What Does Sticky Icky Mean?

Emerging out of hip-hop culture in the 90s, sticky icky is a beloved term that can give you insight into how potent and flavorful your cannabis flower is.

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Today, we are talking about one of the most famous cannabis terms, sticky icky. Personally, there are a lot of terms cannabis gets, but sticky icky is one of my favorites. And when you find out what it all means, I bet it’s going to be one of your favorites as well. 

“Sticky Icky” Definition

If you have ever handled cannabis flowers before, you’ll notice that your fingers like sticking together afterward. This is because you pulled off some of the precious trichomes that coat these flowers. After a while, all those trichomes sticking to you can definitely give you an icky feeling. 

While a logical term to come to, stick icky’s exact origins are hard to trace to a single source. However, we can pinpoint one of the earliest instances when the term gained public recognition and popularity, thanks to its use in the song ‘Still D-R-E’ by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. And due to legal reasons, while I can’t post the lyrics here, they are very obviously referring to cannabis consumption. And while that song uses the term ‘icky’, it’s not doing it in a negative way as you’re about to learn. 

What Causes Cannabis to be “Sticky”

Cannabis flowers love to stick to whatever they touch because of the trichomes. Those trichomes have all the goodies we enjoy when consuming cannabis for recreational or therapeutic purposes. That can definitely seem annoying when they get stuck on your fingers when handling buds, but trust me when I say it’s way worse when growing and harvesting these plants. 

Then, while that sticky feeling can be icky and vexing, the more sticky your flower, the greater the chance it’s potent as @#$#. 

Whether you’re looking for non-intoxicating CBD cannabinoids, highly-intoxicating THC cannabinoids, or just want a super aromatic flavor, you aren’t finding them anywhere other than the trichomes. Stickiness also implies fresher flowers while also indicating Marijuana was harvested and processed (dry & cured) at the right times, using gentler techniques that encourage greater trichome retention. 

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Sticky Icky vs. Dry Weed: Understanding the Difference

We learned above that sticky weed tends to mean that your cannabis flower is heavily coated in trichomes. Which we want a lot of since that is where all the therapeutic benefits, euphoric high, and flavors/aromas are coming from. As such most consumers tend to prefer the stickiest of the ickiest as it contributes to the best overall experience. 

Now, while most consumers tend to prefer sticky weed for its greater potency, flavors, and aroma, there are a few reasons you may prefer dry weed. In my opinion, health concerns are the biggest reason, because dry weed likely has had less exposure to mildew and mold. Whether it was harvested when dehydrated or dried too fast in a low-humidity room, both encourage environments that discourage mildew and mold. Dry weed doesn’t tend to gunk up grinders as fast, and some will prefer how it leaves their fingers less sticky.  

The Cultivation and Curing Process

When I first started to learn about cultivating cannabis, the traditional advice was to start trimming your weed the second after you harvested it. That meant removing all the big fan leaves and even taking the tips off some of the bigger sugar leaves. This is known as wet trimming since you trim when wet. Years ago, I started moving away from that, doing most of my trimming after my plants had dried for 1-2 weeks. And today, that’s now the norm as it lets the flowers dry slowly, giving the trichomes more time to really fix themselves to the flower before we handle them when trimming. We call this dry trimming. 

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Dry trimming promotes higher-quality flowers and after you just spent 3+ months nurturing and caring for your plants, it makes sense to utilize practices that retain their quality. By the way, I’d love to toot my own horn and say, I started dry trimming before it was the norm thanks to my gardening skills. More like laziness skills because harvesting and wet trimming make for an exhausting day. 

How to Identify High-Quality Sticky Weed

There are several ways to identify high-quality weed. One of your best ways is by buying from a reputable company that has great reviews while providing a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that tests for potency, i.e., stickiness. While you want your flower to feel sticky and not crumble into a powdery texture when grinding it, your buds should never feel damp, even when you give them a hard press. If you notice that, carefully break the buds into smaller sizes while checking for mold and mildew. Moldy buds will have a grayish-white powdery coating and musty smell, whereas powdery mildewy buds will have long white hair strains that resemble spider webs (no smell).  

The Sticky Debate: Connoisseur’s Delight or Overhyped Buzz?

Most cannabis consumers will prefer their buds on the sticky side as that indicates a greater presence of trichomes. More trichomes = greater potency and flavor/aroma. With that said, it’s always good to be cautious with cannabis terms that describe their quality, as many times they are simply marketing terms. Cannabis products don’t have the best regulations to ensure you are getting an honest product. You can combat that by checking product reviews on/off a brand’s website while ensuring they are providing up-to-date COAs.

Nicholas McKenzie - Cannabis Research Specialist

Nicholas McKenzie - Cannabis Research Specialist

Nicholas has spent the last ten years teaching gardeners, businesses, and enthusiasts how to succeed in the exciting and ever-changing world of cannabis. Whether he’s in the field getting his hands dirty or in the lab studying cannabinoids and their uses, Nicholas is passionate about bringing well-researched, factual, and concise information to an industry that very much needs it.

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