How to Use Terpenes

Diluting and Solubility

Dilute: to reduce the strength of a potent substance or mixture.

Terpene isolates and blends are highly concentrated and can be dangerous straight out of the bottle.  Diluting them before use is essential. Terpenes can be diluted with carrier oils, concentrates, and to some extent alcoholic beverages.

If you are unfamiliar with using terpenes, it is best to start with less than a 1% concentration and gradually increase the strength until you are satisfied with the product you have made. We never suggest that you use more than a 10% concentration of terpenes in any product.  Frequently you may use less than 1% to achieve your desired flavor and effect.

Terpenes are oils and as most everyone knows, oil and water do not mix. This means that water-based substances such as fruit juice cannot dissolve terpenes and as a result, without the aid of an emulsifier (more on this below), terpenes will separate from water-based fluids and create a layer on top.

The alcohol in beverages such as vodka, beer or wine will dissolve a small amount of terpene and suspend it in a solution. Once a certain threshold is met, the terpenes will once again float on the surface of the beverage.

Emulsifier: Substances that are soluble in both oil and water, enables oil to be evenly suspended in water as an emulsion.

An emulsifier is a molecule with a hydrophilic (water-loving) head and hydrophobic (water-fearing) tail, attaching to both oils and water at the same time, forming a uniform solution. Which emulsifier you use will vary depending on desired outcomes but the most common is lecithin.It should be noted that lecithin is not clear in color and if added to a clear liquid such as water it will cloud the solution.

Here we have a list of the most common substances with which our clients combine terpenes, organized by solubility. As a rule of thumb, remember that terpenes (as an oil) will mix with other oils and alcohol.

Water – will not mix with terpenes without an emulsifier

VG – water based, will not mix with terpenes

Alcohol / Spirits – mixes minimally based on total alcohol content  

  • less than 1 drop per glass suggested
  • Add to a glass and swirl, use as a bitters, combine with alcohol-based tinctures

Wine – mixes minimally based on total alcohol content  

  • less than 1 drop per glass suggested
  • Add to a glass and swirl

Beer/Cider – mixes minimally based on total alcohol content  

  • less than 1 drop per glass suggested
  • Add to a glass and swirl
  • For Brewing: 125ul per 5 gallons or 1ml per 40 gallons. Added post fermentation

MCT – mixes very well up to a 1:1 ratio

Olive Oil – mixes very well up to a 1:1 ratio

Jojoba oil – mixes very well up to a 1:1 ratio

Hemp Oil – mixes very well up to a 1:1 ratio

PG  (Propylene Glycol) – We are told 1 drop or 275 ul of terpene per 1ml of PG.

Carriers and Diluents

It is important to note that while the terms carrier and diluent are used interchangeably in conversation, they have distinctly different meanings.

SIMPLY PUT:

A diluent is added to a potent substance or mixture to thin it.  Diluents are the smaller portion of a solution. On the other hand, a carrier is the larger portion of a solution. A potent, concentrated substance is added to a carrier to be reduced in strength.

A diluent is distinctly different from a carrier oil, but they Both will DILUTE a substance.

The carrier or diluent you choose will be determined based on the product you intend to make. Each carrier and diluent has its own characteristics which make it suitable for certain products.  Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which is best for your product. Below we have outlined the most common diluents and carriers including recommended use cases.

Diluent: A substance which is combined with a larger volume of another substance to reduce its strength.

Carrier: A substance which is combined with a smaller volume of another substance to reduce its strength. The term carrier is derived from its purpose in carrying the terpenes. Another term for carrier is base.

Terpenes are diluted by mixing them into a carrier.  The carrier oils should amount to between 90% and 99%+ of the mixture.

Our VISCOSITY extract Liquifier is a diluent. It’s suggested use is no more than 10% by volume.

Terpenes are a diluent when added to an extract or oil. The diluent should be less than 10% of the solution. When added to a base extract or oil, terpenes reduce the viscosity (thickness) of the base and reduce its potency. Terpenes also impart a distinct herbal and floral aroma and flavor.

