When you want to keep your secret garden, well, secret, the last thing you want is nosey neighbors and visitors sniffing out your girls. Outdoor grows usually don’t require odor control, so long as you’ve picked your spot with care. But for those preferring indoor gardens, controlling the powerful scent of your grow is crucial to remaining undetected.
Growing indoors comes with lots of handsome benefits. You are in total control of the temperature, humidity, nutrients and lighting regime, enabling you to grow bigger, stronger plants every time. But it comes with its downsides too, and the smell is just one of them. To you, the stench of terpene laden flowers might be the nicest thing in the world, but to your neighbors, visitors and local law enforcers, it’s one more reason to become suspicious.
Controlling the odor in your marijuana grow is not too tricky, but might require some investment on your part if you want to do it effectively. Here are our tips.
Choosing the right strain
If you’re attempting a stealth grow inside your home and looking to be discreet, then the last thing you want is some stinky Skunk weed clogging up the air. Choosing a low odor, stealthy scented plant is your first step to getting on the road to a smell free home. Good choices include:
- Durban Poison: A true South African sativa which has remained unmolested since it first arrived in Holland. The THC levels can be insane, and yet Durban Poison remains almost odor free.
- Northern Lights: A popular beginner’s weed, Northern Lights was developed to be an indoor grown plant. This plant is powerful in flavor and strength, but incredibly forgiving in terms of discretion.
- Blue Mystic: This is a cross between Northern Lights and Blueberry, and the resultant plant is even lower on odor than the Northern Lights itself.
- Sharks Breath: This Indica dominant strain is an easy grow and produces a rewarding yield for both beginners and commercial growers alike. Sharks Breath does well on a Sea of Green set up, and is super low odor for optimal stealth.
- Polar Express: This strain is the result of many years of breeding to get the perfect indoor weed. Great for novice growers, Polar Express has its roots in a California Kush which was crossed with Northern Lights and Lowryder. The resultant plant is short, flavorful, and extremely low odor.
Choosing a low odor strain is a great first step in staying covert and stealth with your garden, but often this alone is not enough. Also, if you’re already part way through your grow, you might not have the option of choosing a low odor strain. If you’re still feeling stinky, there are some products you can use to stop the smell of your ladies from penetrating the whole house.
Low cost odor neutralizers
If you are growing just a couple of plants at home, then you might be able to get away with a low cost odor neutralizing product. The most popular and widely used of these is the ONA Gel, which comes in jars and is super simple to use. You just open the jar in the vicinity of your grow and it neutralizes the smell without creating any replacement smell itself.
ONA gels should last for around 4 – 6 weeks, and should do a good job of neutralizing the smells in your living areas if you are growing in the next room. They can actually change or remove the taste from your cannabis buds too, so never let them share the same air as your plants.
The general consensus is that this product is OK for smaller grows where complete odor neutralization is not necessary. But for bigger grows, smellier weeds or places where you want to completely eradicate the smell, this will probably only do about half the job.
Other low cost solutions such as household plug-ins, sprays and suchlike are only effective for a very short window of time, so are really only any good as an emergency measure and are not a long term solution.
Air purifiers, also called ionic purifiers,often claim to eliminate odor from your room.While they may be perfectly effective for dealing with a wet dog or some pungent pumps, they are no match for the sweet smell of marijuana and are not a good investment as your main form of odor control.
The most effective solution
The most reliable, most effective and most widely used method of reducing the smell of your grow is a carbon filter. Also called ‘carbon scrubbers’, these units are what you need if you’re serious about neutralizing the odor coming from your garden. They use ‘activated’ carbon to pull smells from the air via a chemical process and to neutralize them entirely.
For a carbon filter to work, you need to set up a situation where the air from your grow is being pushed or pulled through the filtration unit. For this reason, many growers find it pertinent to integrate the carbon filter with their exhaust system. Your exhaust will be drawing hot air away from your plants, and as the air passes through the scrubber, it is cleaned and deodorized.
Choosing and installing a carbon filter is easy:
- Measure your exhaust
- Most exhaust systems will be around six inches in diameter. If you haven’t bought your set up yet, always go for a six inch sizing for your fan, ducting and filter. Four inch fans are rarely enough to cope with even a small grow, whereas eight inch fans are intended more for commercial scale operations.
- Check the CFM rating of your fan
- Fans are measured in Cubic Feet of air per Minute (CFM), and this figure should be printed on your fan itself somewhere.
- Find a filter with the same or lower CFM
- You need your fan to be powerful enough to pull air through your filter, so choose one that is equal or at a lower CFM number than your fan.
- Install into your system
- The carbon filter should ideally go at the opposite end of the exhaust system to the fan, particularly if you are using a grow tent. This means it is as far away as possible from your external vent, which will minimize the risk of the cannabis smell escaping.
There are plenty of companies selling readymade carbon filtration units for your grow. The price you pay will depend on the capacity and quality of your filter, but is an investment well worth making. They last literally forever, are highly effective and you can replace the activated carbon very cheaply from time to time to keep them performing at their best.
As with anything to do with marijuana growing, there are some creative gardeners out there who have managed to fabricate their own homemade carbon filter solution. Do check out the forums for advice if you plan to do this.
Whatever solution you decide to go with, don’t be tempted to seal off your grow room in an attempt to stop the smell. Stagnant air is your enemy, and will make your plants very sick, very quickly. Good ventilation is crucial to strong, healthy plants, so keep things breezy and let the air flow freely.
If you are venting to the outside of the building, be aware of the location and height of your vent. Because the air is warm, it will usually travel upwards. However, if you live in a country which gets very hot, still days, the air could theoretically travel downwards as well.
It’s obvious that you should put your vent up as high as possible, to give any smells a chance to dissipate before they come into contact with a nose. As well as this, you should consider venting on a private side of your building, such as into your back yard, rather than into an area which might have pedestrians or neighbors passing by.