Complete Drying & Curing Marijuana Guide
by Nebula Haze & Alltatup
Table of Contents
This drying & curing tutorial is part of our “how to harvest cannabis” series:
Why Do Growers Dry and “Cure” Cannabis Buds?
Your buds are ready for harvest, yet your job as a grower is not quite over yet. You still need to put your newly harvested buds through the cannabis curing process.
In order to ensure the best quality for your freshly harvested buds, you must prepare your buds with a process known as curing, which involves drying your buds slowly in a controlled environment, then keeping buds in glass jars over the course of a few weeks to let certain natural plant processes occur. The drying/curing process causes buds to smell better and for effects to feel more potent. It also reduces harshness.
Optimal Drying Environment:
Room Temperature – Around 70°F (21°C)
Optimal Environment in Jars (Curing):
Room Temperature – Around 70°F ( 21°C)
Growers cure marijuana buds because they will not achieve their peak potency and quality if they’re uncured. If you started with great genetics and you’ve taken care of your marijuana plants properly during their life, then curing is what makes the difference between “just okay” and trophy-worthy buds.
Dry & Cure Cannabis Properly for Highest Quality Buds
A big part of why buds from medical marijuana dispensaries or cannabis cups often seem so special is they have been expertly dried and cured. People who have never experienced buds prepared this way are often amazed by the smooth, pleasant experience of slow cured buds. Here’s a quick review:
Why Do Growers Dry & Cure Buds After Harvest?
Here’s what drying and curing cannabis properly does for you…
Breaks down chlorophyll and dramatically improves taste / smoothness of buds
Gets rid of the unpleasant “fresh hay” or “cut grass” smell which is common on newly harvested buds
Brings out the subtle flavors and unique smell of your cannabis strain
Reduces “harshness” in buds; you’re less likely to start coughing or get a headache
Buds are less likely to cause anxiety, racing thoughts, or paranoia
Reduces the chance of mold or bacteria growing on your buds
Curing seems to actually increase potency! Read on to learn more…
In most cases, a proper cure will change the subjective effects of buds. There is something that happens during a slow curing process which changes the exact composition of cannabinoids and terpenoids. This changes how buds make you feel.
Try smoking buds directly off the plant vs smoking those same buds after they’ve been dried/cured. The best way to understand the difference is to try it for yourself! 😉
Many growers feel that drying buds slowly and proper curing will actually make buds feel more potent up to a point. Growers also report that properly cured buds are much more pleasant to smoke, vaporize, or turn into edibles. This is likely due to how cannabinoids and terpenoids are altered during the curing process.
So now you may be wondering…
How do you dry your marijuana buds slowly?
How long do you dry your buds for and what’s the best drying method?
How do you cure buds perfectly every time, without leaving anything to chance?
Get the answers right here!
Note: This article covers the tried-and-true steps for traditional curing. This is the most used and well-studied way to cure your buds. However, there are other possible methods including water curing which I personally don’t have any experience with.
Drying & Curing Marijuana: Overview
Curing begins as soon as you cut down your plant. So in order to get the most from curing, you need to master the process of drying your buds.
An important part of the curing process happens during the first few days, as you begin drying your buds. During this initial drying phase, the main goal is to let your buds dry out relatively slowly (usually 3-7 days) while protecting buds against mold and bacteria growth.
Curing starts as soon as you cut down your plant!
Most growers trim their buds and hang them upside down to dry until the outsides of buds are dry and the small stems snap when you bend them. Basically, once your buds will pop off you’re ready to go 🙂
A relatively slow drying process (along with smart curing practices) gives you the best benefits. It doesn’t need to take forever, but any time you “speed dry” your freshly harvested buds you’re losing many of the benefits of curing. However, your buds are still improved by curing even if you overdry your buds or dry them a little too quick.
Note: If you use heat to speed dry your buds (microwave, oven, etc), buds will really taste terrible.
