Why does weed smell so strong?

Terpenes and terpenoids are responsible for the flavor and unique aroma of flowers and plants including cannabis. More than 20,000 terpenes exist, and over 100 terpenes are produced from the cannabis plant. Within the resin of marijuana, we find these smelly organic molecules that do more than produce the flavor and aroma of weed; they enhance the medicinal benefits of cannabis by influencing the way we process cannabinoids. Terpenes are also found in fruits, herbs, and spices that eat every day. Terpenes include:
  • A-Pinene — a pine aroma.
  • Limonene — a citrus aroma.
  • Linalool — a floral aroma.
  • Myrcene — a more earthy and herbal aroma.
  • Caryophyllene — a spicy, woody pepper aroma.
These terpenes help determine the flavor, smell, and effects of whatever strain of cannabis you're smoking. In fact, author of “How to Smoke Pot (Properly),” David Bienenstock, says that THC doesn’t have the strong smell we all believe it to have. Rather, he suggests the pungent aroma we smell, of lemon, pine, or even “skunk”, is due to marijuana being harvested at its peak. Michael Backes, the author of “Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana,” also suggests that the “skunk” odor we smell from weed is actually produced by the terpene known as myrcene.

The Most Effective Weed Smell Eliminators

Activated Charcoal and Carbon Filters

According to the Boston Globe, the most effective way to combat the smell of weed is by using activated charcoal and carbon filters. The substances in these filters attract and absorb organic compounds within their pores. They are used to remove unwanted contaminants or odors, and they help purify the air. These filters are highly effective in absorbing and removing the strong smell of weed as well. iPower 4-inch Air Carbon Filter and TerraBloom 6-inch Carbon Filter are two of the highest rated carbon filters available on Amazon.com.
carbon air filter Replaceable carbon air purifier filter (iStock / andriano_cz)

The Smoke Buddy

For those looking for a cheaper solution, The Smoke Buddy is a convenient, compact device that’s easy to transport anywhere. You simply exhale smoke into the Smoke Buddy and the activated carbon filter absorbs it right away. For the most part, this product helps in eliminating most of the weed smell, but there’s a chance that a small amount of smell may linger, though likely not enough to cause too much attention.


Vaping is a more discreet way to consume weed. Rather than burning marijuana, vaporizers heat up the weed without causing combustion, which creates virtually no smell. Vaporizers are great portable devices that can remain inconspicuous even when you’re out in public.

Less Effective Ways to Combat Weed Smell

When searching the best ways to combat the smell of marijuana, chances are you’ll come across a whole list of options. These methods only help in masking the smell of weed and do not eliminate it completely. However, some swear by these methods and feel they help when the clock is working against them for those pop-in guests.

Incense, Essential oils, and Baking Soda

Incense is a more natural way to combat strong odors like weed. Cannabis incense sticks from help purify and neutralize the air. Some of their scents help with sleep, relaxation, and stress. Using essential oils such as patchouli oil in a diffuser may help in reducing the smell of weed. If you don’t own a diffuser, simmer a few drops in water on the stove to activate the powerful aroma of essential oils. Baking soda not only helps absorb the many odors that form in the fridge, but it can also help in absorbing other odors throughout the house as well. They now have compacts that can easily be placed in hard-to-reach areas as well as in drawers, cabinets, and the car.

Air Fresheners, Scented Candles, and Sanitizers

There are a number of companies who specifically design candles, such as the Cannabis Killer from Beamer Candle Co., that help neutralize strong odors such as weed. And traditional air fresheners such as Febreeze or Lysol may also help mask the strong smell of weed. Ozium, an air sanitizer, is perhaps the more effective product in combating the smell of weed. It was specifically made to reduce bacteria and eliminate smoke and strong odors. However, these products only help mask the weed smell; they do not eliminate the source of the odor. For some, these scented products could be very irritating or even cause unwanted headaches and allergic reactions in sensitive people.

Other Helpful Methods for Combating Weed Smell

Again, these methods are just suggestions to help combat the smell of weed. They in no way help eliminate weed smell altogether.
  • The fresh air fan method –– Place a fan in front of a window facing away from you and blow smoke through the back of the fan. This allows the smoke to escape to the fresh air outside. Keep in mind, the smell of weed will be present right outside of your home, so if you plan on having anyone come over, your guests may be able to detect where the skunk smell is coming from.
  • Smoking in the bathroom method –– Turn the shower on and create enough steam that fogs up the mirrors. Place a towel under the door to block the smell from escaping. Turn the fan on and then toke it up. The steam will consume the smell of the weed causing it to dissipate up into the fan. Some even light a match to help eliminate the weed smell more effectively.
  • For people dealing with the unwanted weed smell from neighbors, try using a draft stopper under the door.

Eliminating the Weed Smell On Your Body

Chewing gum, mints, brushing your teeth, and using mouthwash are highly effective. An all-natural toothpaste/mouthwash called OraMD helps tremendously with unwanted breath odor. Removing the weed smell off your clothes and skin can be a bit of a challenge. Perfumes and body spray come in handy when you’re in a time crunch. However, the most effective way to remove the weed smell off your clothes and skin is to take a shower and wash your clothes. Another effective way to combat the smell of weed is to cook. Using potent ingredients such as garlic, onion, curry, etc., can help overcome the smell of weed altogether, leaving a more appetizing smell in its place.