Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 9, 2023

For weed-growers, harvest time is the long-awaited time when after many months of invested attention and effort, they can finally (and literally) reap the fruits of their labor. Harvest time is bountiful, but it also requires trimming the plants, which produces a lot of waste plant matter, also known as trim. Even though most growers dread the trimming process, it’s good for the nugs, and it’s a necessary step towards creating a higher quality product you’d find in local dispensaries.

If you’re a novice grower or are planning to start growing weed, you may have been wondering about what kind of plant matter weed trim is and what its role is. In this article, we cover all about cannabis trimmings – what they are and why trimming your crops is necessary, as well as give you some tips on ways you can use trim in your weed adventures.

What Is Cannabis Trim?

Cannabis trims are the leftover plant materials after you’ve trimmed your crops. Most growers start trimming their marijuana plants a few days before harvest by removing the fan leaves because that’s when larger leaves start to wither. Most of the trimming, though, is done immediately after harvest when the weed is fresh (wet trimming) or after drying it (dry trimming).

Trimming involves carefully cutting away all of the extra foliage, leaving only the cannabis flowers. This exposes the parts of the nugs that are rich in trichomes which will later help for a more successful drying and curing. Weed trimmings include:

  • Sugar leaves – the tiny leaves closest to the cannabis buds which have a certain amount of trichomes, thus giving them a solid cannabinoid and terpene content. Sugar leaves are great for kief, hash, and edibles;
  • Fan leaves – the bigger leaves found on the stems. They don’t contain a very high concentration of cannabinoids as they’re further away from the nugs, but they still have their charms and can be used in a variety of ways;
  • Popcorn buds – the small and fluffy underdeveloped buds found on the lower parts of the plant. Most trimmers get rid of them if they appear or try to avoid their formation. Even though they’re considered as B-grade buds, they still have a good amount of THC and CBD, depending on the cannabis strain, and they’re still smokable and good for making concentrates;
  • Stems – long stalks that most people throw away, but you can actually make use of them.

The Role of Weed Trim and Why Trimming Your Cannabis Plants Is Important

Weed trimmings can tell you a lot about your plant during the growing process. One of the biggest indicators of the health of your plants is the fan leaves. When they change color it can tell you if there are certain nutrients that your crops may be lacking, or sunlight, or hydration. 

Giving your crops a good trim is important as it will maximize the potency of the buds. The crystal trichomes have more space to develop later and this will produce a better product. It will also be better-looking, which is desirable on the market. Trimming, also called manicuring, makes the buds more compact and contributes to a more even moisture content.

Can You Smoke Trim?

Technically, you can smoke trim, but the smoke will be very harsh and grassy. This is due to the high concentration of chlorophyll in the leftover plant material that will just make you cough and ruin your experience. You can smoke the popcorn buds, though, but you’ll need to dry them first.

What To Do With Leftover Trim

Many first-time growers usually either throw out the waste material or use it up as compost because they don’t know what else to do with it. But, don’t rush into throwing it away! There are many creative ways you can use these leftovers as they’re still nutritious and contain enough cannabinoids to give you some buzz.

Cook and Bake With Cannabutter and Cannaoil

Cannabutter is one of the most versatile and universally liked edible. It’s very easy to make and it goes with nearly every recipe, savory or sweet. It’s also not fussy because you can use whatever trimmings you have at hand. You’ll need equal parts of trim and butter.

The most important thing is to decarboxylate the trim beforehand in order to activate the cannabinoids. This means that you should bake your weed in the oven at 220-240 °F for about 40 minutes max. Once done, set it aside to cool to room temperature and then grind it coarsely.

Make the infusion by combining the trimmings and butter in a saucepan, and adding a splash of water to prevent burning. Simmer the mixture on low heat for 3-4 hours and stir occasionally. If you notice it becomes too thick too soon, add some more water. When it’s done, strain through a strainer or cheesecloth and store in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for six months.

The same process applies to cannaoil, which is basically cannabis-infused oil. Depending on which oil you choose as your carrier oil, you can use it in salads, for cooking, or for some desserts.

Unwind With a Cup of Cannabis Milk

Cannabis milk is one of the newest ways of enjoying marijuana and weed enthusiasts are quickly catching up. You can use both dairy and non-dairy milk as long as the non-dairy has some fat content. Cannabis milk won’t get you soaring high, but it will relax you and mellow out your mood.

To make cannabis milk, combine the milk of your choice and decarbed trim in a saucepan and simmer on low for at least half an hour. Make sure to stir to allow for the cannabinoids to bind to the fats in the milk. The mixture is done when it has turned yellowish-green – ideally, after about 45 minutes. Strain it, sweeten it if you need to, and enjoy! If you make larger quantities, you can store your cannabis milk in the fridge and use it up in the next few days.

DIY Hashish

This may sound too complicated, but it’s not really, plus it’s a great use for your trims and will give you a potent concentrate. Sugar leaves are the best to use for this, but popcorn buds will also do good. Basically, you’ll need to separate the trichomes from the trimmings using a couple of tools.

You’ll need silkscreen, wax paper, pollen press, and any tool for scraping. Place the trims on a silkscreen over the wax paper. Then, using your hands, move the trimmings around so the trichomes can gradually separate from the plant materials. When they have separated, use the scraper tool to gather them all together. Finally, use the pollen press to compress it into hash.

Make a Cannabis Tincture

Cannabis tinctures are easy to make – you just need your decarboxylated trimmings and a high-proof alcohol. Take note that using isopropyl alcohol is not recommended as it hasn’t been graded as food-safe.

Break the trims into smaller pieces and soak them in alcohol in a glass container. Store it in a cool and dark place for a few weeks. Make sure to regularly give the container a shake to allow the cannabinoids to extract better. When the mixture has turned deep dark green, strain it and leave it open for a couple of days for the alcohol to evaporate a little to achieve a more concentrated tincture.

In Conclusion

Cannabis trim is the leftover plant material from the trimming process that follows the harvest. Many novice growers end up throwing the trimmings because they aren’t aware that they can use them in many creative ways – such as making edibles, concentrates, or tinctures. Trims may not be considered a high-grade weed, but they still contain cannabinoids that you can use in many different ways – which is why you shouldn’t just throw them away.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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