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
Marijuana Packaging: How To Keep Weed Fresh
Marijuana packaging — and plastic sandwich baggies specifically — have long been a bane of existence for most serious stoners. We’ve certainly had trouble finding high-quality, distinctive pot packaging for our organic, honest marijuana that still satisfies consumer taste and legal demands.
So what’s a concerned cannaseur to do? Learn how to keep weed fresh from the Mary Jane experts at Honest Marijuana , that’s what.
In this article, we’ll present a few fun historical reefer packaging facts and break down the biochemical basis of tried-and-true traditional pro tips. That’s a lot of words for basically telling you how to keep your pot as fresh as possible.
We’ll start by examining the packaging practices of the past.
United States Marijuana Packaging History
Since the mid- to late-1800s, marijuana packaging has been a major priority for big pharmaceutical companies like Park Davis & Co., and S.B. Penick & Co. (now subsidiaries of Pfizer and Siegfried Ltd. respectively). These companies used airtight tin containers to protect their cannabis from air and sunlight and to keep it from losing its potency .
In the early 1900s, apothecaries (the precursors to pharmacists) who sold and distributed cannabis in the United States made use of ceramic jars to keep their ganja fresh. “But wait,” you say, “we’re a long way from the early 1900s! We’re not even in the 20th century anymore. Surely the masters of marijuana have come up with better packaging than tins and ceramic jars.”
You’d think so, right? Well, rest assured that we have. But before we tell you about our awesome new packaging, let’s investigate what makes for a good canna-container.
The Chemistry of Keeping Weed Fresh
It’s important to understand how air temperature, humidity, and light interact with the chemistry of your cannabis. When you know how to control those factors, you’ll be able to keep your reefer really fresh for longer periods of time.
It’s important to store your stash in a spot with cool, but not cold, air temperatures in order to preserve the psychoactive potency of your pot.
Decarboxylation is the process by which raw, organic, cannabinoids in their plant form (such as THC , CBD , CBN , and CBG ) are activated so that the natural endocannabinoid system in your body can reap the benefits .
There are so many advantages to fresh decarboxylated weed that we couldn’t possibly ever list them…even in one single run-on sentence.
The thing is, the THC in your weed will lose its euphoric kick and degrade into the cannabinoid CBN (which will still help you get to sleep but won’t get you high) if you leave it out in the heat.
The aromas and medicinal properties of the terpenes in your weed will also dry out, making your medicine harsher and less healthy to smoke.
And if that’s not bad enough, mildew and other mold may be more likely to manifest on your marijuana from the moisture which accumulates in air temperatures of 77° Fahrenheit or warmer.
Many who read the above information will immediately think, “Put it in the freezer!” But you don’t want to freeze your reefer in an attempt to preserve it in spite of what some sources will suggest.
Yes, super cold ice water, high proof alcohol, and even dry CO2 ice are excellent ways to make the cannabinoid-laden trichome resin freeze up and fall off of freshly harvested sensimilla if you want to make cannabis concentrates for vaporization , edibles , or tinctures .
But if you store your buds in the freezer, the trichomes will break off and ruin the short- and long-term smoking potential of your pot. Don’t do it.
The humidity levels of the spot where you stash your herb has a lot to do with how long it’s medicinal qualities will last.
Too much moisture in the air around your herb will make it susceptible to mildew and mold. Too little moisture will dry the trichome resin right out and degrade the cannabinoids and terpenes — even if the air temperature is optimal.
Research suggests that a relative humidity (RH) level between 59% and 63% is ideal to keep your weed as consistently fresh in terms of potency, aroma, flavor, texture, and color.
An RH level of 62% is thought to be the sweet spot for storing weed for smoking , while people who prefer to vape their weed are leaving it at lower RH levels closer to 54%.
Serious stoners who want to keep their stash as fresh as possible for as long as possible can use products such as the Cannador or salt-based humidity monitoring and control packs from Boveda.
These will help you ascertain, optimize, and stabilize the sweet RH spot for storing preferred strains of cannabis.
Ultra violet rays (light) from the sun can bleach your buds and harsh the mellow of your marijuana just as much as they can burn your skin.
In fact, light exposure was the single most salient factor in the long-term stability rate of cannabinoids from research in which nine samples of weed were left out in various conditions for over two years.
