Giving your cannabis proper care and storage is important for preserving all its precious active ingredients. If you are too liberal when it comes to storing weed, it may cause it to go stale and lose its potency. Cannabis is a great medicine, and there are many fun ways to incorporate it into your routine; you can smoke it, vape it, or infuse it into cooking oils to make delicious edible products. But what if you’re not a regular user and you need to store them on a regular basis to maintain their strength and flavors? As a natural product, cannabis contains many compounds that are responsible for its potency, aroma, and taste. The plant contains not only cannabinoids but also terpenes, which can degrade over time. All these chemicals are actually pretty delicate — the reason why proper storage is so important. In our today’s guide to storing cannabis, we’ll cover everything there is to know about getting more bang for your buck just by storing your stash the right way.
What Are Cannabis Flowers?Cannabis flowers are the most popular form of cannabis. They are the resinous part of the plant, where the majority of cannabinoids and terpenes are secreted. Flowers begin to appear during the flowering state of growth, when the plant has finished growing stems and leaves to withstand the weight of the buds. Once mature, the flowers get harvested and trimmed. Then, growers need to dry them for a few days and cure for about two weeks. Drying allows for the initial activation of cannabinoids like THC and CBD while curing improves the structure of the buds as well as their potency and aromas. A finished product can be used as is — smoked or vaporized — or processed into different products, such as extracts, edibles, and concentrates. Cannabis flowers are actually the source material of all different weed formats out there. The potency of dried flower ranges between 5% and 35% depending on the strain.
How Long Is Your Cannabis Good?There’s no definite expiration date for cannabis. The general rule is the better the storage conditions, the longer your herbs will remain potent and full of its natural aromas. When you neglect the storage, you can be sure that your cannabis will get bad after several days, and if you let it sit in a humid place, you’ll see mold forming on top of your once beautiful buds. On the other hand, we’ve read stories of people finding their hidden stash in an airtight container after a year and the weed was still potent and full of flavors. Now, let’s talk about the consequences of not storing your cannabis properly.
What Happens When You Don’t Store Your Cannabis Properly?There are three factors that can deteriorate the quality of you cannabis: light, heat, and moisture. Exposure to light and heat will cause the cannabinoids and terpenes to break down. Excessive humidity in the air can result in the development of mold and mildew on your buds. The last thing you can do to your weed is make it feel harsh and stale. Not to mention that ignoring the storage entails the risk of introducing your herb to environmental contaminants such as dust, pet hair, and other hazardous compounds. Long story short, bad storage compromises your experience with cannabis and can pose a real threat to your health.
How Long Can You Store Cannabis?There are different storage methods for cannabis. As mentioned, weed has no definite expiration date, so everything depends on how well you’ve been storing your stash. For example, if you know that you’ll use all your cannabis within a few weeks, you can store it in a silicone container with an airtight lid, keeping it in a dry and cool place. If, on the other hand, you want to keep the weed fresh for a few months, you’ll want to consider other methods of preservation. Here we give you a breakdown of different storage options:
Short-term Storage (One Week)If you’ve just purchased a few days’ worth of cannabis, it’s best to store it in a transparent silicone container. Silicone is a decent material for cannabis storage because it prevents the resin from sticking to the size of the container. Make sure that whatever you’re using to store your weed is as big as your stash — you want to leave as little air as possible. Another important thing for short-time storage is to keep your container away from light and heat.
Medium-term Storage (Several Weeks)Storing your cannabis for up to one month will require a glass container with an airtight lid. When you buy weed in bulk, we recommend splitting your batch into several containers. Again, it’s best to keep your weed in a cool and dark place.
Long-term Storage (Several Months)Many people wonder if they can preserve the freshness of their buds by freezing them. Well, technically speaking, you can, but freezing cannabinoids comes with some downsides, which we’ll cover later in the article. Some cannabis products, such as certain types of concentrates, must be frozen to maintain their potency and flavors. Other forms, such as tinctures, are alcohol-based, so their shelf life is naturally longer, up to 36 month if you store them in glass bottles. The final expiration date of a tincture is the potency of alcohol in it and whether it contains additional ingredients that can break down with time. Most dispensaries offer storage recommendations for specific products, usually listed on the product’s container — including where and how to store them. Read these labels if you want to ensure that your flowers and extracts last longer.