Here’s an overview of the harvest / drying / curing cannabis process. Click for a bigger picture and keep scrolling down for more complete instructions…
Now I will walk you through a step-by-step process so you can produce a professional cure every time, with no guesswork involved.
This method will work for you even if you’re just starting out and have never cured buds before. No matter what previous experience you have curing buds, this will show you how to ensure they come out connoisseur-quality every time.
How to Perfectly Dry & Cure Your Marijuana Every Time
Wide mouthed mason jars – 1 quart size. These are sometimes labled as “32 oz” jars.
Place to Dry or Drying rack (optional) – I usually hang my buds from clothes hangers in my closet but you can hang buds from almost anything! String and creativity go a long way 🙂 It’s only recommended to use a drying rack if there’s high humidity or a lot of buds to be dried in a small space, because a drying rack can dry buds too quickly in average humidity conditions.
Hygrometer (optional) – I like the Caliber IV Hygrometer because it easily fits inside quart mason jars. This measures the humidity of the air inside your jar, so you can make sure it’s not too humid or too dry for optimal curing.
Humidipaks (optional) – Boveda Medium 62% packs are cheap and specifically formulated for storing cannabis so it does not dry out or get crispy
Step 1: Cut down your plant
Some growers cut the plant down at the base and hang the whole plant upside down to dry. Others will cut off branches and hang them to dry. Still others will cut off individual buds so they can lay them out and dry them on a mesh screen or rack.
How should you cut down your plant?
It’s tough to mess this part up! You can harvest your plant a piece at a time, and I’ve also seen growers trim their buds while they’re still on the plant so they can hang their whole plant upside down to dry.
I personally cut down branches one at a time. Here’s a plant that is halfway through being harvested.
Step 2: Trim away extra fan leaves
Before you start drying your buds, most growers will trim away extra leaves.
At the very least, you should trim away all your big fan leaves, though many growers also trim down the little leaves that grow on the buds.
This improves the appearance of your buds, and will provide a smoother experience. Too much leafy matter can make buds more harsh.
The amount of leaves you trim off is due to personal preference. However, like the last step, you want to leave more if you live in a very dry area. You want to cut off as much as you can if your area is humid, to help speed up the drying process and prevent mold. If it’s very humid where you live than you may consider removing buds from branches while drying.
If Your Humidity Is…
- Dry (Under 30% RH) – You might consider leaving more leaves on your plant while trimming to help slow down the drying process. The more plant matter left behind, the lower the buds dry. For example you could trim your buds but leave extra fan leaves, or possibly even not trim at all until after drying.
- Average Humidity – If you never really notice the humidity where you live chances are it’s perfect for hanging your cannabis upside down to dry 🙂
- Humid (Over 60% Humidity) – If it’s very humid where you live, you might consider actually separating buds from branches after trimming and put them on a drying rack or mesh to help them dry in the high humidity without running into problems with mold (here’s how one grower dried in high humidity)
I recommend trimming your buds while wearing disposable gloves, to prevent your hands from getting covered in sticky resin.
You may want to save your trim (resin-covered leaves or larfy buds you’ve trimmed off). These extra leaves are not good to smoke by themselves, but after being dried, the trim can be processed to make marijuana butter or other cannabis extracts.
Right after you harvest your plant, it’s important to start drying your buds slowly, over a couple of days to a week or more.
Step 3: Begin the slow drying process
Why should you dry your cannabis slowly? Drying your buds is the first part of the curing process, and important!
Optimal Drying Environment:
Room Temperature – Around 70°F (21°C)
Here are some ideas to adjust your environment:
- Air Conditioner – Cools Air & Lowers Humidity
- Evaporative Cooler – Cools Air & Raises Humidity
- Dehumidifier – Heats Air & Lowers Humidity
- Humidifier – Heats Air & Raises Humidity
- Heater – Heats Air & (Usually) Lowers Humidity
Buds which are quick-dried in a dehydrator/stove, via dry ice, or in a microwave taste terrible, smell even worse, and often leave you with a migraine or paranoia. When you quick-dry your buds, you are completely skipping over the most important part of the curing process!
