How Does Humidity Affect Your Cannabis?
There are many elements to consider when properly curing and storing your cannabis. One of the most crucial considerations is managing the relative humidity (RH) of the plant while it’s stored in an airtight container. Having too much moisture will increase the risk of contamination by mold or mildew. Having too little moisture will cause the trichomes to dry out. They will become brittle, harsh, and less effective as the essential oils that carry the cannabinoids and terpenes slowly degrade.
Luckily, there’s a solution that avoids the balancing act of monitoring your ambient humidity and maintaining the ideal RH. As well as giving you a powerful tool to give your cannabis the best cure possible.
What is Ambient Humidity?
Ambient humidity is what’s happening outside your container of cannabis. It could be your bedroom, the trunk of your car, or the outdoors. For air conditioned homes, the humidity is usually 20-30% because the AC scrubs moisture out of the air. Inside a heated home, the humidity will often be even lower as the furnace scrubs much of the ambient humidity.
In the time it takes to open and prepare cannabis for consumption, the flower can lose a detectable amount of moisture. Without a proper way to monitor and adjust humidity in your container, the cannabis will dry over time.
Using cannabis humidity packs like Boveda 62 in the container allows you to quickly replace the lost moisture both in the air and in the plant. The cannabis is then the same original quality every time. Some would even make the case it gets better with age, like wine or cigars.
The RH “Sweet Spot”
Humidity control packs can monitor ambient humidity and add or remove moisture to deliver a precise RH. This gives your cannabis the optimal moisture content and keeping it true to its original form. For example, the Boveda 62, developed after repeated requests from cannabis aficionados to create a pack that held a lower RH. This Boveda pack keeps your buds at the perfect 62% RH level.
To determine the best RH for cannabis, we hired a third party laboratory to do a moisture sorption isotherm on a single strain of cannabis. A moisture sorption isotherm test applies a wide range of humidity levels to an item. It also determines an RH range in which the properties of the item doesn’t change. For the strain of cannabis the lab tested, 59-63% RH showed to be ideal.
In the same way nature has gifted the world cannabis, it gifts us the natural salts that provide the key to balancing RH levels. Different salt compounds hold a varying range of moisture. Making it crucial to source a salt that stabilizes moisture content at an ideal 62%.
Many who prefer vaporizing their cannabis are finding they favor even lower humidity levels, such as the 54%. Personal preference can also dictate your ideal RH “sweet spot,” with elements like plant density and personal taste being the deciding factors.
How Does RH Affect the Curing, Drying, and Storage of Cannabis?
If you want the best possible cure, you need to store cannabis in an environment with stable RH within the ideal range. The ambient humidity isn’t much of a concern. Boveda cannabis humidity packs respond to conditions inside the container, absorbing or releasing moisture to maintain the ideal 62% inside.
From there, your major concerns are temperature and light. Boveda adjusts the humidity based on temperature changes, but cannabis should always be kept away from high temperatures to avoid decarboxylation or activating the precious cannabinoids. And as widely recommended throughout the cannabis industry, always store you cannabis in a cool dark place.
While Boveda is effective at removing excess moisture, growers should still dry cannabis using their traditional methods. When the branches feel close to their target moisture content, put the buds in containers with Boveda to help adjust the RH to the proper range for cannabis.
Humidity plays a huge role in the quality of cannabis. Maintain superior quality with cannabis humidity packs from Boveda.
How to Control Humidity When Storing Your Cannabis
This article is sponsored by Integra by Desiccare. Integra™ by Desiccare manufactures a complete line of humidity control products for the cannabis industry. Whether you’re drying, curing, storing, or preserving edibles, they have the solution to keep the freshness, potency, taste, and overall quality of your product.
Once upon a time, weed was weed. It came in a plastic bag from a friend of a friend, and you probably didn’t get a whole lot of info on strain, potency, or potential contamination with your purchase. Today, you can browse thousands of strains for their specific aromas, flavors, and effects; purchase cannabis in any form; even curate your own personal selection of cannabis, keeping certain types on hand for when friends stop by unexpectedly or a specific event calls for specific effects.
The problem with these possibilities? It’s hard to keep your stash fresh. Whether you splurge on a strain meant only for special occasions, or keep a library of indicas, sativas, and hybrids on hand for different times of day, your cannabis can still be degraded over time unless you take charge of its storage by managing humidity.
Why Does Humidity Matter to Cannabis Consumers?
Most cannabis consumers know that humidity affects their stash; they’re just not sure exactly how. Relative humidity, or RH, represents the amount of moisture in the air relative to the amount of moisture the air is physically capable of holding at that temperature. It can affect everything from the smoothness of a toke to the effectiveness of cannabis in treating a given medical condition.
Maintaining the perfect RH is a delicate balancing act, with real-world implications for recreational and medical cannabis consumers alike. The sections below address specific impacts of humidity on cannabis, and what they ultimately mean for consumers of all kinds.
How Does Humidity Affect Aromas, Flavors, and Effects of Cannabis?
Aromas and flavors of cannabis are tied up in terpenes, the fragrant essential oils that give strains their signature tastes and scents as they moderate the effects you feel from any given variety of cannabis. They’re what give Agent Orange its signature citrus scent, lend floral flavor characteristics to Lavender, and contribute to the couch-lock effects associated with White Widow.
Over time, the cannabis trichomes that house those precious terpenes and cannabinoids will break down if your humidity levels are too low. For the consumer, this means you’ll no longer get an overwhelming whiff of oranges from a jar of Tangie, or taste the rich, juicy notes that give Blackberry Kush its name. Losing terpenes can take away from the medical benefits experienced by patients, too; myrcene, for instance, is considered partially responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects attributed to strains like Himalayan Gold, and losing those terpenes can mean losing those positives.
How Can Controlled Humidity Prevent Cannabis Contamination?
While an overly dry environment will degrade the precious active ingredients in cannabis, an overly moist environment invites an array of scourges into your stash. Mold and bacteria, for instance, often grow on cannabis under certain conditions, especially when RH is too high (generally considered to be over 65%).
Not only can contamination produce bad odors and flavors for the casual consumer, contaminants are particularly problematic for individuals using cannabis as medicine, especially when their immune systems are already compromised by their condition. For example, HIV/AIDS and cancer patients are especially prone to conditions such as aspergillosis, a potentially fatal lung disease, which can result from ingestion of cannabis molds such as Aspergillus. The ability to control humidity means the ability to guard against these types of contamination-born diseases.
How to Choose the Right Product for Humidity Maintenance
Traditionally, cannabis consumers have been told to stay within the range of 59% to 63% relative humidity (RH) to keep their cannabis from losing weight, potency, and precious cannabinoids while protecting against molds and mildew. Lately though, some consumers have favored a slightly drier environment, with an RH as low as 54%. It all depends on your personal preferences and how long you intend to hold onto a given strain.
The secret to keeping your stash fresh and fungus-free? Adaptive humidity control packets like Integra BOOST, which absorb excess moisture when humidity is too high and release it again when RH is too low. To learn more about Integra products, visit the company’s website.
References: The Cannabis Encyclopedia (Jorge Cervantes); Cannabis potency and contamination: a review of the literature (McLaren et al., 2008).
Learn how humidity can negatively affect your stored cannabis and what you can do to maintain your bud’s potency, purity, flavor, and effects.