Tips for Storing Your CannabisIn this section, we’ll show you some useful tips to keep your cannabis fresh and potent for as long as possible
1. Choose the Right ContainerThere are many types of storage containers out there, but when it comes to storing cannabis, the best way is to store them in glass jars or dedicated cannabis humidors. Flowers are best suited for silicone and glass containers, with glass being the preferred option. That’s because glass doesn’t interact with the flavors and aromas of your weed, unlike other materials. Glass is simply the best if you want your cannabis to taste clean and without the scent of your storage container. Then, of course, you need to choose the size of your container. The less air can accumulate inside, the better, so as we said, it’s best to match the size with the volume of your stash.
2. Use Parchment PaperParchment paper creates an extra protective layer for your storage, which proves invaluable for strains that have insane resin production and thus are sticky to the touch. Buying non-stick parchment paper will save that resin from falling off the buds, preserving more cannabinoids in the end.
3. Keep Your Cannabis In a Cool and Dark PlaceOnce you’ve chosen the proper storage container for your cannabis, it’s time to figure out the best place for your supplies. You need to keep them in a cool and dry place to avoid contact with light and heat. As mentioned, air, water, moisture, and light can quickly compromise the quality of your cannabis. You want to store it in a place that keeps these environmental factors at bay. Want a textbook example of bad storage? Keeping your buds near a window under full sun. The best place to store your cannabis is a drawer or closed cabinet where the weed isn’t exposed to the air, heat, and light. Only take it out when you need to use it.
4. Avoid MoistureToo much moisture in your storage can cause your cannabinoids and terpenes to degrade faster, which is why it’s so important to keep your weed moisture-free. First off, make sure you leave your containers completely dry. If you wash them before putting your cannabis inside, pat them dry with paper towels. If you forget about that step, this can introduce too much moisture to cannabis and trigger the tragedy. As long as your cannabis remains in a cool and dry location, you have nothing to worry about. If you’re particularly touchy about the freshness of your cannabis products other than flowers, you can store them in the fridge, although this is optional.
5. Don’t Overextend the StorageCannabis can be stored for quite a while with proper maintenance methods, but it’s never a good idea to keep them there for too long. Cannabinoids and terpenes naturally degrade over time, changing the effect profile of your weed, and weakening its potency. Studies show that cannabis compounds usually degrade by around 17% after a year of storage.
Optimal Temperature for Storing CannabisMold and mildew on cannabis and other organic matter develop in temperatures between 77 F and 86 F, so it’s essential that you keep them below that point. As mentioned, excessive heat can dry out the active compounds in your weed. When these essential oils get too dry, it can result in a hot, heavy smoke. Lower temperatures also slow down the decarboxylation of cannabinoids, the process in which THCA and CBDA turn into their active forms — THC and CBD. THC eventually breaks down into CBN, a cannabinoid with different effects and properties. Strains higher in CBN tend to make consumers sedated, something which isn’t a desired effect for many people. Your aim is to slow down that degradation.
Humidity Factors You Should Take Into ConsiderationHumidity control is essential for keeping mold and fungus away from your cannabis. Keeping your weed stored in a controlled environment with just the right relative humidity (RH) ranges can greatly improve their quality. The general consensus is to store cannabis with 59–63% RH to enhance color, consistency, aroma, and taste.
Playing with Light when Storing CannabisUV rays break down many organic and synthetic compounds. Similar to the way your glass gets that brown color at the end of a long sunny summer, UV rays will cause your cannabis to degrade over time. According to a 1970 study from the University of London, light is the single biggest factor in the degradation of cannabinoids. The same study found that cannabinoids are stable for up to 2 years when stored in a properly controlled environment, although it can remain safe to consume for much longer as the essential oils have a slower breakdown time. Storing your weed away from direct light will also help you manage the temperature.
Should You Go Totally ZERO AIR?Although cannabis plants need oxygen to grow properly, storing your cannabis in a container with as little air as possible is crucial for keeping it fresh and true to how it came from curing. However, you shouldn’t go for zero air in your container. In fact, having too little air can compromise the relative humidity, especially if your buds haven’t been thoroughly dried before storage. On the other hand, too much air will speed up the degradation process of your cannabinoids due to excessive exposure to oxygen. There are plenty of hand and electric vacuum pump devices you can attach to canning jars in order to minimize that exposure.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Storing Cannabis
- Store out of direct sunlight
- Keep the container in a cool place
- Use hygrometers to control RH levels
- Vacuum seal jars and containers to reduce the amount of oxygen
- Separate your strains to keep their individual flavor profiles
- Freeze your cannabis flowers
- Use plastic bags or containers
- Store your weed above or around electronic devices that produce heat
- Use a tobacco humidor
- Store your cannabis in a grinder, pipe, or other paraphernalia