In fact, even drying your buds in mildly hot temperatures, like 85°F (30°C), can burn off valuable smells (terpenes) & possibly certain cannabinoids.
Curing you cannabis properly makes up almost 50% of your final bud quality!
You can take the best cannabis in the whole world but if it’s not cured it’s going to be mid-quality at best!
There are many ways to dry your marijuana buds.
Hanging buds upside down to dry is considered the “standard” way of drying. You can get creative when coming up with ways to hang plants upside down.
You can dry buds by hanging them upside down from clothes hangers, string, almost anything you can think of. You can even hang the entire plant upside down. Personally, I prefer to hang buds upside down for the drying process.
However, you can dry your buds via many different ways!
Some growers place their freshly harvested buds on a drying rack as pictured to the right.
A drying rack will dry your buds faster than most of the other methods because the stems are removed from the buds (and the stems contain a bit of water). Using a drying rack is the preferred drying method if you live in a humid area where mold is a problem, if you’re drying a lot of buds in a relatively small space, or if you have huge colas or buds that you’re worried might mold.
You can leave as much or as little stem as you want. The more you leave, the slower the dry.
Some growers dry their buds in paper bags or even by laying them out on cardboard.
I usually dry my newly harvested buds in my grow tent, or a closet
If you’re laying your buds on something flat like cardboard, it can create wet spots, and will leave an imprint on the sides of your buds where they touched the flat surface. That being said, cardboard can be a way to help people dry buds if they live in a humid environment because it will quickly pull the water out of the buds.
If buds are creating wet spots, you may need to rotate them every few hours so they dry more evenly. This is one of the reasons I prefer to use a drying rack if it’s humid, or hanging buds pretty much any other time.
If buds start to seem wet/soggy, or if you live in a very humid environment, you may need to use a small fan to create extra airflow in the drying area to prevent buds from getting too wet and causing mold. Never point a fan directly at your buds, only point it at a nearby wall. Even then, be careful of drying buds too fast with a fan! You should avoid using a fan unless it’s absolutely necessary because it can easily overdry buds. I’ve overdried an entire harvest by adding a fan before, so use with caution!
For those who live in extremely humid areas (where the high humidity in the air is preventing buds from drying even with a fan), there are more resources at the bottom of this article on how to dry out your buds properly. Learn how one grower was able to dry his buds even with 85-95% relative humidity in his area.
The most important aspect of the drying process is to dry them slowly, and in such a way that it’s easy for you to check on them regularly. So don’t hide them in the back of a closet that’s hard for you to get to. You need to be able to check on your buds every day, and more often is possible (especially during your first few harvests, until you know how buds dry in your personal environment).
Step 4: Continue drying until outsides of buds feel dry to the touch, and smaller stems snap instead of bend, usually 3-7 days. Buds will “snap” off without leaving a stringy trail.
If buds are dry sooner than 3-4 days, it may mean you’ve dried your buds a little too fast, but that’s okay! Live and learn for next time. It’s difficult to get things exactly right at first because the size and density of the buds, and your environment can vary so much! Even if buds have been dried too quickly, they still benefit from the curing process, but it may take a little longer than normal for buds to be fully “cured.”
If you accidentally remove all moisture from the buds (dry your cannabis for too long), the curing process slows down dramatically, or may even come mostly to a halt. However just like buds dried too quickly, overdried buds will still cure, but it takes longer.
When to jar cannabis buds?
When hanging your buds upside down to dry, your buds are ready to be placed in jars when the outsides of all the buds are completely dry to the touch, but not brittle.The bigger stems will still be bendy but the smaller stems will snap when buds are ready to pull down.
When buds are finished drying, you’ll be able to snap off the smallest buds with your fingers without leaving a “string” of plant behind. “Stringiness” means there’s still too much moisture inside.
