How to make your stash last: 4 things to consider when storing cannabis flower
Stocking up for quarantine? You might be doing it wrong.
While most people reach for the tried-and-true Ziplock bag when storing cannabis, the static charge in plastic bags and even plastic medicine jars can actually make your bud less potent by gradually stripping it of its trichomes (tiny, THC and terpene-infused hairs) over the course of a few days’ storage. (Not to mention there is absolutely no way to make fishing cannabis from a baggie sexy in front of guests.)
There are, however, several sexier and more sustainable ways to keep flower fresh for the long-haul (yes, long enough to last through day 14 of a COVID quarantine.) We asked product experts from Columbia Care, a Manhattan-based medical cannabis dispensary, and SPARC, a San Francisco-based cannabis delivery service and dispensary, how they stash their hash. Turns out, you don’t have to be an expert to do it right.
Here are the four, simple factors you can take charge of today to improve shelf-life of your cannabis:
Like most natural products, cannabis lasts the longest in deoxygenated environments. Excessive oxygen exposure causes rapid cannabinoid degradation, and will convert THC to CBN, making your cannabis less potent in a very short amount of time.
Fortunately, oxygen exposure is easy to avoid. Since cannabis and coffee beans require similar conditions for long-term storage, vacuum-sealed coffee containers can serve as classy and highly effective vessels for weed. Or, if you’re on a budget, Eric McNiel, Head of Product at SPARC, says you can get the same effect with a mason jar.
“An airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag is key to minimize oxygen exposure,” McNiel told GreenState. “We recommend storing your cannabis in an airtight glass jar. Obviously, year-old cannabis will have some degradation,, but much less if stored properly.”
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Flower is perishable. But, unlike with other greens, the solution is NOT to stick it in the freezer. While frozen weed may not grow mold as quickly, it also becomes brittle, causing the trichomes to break off and your cannabis to lose its potency over time.
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On the flip side, warm temperatures cause weed to become moldy more quickly, which can also make terpenes evaporate from the plant, subduing its flavor and aroma.
SPARC Head of Product Eric McNiel says the sweet spot lies around 60° F.
“Molds thrive at temperatures between 77-85° degrees, and terpenes can also evaporate off, leaving you with a dry, harsh smoke, so it’s important to stay below that range,” McNiel told GreenState. “Ideally, we recommend storing around 60-65°.”
Not into keeping a cool house? You can store cannabis in the fridge if you keep it above 30°. Or, consider getting creative with your storage zones. Basements and wine cellars generally stay at an ideal temperature for cannabis storage, even when the rest of the home is warm (they are also dark, which is a plus), and windowsills will likely be on the cooler side in winter months (but avoid direct sunlight).
When it comes to storing cannabis, don’t let things get too steamy. SPARC Head of Product Eric McNeal says cannabis requires only 60% humidity – not enough to produce mold and mildew, but enough to protect its terpenes from degradation. This is important, since terpenes are largely associated not only with the bud’s flavor and aroma, and also its medicinal benefits. (Fun fact: The terpene myrcene plays a big role in cannabis’ ability to bring down inflammation.)
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Controlling humidity levels sounds a bit like playing God, but the practice is much less daunting than it sounds. Just purchase humidity control packs and stick them in whatever container you are using to store your cannabis.
In the event that your weed is looking too moist, Felix Vogele, Retail Operation Manager at Columbia Care, recommends “burping” it.
“For cannabis that is too moist, crack the lid (of your container) to help the wetness evaporate and improve its flavor,” Vogele said. “’Burping’ will release that excess wetness during the curing process.”
Finally, let there not be light on your stash. Like air, ultraviolet light will quickly degrade your cannabis, making it become less potent in a very short amount of time and, in many cases, turn brown. (Again, not a good look for entertaining.)
An important thing to remember is that UV (ultraviolet) rays are not just found in sunlight. Fluorescent lights of any kind emit small amounts of UV rays. For this reason, Columbia Care Senior Cultivator Ericka Hogan says the safest option is to keep your cannabis in a completely light-free space.
“One of the most impactful ways to store cannabis is in a dark tinted glass jar, or in a wide mouthed mason quart jar in a dark cabinet or c-vault container,” Vogele said. “This will help preserve cannabinoid profiles longer – aka the taste and potency.”
Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.