Cannabis Sprays Explored: Caustic Soaps and Salts

We certainly want to smoke clean buds, but this feat cannot be naturally achieved if cannabis is grown in a massive warehouse or extensive field. Rather than relying on small batches, some producers turn to horticultural soaps to solve this common agriculture hurdle. This is also why you wash your apples before crunching into them.

Cannabis, unfortunately, does not have such a simple solution. Although buds sprayed clean will not have the infectious quality of a bacteria-ridden flower, they will instead carry caustic byproducts when you smoke them.

Insecticide Soaps

These soaps, also known as potassium salts of fatty acids, are typically used to kill certain insects or control powdery mildew.

They can cause irritation and moderate eye injuries.

High doses in humans may cause stomach upset and vomiting if you managed to eat enough.

Below is a list of soapy pesticides approved for application on cannabis:

Neudosan Commercial, Opal Insecticidal Soap, and Kopa Insecticidal Soap

Image courtesy of AB Commercial Grow Supply.

Soaps can be a type of salt that is made by mixing a fatty-acid with a strong, caustic base. The two react together, neutralizing the solution when things are mixed precisely. Dangerous chemicals can become safe after a well-calculated reaction – a reaction similar to baking soda and vinegar. However, the base is much stronger and the acid, in this case, is derived from a fat.

A Soaps History

They can be made with animal or plant fat.

Palm and coconut oil are the main sources, though. Soaps made with palm oil and ash were first created four thousand years ago.

Nowadays, many soaps and surfactants exist. Each one is made in its own unique process. To produce a soap derived of potassium salts, fatty-acids are always mixed with caustic potash (potassium hydroxide).

Thoroughly flushing a plant is a necessity if soap is going to be used. Unfortunately, growers are allowed to use these soapy salts the day of harvest, liberally, rather than utilizing a finessed spot-treatment. Eating tiny amounts might be harmless, but smoking residual suds may not bring on positive outcomes.


The harsh products produced from setting flame to salt is the real concern- like when you spark up your cannabis. The salt will decompose from the heat and release oxides of the original compounds. Burning this variation will release potassium oxide, which can combine with water in the atmosphere and turn back into caustic potash.

When this strong base is diluted enough, it can be completely safe. With enough concentration, though, it will neutralize the fatty acid in your skin turning your own fat into soap.

If you are wondering how caustic the smoke actually is, I do not have an answer. There is a lack of study done on the combustion of fatty acid salts. Safety all depends on dilution, and your buds could be covered in salt.

Even more of this caustic base can be found in the smoke of at least two other approved pesticides.

MilStop Foliar Fungicide and Sirocco

Image courtesy of Evergreen Growers Supply.

Active Ingredient: Potassium Bicarbonate

You might be thinking: Isn’t potassium bicarbonate just baking powder?

No, baking powder is SODIUM bicarbonate. The two are different, albeit one isn’t any less safe than the other. But the same cannot be said when used on a smokeable product like cannabis.

Regular baking powder can create lye when combusted in the open air. Potassium bicarbonate smoke produces caustic potash. Both byproducts can be quiet corrosive when concentrated.

None of these products require flushing by standard regulations and require no time in between last application and harvest.

The Whitest Ash

No different than sulphur, these caustic byproducts could very well be one more black ash perpetrator. All the more reasons to avoid weed that doesn’t burn clean!

Say no to using sprays on flowering plants and say yes to clean culture instead. Liberate your freedom and health, and just grow your own clean cannabis. Or, let friends you can trust grow it for you. As these hazards are difficult to avoid, considering caustic byproducts may actually be everywhere.

Soaps are commonly used as an additive to increase the efficiency of a spray. Many inert ingredients can be used though, and are all held in close secrecy.  Thankfully, at least one company has released its formula through patent documents.

Stay tuned for the next part of this series, Cannabis Sprays Explored, to learn about oxirane’s carcinogenic secrets hiding in many of these pesticides.

For more on cannabis, growing, and pesticides, check out the rest of the Cannabis Sprays Explored series below:

Featured image courtesy of Big Buds Magazine