The secret of Runts, fake banana terpenes, and approved solvents

Runts quickly became one of the most popular cannabis chemovars (strains) in 2020. Naturally, expect the price to be steep. A renowned aroma and flavour of candy and fruit characterize Runts and varieties crossed with it — Banana Runts, for example. The secret blend that defines different fruit flavours in cannabis, however, is poorly understood. However, a deeper dive reveals a little-known secret in the cannabis industry. At least two solvents approved for cannabis processing in Canada can produce an aromatic that tastes like banana candies.

Banana Runts in an LED Flower Room. Photo Courtesy of Gastown, @gastownfire.

What terpenes are in Runts?

Runts have a balanced but complex terpene profile, which comprises some of the chemovar’s aroma and flavour. This author wonders if Runts also have a specific, sweeter isomer of linalool — At least when compared to gassier chemovars like Jet Fuel or Grease Monkey. Notes of nostalgic, sweet candy are not responsible for the full tantalizing attributes of fruit, though.

Indeed, a pronounced aroma of sweet oranges can come from a typically rare and minor (secondary) terpene known as valencene. Ocimene is also reminiscent of sweet oranges. And then, there is the vastly more common albeit much more bitter terpene, limonene. Adding to this blend, myrcene is a primary terpene known for its grape musk but with a hefty tinge of mango. Runts can contain all these terpenes, but they alone cannot mimic cannabis’s full and dynamic profile.

An ester’s secret aroma

Certain aromas and flavours in cannabis do not come from terpenes or even flavonoids but rather thiols and esters. Comparatively, bananas and other fruits possess a unique aromatic profile consisting of the same complex aromatics.

Hexanoates are one such group of these esters and are behind the fruity smell of strawberries, bananas and pineapples. Furthermore, the cannabis plant uses hexanoate to produce terpenes and cannabinoids! Does this mean hexanoate is a possible attribute of Runts and even special phenotypes of Nuken, including the infamous Space Monkey originating from Skunk and Panda?

Is banana oil artificial?

The artificial banana flavour is often based on a chemical known as amyl acetate, which is quite literally known as banana oil. Mixing 1-pentanol or isoamyl alcohol (3-methyl-1-butanol) with acetic acid makes synthetic amyl acetate analogs. These three ingredients are approved (Class III) solvents in Canada’s legal cannabis industry and legal states in the US.

But, it is a misnomer to call banana flavour built from banana oil an artificial flavour since amyl acetate is in real bananas. The cannabis industry can learn a lesson from the alcohol ester amyl acetate, which is responsible for the aroma of Cavendish bananas. That is, the pleasant solvent was more prominent within the Gros Michel, the older chemovar of banana before a fungal disease wiped out the monoculture crop.

Can terpenes cut it?

Much like bananas (and other fruits), plant-derived terpenes alone cannot mimick the flavour and aroma of cannabis chemovars. To a connoisseur, fake terpenes often fall short of cannabis’s authentic profile. Linalool and other terpenes found in cannabis are also an important part of a banana’s characteristic profile. A careful blend of terpenes like bisabolol and geraniol can come through with a sweet, floral, and almost candy-like nose.

Dynamic chemovars are left incomplete even with the delightful orange flavours of ocimene or valencene. Or even the berry notes from nerodiol. In conclusion, the secret full-profile of Runts is likely dependent on more complex aromatics. Hexanoates and other esters are unsung components of famous cannabis chemovars, thanks to their minute quantities.

Let us know in the comments if you want to learn more secrets within the profile of cannabis. What is your favourite fruity strain of 2021 so far?


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