How to dry cannabis: a crucial part of the pot journey
Growing cannabis is an art form, but the post-harvest phase is where bud really comes into its own. Once cannabis has been taken down, it must be properly dried and then cured for a top-shelf smoking experience.
Smoking buds straight from the stalk is a nearly impossible feat. The plant material is far too wet to burn properly. Even if you could get a bowl rolling, the smoke will likely be harsh—not what you want from your sesh.
Much like growing, there are tried and true methods for drying cannabis. From the environmental conditions to how you arrange your buds, we looked to the experts to find out the best way to dry your weed.
Why you need to dry cannabis
As we mentioned above, smoking fresh bud after harvest is neither easy nor enjoyable. Cannabis is a lot like fine wine—it needs to be aged to reach its exquisite flavor and aroma potential.
The removal of water is one of the main reasons cannabis buds must be dried. But there’s a bit more science to it than that. According to author and cannabis growing guru Ed Rosenthal, the cannabis plant needs to use up its store of carbohydrates and chlorophyll to create the perfect smoke.
He notes in his text, Cannabis Grower’s Handbook, that the drying process should not be rushed—the plant needs time to rid itself of the elements.
“It is hypothesized that a slow drying process, coupled with low to no light conditions, promotes a more thorough breakdown of the plant’s primary metabolites, such as chlorophyll,” Rosenthal writes.
The plant processes at play lead to the removal of secondary compounds that lead to a harsher smoke, which is why removing them naturally is common practice.
Another important reason to dry cannabis is the safety factor. Wet weed is susceptible to mold, which is incredibly dangerous to smoke (especially for medical patients). A proper dry and cure ensures that buds are fit for human consumption.
How to dry cannabis
Cannabis can be dried on the stalk or after buds have been removed. It can be hung, placed on wire drying racks, or placed in loosely wrapped paper bags. Rosenthal advises against drying in closed containers such as mason jars as these spaces are ripe for bacterial growth.
Preparing for the dry means readying the environment. The drying space should have minimal lighting, a temperature between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and 50-60 percent humidity. The humidity is an important factor to prevent mold. This is why Rosenthal warns against drying cannabis in bathrooms or rooms with lots of houseplants because of the moisture present.
Air flow is also crucial. Oscillating fans move air around the buds ensuring an even dry. You also want to gently move the buds; you can rotate them on a rack or open a paper bag and slowly shake.
While Rosenthal does not recommend drying weed outside, some growers may not have a choice due to space constraints. If you do need to dry outdoors, aim for areas that are shaded where dew does not build up.
How long does it take to dry weed?
The length of time for drying varies by method and environment. According to Rosenthal, the dry phase may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but he says five to ten days is optimal. Buds still on the stalk will take longer to dry than loose ones.
There are a couple of ways to determine if buds are dry enough to move into the cure phase. You could use a moisture meter to measure the water inside buds—Rosenthal states in Cannabis Growers Handbook that “10-13 percent inner moisture” is ideal.
For people without a high-tech moisture probe, Rosenthal recommends a DIY method.
“The first stage of drying is complete when buds feel dry on the outside but retain moisture inside that keeps them pliable,” Rosenthal said. “Take an average-size bud and slowly try to fold it in half. If the base of the bud’s stem is dry and bends without retracting or snaps, it is ready to cure.”
Are there ways to “quick dry” cannabis?
While “low and slow” is the recommended timing for drying weed, there are some tricks to speed up the process. However, you may run the risk of the finished bud being subpar to gradually dried flower.
Here are some of the methods Rosenthal notes:
- Microwave – Place the buds in the microwave for 30 seconds or longer so that some of the moisture is removed, and then lower the power to level two and dry the buds until dry enough to test.
- Food dehydrator – Run a cycle on a low temperature setting. You may lose terpenes but THC should remain intact.
- Oven – Cannabis can be dried in an oven on the lowest setting. Set the temperature at 100 degrees Fahrenheit if possible.
Note that these methods may also kill seeds that are present, so be sure to remove any that may be in buds (especially if you wish to grow them one day).
There are also devices specifically invented to offer an expedited dry. Cryo Cure can dry and cure buds in as little as 24 hours. The Cannatrol refrigerator is capable of drying and curing in a few days. These devices aren’t cheap, but can be incredibly handy thanks to their speed and precision.
How to dry cannabis – patience equals perfect pot
The post-harvest phase of the cannabis life cycle is one of the most critical. It’s when good bud becomes superb. If done incorrectly, buds may become harsh to smoke or could even be ruined by mold.
By taking a gradual approach, growers can ensure their carefully crafted cannabis ends up on the top shelf. While it may feel tempting to rush, patience is truly a virtue that will reap a terpene-rich reward.