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
How to rehydrate weed
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- How to store weed
- Why would you want to rehydrate weed?
- How to rehydrate weed
- Bottom line
Any cannabis flower you consume should have a certain level of moisture for an optimal experience. Moisture affects potency, flavor, aroma, and the health of a bud. If cannabis is too moist, it may develop mold and harm your smoke. If cannabis is too dry, it will burn up and possibly degrade too quickly. The ideal moisture content will prevent these potential problems and help give your cannabis the flavor, feel, and effects that you want. If you end up with some dry weed on your hands, there are a variety of tried-and-true methods you can use to rehydrate.
How to store weed
When it comes to keeping flower properly hydrated, the optimal method is always prevention. Proper storage that keeps flower fresh is the best way to ensure you’re getting the most out of your weed. Never store your bud out in the open or on a tray. Improper storage will expose your weed to an excess of oxygen and light, the two most immediate culprits of cannabis degradation. Keeping weed fresh and potent requires a delicate balance of environmental conditions.
Though clear containers and plastic bags are common forms of packing, the best way to store weed is to keep it in an opaque, airtight container in a cool, dry place without direct sunlight. Storing in an opaque container helps to ensure optimal moisture content because it keeps light out.
Storing in an opaque container helps to ensure optimal moisture content because it keeps light out. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Ideally, you should store your weed just below room temperature. Some light and air will inevitably get into your weed containers when they are opened, so be sure to keep them closed when not in use. Properly storing your weed ahead of time is the best way to prevent dehydration and extend shelf life.
Why would you want to rehydrate weed?
Even those with limited cannabis experience have likely smoked some dry weed before. Depending on the severity of the dry bud you smoked, you may not have ever considered rehydrating it, or known it was an option. Weed will inevitably degrade over time andmay dehydrate too quickly, leaving you with a subpar end-product.
In most legal markets, weed isn’t cheap. No one wants to throw their money away, especially if they’ve invested it in top-shelf cannabis. Fortunately, most methods of rehydrating weed aren’t labor-intensive, and many are effective.
There’s no escaping dehydration of your bud in the long run, but if the weed comes to you dry, or dries out before you have a chance to smoke it, rehydrating is well worth your time.
How to rehydrate weed
Weed’s relationship with moisture is complicated. All cultivators dry and cure their cannabis. The goal of drying and curing is not to completely remove moisture from the bud, but to let it slowly dissipate without altering cannabinoid and terpene content.
The ideal moisture content for cannabis flower tends to fall between 6 and 9%. A humidity level above 65% will likely result in mold development on the bud. The drying process is intended to decrease moisture content to less than 15%, while curing takes the bud down to 9% or lower.
The process of drying, curing, and maintaining the optimal moisture of cannabis is a delicate, complicated process. If you find that the weed you’ve purchased, grown, or stored is dry and brittle, there are a variety of ways to resurrect your dry buds.
Here are some of the most common methods of rehydrating weed.
Lettuce comprises up to 95% water, which makes it a great candidate for rehydrating your weed. Similar to using a citrus peel, leaving a small cut of lettuce peel in a bag with your dry buds for 2-3 hours can rehydrate them without transferring any taste or smell.
Fresh weed mixed with dry weed
If you happen to have some fresh, sufficiently moist bud on hand, you can try putting it in the same jar as your dry bud. This method may not be as reliable as others, and you may want to keep your different strains separate, but it’s a quick and easy way to make all your bud fresh without having to use any extra materials.
Damp q-tip, paper towel, cotton ball, or small sponge
Another method of rehydrating without transferring scent and aroma from other plants or foods is to place a damp q-tip, cotton ball, piece of paper towel, or small sponge in a container with your dry bud. If you use a q-tip, try and place it above your nugs without touching them. The point is to absorb minimal moisture from the q-tip, towel, or sponge to get the optimal amount for your weed.
If all else fails, buy disposable humidity control packs to place in your weed jars. Some control packs are specifically designed to preserve optimal humidity for cannabis.
Using a citrus peel is arguably the most popular DIY method of rehydrating weed. All you have to do is cut the outer layer of an orange, lemon, or other citrus peel and place it in your nug jar, tightly sealed of course. Citrus peels are naturally moist but will likely transfer some of their flavor and aroma to your bud. Since weed shares many of the same terpenes as citrus fruits, the added taste and smell may enhance your experience while rehydrating the marijuana.
What you’ll need:
- Dry cannabis
- Resealable jar
- Orange or lemon
- Sharp knife or peeler
First, assemble what you’ll need to rehydrate your weed. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 1: Place dry cannabis in a resealable jar
Place dry cannabis in a resealable jar. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 2: Carefully peel the outer skin of a citrus fruit
Carefully peel the outer skin of a citrus fruit. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 3: Put a piece of peel in with the cannabis
Put a piece of peel in with the cannabis. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 4: “Burp” jar once or twice over the next day
“Burp” jar once or twice over the next day. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Step 5: Enjoy rehydrated weed within 24 hours
Enjoy rehydrated weed within 24 hours. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Moisture is essential for experiencing the best cannabis flavor and aroma, and rehydrating weed can be achieved with a few DIY solutions from ingredients in your kitchen.
Don’t over hydrate your weed
Rehydrating your weed isn’t labor-intensive, but it is something of a delicate dance. The goal of rehydrating is to get your bud back to the state of balance of moisture content that comes from a well-executed drying and curing process. As you rehydrate your weed, check on it rigorously to make sure you aren’t infusing it with too much moisture and risking mold growth.
How to rehydrate weed Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents How to store weed Why would you want to rehydrate weed? How to rehydrate weed