How to keep weed fresh
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- Moisture and mold in marijuana
- The best temperature to store your cannabis
- Light and oxygen change cannabis composition
- Extending the shelf life of weed
- Frequently asked questions
Over the years, cannabis packaging in legal or medical marijuana regions has become more sophisticated, with features designed to maintain freshness. The packaging on your marijuana products might have a harvest date on them, but flower doesn’t come with an expiration date. So even with producers improving their packaging, you might find yourself wondering: how long does weed stay fresh?
About the two worst ways you can store your bud are on a tray, exposed to oxygen and light, and in a plastic sandwich bag, just like a dealer’s bags that are common on the illicit market. A number of environmental factors affect how well the plant grows, but cannabis storage is also a key component of quality and freshness. Cannabis needs the right balance of conditions to remain fresh.
Cultivators go to great lengths to ensure your flower is packaged with optimal moisture content, usually in opaque packaging to keep light out. You’re probably wondering why you still see transparent and clear containers lining your dispensary’s shelves.
Well, old habits die hard and the practice of seeing and smelling the product on the shelf is still a key component for many people when it comes to deciding what to purchase. Some companies have even started replacing the oxygen in their packaged flowers with nitrogen to help maintain freshness.
For the best possible marijuana experience, you need to know how to keep weed fresh and how to store weed properly. This guide will give you everything you need to know.
Moisture and mold in marijuana
Moisture and water make a big difference when it comes to degrading the shelf life of cannabis.
While no two cultivators dry their flowers in the same way, all cultivators dry their flowers and then put them through a process called curing.
When cannabis is properly cured, it allows the moisture that is trapped inside the bud to slowly dissipate from the flower without changing any of the cannabinoids or losing terpenes. Once the flower has the perfect moisture content, usually between 6% and 9%, it is placed into packaging from which excess oxygen has been removed. When you take it home, it’s important to try to maintain that balance.
Once the flower has the perfect moisture content, it is placed into packaging from which excess oxygen has been removed. When you take it home, it’s important to try to maintain that balance. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
If you lose too much moisture, it can change the integrity of your flower. Your flower will become brittle and lose essential terpenes that affect potency and taste. On the other hand, with too much moisture or water, the consequences are more serious. So serious, in fact, that the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which develops technical standards across many industries, published the “Standard Specification for Maintaining Acceptable Water Activity (aw) Range (0.55 to 0.65) for Dry Cannabis Flower” in May 2018.
The ATSM defines water activity as “the (quantitative) capability of the cannabis flower in a sealed container to affect the humidity of the container’s headspace air.” Headspace is the air that surrounds the flower. Water activity measures vapor pressure against pure water. If water activity is 0.55, it is 55 percent of water.
During storage, water activity cannabis should remain within a range of a minimum of 0.55 and a maximum of 0.65. Water activity increases with temperature, which is why light and temperature control go hand-in-hand as best practices for how to keep weed fresh.
The relationship between moisture content and water activity is complicated, and the cannabis industry is still striving to determine the optimal moisture content for packaged flower.
What we know now is that a relative humidity level anywhere above 65% can significantly increase the likelihood that your weed will end up growing mold. According to the American Herbal Products Association, the drying process will dehydrate cannabis until it has a moisture content of less than 15%, and the curing process is where the remaining moisture is slowly removed to retain the volatile oils.
The best temperature to store your cannabis
To extend the shelf life of marijuana, it should be kept in a cool, dark place at or slightly below room temperature. The ideal temperature to store your weed is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 degrees Celsius.
High temperatures combined with high moisture activity and relative humidity can lead to mold and mildew. Mold thrives between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 to 49 degrees Celsius, and growth is most active between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 to 32 degrees Celsius.
High temperatures and arid environments dry out your flower and evaporate sensitive terpenes, which ultimately change the effects and taste of the flower. This is why some cultivators skip drying and make live resin extracts to preserve all the monoterpenes that are lost during the drying process.
Lower temperatures are not as problematic, but they can make it harder for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) to decarboxylate into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Lower temperatures will reduce the potency of the flowers when they are smoked or could make the trichomes brittle on the plant, causing them to break off when they are removed from the cold environment.
