How to keep weed fresh
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- Moisture and mold in marijuana
- The best temperature to store your cannabis
- Light and oxygen change cannabis composition
- Extending the shelf life of weed
- Frequently asked questions
Over the years, cannabis packaging in legal or medical marijuana regions has become more sophisticated, with features designed to maintain freshness. The packaging on your marijuana products might have a harvest date on them, but flower doesn’t come with an expiration date. So even with producers improving their packaging, you might find yourself wondering: how long does weed stay fresh?
About the two worst ways you can store your bud are on a tray, exposed to oxygen and light, and in a plastic sandwich bag, just like a dealer’s bags that are common on the illicit market. A number of environmental factors affect how well the plant grows, but cannabis storage is also a key component of quality and freshness. Cannabis needs the right balance of conditions to remain fresh.
Cultivators go to great lengths to ensure your flower is packaged with optimal moisture content, usually in opaque packaging to keep light out. You’re probably wondering why you still see transparent and clear containers lining your dispensary’s shelves.
Well, old habits die hard and the practice of seeing and smelling the product on the shelf is still a key component for many people when it comes to deciding what to purchase. Some companies have even started replacing the oxygen in their packaged flowers with nitrogen to help maintain freshness.
For the best possible marijuana experience, you need to know how to keep weed fresh and how to store weed properly. This guide will give you everything you need to know.
Moisture and mold in marijuana
Moisture and water make a big difference when it comes to degrading the shelf life of cannabis.
While no two cultivators dry their flowers in the same way, all cultivators dry their flowers and then put them through a process called curing.
When cannabis is properly cured, it allows the moisture that is trapped inside the bud to slowly dissipate from the flower without changing any of the cannabinoids or losing terpenes. Once the flower has the perfect moisture content, usually between 6% and 9%, it is placed into packaging from which excess oxygen has been removed. When you take it home, it’s important to try to maintain that balance.
Once the flower has the perfect moisture content, it is placed into packaging from which excess oxygen has been removed. When you take it home, it’s important to try to maintain that balance. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
If you lose too much moisture, it can change the integrity of your flower. Your flower will become brittle and lose essential terpenes that affect potency and taste. On the other hand, with too much moisture or water, the consequences are more serious. So serious, in fact, that the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which develops technical standards across many industries, published the “Standard Specification for Maintaining Acceptable Water Activity (aw) Range (0.55 to 0.65) for Dry Cannabis Flower” in May 2018.
The ATSM defines water activity as “the (quantitative) capability of the cannabis flower in a sealed container to affect the humidity of the container’s headspace air.” Headspace is the air that surrounds the flower. Water activity measures vapor pressure against pure water. If water activity is 0.55, it is 55 percent of water.
During storage, water activity cannabis should remain within a range of a minimum of 0.55 and a maximum of 0.65. Water activity increases with temperature, which is why light and temperature control go hand-in-hand as best practices for how to keep weed fresh.
The relationship between moisture content and water activity is complicated, and the cannabis industry is still striving to determine the optimal moisture content for packaged flower.
What we know now is that a relative humidity level anywhere above 65% can significantly increase the likelihood that your weed will end up growing mold. According to the American Herbal Products Association, the drying process will dehydrate cannabis until it has a moisture content of less than 15%, and the curing process is where the remaining moisture is slowly removed to retain the volatile oils.
The best temperature to store your cannabis
To extend the shelf life of marijuana, it should be kept in a cool, dark place at or slightly below room temperature. The ideal temperature to store your weed is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 degrees Celsius.
High temperatures combined with high moisture activity and relative humidity can lead to mold and mildew. Mold thrives between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 to 49 degrees Celsius, and growth is most active between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 to 32 degrees Celsius.
High temperatures and arid environments dry out your flower and evaporate sensitive terpenes, which ultimately change the effects and taste of the flower. This is why some cultivators skip drying and make live resin extracts to preserve all the monoterpenes that are lost during the drying process.
Lower temperatures are not as problematic, but they can make it harder for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) to decarboxylate into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Lower temperatures will reduce the potency of the flowers when they are smoked or could make the trichomes brittle on the plant, causing them to break off when they are removed from the cold environment.