Although the buds may feel overdry at this point, if the bigger stems are bendy it means there’s still water hidden inside that will work its way to the outside of the buds during the curing process. This is the perfect time to pull down your buds and jar them.
If you pull down your buds before the smallest stems snap, you’ll find they tend to be too wet once you put them in jars, so you’ll end up having to dry them more anyway. But if you can find a stem that snaps, it’s better to take buds down too early since it’s a lot easier to take water away than add it back.
With drying methods where the buds have been removed from the stems, it’s important to jar buds as soon as the outsides feel dry to the touch, before the buds dry all the way through, since there won’t be any stems to “hold onto” some extra water.
If buds were completely separated from the stems during the drying process, they’re ready as soon as the outsides feel dry to the touch.
It’s ideal to pull buds down at the right time because you can slowly draw out the moisture from the middle of the buds, which allows the curing process to continue. As long as the outside of your buds feel dry to the touch, it is unlikely for mold to grow. Mold generally grows where the outsides of your buds feel moist or damp to the touch.
Some growers choose to sample some of their buds at this point, but be aware that the smell, taste, and potency are not even close to optimal yet. Buds that haven’t been cured are also usually harsh, tend to bother the back of your throat, and give some people headaches. But don’t worry, your bud quality continues to improve as you cure the buds and help break down some of the “bad stuff” that you don’t want in your buds.
Step 5: Place your buds in jars
From this point, your goal is to store your buds in a controlled environment. You want to stabilize the relative humidity at around 60-65% when the buds are placed in an enclosed container. This is the correct environment to cure your marijuana buds to perfection. If you’ve taken your buds down when the smallest stems snap, but the larger ones bend, then chances are your buds will already create the perfect humidity when they’re in the jars.
Optimal Curing Environment (in Jars):
Room Temperature – Around 70°F ( 21°C)
Place your dried cannabis buds in jars for the “curing” process
When the humidity is at 60-65%, your buds will feel completely dry on the outside, but won’t crumble or seem dusty in your hands (which usually means the humidity is too low).
Here’s how to jar your buds the right way every time, without any guesswork on your part.
The ideal storage containers for marijuana buds are wide-mouthed glass mason jars. These can be found pretty easily at big grocery stores, most craft stores, online, and at superstores (like Wal-mart). As cannabis cultivation has become more popular, these jars are appearing in more and more stores.
You want mason jars that hold 1 quart (labeled “Quart jars” or sometimes 32oz jars). Each of these jars will hold about an ounce of dried buds (usually about 0.75-1.25 ounces of bud will fit in one jar, but it can be more or less depending on the consistency of your buds).
One-quart glass mason jars have proven to be a great size for proper curing. Bigger jars are more likely to encourage mold – I’ve learned this one from experience 🙁 Other types of jars often don’t seal the right way, which can prevent buds from curing properly. For example, the type of jars that have a rubber seal don’t seem to cure buds right for me. I always use quart-sized glass mason jars, and you’ll see that the majority of growers do the same.
You want to fill each jar 75% full of buds, so there’s still a bit of air at the top. If you shake the jars, you want the buds to be able to move around. If they’re sticking together it means they’re still too wet and you should leave the lids off for a little while to help them dry out.
If buds are sticking together in clumps when you try to shake the jar, it means they still have too much moisture and need to be dried further. Just like when buds are too dry, when buds are too wet they slow down the curing process, but it’s even worse because it can cause mold. Never let buds sit in jars if they feel wet, or even moist on the outside!
Buds should always feel completely dry on the outside, and shouldn’t stick together. If you ever smell “ammonia” it means they’re too wet and bad bacteria is starting to grow
If you notice that any buds feel damp or moist, do not store them in the jars yet! Allow those buds to continue drying slowly until they start to feel dry on the outside before putting them in jars.If they’re already in jars and feel moist, make sure to leave the tops of the jars off until the buds feel dry again.
I know it’s tough to keep them from drying out all the way, yet not putting them in too wet. But if you follow these steps you’ll be able to get it perfect!
