Why white ash in your weed doesn't really matter 2023

Jake De La Cruz
Written By: Jake Dela Cruz
Organic Cultivator

Does white ash in your weed really mean a proper flush or better buds? U.S. wildfire research shows that the main determining factor for your ash’s color is actually temperature.

white ash weed

The nitrogen concentration during the burning of your cannabis is what makes the ash black in your weed.


As the temperature increases the nitrogen content decreases, which turns your ash from black to gray and eventually white.


Did you know that the same debate exists in the cigar world? White ash is believed to be a result of cigars being planted in nutrient-dense soils but this debate continues even in the cigar world.


In this guide, we uncover why you should focus less on the color of your ash and more on the length of your ash, as this directly impacts your smoking experience.

What does white ash mean?

Yes in some cases, white ash does mean you have good weed and that can be found deep down in the soil.


When it comes to tobacco, white cigar ash indicates that it is grown in rich and nutrient-dense soil and black ash indicates fewer minerals in the soil.


Mineral content is important because it impacts the flavor when your inhaling weed. The fewer minerals the harsher the taste and smell.


When it comes to your weed’s ash color, you may see white ashes for the following reasons:

Possibility 1: nutrient-rich soil

I first ever heard of the white ash/black ash debate from an organic cannabis cultivator buddy of mine.


Organic cannabis is grown entirely naturally with soil, compost, fertilizer, and zero added chemicals.


All the cannabis he grew was in super nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer, resulting in some of the cleanest smoking and tasting weed – that of course produces white ash.


So if your weed’s ash color is white it could be that the soil in which the cannabis was grown was loaded with nutrients.


Black ash, however, can be an indicator that the cannabis was grown in soil lacking proper nutrients.

Possibility 2: Temperature

Research shows that ash color is directly related to combustion temperatures.


When cannabis burns at a higher temperature for longer periods of time, the ash becomes whiter naturally.


Why does this happen?


Carbon is what makes ash black and as you light cannabis (temperatures increase) the carbon reduces (resulting in the black ash turning white).


Pure white ash means that the bud has become “carbonless”.


White ash can be produced by simply increasing temperature and the duration of combustion.


With enough time and heat, ash can turn white regardless of whether it is a good bud or not.


So, yes, white ash could mean you have some really nutrient-healthy cannabis plants.


At the same time, it also could just mean your temperature when smoking the cannabis increased high enough to turn the ash white.


An easier way to tell if you have good buds is: it smokes smooth, tastes good, and you get a super clean head and body high without any lingering side effects the next day.

Possibility 3: Flushing

Flushing cannabis is currently one of the main reasons people believe white ash means better buds.


Flushing marijuana plants is usually done a week or two before harvest, and by flushing all the plants with reverse osmosis water, it removes all the feed additives inside of the grow medium (like the soil for example).


Since no new nutrients are entering the process, the cannabis plant is forced to use up all its remaining minerals and nutrients in the grow medium and inside of the plant.


Flushing usually results in a better tasting weed experience and a much smoother smoke.


It’s also widely believed that flushing results in white ash, but this opinion is widely debated.


It’s a case by case situation and in some cases it could be true that your weed ash is white because of a super clean flush – or not!

White ash and black ash

white ash vs black ash

So what’s the difference between white ash vs black ash in cannabis?


When marijuana plant material burns, the heat from the surface burning will char the layer underneath.


This charring of the second layer of marijuana produces carbon which is black.


With the ideal conditions 
(adequate oxidation and heat), the carbon will burn off leaving only the mineral components of the cannabis plant.


Which results in white ash.


When white ash forms it actually forms on the top layer of the black ash.


So essentially when you see white ash, you are seeing black ash with just a layer of white on top.

Moisture in weed causes black ash

When weed dries and cures correctly, the remaining sugars continue being metabolized.


These compounds break down slowly and are released gradually into the atmosphere.


If you cure and dry your buds too quickly, what happens is some of the heavier compounds may remain in the bud (such as chlorophyll and other sugars) as they didn’t have enough time to break down.


Essentially these compounds remain in the bud delivering a harsher hit and at times a bud with inconsistent moisture levels.


The moisture content due to improper curing (drying), can lead to white ash as well, further proving that white ash in your cannabis can be caused by various different factors, and doesn’t mean the quality if your cannabis is better or worst.

Ash length matters more than ash color

Ash color, whether white or black, isn’t truly an absolute indicator of cannabis quality.


The length of the ash is actually more important than color.


The length of the ash impacts the flavor of the blunt or joint.


For example, having one inch of ash at the foot of your blunt or joint helps to control airflow.


This keeps your blunt or joint cooler which helps to smooth and soften the weed-smoking experience.


Let’s take a closer look in the next section.

Ash length is more vital

When you are smoking a joint the ash is usually black with a layer of white ash on the surface.


The color of ash on your joint isn’t an indicator of cannabis quality, but rather how well the joint is oxidizing and combusting.


Do not tap the ash on your joint!


Let the ash run as long as possible and build as long as possible


You want to see a good quarter-inch of ash running at the end of your joint.


The white ash is a sign your joint is combusting well (higher heat levels create the white ash).


You want as much ash build up at the end of your joint to help cool the smoke.


Ash works as a cooling mechanism so you never want to prematurely remove any ash from the joint.


Ever notice when you tap the ash off your joint the pulls are instantly hotter in your lungs?


The ash is actually meant to help cool the smoke, so the longer the ash builds up at the tail of your joint the easier and better quality smoke.

What about the ash in blunts?

Blunts are a bit different from joints as the paper is much thicker and depending on your blunt paper result in varying consistencies of ash.


Cigar leaves help to have some of the longest-running ash trails.


The longer the ash at the end of your blunt, the smoother and more productive the hits will be.


Either way, when it comes to cannabis ash, I believe the focus should not be on color but instead on the length of ash.


Just because one cannabis strain produces white ash and the other produces black ash, does not mean one is better than the next. While in certain situations this may be the case, there are far too many variables that determine the ash’s color that has nothing to do with the cultivation method or the strain’s quality.


The focus should not be on your weed’s ash color, but instead on the length of the ash as this directly impacts your smoking experience.

Final Thoughts

My name is Jake Dela Cruz and I’m an organic cannabis farmer. The white ash vs black ash debate has been going on for quite some time, and I hear about a lot within the cultivation field.


While it’s true flushing, nutrients, and additives (plant growth chemicals) can and may affect your weed’s ash color, it can all be trumped by temperature.


So does white ash mean you have good cannabis? Not always but it can. Saying that white ash is the be-all and end-all in debates about cannabis quality is not true.


When it comes ash color in your cannabis it really doesn’t matter. Your weed is good if it smokes well, tastes good, and hits amazing. White ash in your cannabis is primarily an indicator of temperature and that’s it.

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