Light and oxygen change cannabis composition
Exposure to light is the biggest culprit when it comes to aging weed. This has been known since at least 1976, when a study published in the journal Pharmacy and Pharmacology explored what happens to the stability of cannabis under various conditions. It concluded that light is the single largest contributor to loss and deterioration of cannabinoids and suggested that “carefully prepared herbal or resin cannabis or extracts are reasonably stable for 1 to 2 years if stored in the dark at room temperature.”
Ultraviolet (UV) light will always degrade your weed, even if you store it safely in glass jars. So, while the clear glass Mason jars you see in the marketplace look nice, they won’t protect your purchase the way an opaque container will. If you really like to look at your marijuana, a brown container will filter out visible ultraviolet light — that’s why brewers use them to bottle beer. Meanwhile, green containers will block out roughly 30 percent of UV rays.
As time goes by, prolonged exposure to light and air will gradually convert THCA into THC. At the same time this is occurring, existing THC is being converted into cannabinol (CBN), a cannabinoid that does not create the intoxicating properties that THC delivers.
Ultraviolet (UV) light will always degrade your weed, even if you store it safely in glass jars. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
And it’s not just THC that’s affected. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) can transform into cannabidiol (CBD) with enough exposure, and THCV will degrade into CBV. During this time, your weed could potentially become less potent.
In addition to playing a role in the conversion of cannabinoids, oxygen can also oxidize essential terpenes and change the overall aroma of the flower into a grassy, haylike smell.
To reduce exposure to oxygen, make sure there aren’t many air pockets in your container. You should always store your weed in an airtight container. Don’t use very large containers to store small quantities of weed, as this leaves too much air inside the container with your herb.
Of course, it is inevitable that some amount of oxygen will get into your sealed package once it is open, but you can limit the amount of time that the jar is opened and the number of times it is opened.
If you store your weed in sealed bags, remove as much air as possible before sealing. Vacuum-sealing weed can be a reliable, long-term storage solution for your stash. If you go this route, be sure you follow these tips to avoid inadvertently damaging your weed:
- Try to avoid vacuum sealing your marijuana in plastic that contains bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical is a key ingredient in many types of plastic, but it has proven to be harmful to humans. And unfortunately, if you store your weed in plastic containing BPA, some of those dangerous chemicals could leach into your marijuana.
- Handle your weed delicately. Plastic easily builds up static charges that can pull trichomes off your buds. Trichomes are the cannabinoid- and terpene-rich hairlike glands all over cannabis flowers, so you’ll want to avoid damaging them.
If you plan on storing your vacuum-sealed weed in the freezer, know that freezing will also make your trichomes vulnerable to damage, as they will become brittle.
Extending the shelf life of weed
Knowing how to store weed properly will help you get the most out of your cannabis experience. Ultimately, the key to extending marijuana shelf life is all about limiting exposure to the elements. When it’s time to open your container, pull out your flower and immediately close your package. Don’t let it sit open, and avoid windy or highly ventilated areas.
To maintain the right level of moisture, use a salt-based control sachet to maintain the ideal relative humidity. According to the ASTM standards (D8197-18), “a salt-based control sachet designed to maintain a relative humidity of 0.55 to 0.65 in a sealed container can be used to maintain optimum storage conditions.”
Additionally, you can store your marijuana in a cannabis humidor box, which has been designed to maintain the ideal humidity for marijuana. There are currently several models available on the market.
Whatever you do, be sure you don’t use a cigar humidor to store your weed. Cigar humidors are typically lined with cedar wood. The oils in the wood help enhance the taste of cigars, but those same oils tend to harm cannabis. Similarly, humidors for cigars often use sponges or propylene glycol to create humidity that are ideal for tobacco, but are much too high for cannabis.
In the past, to remedy dry weed, people would add an orange peel to their bags to keep the moisture content, but this greatly increases the likelihood that mold would be introduced. In addition, the water activity of orange peels is unknown and the aroma of the peel could alter the flavor and aroma of your weed.
Nowadays, you can use the same humidity control packs, such as Boveda packs, to reintroduce moisture if it is too dehydrated. This will not reintroduce terpenes that were lost, but it will ensure that you don’t have a harsh smoking experience.
To keep your weed in tip-top shape as long as possible, take careful steps to avoid exposure to light, moisture, oxygen, and extreme temperatures. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Like almost everything else, weed doesn’t last forever. Over time, changes to the molecular structure occur with exposure to heat, light, and moisture.
