Terpene Testing and Profiling of Cannabis Using Gas Chromatography

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are chemical compounds found in over 2000 species of vegetation, including plants, trees, and cannabis.1 These compounds are responsible for the aromas, flavours, and colours of the vegetation, as well as influencing the medicinal and therapeutic effects of cannabis. Currently, 20,000 different terpene strains have been identified, with around 150 of them found in sativa cannabis.2 Each terpene has its own unique scent, taste, and impact on the body; for example, beta-caryophyllene has a peppery aroma and flavour, while pinene smells just like pine trees.3

Why is Terpene Testing Important?

Terpene(s) Testing Using GC Chromatography. SCION's Terpene Testing Equipment

Terpene testing, also known as terpene profiling, is a useful way of determining the quality of various cannabis strains due to each strain having its own unique profile. Furthermore, cannabis plants are often genetically engineered to deliver specific taste, aroma, and medicinal effects. By performing terpene profiling, cannabis products can be accurately labelled, giving customers knowledge of the ingredients found in the cannabis and allowing them to better gauge the experience they will have with the product.4

How Chromatography is Used for Terpene Testing

Gas chromatography is the preferred method for terpene testing as it is better equipped to test terpenes, given their volatile nature.4

Gas Chromatography coupled with a Flame Ionization Detector (GC-FID) is often used to accurately profile cannabis terpene compounds. This process begins with solvent-based extraction, wherein plant material is placed in a liquid solvent to extract the desired compounds. Subsequently, the extracted liquid is injected into a gas chromatograph, which separates the compounds, allowing them to exit the column. The compounds are then burned in a hot hydrogen-air flame in the FID, producing organic ions which are then measured by electrodes. This combined with the retention time of the compound in the GC, provides accurate terpene analysis.1

By conducting such analyses, growers, producers, and consumers are informed of the contents in their marijuana, legitimizing the industry as testing practices become more stringent and standardized.1

Terpene Testing Equipment From SCION

SCION Instruments offers a wide selection of chromatography and mass spectrometry instrumentation suitable for use as terpene testing equipment.

Terpene Testing Equipment for Terpenes Testing Cannabis Terpene(s) Testing using Chromatography Terpene Testing Equipment

Our SCION 8300 and 8500 GCs can be configured with several sampling devices and detectors, including single and triple quadrupole mass spectrometers (8700 SQ MS and 8900 TQ MS).

If you are interested in learning more about how our products can be used for terpene profiling, please get in touch.

Explore theĀ full potential of cannabis analysis with SCION.

Related Application Notes

Determination of Terpenes in Cannabis by GC-FID

  • Download our app note to learn how to test for terpenes in cannabis samples
  • Discover the importance of having a terpene profile matching your product label in order to provide the customer with their experience
  • Learn how to decide if a method is fit for purpose through a series of simple validation steps

Determination of Terpenes in Cannabis by Headspace GC-SQMS

  • Download our app note to learn how to test for terpenes in cannabis samples
  • Learn what gives different cannabis strains their unique flavours and scents, allowing you to monitor the product and create the desired user experience
  • In this app note we discuss the Horwitz ratio, how to calculate it and how it can be a useful tool in determining whether a method has acceptable precision

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  1. https://www.cannabissciencetech.com/view/using-gas-chromatography-accurate-terpene-analysis-cannabis
  2. https://terpenewarehouse.com/blogs/news/how-many-terpenes-are-there
  3. https://www.truelabscannabis.com/terpene-profiling#:~:text=It%20helps%20consumers%20choose%20the,them%20select%20the%20right%20product.
  4. https://www.chromatographyonline.com/view/improved-profiling-of-cannabis-terpenes-for-accurate-product-labelling-using-gc-gc