Light and oxygen change cannabis composition
Exposure to light is the biggest culprit when it comes to aging weed. This has been known since at least 1976, when a study published in the journal Pharmacy and Pharmacology explored what happens to the stability of cannabis under various conditions. It concluded that light is the single largest contributor to loss and deterioration of cannabinoids and suggested that “carefully prepared herbal or resin cannabis or extracts are reasonably stable for 1 to 2 years if stored in the dark at room temperature.”
Ultraviolet (UV) light will always degrade your weed, even if you store it safely in glass jars. So, while the clear glass Mason jars you see in the marketplace look nice, they won’t protect your purchase the way an opaque container will. If you really like to look at your marijuana, a brown container will filter out visible ultraviolet light — that’s why brewers use them to bottle beer. Meanwhile, green containers will block out roughly 30 percent of UV rays.
As time goes by, prolonged exposure to light and air will gradually convert THCA into THC. At the same time this is occurring, existing THC is being converted into cannabinol (CBN), a cannabinoid that does not create the intoxicating properties that THC delivers.
Ultraviolet (UV) light will always degrade your weed, even if you store it safely in glass jars. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
And it’s not just THC that’s affected. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) can transform into cannabidiol (CBD) with enough exposure, and THCV will degrade into CBV. During this time, your weed could potentially become less potent.
In addition to playing a role in the conversion of cannabinoids, oxygen can also oxidize essential terpenes and change the overall aroma of the flower into a grassy, haylike smell.
To reduce exposure to oxygen, make sure there aren’t many air pockets in your container. You should always store your weed in an airtight container. Don’t use very large containers to store small quantities of weed, as this leaves too much air inside the container with your herb.
Of course, it is inevitable that some amount of oxygen will get into your sealed package once it is open, but you can limit the amount of time that the jar is opened and the number of times it is opened.
If you store your weed in sealed bags, remove as much air as possible before sealing. Vacuum-sealing weed can be a reliable, long-term storage solution for your stash. If you go this route, be sure you follow these tips to avoid inadvertently damaging your weed:
- Try to avoid vacuum sealing your marijuana in plastic that contains bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical is a key ingredient in many types of plastic, but it has proven to be harmful to humans. And unfortunately, if you store your weed in plastic containing BPA, some of those dangerous chemicals could leach into your marijuana.
- Handle your weed delicately. Plastic easily builds up static charges that can pull trichomes off your buds. Trichomes are the cannabinoid- and terpene-rich hairlike glands all over cannabis flowers, so you’ll want to avoid damaging them.
If you plan on storing your vacuum-sealed weed in the freezer, know that freezing will also make your trichomes vulnerable to damage, as they will become brittle.
Extending the shelf life of weed
Knowing how to store weed properly will help you get the most out of your cannabis experience. Ultimately, the key to extending marijuana shelf life is all about limiting exposure to the elements. When it’s time to open your container, pull out your flower and immediately close your package. Don’t let it sit open, and avoid windy or highly ventilated areas.
To maintain the right level of moisture, use a salt-based control sachet to maintain the ideal relative humidity. According to the ASTM standards (D8197-18), “a salt-based control sachet designed to maintain a relative humidity of 0.55 to 0.65 in a sealed container can be used to maintain optimum storage conditions.”
Additionally, you can store your marijuana in a cannabis humidor box, which has been designed to maintain the ideal humidity for marijuana. There are currently several models available on the market.
Whatever you do, be sure you don’t use a cigar humidor to store your weed. Cigar humidors are typically lined with cedar wood. The oils in the wood help enhance the taste of cigars, but those same oils tend to harm cannabis. Similarly, humidors for cigars often use sponges or propylene glycol to create humidity that are ideal for tobacco, but are much too high for cannabis.
In the past, to remedy dry weed, people would add an orange peel to their bags to keep the moisture content, but this greatly increases the likelihood that mold would be introduced. In addition, the water activity of orange peels is unknown and the aroma of the peel could alter the flavor and aroma of your weed.
Nowadays, you can use the same humidity control packs, such as Boveda packs, to reintroduce moisture if it is too dehydrated. This will not reintroduce terpenes that were lost, but it will ensure that you don’t have a harsh smoking experience.
To keep your weed in tip-top shape as long as possible, take careful steps to avoid exposure to light, moisture, oxygen, and extreme temperatures. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Like almost everything else, weed doesn’t last forever. Over time, changes to the molecular structure occur with exposure to heat, light, and moisture.
