Are terpenes water soluble? No. Most terpenes are not. These molecules are widespread in nature and exist in plants and some marine organisms. Generally speaking, terpenes are insoluble in water, however, they are soluble in diethyl ether and ethanol. But what does water soluble really mean and can you add terpenes to your beverages? If not, what’s the best way to use them in order to get the best results from treatment?

Terpenes are oils. Because of this, they do not mix well with water. As you may already know, water molecules are attracted to other water molecules, so they will instantly and tightly bond to one another. Oil molecules are also attracted to water molecules, but because of the water molecule’s tight bond, the oil molecule is unable to successfully mix with the water molecule. However, despite the fact that you cannot add terpenes to your favorite drink, terpenes can be used in many different ways for effective treatment. As an example, they can be vaped, smoked, used in aromatherapy, or applied topically. These oils are very powerful so they are also usually added to a type of carrier oil before administered.

Read on below to learn why terpenes are not water-soluble and find out more concerning other ways you can use terpenes for daily treatment whether your goal is immediate pain or stress relief, or younger, healthier-looking skin.

What Water Solubility Means

When something is considered water-soluble, this means it can be dissolved in water. As an example, regular table salt is water-soluble. But why are terpenes considered insoluble?

You already know that oil and water do not mix. Terpenes are classified as a type of oil. The reason why oil and water cannot mix is due to the smallest particles that make up water and oil. The structure of oil and water determines how they interact with each other. Most people mistakenly believe that water and oil repel each. But if they look at their basic properties, they will see why they simply separate.

Water soluble tablet

The interaction between oil and water is the direct result of an electrical charge of water molecules. Water molecules contain one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen atoms emit a type of positive electric charge at the end of the molecule, while the oxygen atom sends out a type of negative charge on the other end. Because of this, the water molecule has been categorized as polar. Because an oil molecule doesn’t contain a charge, it’s considered nonpolar.

Molecule Attraction

An atom with a negative charge will attract atoms with a positive charge. The negatively charged oxygen atom in the water molecule will attract positively charged hydrogen atoms. This creates the hydrogen bond. An oil molecule will exhibit a stronger attraction to water than it does toward other oil molecules because of the water molecule’s electrical charge. Because of this, the oil creates a thin film when it is placed in a small amount of water. The oil molecule will attempt to spread out and attach to the water molecules, instead of creating a tight ball of other oil molecules that are attached.

The Water Molecule

Water molecules have a strong attraction to each other because of their polarity. When the oil molecule tries to connect with water molecules, the hydrogen bond that connects the water molecules remains tightly attached, refusing to allow the oil molecules in. If the oil molecules are pulled across the water’s surface, the oil will start to stretch into a very thin layer, right down to the thickness of a single molecule since each of the oil molecules will attempt to attach to the water molecules. Oil molecules will form their own separate little balls of oil if shaken up in the water, since the bonds that hold the water molecules together will not break to let them in.

Oil Floats

Because the water molecules have a strong bond and will not allow the oil molecules in, the oil gets pushed away. You won’t find a glass of water with oil suspended in the middle. The water molecules will not separate and allow this. The tough water molecules have a higher density compared to oil, which means they weigh a lot more. Since oil is much lighter it will rise to the top of the glass. When stirred, the water and oil will always separate, with the oil floating at the very top of the glass. Since terpenes are oil-based, if you add them to a beverage, the terpenes will simply float at the top. These fragrant oils are often found in fragrances and essential oil mixtures. They are often mixed with other oils in order to dilute their potent structure.

What’s the Right Way to Use Terpenes

If you can’t add terpenes to liquids, then how can you use them correctly and ensure you get the most out of treatment? Like CBD this oil can be used in many skincare products including creams, lotions, and ointments. It can also be used in aromatherapy, vaped, or added to marijuana buds and smoked. The way you use terpenes will depend on the why behind the terpene use.

Essential Oil

Variety of herbs and dropper with essential oil

Terpenes are actually a big component in essential oils, which is why they’re commonly used in aromatherapy treatments. Essential oils are often used for their ability to minimize anxiety, stress, and promote relaxation. Popular oils include sage, lavender, tea tree oil, and citrus. Aromatherapy has been proven to reduce pain, headaches, depression, and chronic stress.

Terpenes can be added to existing essential oil formulas since many of the naturally occurring terpenes in essential oils can get destroyed during processing.


Aside from aromatherapy, terpenes can also be inhaled via a diffuser, spray, or steam bath. Inhaling terpenes can help to stimulate the olfactory system. As the terpenes make their way to your brain through the nasal passage, they start interacting with the limbic system. Aside from the amazing scent that some terpenes offer

Inhaling terpenes stimulates the olfactory system. Once the terpenes reach our brains from our noses through the olfactory system, they begin a processing of interacting with the part of the brain that controls our emotions, which is called the limbic system. Aside from their sweet, sour, or earthy fragrances, terpenes have a positive effect on the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and stress levels.

