Storing Cannabis: 5 Tips to Keep Weed Fresh
You’ve just gotten home from a trip to the dispensary with some beautiful cannabis. The weed is fresh, fragrant and potent, but how do you keep it that way? What’s the best way to extend the shelf life of marijuana and ensure that it doesn’t lose all of its lovely properties? In this article we’ll discuss what makes weed go bad, what to avoid when storing weed, and our tips for proper storage.
How to Make Weed Last Longer
Can weed go bad? Sadly, yes. While it will not poison you or cause a negative effect when consumed (unless there is mold involved), cannabis potency can decrease and its active compounds can break down. Additionally, if you don’t store your weed properly it can dry out and lose most of its smell and flavor.
The key elements to be aware of when considering how to protect your product are temperature, moisture and air. If the marijuana is exposed to too much oxygen the degradation process will accelerate. If your weed ends up stored in a spot that is hot, dark and moist, it is at risk for developing dangerous mold. Furthermore, when exposed to high temperatures the terpenes that provide delicious flavor and attractive aromas will evaporate and your buds will dry out.
What to Avoid When Storing Marijuana
The easiest way to make sure that your cannabis doesn’t go bad is to avoid some of the mistakes that are all too common when it comes to marijuana storage.
- Do not store your weed in plastic bags or any other type of plastic container. Plastic exposes the marijuana to the evils of air, light and temperature fluctuations. Depending on the plastic, BPA could also be introduced to the weed.
- Keep your weed away from light. Light is the primary factor in cannabis degradation because it causes the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to turn into cannabinol (CBN), a cannabinoid that is far less psychoactive than THC.
- Do not store your weed in the refrigerator or freezer. When frozen, the precious trichomes on your cannabis can actually fall off!
- Do not store your weed in aluminum foil or paper. These materials aren’t effective for keeping your bud fresh.
- Avoid tobacco humidors. Some types of wood used in cigar humidors readily transfer oils and odors meant for tobacco – not cannabis.
If marijuana has not been stored properly the buds will become crumbly and dry and smell like cardboard. Trust us, you don’t want that. What you want is a product that is full of cannabinoids, fragrant and sticky with resin!
The Best Way to Store Weed
Regardless of whether you are new to the world of weed or are a seasoned cannabis consumer, it is critical to know how to keep weed fresh and how to keep weed from drying out. The goal is to maintain the appearance and taste that led you to choose that lovely flower in the first place.
The easiest and most affordable way to keep cannabis fresh for weeks on end is to use an airtight jar that can be filled with your stash. A jar with a metal swing and latch design with a rubber gasket on top will create a vacuum seal to keep air out. Alternatively, reach for a Mason jar or a similar sealable glass jar that will keep anything from getting in or leaking out. Jars that are dark-colored or opaque will also keep harmful light out and keep your weed from reaching its expiration date.
A cannabis humidor is another option if you are willing to spend a little more cash to ensure the sanctity of your stash. These humidors are usually wooden (walnut or mahogany) boxes with internal jars. Depending on the model, different systems are used to monitor and maintain the perfect humidity. Humidors also provide a physically attractive option for storing marijuana. Some are quite beautiful and very well made. Prices range from around $100 to well over $500 for top of the line units.
Boveda Packs are another great choice for taking your weed storage to the next level. The packs are produced to deal with moisture storage issues in all sorts of scenarios (electronics, musical instruments, photographs) and work incredibly well as humidity packs for weed. Boveda Packs use water and salts to respond to humidity levels and either add or absorb moisture to maintain the ideal level of humidity that will keep you and your weed happy.
5 Tips for Proper Marijuana Storage
- Use an airtight glass jar.
- Place the jar in a dark area that does not experience dramatic temperature fluctuations. The ideal temperature for weed storage is around 65F. The temperature should never exceed 80F or drop below 40F.
- Keep weed jars away from appliances and other heat sources.
- As you consume your weed, switch to smaller jars that limit the amount of airspace between buds. Try to keep the weed jars packed as tightly as possible.
- Be gentle with your weed. Handling it roughly will accelerate the aging process and result in bad weed.
How long does weed stay good? If you’ve checked all the boxes and followed the instructions above, your weed will easily stay fresh and tasty for months to come.
How do you store your marijuana? What is your go-to system for keeping your cannabis safe and ready to consume? Let us know in the comments section below.
You’ve just gotten home from a trip to the dispensary with some beautiful cannabis. The weed is fresh, fragrant and potent, but how do you keep it that way? What’s the best way to extend the shelf life of marijuana and ensure that it doesn’t lose all of its lovely properties? In this article we’ll discuss what makes weed go bad, what to avoid when
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.
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