When cannabinoids and terpenes experience very high or very low temperatures, dry up, are exposed to too much moisture, or are left in the presence of light, chemical changes that will degrade the potency of the flower and could alter the taste and mouthfeel may occur.
As terpenes are exposed to environmental changes, they can oxidize or evaporate, creating a change in aroma and effects. And even though all weed degrades over time, the process can be slowed down if you control the temperature, moisture, and the amount of oxygen your flower is exposed to. To keep your weed in tip-top shape as long as possible, keep an eye on the harvest date on the packaging and take careful steps to avoid exposure to light, moisture, oxygen, and extreme temperatures.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best smell-proof container for weed?
The simplest way to keep your stash smell proof is to make sure it’s stored in a solid airtight container with a sealable top. Sealable glass jars, like a Mason jar, are typically sufficient for storing your stash and keeping in the smell. Some cannabis consumers also use large medicine bottles to keep their stash from stinking up their living space. Online retailers also offer a variety of odor-proof containers designed specifically for weed storage.
Is refrigerating or freezing weed bad?
Refrigerating or freezing weed is definitely preferable to storing it in an area that’s too hot or humid. And though some cannabis consumers report successful long term weed storage through freezing, it’s more than possible to lose freshness and potency to icy temperatures, as trichomes may become brittle and break off more easily. Storing your stash in an opaque, sealed container, in a relatively cool place with minimal sunlight is your best bet for long term storage with minimal degradation.How to keep weed fresh Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Moisture and mold in marijuana The best temperature to store your cannabis Light
Essential Tips For Preserving The Aroma Of Your Cannabis
We provide you with some essential tips for preserving the aroma and the terpenes of your favourite herb. You can actually do a lot in all stages of growing—be it pre or post-harvest, or even beyond that—to avoid a stale smoke that tastes lousy and is harsh on your lungs.
To preserve the aroma of your cannabis, you have to save the trichomes. And by save the trichomes, we mean save your terpenes. Terpenes are what give the cannabis plant its distinctive aroma, and they have many enemies in the world that can destroy them, leaving your buds smelling and tasting dull.
After harvesting your cannabis plants, these volatile compounds begin to degrade, but there are several steps and tips you can follow to avoid this process—or at least delay it. If you get this right, your cannabis buds will actually have a long shelf life, will smell and taste better, and will even have a more potent effect.
Some of these tips even begin while you are still growing your cannabis, but most of them apply to the phases after harvest—and some actually apply to how you use your buds once they are completely cured.
Let’s delve into these helpful tips!
AVOID TOO MUCH CONTACT WITH THE TRICHOMES
This tip applies to all phases of your cannabis grow; from the growing process and the trimming to the drying and curing. If you constantly touch your plant’s sugar leaves and buds while it’s growing, you will already have lost many trichomes during the process. Your fingers will smell great, but that’s because you’re destroying the trichomes that protect the terpenes.
Avoid too much agitation while trimming as well. Of course, you have to hold something in order to manicure your buds perfectly, but just be gentle with them. The same principle applies to the drying and curing process. Don’t shake the buds in the jars or touch them the whole time as this will only cause the trichomes to fall off, leaving you with a diminished end product.
Before you can harvest, you need to flush your cannabis properly to remove any excess nutrients that have built up during the growing process. This will result in a smoother smoke that burns evenly and tastes better, because the aroma and flavour can cut through more. You can recognise a good flush by the colour of the ash. Light grey or white ash indicates a thorough flushing. Black ash signals otherwise.
The right moment to begin the flush depends on your growing style. If you grow in soil, it is recommended to flush your plants with pure water 2 weeks prior to harvest time. If you grow in a hydroponic setup, you should flush your plants 10 days before harvest. Only with an organic, soil-based growing style do you not have to flush your plants for long. But you must still give them pure water for at least a week prior to the chop.
When your cannabis is ready for harvesting, you have to choose whether you want to “wet” or “dry” trim. Wet trimming means you trim your cannabis plant stalk by stalk directly after harvest and hang them upside down for the drying process. Dry trimming involves hanging the whole plant in the drying room after harvest, then trimming it when it’s dry.
