It’s a common belief amongst pop culture and hip-hop music, especially, that the colour of weed ash can demonstrate the quality of cannabis, with white ash commonly viewed as superior.
However, as an objective cannabis user, the question may arise whether there is actually any genuine truth behind this urban legend.
The answer may not be as abundantly clear as some may initially believe.
So, is white ash truly indicative of quality cannabis, and what potential factors may contribute to the colour of ash?
Let’s find out!
White Ash Weed vs Black Ash Weed – What’s the Difference?
It’s been a long-held belief that white cannabis ash represents quality cannabis, particularly amongst the cannabis cultivation, growing and medical marijuana communities.
More specifically, they posit that black ash signifies the cannabis plant has not been properly flushed to remove the excess minerals, nitrates, and pesticides potentially harmful to ingest.
Opposingly, white ash is said to symbolize cannabis that has been properly flushed, dried and cured.
In this way, many cannabis connoisseurs, when they see white ash arise while smoking weed, think it’s cause for celebration as it is the higher-ranking ash colour.
However, is there any truth behind white ash being supposedly better? There is actually quite a bit more science behind the matter.
Essentially, ash itself comprises three primary elements: charcoal, char and minerals. While it may seem basic at face value, these characteristics can provide crucial insights into many different aspects surrounding fire and fire-related events, not solely unique to cannabis.
For instance, professionals rely heavily on ash to investigate the cases of wildfires to gain insight into the burning temperature. When the combustion temperature is high, the burnt organic matter and nitrogen concentrations will be lower, causing the ash to have a clearer, lighter colour, typically ranging from grey to white.
When the ash reaches the clearest possible colour, it primarily comprises crystalline or amorphous inorganic compounds.
Additionally, if the combustion temperature is below 450° C, the combustion process isn’t considered complete. It signifies that low-temperature combustion ash still contains a wide range of organic compounds, including carbon, which is the reason behind the darker colour.
Suppose the combustion temperature is higher than 450° C. In that case, the carbon is volatilized, turning it into a gas and leaving mineral ash behind, comprising calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, silicon and phosphorus in inorganic carbonate form. In simpler terms, this translates into the colour of the ash being lighter.
In the context of cannabis, weed must undergo a process called decarboxylation to ‘activate’ the THC inside the plant matter, which users do manually when they light up a joint, blunt, or pipe and expose it to high-temperature levels.
In some instances, this may lead to the combustion of plant matter and subsequent inhalation of unsavoury substances such as tar, excess plant matter and carcinogens.
In this way, many users decide to switch to less harmful, smoke-free alternatives, such as vape pens, to consume their cannabis.
Hooti THC Distillate Vaporizer Pens serve as a plausible, practical, and delicious solution to users’ smoke-free needs.
Instead of overheating the cannabis, which could burn off the valuable cannabinoids and terpenes, Hooti THC Distillate Vaporizer Pens are made with Hooti’s state-of-the-art premium THC Distillate and reintroduced strain-specific terpenes that don’t require any combustion or decarboxylation.
In this way, they don’t need to be washed or inspected as much as regular marijuana plant matter, allowing users to indulge in the convenience, portability and overall flavour.
Is White Weed Ash Better?
Now that we’ve discussed the science behind white and black ash, it is logical to draw one significant conclusion worth noting: light-coloured or white ash is not a signifying factor of higher quality cannabis plants.
Instead, it’s a sign of the temperature at which users combusted it.
However, this conclusion is without expanding on the flushing theory that many cannabis connoisseurs hold in high regard when discussing weed ash and smoke quality.
Debunking the ‘Flushing’ Theory
For those who may not be aware, the process of ‘flushing’ in a horticultural context refers to the act of running a liquid through the root ball of a plant. This is done to change pH or medial electrical conductivity (EC), which is a complex term used to represent how horticulturalists determine the overall health of their growing soil, including its nutrient and pH levels.
That said, in the context of the cannabis growing process, flushing means something entirely different.
For cannabis cultivators, flushing refers to growers using low-EC (low electrical conductivity) to irrigate during the last few weeks before harvesting the cannabis plants.
The belief is that this process flushes the nutrients from the soil, more specifically, synthetic salt-based fertilizers, thereby flushing them from the plant.
While many cannabis cultivators swear by this technique, it’s a topic of heated debate amongst the greater cannabis community. Some growers deem the entire process unnecessary, while others argue that it is potentially harmful to the final product.
