Keeping Cannabis Fresh
For any serious stoner, keeping your cannabis flower fresh and flavourful is a key concern. Where I live in Brisbane, Australia, the persistent humidity in the air poses a unique challenge to maintaining the quality of my weed, particularly over long periods of time. Under those conditions, a sandwich bag can be a little bit lame. However, with adequate storage, cannabis can sit for well over 2 years without degenerating, moistening, drying out, or becoming stale.
Perhaps the most well known method of storage is in an airtight jar, usually made of glass. Apothecaries in the early 20th Century sold and distributed cannabis in the United States. They were the first recorded to store their ganja in ceramic jars in order to keep it fresh.
Factors in Maintaining Freshness
Air temperature, humidity, and light are the most important factors to consider when taking steps to preserve the biochemistry of your cannabis. If you control these factors, you will be able to keep reefer for long periods.
For maximum freshness, store your stash in a cool place – this will preserve the potency of your pot. Ideally, your cannabis will be stored at or below 24 degrees centigrade, seeing as fungi, bacteria, and mould grow in abundance at temperatures above 75 degrees. These harmful organisms can ruin your weed.
Be careful not to store it in a very cold or freezing environment, however, since very low air temperatures will have an inverse effect. If you stored your buds in the freezer, the trichomes would break off, ruining the smoking potential of your pot. Don’t do it – unless you want to make edibles, or tinctures.
Decarboxylation is the process by which raw, organic cannabinoids (such as THC, CBD, CBN, and CBG) are activated through exposure to heat, so that the natural endocannabinoid system in your body can reap the benefits. There are myriad advantages to fresh, decarboxylated weed. However, one downside is that the THC in your weed will lose its euphoric kick, degrading into sleepy CBN.
Additionally, leaving your weed out in the sun will dry out the aromas and medicinal properties of the terpenes, making it harsher and less healthy to smoke your medicine. Mildew is also more likely to manifest on your marijuana at warmer temperatures.
The level of humidity surrounding your ‘erb will prove highly determinative to its overall shelf life. Too much exposure to airborne moisture, and your ganja will be susceptible to mildew and mould. Too little, and the trichome resin will dry out, degrading the cannabinoids and terpenes. A relative humidity (RH) level between 59% and 63% is generally ideal for keeping your weed consistently fresh; in terms of potency, aroma, flavor, texture, and color. RH 62% is thought to be the sweet spot for storing weed for smoking, whereas people who prefer to vape their weed are tending to leave their environments at lower levels of humidity, like RH 54%. Stoners who wish to keep their stash as fresh as possible, for as long as possible, can utilise products that precisely control and monitor humidity within a room.
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. This is because UV (or Ultraviolet) light rays have the effect of bleaching your buds. making your weed harsh and reducing its the mellow, leafy quality.
Storing Your Weed
Marijuana packaging has come a long way since the tin cans and ceramic pots of yore. Today, most stoners make use of airtight, glass mason jars, usually various sizes on hand for different quantities and qualities of bud. These are the same containers commonly used for fruit preserves and pickled vegetables. You will be able pick up these jars for cheap, just about anywhere.
Mason jars are just about perfect. They are impermeable to oxygen, are not affected by residual humidity, and are practically inert when it comes to fluctuations in temperature. Additionally, glass doesn’t secrete any chemical compounds that could potentially attenuate the aroma of your terpenes. Most clear mason jars won’t protect your ganja from becoming brittle due to sunlight damage. Opaque or dark, tinted glass jars are always your best bet, in that case.
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, seeing as it also doesn’t secrete any ganja-ruining compounds.
It is of critical importance to keep any clear glass jars you may be using for your herb in a cool, dark, dry place. This could be a cupboard, cabinet or drawer in your house. 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. Empty space in your jar will let in more air, bringing with it unwanted heat, ambient humidity, and the potential for mould and mildew.
There are many who vacuum seal their ganja to reduce the amount of oxygen exposed to the bud.
This is a controversial issue among cannabis connoisseurs. Some claim that proper vacuum sealing, with plastics which don’t contain BPA, is a really great way of keeping your bud fresh for a very long time – especially in comparison to other methods. Vacuum sealing prevents any airborne damage of your bud, via overexposure to humidity. It’s also possible to seal small, consumable amounts as individual doses.
There are those out there who claim that any exposure to plastic itself will ruin your weed, and others still who claim that vacuum sealing sucks out cannabinoids and damages the trichomes, despite what its proponents say.
There is a happy medium in all of this, however. You can vacuum seal individual doses, then store those doses in a cool, dry place, inside a glass jar. That way, your bud will still be protected from extremes in temperature, mechanical stresses, and light exposure.
How NOT to Store Weed
Finally: a list of things not to do, if you want to smoke your bud at some point:
- Do not freeze your bud, or store it in the refrigerator.
- Never store your weed in sunlight, above the stove or upon any other heat source.
- Do not store your bud in paper, aluminium foil, or plastic bags – even airtight ones.
- Never leave your medicine exposed to the elements on tables or countertops.
- Do not store your stash near electronics or other heat generating gadgets.
Plastic baggies are a common way of storing cannabis on the Australian black market – but they aren’t a particularly good one. All in all, plastic is a horrible material for keeping pot fresh. Plastic baggies do very little to keep out light, air and moisture. They also release the odours from your pot, and expose it to external temperature fluctuations. Plastic has a static charge which pulls precious trichomes from the plant matter onto its surface. This charge inevitably creates a fine, sticky, powdery mess that you’ll never be able to get out of the bag into your bong. It may also leave you exposed to nasties like BPA… so, be careful with that plastic stuff. Stick to glass.