Ask a group of cannabis enthusiasts, and you are sure to get a “yes’ to the question: “Does white ash prove the flower was good quality bud?” High priced weed should produce white ash if it’s flushed, and pesticide free, right? Or wrong? Does white ash actually prove anything about quality level?
The question could certainly be considered controversial, but where does this belief come from? Before answering to the veracity of white ash, we need to step back to a time before cannabis was legal and enter the world of cigars.
Cigar aficionados have a long history of grading and judging quality. Due to the environmental qualities imbued in products from Cuba, Cuban cigars are prized. Luckily, there is one thing that can prove if a cigar isn’t from Cuba: The ash from Cuban cigars is always white.
It is little wonder that this white ash test came over to the cannabis world; but now that we know its origin, it’s time to determine its appropriateness. So does flushing or chemicals affect ash color?
Ash is a byproduct of combustion and is a mixture of charcoal, char, and minerals. The higher temperature the combustion takes place at the less charcoal and char remain leaving eventually just minerals. And guess what? Mineral ash is white. In fact some tobacco products add minerals just to force the ash to look white. So, white ash can be caused by smoking temperature, but there is more. While research has shown flushing has no ash affect, there is a growing process that actually does- reduction of lights and temperatures at the end.
Turning lights off at the end of growing and through drying causes chlorophyll production to be halted and starch to be consumed. At the same time, for plants genetically wired with purple pigments, lower temperatures further shut down processing sunlight into chlorophyll. Both chlorophyll and starch are tied into how smooth a bud smokes with lowest levels linked to the smoothest smoke. Also the less chlorophyll and sugar (starch) present the whiter the ash.
In summary, white ash is more a sign of smoking temperature and chlorophyll/sugar levels than anything else. Even the poorest bud if smoked at a high temperature and grown under little to no light at the end is likely to give off white ash.