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Skatole | The Fecal Cannabis Flavorant You Can’t Unsmell

Skatole is the foul fecal-smelling cannabis flavorant you never knew you loved. Learn more about this unique compound.

It doesn’t take much experience with cannabis to understand it can produce a vast array of flavors and aromas. On one end of the Exotic Cannabis Aroma Spectrum, you have sweet, tropical varieties like Zkittlez and Juiceman. On the other end, you get intensely savory cultivars like GMO and Garlic Breath. In between, there’s a wide variety of earthy, spicy, and even skunky-smelling cultivars.

But what about the truly stinky aromas? The ones that wrinkle your nose and make you recoil a bit? The ones that, despite their suspiciously fecal-forward scent, you find yourself coming back to again and again… and again? Turns out, there’s a cannabis flavorant responsible for that particular type of stank — Skatole.

During our Science of Exotic research, our analysis revealed over sixty unique flavorant compounds, and Skatole was present in almost all of the savory-smelling cultivars. On its own, however, this flavorant has a distinctly… poopy smell. With this in mind, it may be shocking to learn that Skatole is also often used in the perfume industry and even vanilla ice cream.

Confused? Disgusted? Intrigued? We can’t blame you. Read on and learn more about this fecal cannabis flavorant and its impact on the cannabis industry.


What Are Cannabis Flavorants?

Cannabis flavorants are non-terpene compounds (esters, volatile sulfur compounds, alcohols, etc.) found in low concentrations that are responsible for cannabis's unique and diverse aromas. 

Sounds pretty cut and dry, right? Well, until recently, terpenes were believed to be responsible for the wide array of funky, fruity, dank, and stanky smells produced by cannabis. However, there was always an issue with this idea. Cultivars with wildly different aromas could share the same dominant terpenes. It wasn’t until our Science of Exotic research that we discovered the missing piece(s) to this puzzle.

When we compared things like esters, volatile sulfur compounds, alcohols, etc., we found clear differences between varieties. This class of compounds we are referring to as “flavorants” was concluded to be responsible for many of the unique and diverse flavors within cannabis.

We then performed additional analyses and identified more than sixty unique flavorant compounds. This led to additional testing to understand how these new compounds fit into our understanding and perception of cannabis aroma. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of flavorants is that even when they’re present in small amounts, like parts per billion or even parts per trillion, they have a BIG impact on aroma. One such flavorant is Skatole.

What is Skatole?

Skatole, or 3-Methyl-1H-indole, is a naturally occurring heterocyclic compound that… well, it stinks. It stinks like shit, and once you’ve smelled it, you’ll never be able to unsmell it. We’re not joking. After you’ve experienced the pure foul scent of Skatole, you’ll recognize it in every truck stop restroom and festival porta-potty. 

This pungent flavorant can be found in mammalian feces and is, in fact, one of the major odor contributors to the scent of scat. You’ll also find trace amounts of Skatole in savory cannabis varieties like GMO, 710 Chem, etc. Indeed, during our Science of Exotic study, we found that cultivars on the “savory” side of the Exotic Spectrum often contained trace amounts of Skatole.

Although it is most well known for its foul fecal fragrance, it can combine synergistically with other compounds to create scents that are ammoniacal, naphthyl (e.g., mothballs), or even floral in the correct concentrations.

If the last item on that list has given you pause, we get it. However, it’s important to understand that Skatole is a bit of a chemical chameleon.

The Surprisingly Sweet Skatole Stumper

While almost none of the sweet or fruity cultivars we studied contained Skatole, two notable exceptions were Fruity Pebbles and Garlic Cocktail #7. 

Considering that Garlic Cocktail #7 is a hybrid cross of GMO and Mimosa, that one made a certain amount of sense. Fruity Pebbles, however, is known for its sweet, fruity aroma that carries a slight chemical or “sewer” scent. This brings us back to Skatole’s chameleon-like abilities.

In the same way that Skatole can create savory aromas when combined with other compounds, it can also create those floral aromas we mentioned earlier. That’s why, even though it requires very careful use, it’s been a key compound in the perfuming industry, and you may even have come across it in your ice cream. Again, we’re not joking.

So, while its distinctive scent is still wildly stinky, it can amplify lush, sweet, and exotic aromas when combined with other dominant fragrances. That’s why it’s suspected that Skatole is instrumental in the “overripe” or “rotten fruit” aroma found in cultivars like Fruity Pebbles. 

Basically, Skatole can be an aromatic force multiplier that enhances the richness of other aroma compounds. It even intensifies gassy aromas from prenylated cannasulfur compounds

How Will The Discovery of Cannabis Flavorants Change the Industry?

Learning more about cannabis and the compounds that contribute to its aromas, flavors, and sensorial effects means that consumers, manufacturers, marketers, and regulators can make more informed decisions.

Manufacturers with a greater understanding of cannabis will have more control over product development and the final consumer experience. Additionally, the accuracy of testing will improve. That means cannabis labeling will be more accurate and comprehensive, which will make it easier for consumers to find the right products. 

That’s just the beginning. It’s possible we may discover additional functional applications of flavorants. As we mentioned earlier, our detailed analysis found over sixty unique flavorant compounds. With more time and research, who knows what we’ll uncover next.

Step Into the Deliciously Stanky Future of Cannabis With Skatole

Have questions about incorporating flavorants into your formulations? Want expert assistance developing the right aroma, flavor, and effects for your products? We’re here to help.

Contact us today, and let’s move the industry forward with innovative, research-informed products.

Profiles with Skatole Flavorant

As the first to benefit from our breakthrough discovery, GMO is kicking off the next era of botanical aromatics. Flavorants Skatole and Indole multiply its notoriously savory and funky notes for a loud, gassy, and undeniably pungent finish.

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