VISCOSITY Extract Liquifier is a diluent made of a combination of odorless terpenes which together has virtually no scent or flavor. Viscosity is derived from plant sources and designed to liquefy thick winterized THC extracts. Viscosity, along with all other terpene products will not liquefy CBD distillate or isolate.

Use for: liquifying winterized extracts

Not for use with: CBD, BHO, rosin, or other forms of unwinterized extracts

Harvested from mature coconuts, coconut oil is a common carrier oil used for lip balms and topicals. Coconut oil is also used as an alternative to butter for use in edibles. At room temperature, coconut oil is a solid paste which melts and becomes clear above 76 degrees F.

Best for: Edibles, Salves, Capsules

Not for use with: Cartridges

Derived by distilling coconut and palm oil, MCT is a clear oil, liquid at room temperature. Because of its pleasing mouth feel and light flavor, MCT is often used as a base for tinctures.

Best for: Tinctures & Edibles

Not for use with: Cartridges  

When you combine terpenes with MCT we suggest a dilution of 99%.  For a complete recipe, view our product development guide.

Jojoba oil is derived from Wild Hazel and closely resembles oils produced naturally in human skin. Jojoba oil is easily absorbed, highly moisturizing, and does not leave behind an oily residue. Jojoba oil should not be ingested as it contains a phytochemical (gondoic acid) which cannot be digested.

Best for: Topicals & Cosmetics

Not for use with: Cartridges & Edibles

Derived from hemp seeds, this carrier is known for a number of health benefits. Hemp oil is rich in essential fatty acids which makes it a great option for tinctures and edibles.

Best for: Edibles, Tinctures, Topicals

Not for use in: Cartridges

PG is a liquid which is used in the e-cigarette industry as a carrier for flavoring. PG is a semi-polar molecule meaning it is soluble in both water and oil to a certain degree. PG is controversial as a carrier because of the chemicals produced when it is heated. It is advised that you speak with your health professional before using PG to carry or dilute substances.

Math, Measurements, Conversions, and Tools

mg to g to kgul to ml to L
Milligram to Gram
10 mg = 1/100th g
100 mg = 1/10th g
1000 mg = 1 g

Gram to Kilogram
1 g = 1/1000th kg
10 g = 1/100th kg
100 g = 1/10th kg
1000 g = 1 kg
Microliter to Milliliter
10 ul = 1/100th ml
100 ul = 1/10th ml
1000 ul = 1 ml

Milliliter to Liter
1 ml = 1/1000th L
10 ml = 1/100th L
100 ml = 1/10th L
1000 ml = 1 L

100c = 212f
90c = 194f
80c = 186f
70c = 158f
60c = 140f
50c = 122f
40c = 104f
30c = 86f

1 gram100 grams1000 grams
1%0.0105g or 0.0126ml1.05g or 1.26ml10.5g or 12.6ml
2%0.021g or 0.0252ml2.1g or 2.52ml21g or 25.2ml
3%0.0315g or 0.0378m3.15g or 3.78ml31.5g or 37.8ml
4%0.042g or 0.0504m4.2g or 5.04ml42g or 50.4ml
5%0.053g or 0.0636ml5.3g or 6.36ml53g or 63.6ml
6%0.064g or 0.0768ml6.4g or 7.68ml64g or 76.8ml
7%0.0755g or 0.0906ml7.55g or 9.06ml75.5g or 90.6ml
8%0.087g or 0.1044ml8.7g or 10.44ml87g or 104.4ml
9%0.1g or 0.1188ul10g or 11.88ml100g or 118.8ml
10%0.1115g or 0.1338ml11.15g or 13.38ml111.5g or 133.8ml
Bottle SizeGrams in a Bottle
0.5 ml0.415
2 ml1.66
15 ml12.45
30 ml25
120 ml100
240 ml200
480 ml400
960 ml800
Gallon - 3,785 ml3,215

Basic Terpene Measurements

MillimetersGramsDrops% of added terpenes when combined with 1 gram
10.833645.3%
1.214350%
0.02750.023 (23mg)12.2%
MillimetersGramsDrops% of added terpenes when combined with 1 gram
10.873546.5%
1.1514150%
0.02850.0247 (24.7mg)12.4%

Basic Tools

Used for filling cartridges if you do not have a filling machine.  We suggest you use a Luer lock syringe with a 14 or 16 gauge tip. Smaller tips (larger number gauge) tend to clog quickly as oil cools.