In an op-ed published in Cannabis Business Times, Katie Badertscher, a licensed agriculturalist and cannabis entrepreneur, explained:
“To us, the concept that flushing somehow changes the chemistry in plant tissue that has been laid down for weeks requires a scientific explanation because that concept seems akin to claiming that the car engine is cleaner after washing the car’s hood.”
She continues, “nutrients are locked in the plant, and an external flush cannot undo the complex biology that locked them in.”
So, if users are using ash as an indicator of flush, they may not have the most reliable information. That said, if that isn’t accurate, what does ash signify? Some suggest a theory known as the ‘ash test,” which argues that ash indicates the quality of the cannabis curing process.
The Role of Cannabis Curing
Essentially, the process of curing cannabis involves sealing in the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes present in the cannabis plant while purging excess starches and sugars.
This process also involves trimming during the vegetative stage to help redistribute and redirect its energies to creating quality buds that will receive plenty of light by trimming those that don’t receive any and literally become dead weight, thereby unnecessarily wasting the plant’s resources.
Typically, curing involves reducing some of the moisture content in the cannabis flower itself. That said, curing is a different process from drying weed that delicately controls this moisture release by keeping the buds in sealed containers over extended periods.
While the anecdotal evidence surrounding the ‘ash test’ is abundant, there are no actual hard scientific findings to provide it with substantial validity.
After undergoing this process, the smoke quality and overall experience, according to users, is smoother and more flavourful.
The primary ideology behind this belief is that, similar to picking fruit, harvested cannabis buds do not immediately start decomposing. Instead, they continue to undergo metabolic changes for a short period.
Maintaining the moisture levels during this process is crucial for facilitating these metabolic processes and reducing undesirable elements to promote the smoothest smoking experience possible for users.
In this sense, the moisture content is by far one of the most prominent factors to determine a strain’s smoking quality.
What Affects Weed Ash Colour?
As we have highlighted above, several factors may determine the outcome of cannabis ash colour, including:
One of the likely culprits for black ash is the water or moisture content within the leaves. As water burns within the cannabis plant, it will create black smoke.
In this sense, it was likely either harvested too early, too late or dried too quickly. There are many reasons behind why this might happen. However, on average, if cultivators dry their cannabis at a humidity level of roughly 45-50% and a temperature between 12-18°C (55-65°F), it should not result in black ash.
It’s also a possibility that there could be more oil or carbon burning off of the plant due to the various oils present in the plant matter.
Put another way, the terpenes in cannabis are essential oils, and many of the oils and flavonoids in weed are susceptible to being volatile when exposed to heat.
Even in lighter coloured ash, users may still see some particulates that have burned black, which is common when burning cannabis because of how resinous some flowers are.
This concept is similar to burning other plants, including lavender, due to their oil content.
Carbon & Mineral Content
All combustible carbon-based matter, when burned, will appear black. The persistent presence of heat will chemically alter the starting substance.
In this sense, if you keep burning cannabis to the point where there is no carbon left, the plant matter is reduced to its mineral content, which typically comprises phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium.
When users see this, they’re likely smoking weed that appears to leave behind white ash.
In this way, white ash has been completely smoked, whereas black ash still contains resin. Thus, some cannabis strains will turn white quicker than others depending on the particular cultivar, but it’s not necessarily a sign of its quality.
Ultimately, when you burn something, it will turn black first and then ashy.
Ash Colour – It Comes Down to Chemicals
While the jury is still out regarding actual evidence to support the claims that cannabis flushing and curing is beneficial or effective, the primary objective of this article is to establish that ash colour is not indicative of weed quality.
It is still a widely-held belief amongst the cannabis community that white ash is a sign of superior, higher-quality cannabis. However, several factors may contribute to the resulting ash colour of a given strain, including its water content, unique terpene and flavonoid profile and carbon and mineral content within the plant matter itself.
That said, the evidence surrounding the potential negative health effects of smoking is continuously on the rise, giving way to the growing popularity of safer, more health-conscious products for cannabis consumption, including products such as Hooti THC Distillate Vaporizer Pens.
Vaping does not require combustion at all, therefore avoiding the production of ash altogether and solely focusing on the most crucial element of all – creating a smooth, flavourful and safe cannabis experience.