Friday December 10, 2021
According to a study in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, cannabinoids can remain stable for up to two years if they’ve been cured and stored properly. However, many users may be unclear about what, precisely, proper storage means. We’ve been keeping weed in plastic baggies for decades, but it turns out that hasn’t been doing our flower any favors. Environmental factors like light and humidity can degrade the potency and the flavor of your cannabis, so it’s important to know the methods for long-term weed storage, and why those methods are effective.
In this article we review the potential threats to your stored cannabis, containers that will prevent those threats, and the best way to store weed.
Elements That Degrade Weed
Though proper curing is the first step for long-term cannabis storage, there are a few other factors to consider, too. Here are the most common things that can degrade your weed along with what you can do to prevent it.
There are many factors that can lead to the degradation of cannabis flower, but light — especially sunlight — is the primary threat. Similar to the way sunlight bleaches that old Garfield toy in your neighbor’s car window, or washes out the vivid dye from your hair, so also does it degrade the chemical integrity of THC.
UV photons actually break chemical bonds in THC molecules, leading to further destabilization, and further loss of potency. In fact, the laboratory at Orange Photonics measured a loss of 0.5% THC with each hour of direct sunlight.
But the aforementioned article is quick to point out that all light, not only sunlight, is “the greatest single factor in loss of cannabinoids ,” For this reason, it is imperative that cannabis be stored in dark, or at least opaque, containers, and preferably away from a light source altogether.
Another critical factor in long-term cannabis storage is oxygen. Oxygen converts THC into CBN , albeit slowly. But over long-term storage, those air leaks will cost you potency. Conversely, too little oxygen may retain potency, but could also raise humidity levels which allows mold to establish. The best way to protect your cannabis from long-term oxygen exposure is to vacuum seal it, but that’s not always an option for those of us who don’t keep vacuum sealers lying around the house.
The next solution to airtight cannabis storage then are jars that seal easily and completely. Wide-mouth mason jars are a common and effective solution because of their rubber seals and strong latches.
It’s no wonder they are also referred to as “curing jars.” Plastic Tupperware is better than nothing, but will not keep cannabis fresh long-term.
When choosing an airtight storage container, be sure to choose the right size for your stash. About ¾ full is recommended for curing, and a good rule of thumb for storage. Even if your container is full to the brim, try not to pack it down, but leave it loose like popcorn to prevent the humidity from rising.
Moisture won’t degrade the potency of your cannabis, but it is an open door for mold, which will leave your weed foul and nearly impossible to smoke. So it’s important to keep your bud dry. But quality bud can’t get too dry without causing terpenes and cannabinoids to degrade, hence the importance of maintaining proper humidity levels for long-term cannabis storage. The ideal range is between 59 and 63 RH (“relative humidity,” or the amount of moisture in the air relative to what it can hold). The best and most cost-effective way to do this is with the use of humidity control solutions like Evergreen Pods.
Evergreen Pods pioneered the patented, reusable two-way humidifying capsules which containing material to absorb or discharge moisture as needed. They keep your cannabis flower at the perfect humidity level for optimum taste and potency. The pods are magnetic to stick to the inside of a metal lid, or can simply be dropped into other containers. With proper maintenance, these pods can last up to five years.
High temperatures can cause buds to dry out and terpenes to evaporate, resulting in harsh smoke and an unpleasant flavor. Because mold and mildew thrive at temperatures between 78 and 86 degrees, the ideal storage temperature for cannabis must be below this threshold. Though most people recommend simply storing cannabis in a “cool, dark location,” choosing the right environment to meet these criteria is a bit more complex.
For example, a cool, dark location could be a refrigerator to some, though others advise against this due to its increased moisture content. Likewise, while some people store cannabis in the freezer (to either store for the long haul or in preparation to make a little bubble hash ), the freezing temperatures can cause the delicate trichomes to burst and lose potency. Therefore, the best place to store cannabis may simply be a closet in a basement or dark corner.
Other Important Things to Keep in Mind When Storing Cannabis
Environmental factors like light, humidity, and temperature are the most critical for long-term storage, but there are other factors to consider as well, like the material or container it’s being stored in.
Plastic jars can encourage sweating, so if vacuum sealing isn’t an option, use glass or ceramic containers with air-tight seals to keep your bud fresher longer.
Some have suggested tossing fruit rinds into cannabis jars to rehydrate the bud and improve flavor, but doing so can cause too much moisture to absorb into your cannabis resulting in moldy, unsmokable weed. Opt for purpose-built moisture regulators like the aforementioned pod or humidity packs.
Store Flower Separately
When storing weed long-term, it’s important to keep only the cannabis flower in your storage container. Keeping lighters, pipes or other paraphernalia could cause the stench to absorb into your weed resulting in a less-than-favorable experience.
Do Not Use a Tobacco Humidor
Though it may sound like a good idea in theory, tobacco humidors are typically made out of cedar wood. The oil from the wood can absorb into the flower which can affect the flavor of the bud and take away from its valuable terpene profile.
Whether you’re an infrequent smoker or just want to hang on to some of the tasty bud you picked up from the dispensary, proper cannabis storage will ensure your stash lasts for many months to come.
What is good to store weed in?
The best options for storing weed are in glass jars with rubber sealing lids. Vacuum sealing is a great option for those with access to the equipment, but failing that, any airtight container that blocks light will do nicely.
Is it okay to store weed in plastic bags?
Not really. Plastic bags are both clear and not exactly air tight, which means your cannabis will remain exposed to a little air and a lot of light, both of which degrade the potency and flavor of your weed.
Is it better to store weed in glass or plastic?
Glass. Plastic rarely achieves a true air-tight seal, and they tend to “sweat” more, accumulating condensation that will raise humidity levels in the container.
Is it better to keep weed in a bag or jar?
Jar. Unless the bag is vacuum sealed, it will not achieve a true air-tight environment. Plastic bags can also pull trichomes off the flower, leaving potent THC behind.
Does keeping weed in a freezer keep it fresh?
Freezing cannabis is a viable solution for long-term storage if done properly. Cannabis destined for the freezer should be sealed in an airtight package to prevent condensation from collecting, and freezing the plant material (freezer burn).
Be warned also that freezing cannabis will leave the trichomes brittle, and likely to fall off at the slightest touch. This may be fine if you can reliably collect those fallen trichomes in your container, otherwise expect to lose a little potency.
Is it better to keep weed in a fridge or freezer?
It is better to store cannabis between 40°-60° F, so neither the fridge nor freezer should be your first option. But if you had to choose, freezing it in an air-tight container is better than the fridge because the fridge will experience more temperature and humidity changes.
Do you have a favorite method for long-term cannabis storage? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!