When cannabinoids and terpenes experience very high or very low temperatures, dry up, are exposed to too much moisture, or are left in the presence of light, chemical changes that will degrade the potency of the flower and could alter the taste and mouthfeel may occur.
As terpenes are exposed to environmental changes, they can oxidize or evaporate, creating a change in aroma and effects. And even though all weed degrades over time, the process can be slowed down if you control the temperature, moisture, and the amount of oxygen your flower is exposed to. To keep your weed in tip-top shape as long as possible, keep an eye on the harvest date on the packaging and take careful steps to avoid exposure to light, moisture, oxygen, and extreme temperatures.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best smell-proof container for weed?
The simplest way to keep your stash smell proof is to make sure it’s stored in a solid airtight container with a sealable top. Sealable glass jars, like a Mason jar, are typically sufficient for storing your stash and keeping in the smell. Some cannabis consumers also use large medicine bottles to keep their stash from stinking up their living space. Online retailers also offer a variety of odor-proof containers designed specifically for weed storage.
Is refrigerating or freezing weed bad?
Refrigerating or freezing weed is definitely preferable to storing it in an area that’s too hot or humid. And though some cannabis consumers report successful long term weed storage through freezing, it’s more than possible to lose freshness and potency to icy temperatures, as trichomes may become brittle and break off more easily. Storing your stash in an opaque, sealed container, in a relatively cool place with minimal sunlight is your best bet for long term storage with minimal degradation.
How to keep weed fresh Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Moisture and mold in marijuana The best temperature to store your cannabis Light
How to Store Marijuana
Get the most out of your marijuana budget by storing your cannabis to preserve its potency, flavor, and more. Here we look at marijuana storage to help you keep your stash fresh.
Are you still storing your marijuana in sandwich baggies? Does your dispensary use plastic pop-top bottles when selling you your legal cannabis?
Correct marijuana storage can help protect your stash. Improperly stored marijuana can quickly dry out, losing potency and flavor – or worse, mold can grow on your cannabis, rendering it dangerous to consume.
If you follow some simple tips for storing your marijuana, it can remain fresh, fragrant, and pleasant to consume for years without losing its potency. Here are some tips for the best way to store marijuana.
How to Store Marijuana
Whether you grow your own marijuana and need to store large amounts for a year or more or are just looking to keep the buds you pick up from your local dispensary fresh and flavorful between visits, proper marijuana storage can keep your buds at their best.
To store your cannabis, you need to control several factors:
Of these, one foundational study discovered it was light that was most responsible for the degradation of marijuana. While direct sunlight is the most degrading to marijuana flower, even indirect light can cause a loss of potency. For that reason, light proof marijuana storage is critical to preserving your cannabis.
When storing your marijuana, you are ideally looking for a cool, dark, and dry place. The back of a cabinet or closet can work well as a place to keep your jars of marijuana. Heat, light, and even exposure to oxygen in the air can cause marijuana to lose potency through the degradation of THC to CBN, as well as a loss of flavor from degraded terpenes.
Your choice in marijuana storage will also determine how long your flower stays fresh. To control these critical factors when storing your marijuana, you are aiming for a temperature range of about 60-70 degrees fahrenheit. You will want to keep your marijuana in an airtight jar to minimize air exchange and changes in relative humidity, which should be kept near 62 percent. Many cannabis consumers and growers prefer opaque or dark-colored glass containers to reduce exposure to light.
What to Avoid When Storing Marijuana
There are a couple common mistakes you will want to avoid when storing your marijuana, especially if it will be stored for a significant length of time.
Keep your marijuana storage container air-tight. When cannabis flower is exposed to outside air, it can lead to faster degradation of potency, excessive drying of the organic material, and a decrease in the quality of the marijuana.
Similarly, if marijuana is stored exposed in a damp environment, you run the risk of mold growth. Moldy marijuana can lead to users getting sick from smoking it. Don’t store your marijuana in the refrigerator. Buds stored in the fridge tend to mold, even when stored in airtight containers, due to the fluctuations of humidity and temperature in the refrigerator.
Just as the cold, damp atmosphere of the fridge can cause mold growth. Temperatures higher than 70 degrees can create an environment conducive mold and bacteria growth within your flowers. Try not to let the temperature vary too much to restrict the growth of these contaminants on your marijuana buds.
