis is put in an environment that contains humidity levels that are too high, or if there is too much moisture in the air. If there is too much agitation or irritation, sugaring can also occur. Many cannabis strains that are very high in terpenes are the most vulnerable to sugaring. The concentrate is still safe to use and some consumers actually prefer cannabis that has undergone sugaring.
When sugaring occurs in a concentrate like shatter, the pattern of crystals becomes all blended up and broken into smaller chunks. As a result of this, the light does not flow smoothly through the crystals and it results in more of an opaque type of look. Cannabis products subjected to sugaring usually sell at dispensaries for a discounted rate opposed to a pure product.
Many strains are more immune to sugaring than others and will simply never sugar up at all. To prevent sugaring, concentrate should be kept in a dry, dark and cool location with very little airflow access. ⠀It’s also highly suggested to hand concentrates very carefully, just as a preventative measure.
Use of Term
Unfortunately I left my concentrates outside in the humidity for too long and they went through the sugaring degradation.