If you want to preserve as many terpenes as possible, you should opt for the wet trimming method. This way, you will save the most trichomes. When you dry trim, chances are you will lose a lot of trichomes because they tend to fall off a lot easier. Plus, you have to really handle the buds to trim them properly.
This step is crucial for getting supreme buds at the end of the process. After you have trimmed your cannabis, it needs to dry to get rid of the moisture in the buds. This will not only prevent trouble with mould and mildew, but will also lead to exceptional aroma and flavour. Light and moisture are the two main enemies here, so dry your cannabis in a cool and dark place that has a temperature of 15–22°C and a humidity level of around 50%. If the temperature is too high (above 26°C), your terpenes will begin to evaporate, which you want to avoid at all costs. This can happen if you dry in hot summer conditions.
How long you have to dry your cannabis for depends on your drying environment. Most growers dry their cannabis for 3–7 days, but there are some that even go 14 days. You will know when buds are ready to be put in jars via the snap test. Regularly check your cannabis stems or twigs. If they snap easily, they are dry enough to proceed with the next step. If they bend, it means they still have too much moisture in them. For more information about drying, check out our comprehensive article on the subject.
Some growers will say that the product is already finished at this stage, but for the best possible aroma, you should definitely go the long way and cure your cannabis properly. This will give it the finishing touch, refining it so that you end up smoking some delicious-smelling and tasting weed.
Moreover, this process will increase the overall potency and cannabinoid effectiveness of your buds. So, don’t skip it! To cure your cannabis, loosely add your buds to wide-mouth mason jars with an airtight seal. If you grow different strains, don’t just put them all together in one jar; separate them to get the most out of each cultivar. Avoid using plastic bags for the curing process. They increase the risk of mould and mildew, and furthermore you don’t want your precious buds to make contact with harmful microplastic particles. What’s more, the buds are mangled together in these bags because of their shape, which will ultimately result in the loss of many trichomes and terpenes.
The temperature in your jars should be approximately 21°C, with the humidity around 60%. There exist several means on the market to ensure these conditions are consistently met, such as humidity packs. For the first two weeks, open or “burp” the jars once or twice a day to exchange air and inspect your buds. You should notice how the smell of your buds enhances over time. After two weeks, your buds should be dry to the point where you can leave them in the jars without opening them all the time. But the curing process still continues. Most growers say cannabis is properly cured after 4 weeks. But some even cure for several months. We have a great article about curing as well.
USE A GRINDER
Even after you have successfully dried and cured your cannabis, there are still some things to consider when preparing and using your buds to achieve the best aroma and smoking experience. Using a grinder will unlock the pleasant aroma of your tight and dense nuggets. Don’t break your buds apart with your fingers like a Neanderthal. This will only make your fingers sticky from all the resin you now have on your hands instead of in your bowl or joint.
Most stoners use normal lighters because they are convenient and easy to come by. But these lighters use butane for their flame. Butane is not only unhealthy, it masks the terpene profile of your smoke. Trust us, you don’t want that! There are several alternatives to lighters. You could use hemp wick or a plasma lighter for a natural taste and less harmful smoke.
CLEAN SMOKING ACCESSORIES
For maximum aroma and taste, you should always make sure that you use clean smoking accessories. What we mean is that you should clean your pipes and bongs regularly. Why? Because nothing ruins the aroma of a perfectly dried and cured bud so effectively as a nasty, foul-smelling smoking device. And always go for glass gadgets, for other materials will kill your experience with their unpleasant taste.
If you prefer smoking joints, be sure to select rolling papers made from natural materials and produced without any chemicals or additives. Don’t ruin your aroma and taste with rolling papers that are full of chlorine and taste like newsprint. Unrefined options don’t alter the aroma of your joint. Companies like RAW, Smoking, and others offer several options for you that are thin, natural, unrefined, and even vegan. Some options actually make use of hemp instead of normal paper.
The Royal Queen Seeds Embossed Metal Grinder looks like a million bucks. But the best thing is that it performs as good as it looks!
The Royal Queen Seeds Embossed Metal Grinder looks like a million bucks. But the best thing is that it performs as good as it looks!Preserving the aroma of your stash is key for smoking fragrant, flavoursome flowers that will delight every stoner. Find out how to save your terpenes. ]]>