The study conducted in the 1970s by the University of London found that their pot samples could maintain their potency for one to two years in “well-filled,well-closed” containers left in dark, room-temperature conditions.
So now that you understand just how essential temperature, humidity, and light are to the freshness of your marijuana, let’s turn our attention to basic storage ideology.
Weed Storage 101
Believe it or not, marijuana packaging has come a long way since the tin cans and ceramic pots of yore.
Nowadays, most serious stoners make use of airtight homesteading-style glass mason jars of different sizes. They’ll have various sizes on hand for different quantities of bud. And if you’re not familiar with glass canning jars, they’re the containers commonly used for preserving fruit and pickling vegetables. You can pick up a case for cheap at your local hardware or grocery store.
A glass canning jar with a lid is perfect for pot since mason jars are impermeable to oxygen, aren’t affected by residual humidity, and are inert to temperature fluctuations. In addition, glass doesn’t secrete any chemical compounds that will kill the fresh aroma of your cannabis terpenes.
Unfortunately, most clear mason jars won’t protect your ganja from becoming dry and brittle due to sunlight or heat damage. That’s why opaque or dark, tinted glass jars are always your best bet.
If you can’t find a glass container with a lid, an airtight container made of titanium is your next best option to preserve your pot since it doesn’t secrete any ganja-ruining gases.
When deciding how to store your weed, it’s vital that you keep different strains of weed separate. This helps to preserve each strain’s individual aromas and psychoactive effects.
It’s critical to keep any clear glass jars you may be using for your herb in cool, dark, dry places such as cupboards, cabinets or drawers. Placing your ganja jar in a dark paper bag can also help you protect your cannabis from harmful cosmic UV rays.
It’s also very important to make sure that your jars are the right size for the amount of ganja that you need to smoke since extra empty jar space lets more air, with all its unwanted heat, ambient humidity, and all the mold and mildew that can come with it into your herb.
You can also vacuum seal your ganja jars to reduce the amount of oxygen you expose to your medicine.
As you can see, there are a number of elements that come in to play when selecting optimal marijuana packaging .
What You Don’t Want to Do with Your Weed
Now that you know a bit about weed storage, let’s talk about what NOT to with whatever containers you choose.
- Never leave your medicine out in the open on tables or countertops exposed to light, heat, and/or humidity.
- Never store your stash near electronics or other heat generating gadgets since the heat will degrade your dope.
- Never store your reefer in the refrigerator. The temperature fluctuations from opening and closing your fridge door every time you get the munchies will make your marijuana moldy and mildewy.
- Never keep your cannabis on ice in your freezer since this will break trichome resin heads off from the rest of the reefer before you can consume it.
- Never, ever add fruit peels to flavor your weed even if some sources tell you this is ok. Doing so will add unwanted moisture, mold, and mildew into your marijuana.
Never store your weed in direct contact with any other substance with a strong aroma such as makeup, perfume, cologne, deodorant, shaving cream, aftershave, paint, polish, or any other commonly-carried cosmetic which can leach into your medicine. This is also why you want to store your stash separately from your lighters, pipes , bongs , grinders , pokers, and other pot paraphernalia which will get funky with use and overpower the freshness of the pot you are aiming to preserve.
Don’t Rely On Plastic
Plastic, especially the plastic sandwich baggies that most marijuana users keep their cannabis in, are positively the worst way to preserve your weed. Plastic baggies do absolutely nothing to keep light, air, heat, cold, or moisture out of your marijuana.
Even sealable plastic baggies will let lots of odors out from your pot out as well. Plastic is a horrible material for keeping pot fresh since it has a static charge that will pull precious trichomes from the plant matter onto the plastic, creating a fine, sticky, powdery mess that you’ll never be able to get out of the bag into your bong .
When you visit your local dispensary, we highly recommend that you bring your own empty glass jars for your budtender to fill rather than ruin your weed or the environment with plastic baggies.
The Next Step In Marijuana Packaging
At Honest Marijuana we take pride in everything we do. That extends to our revolutionary pot packaging. We put all our buds in resealable cans to preserve the freshness longer.
We even take the extra step of preserving the flowers with nitrogen before sealing the containers. This preserves the cannabis longer and ensures that you see, smell, and taste everything exactly the same way we do at the growery. That’s what good packaging is all about.
Want to keep your weed fresh longer? The experts at Honest Marijuana show you how packaging plays a vital role in keeping your pot potent.