Viscosity is typically defined as the thickness of a fluid. Regular water will have a low viscosity and a fluid such as honey is considered to have a high viscosity. Viscosity can be thought of as a resistance to flow and the more viscous a liquid is, the more resistant to flow it is.
In the field of cannabis, the terpene profile of a certain type of cannabis will determine the viscosity of the plant’s exudation and stickiness that will trap insects. In cannabis concentrates, terpenes are often used as an additive to lower the viscosity of them. Adding terpenes will improve and increase the fluidity and chemical profile of the extract. It will also add volume to the product and manufacturers sometimes like to isolate terpenes before the extraction process and then re-add them back after heating.
The three main terpenes that affect viscosity are monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and triterpenes. Due to greater intermolecular friction, larger molecules are considered to be more viscous than smaller ones. Monoterpenes make up most of the terpene composition in dry cannabis plants and typically destabilize at lower temperatures. Sesquiterpenes are not as volatile and last longer in extraction heating.
Tinctures, topicals, and edibles all require the proper viscosity to ensure safety, health, and an overall positive experience with the products. Each cannabis oil varies in viscosity depending on the shelf life, what kind of terpenes are added, the type of cannabinoids in the product, and even the temperature. When it comes to vape pens, cannabis oil that is too low or too high in viscosity will cause improper transport in the flow. This can create an unpleasant and inconvenient experience for the user.
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I never realized how important that viscosity of my cannabis oil was until today when it didn’t even flow smoothly.