Some people swear by keeping their cannabis in the freezer – a suggestion that is controversial. The extreme temperatures in the freezer can cause trichomes to become brittle and snap off, taking away from its potency.
By limiting your marijuana’s exposure to the processes that influence degradation and cause the growth of harmful contaminants, you can guarantee your cannabis stays fresh and potent until you are ready to use it.
Airtight Mason Glass Jars
Although a standard across much of the retail cannabis market, plastic pop-top bottles are not recommended for storing marijuana, especially for extended periods of time. Plastic can leach BPA and may affect the flavor of marijuana. Plastic containers are also less effective at preventing air exchange. Finally, plastic tends to build up static, which can cause valuable trichomes to cling to the side.
Instead, you’ll want to use a material with a neutral charge, like glass. Glass screw top or hinge top jars are ideal for marijuana storage as long as they are kept in a dark, cool place.
When they are airtight, glass jars help maintain potency by protecting buds from moisture and outside air. They will also completely contain smells while preventing buds from getting crushed during handling. Make sure jars are at least 3/4 full to prevent excess air being stored with your marijuana. If you have don’t have enough marijuana flower to mostly fill your container, use smaller glass jars.
Humidifier packs can help you achieve and maintain an appropriate relative humidity level in each jar during marijuana storage. For even more control over the air in your jar, consider getting yourself a vacuum sealer designed to be used with wide-mouth mason jars.
Looking to store a small amount marijuana for immediate personal use? Small, hinge-top or screw-top glass jars are effective for the short-term storage of your marijuana flower without losing strength and freshness.
If you have more than one strain to store, separate your strains into separate glass jars to maintain their individual flavor profiles.
Specially-Made Marijuana Storage Containers
Some companies make specially-designed marijuana storage containers with long- and short-term storing of cannabis in mind.
Besides being developed to protect your marijuana’s freshness and quality, these commercially available marijuana storage solutions are also incredibly stylish. Glass, stainless steel, and certain woods have become the materials of choice for higher end cannabis storage containers, which often have some form of built in humidor function to keep cannabis fresh.
It is recommended that you avoid using a tobacco humidor. Most tobacco humidors use cedar wood, which has oils that transfer and can influence the flavors of your cannabis. They also tend to use propylene glycol to regulate humidity, which can oversaturate your cannabis. Instead, opt for a humidor that was designed specifically for use with marijuana to protect your valuable cannabis buds.
Odor-Blocking Marijuana Storage Bags
When you are on the go, it is helpful to use a backpack or duffle bag that can control the smell of your fresh marijuana flower. Revelry Supply has you covered with its line of odor absorbing, water resistant bags. Available in a range of sizes, Revelry Supply bags were designed to fit your lifestyle while keeping your marijuana discreet and out of site.
Rubber backed exterior: Each Revelry Supply bag is made with a nylon or cotton canvas exterior and a heavy duty rubber backing. The rubber backing, invisible from the outside, is the bag’s first line of defense by creating odor containment and resistance to water.
Carbon Filter System: The Revelry Supply carbon filter system features 3 separate layers to help eliminate odors – two outer layers of synthetic filters and a middle layer of activated charcoal. These layers create a powerful filtration system that soaks up all unwanted odors.
Twill Lining: More than just cosmetic, the lining of Revelry Supply bags actually protects the filter system from wear and tear, giving the bag greater longevity.
Visit our buyer’s guide to learn more and find the right odor absorbing marijuana storage bags.
Review of What to Know about Marijuana Storage
Keep these important tips in mind when storing your cannabis flower.
- Store out of direct sunlight.
- Store in a cool, dry place.
- Store in an airtight glass container.
- Use humidifier packs with approximately 62 percent humidity.
- Keep away from heat sources, including some electronics and appliances.
- Don’t store in the refrigerator.
- Don’t store in plastic containers or baggies.
You can learn more about topics like how to properly cure your marijuana, what side effects to expect when consuming cannabis, and choosing between marijuana strains on our Cannabis 101 page, or stay up to date with developments from the booming cannabis industry here .
Wondering how to store marijuana? Get the most out of your marijuana budget by reading ways to preserve its potency, flavor, and more. Click to read more!