Topical Application

When applied topically via a massage, terpenes can also help to increase circulation, and can even aid in the absorption of the massage oil used.

Marijuana Use

Adding certain terpenes, such as the Limoncello Profileto marijuana has never been more popular. Adding terpenes to marijuana can totally change your smoking experience. The existing terpenes found in pot are what’s responsible for its strong fragrance. The smell of cannabis can range from fruity or skunky, to sour. Terpenes are able to synergistically interact with the cannabinoids in pot to produce different types of effects. By adding more terpenes to your favorite strain you can completely change its profile. Fortunately, adding terpenes to marijuana is fast and easy and method that will allow you to experiment with a variety of different aromas and flavors. In most cases, you’ll only add a small amount of terpenes to your cannabis, around half a millimeter. By adding your own terpenes, you can customize your next smoking experience. It can also help to liven up a strain if you’ve found you’ve purchased a weak one, or one that lacks in flavor.

Alternative Methods

As you can see, there are many alternative ways you can add terpenes to your daily health regimen, whether it’s vaping, smoking, aromatherapy, or topical application. Terpene uses are almost endless since these compounds are so versatile. How you use them is up to you and should also be based on why you’re using the terpenes in the first place.

Why We Need Terpene Treatment

Some people use terpenes regularly because it can enhance their high, but if you don’t smoke marijuana, there are still plenty of other reasons you should use terpenes, especially if you’re searching for a more holistic approach to skincare or mental health treatments.

How are Terpenes Extracted?

When terpenes are extracted, manufacturers use different methods than what they might use for other compounds such as CBD oil. This is because they want to produce only organic terpenes, without the use of chemicals. Terpenes are considered very delicate, which is why the extraction process can be a challenge. Since terpenes are so fragile, they also require a special process which is used to extract and isolate them without damaging their structure or negatively impacting their potency. In order to do this, one of three methods is chosen.

The first is a steam distillation process, which starts off by hanging large woven baskets that are loaded with plant lift over large vats of water. As the water boils, a large volume of steam penetrates the basket the terpenes are in. In steam, only lighter oils are soluble. When the steam that contains the terpenes makes its way out of the distiller, it’s liquidized with the use of a condenser which makes it an oil.

The next extraction option is called hydro-distillation and it’s a process that’s very much like the steam distillation extraction method. The biggest difference is that the plants are directly placed in the vat of boiling water instead of hung above it. The rest of the extraction process is the same as the steam method. But because heat is used for both of these processes, there is a major concern that the potency of the terpenes is affected. Many important plant compounds can be destroyed or changed at high temperatures.

Like with hemp oil and CBD oil, CO2 is the most popular and safest method to use. This extraction process is said to deliver the best results, however, the process itself is very complicated and requires skill, knowledge, and expensive equipment. During this process, CO2 is used at an extremely low temperature to extract terpenes.

Related Questions

Will Terpenes Make Me Sleepy?

Some can. Since some terpenes can help you relax, try taking terpenes approximately twenty to thirty minutes before bed in order to feel more relaxed and ready for sleep. Most terpenes won’t cause you to feel sedated, instead, they’ll help you feel more at peace and ease feelings of stress and anxiety, so you can focus on getting a batter night’s rest. Myrcene is one type of terpene that’s linked to sedation. However, the presence of myrcene doesn’t necessarily mean that a terpene profile will cause you to feel sedated. If you’ve purchased a profile with a high myrcene content, you may want to begin with a lower dose to determine whether or not the formula will cause drowsiness.

Can I Use Terpenes for Anxiety and Depression?

In terms of mental health, by no means should you stop taking your prescribed medication for anxiety, stress, or depression, unless recommended to do so by your physician. However, if you feel as though you need more help than what your meds have been offering, adding terpene use to your existing treatment can be very beneficial. Since terpenes are fast-acting you can also experience immediate relief in a matter of minutes.

Can Terpenes Help with Chronic Pain?

Terpenes for pain can be an effective treatment option for some people. Certain types of terpenes can help to minimize pain and inflammation. If you suffer from mild to severe pain, consider adding terpenes to your daily treatment. These natural oils can help to minimize pain associated with joint inflammation, allowing you to experience relief, even when your over the counter or prescribed anti-inflammatory medication has failed you.

Final Thoughts

So, to answer the question, are terpenes water-soluble, no, they are not. Terpenes are oils that are extracted from marine life and plants. Since oil molecules cannot mix with water molecules, the terpenes would simply float on top of the water’s surface. This means you cannot add terpenes to a favorite beverage, or if you do, you can expect the terpenes to float to the top. However, you can apply terpenes topically, and you can also vape, smoke, or use terpenes in a diffuser. There are many options in terms of how you can use terpenes to get the most out of treatment, which is just one of the reasons terpene use is so popular these days.