Glass – Glass syringes are the best option for filling vape cartridges because glass is nonreactive with terpenes and can be heated with a heat gun if the oil solidifies while filling. Glass syringes can be cleaned and reused many times.

Plastic – Plastic syringes will work for filling cartridges.  It must be noted that terpenes are reactive with many types of plastic (see our list of terpene safe materials) and can dissolve the ink used on syringes. Plastic syringes should not be cleaned and reused.

Used for precisely measuring terpenes, carriers, diluents, and other fluids. Pipettes are not a good choice for measuring thick viscous oils as they often clog as the oil cools and do not create enough pressure.

Common Sizes:

  • 0.5 ul – 10 ul – 1/2000th of a ml to 1/100th of a ml – trace measurements  
  • 10 ul to 100 ul – 1/100th of a ml to 1/10th of a ml – single product measurements
  • 100 ul – 1000 ul – 1/10th of a ml to 1 ml – small batch measurements
  • 1000 ul – 5000 ul – 1ml to 5ml – large batch measurements

A scale which uses a digital display to show its measurement. When working with terpenes, it is suggested that you use a scale which can measure to 1 / 100th of a gram or 0.01. Digital scales come in all sizes and price ranges. Based on your level of production you should pick a scale which meets your needs.

Mixing containers come in all shapes and sizes. Glass is the most common material for these containers. Based on your batch size there are different options available to you. We have heard of clients using wide mouth mason jars, lab grade beakers, and cosmetic containers to mix from 500 – 0.5 grams at a time.

There are many types of cartridges to choose from. They are generally split first into 2 categories, wicked and no wick.

Wicked cartridges have a cotton or synthetic wick which is saturated with the extract to transport it to the heating coil for vaporization. Thinner oils are preferred for wicked cartridges.

Cartridges without wicks usually have a ceramic coil which is saturated with the oil and heated from within by a coil which is ran through the ceramic. Thicker oils are preferred for cartridges without a wick.

The most popular cartridge is the CCell cartridge. CCell is short for Ceramic Cell. CCell cartridges do not have wicks and generally have large (1.2 – 2 mm) inlet holes for the oil to flow into the vaporization chamber. CCell is a name brand, there are several knock-off brands which offer similarly designed cartridges.

Based on the design of the cartridge you choose, the viscosity of your oil will need to be within a range for the cartridge to function. The size and position of the inlet holes, the heat generated by the cartridge, and the force created by suction when drawing on the cartridge will all impact how thick or thin the oil must be to work properly.

If an oil is too thin, it may leak out of the cartridge or be drawn into the mouthpiece. If the oil is too thick, it may not flow into the vaporization chamber and will render the cartridge useless.  

A machine designed to dispense a measured quantity of extract into a cartridge. Cartridge filling machines usually have a mechanism to heat the oil to keep it fluid. Cartridge filling machines allow a manufacturer to produce many times the number of cartridges that can be produced by hand. Some machines are automated filling up to 100 cartridges in a cycle and others are semi-automated requiring manual intervention for each cartridge.   

A lab instrument which can be set to a precise temperature in order to warm a beaker or other vessel. Hot Plates are useful for warming a substance or keeping it warm. The magnetic mixing feature uses a spinning magnet inside of the device to influence and spin a silicone coated stir bar which is placed in the bottom of your mixing container and mixes the fluid.

An immersion mixer which is inserted into a solution and uses a high powered motor to rapidly homogenize a fluid. Rotor-stator homogenizers have minimum and maximum volume requirements, meaning you must be sure to purchase the rotor-stator that will be the right size for your manufacturing needs. Recommended for commercial cartridge manufacturing.

Glass, stainless steel, or other terpene safe (review our list of terpene safe surfaced) tools used for mixing terpenes into extracts and other carriers.