From the very first toke that you ever have, you likely wonder how long your buds will last. Perhaps you find a few tucked in your rucksack from last year’s weed delivery, or you need a way to store buds after a killer harvest until you are ready to enjoy them. Marijuana is much like fine wine. It ages well in dark, cool spaces, and although it has no exact expiry date, there are some ways to extend its lifespan.
Temperature is an essential factor to think about when storing cannabis. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mold, mildew, or other fungi and bacteria thrive in temperatures ranging from 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your buds in an area cooler than this can go a long way in preventing such issues from developing.
Furthermore, extreme heat dries out valuable terpenes and cannabinoids that develop over months. If too dry, these essential oils cause harsh, hot smoke that is very unpleasant on the throat. Keeping your buds cool also slows decarboxylation, the conversion of non-psychoactive THC-A into psychoactive THC and eventually into CBN. Additionally, warm air retains moisture, which leads to humidity issues.
Bacteria and fungi thrive in conditions of high humidity too. Controlling humidity is paramount. However, controlling relative humidity, or RH, ranges is not particularly easy, but if you store cannabis within range of 59 percent and 63 percent humidity, that is ideal. In that range, aging buds not only maintain, but also enhance consistency, flavor, color, aroma, and potency too.
Too much humidity will invite contaminants to destroy your buds. However, too little have problems of its own to concern you. Although you can eliminate any chance of mold growth to occur by keeping RH under 65 percent, if it drops too low, then trichomes dry out and become brittle, which will damage your buds’ essential oils and, ultimately, their potency and flavor.
Light can seriously harm your buds, especially harmful ultraviolent light, which breaks down both organic and synthetic material at a rapid pace. This is why it is best to store your buds in a dark place, away from harmful light. According to Wiley Online Library, light is the single largest factor when it comes to the degradation of cannabinoids.
Researchers concluded from that same study that cannabinoids would retain their structure and stability for as long as two years if stored in proper conditions. If dark enough, they will remain both safe and effective for consumption beyond even that, as the essential oils degrade much slower over time. Keeping your buds away from direct light also has the advantage of helping you control temperature.
Consider Air Control
Air is very important, lots of it, and constantly flowing, when growing and curing cannabis. However, when storing it, not so much. To keep buds true to their original form and fresh for as long as possible, you need to store them in an airtight glass container with just the right amount of air inside. Too little will affect relative humidity significantly, especially if buds are still slightly damp when stored.
On the other hand, having too much air will speed decomposition, quickening the degradation process with exposure of cannabinoids to oxygen. You can minimize oxygen exposure by “burping” your buds properly, but since this can be complicated, most rely on various electric and handheld vacuum pumps for canning jars. These devices make it easier to control and manage exposure to oxygen.
Dos and Don’ts of Storing Cannabis
- Do keep buds in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight.
- Do store buds in glass jars, or other containers with a neutral charge.
- Do monitor and control levels of relative humidity. Use hygrometers to help with this.
- Do use vacuum-sealed jars to reduce risk of oxygen exposure.
- Do store different strains separately. This will maintain their individual terpene, or flavor, profiles.
- Do not put your buds in the refrigerator or freezer. Temperature and humidity fluctuations actually increase risk of mildew and mold, as well as the drying out of fragile trichomes.
- Do not store your buds in plastic, whether they are containers or jars. Plastic “breathes,” and it lets off a static charge that collects valuable trichomes. If plastic is unavoidable, only use it for small quantities of buds, and for very short periods.
- Do not store weed anywhere near heat-generating appliances, such as stoves, heaters, microwaves, toasters, or similar electronics. Heat rises, so always store your buds low down, like wine, in a bottom cupboard, on the lowest shelf, or in the basement or cellar of your home.
- Do not tobacco humidors. These devices, often cedar wood, but not always, transfer their own oils into your buds and change their flavors. They also utilize sponges that employ propylene glycol, which although able to regulate humidity, will actually oversaturate your weed.
- Do not store any of your cannabis accessories, such as pipes, bongs, even grinders, anywhere near your buds. The resin and ash accumulated from past use has a lingering, pungent smell that will stink up your storage space. It is good practice to clean your gear and store it separately.
If you order other products for weed delivery, such as edibles, oils, and other perishables, then storage requirements are completely different. Due to their perishable nature, it is not wise to store items like these for long periods. Follow the storage instructions on their packaging and store edibles and oils as you would your everyday cooking oil and ordinary foodstuffs.
Tinctures and other marijuana concentrates, particularly those based in alcohol and solvents are unlikely to accrue mold or similar problems, since they no longer contain biodegradable matter. However, they still come with their own storage directions, and it would be wise to protect potency and prevent potential contamination by following the abovementioned basic guidelines.