How much difference does the humidity inside the jar make?
More on curing buds in anaerobic conditions
Some growers cultivate strongly anaerobic conditions during the drying/curing process on purpose. For example, some indoor growers put their cannabis buds in jars while at least partially wet on the outside, causing extra bacterial growth. Buds cured in very wet conditions look different, smell different and produce different effects, but may be more harsh.
Another real-life example of curing buds in anearobic conditions is some outdoor growers will throw newly harvested cannabis buds in a pile while wet, leaves and all, and allowed it to sort of cook in place like a compost pile. After some amount of time, the buds are wrapped up and compressed for storage, often still partially wet, then cut up into bricks. This is considered a type of “brick weed.”
Example of “brick weed” cured in anaerobic (wet) conditions
Any curing process that involves letting buds stay wet and sealed up at the beginning produces weed with a different consistency and different effects. Buds become crumbly and they lose their green color after just a week or two, becoming more tan or golden. Many people agree that curing in anaerobic conditions can produce bud that is more “harsh” and this type of bud is generally considered “inferior.” To be fair to both sides, there are people I’ve met who prefer this type of cannabis because they like the slightly different effects.
That being said, curing buds while still wet can be unsafe by causing unwanted mold or a bad type of bacteria to grow. If you cure buds while they’re dry on the outside and moist on the inside, as stated in this tutorial, you can achieve the same mental and physical effects of anaerobic-cured weed without the harshness, simply by giving buds a little more time to cure.
If you want to safely get the effects of anaerobically cured bud, all you have to do is cure buds in jars for 2+ months. They start to slowly get a similar appearance and consistency of bud cured in anaerobic conditions, but instead of being harsh they actually get smoother over time. The mental and physical effects of long-cured buds also seems to get stronger as it’s cured longer (up to a point), giving similar heady and body effects that some describe as being a little “drunk.” Long-cured buds gives you the same benefits without the harshness or lack of safety. Because of that, I highly recommend avoiding sealing up buds that feel wet on the outside during the curing process!
Step 6: Curing (first few weeks): Open all jars regularly to inspect and air out buds
During the first few days, you may want to check even more often than once/day, especially if you are worried about mold or bacteria from too much moisture.
It’s important that you’re checking on your buds at least every 24 hours during the beginning stages, as described below. In addition to checking on your buds, it’s also important to open the jars once a day, because buds need fresh air as part of the curing process.
If you smell ammonia or the outside of buds feel moist, it means buds are too wet and need to air out before closing the jars again. If it smells more like cannabis every day, it means you’re doing it right!
For the impatient, this also gives you the opportunity to “try out” your new buds and see how they improve during the curing process 🙂
As mentioned already, the trick to a great marijuana cure is controlling the humidity of the environment. Ideally, you would like to keep your buds stored in an enclosed container with about 60-65%% relative humidity. This is the perfect amount of moist and dry to get the fastest and best curing process.
To be able to get a reading on your current humidity levels (so you can make sure they’re perfect every time), you may want to invest in a tool called a hygrometer.
I like the Caliber IV hygrometer, which is small enough to fit in your curing jars and can be found online for cheap. A hygrometer is more of a luxury than a necessity, though it will take out a lot of the guesswork.
As you can see in this pic, the Caliber IV hygrometers display both the temperature and the relative humidity in each curing jar. (click for a closer look)
Use a hygrometer for pro cannabis curing results, as it will allow you to determine exactly where you are in the curing process and spot possible humidity problems before they affect your buds. Even if you only have one, you can put it in different jars during your daily check to get an idea of the RH (relative humidity) in your jars.
Buds need some amount of time “to sweat” in the jar before you can get an accurate reading of how much moisture is really in the jars. Sometime buds which seemed dry when you put them in will feel damp and soggy when you check them a few hours later. This is because the moisture that was contained in the middle has spread out to the rest of the buds, and it means the buds need to be dried further.
A hygrometer will let you measure the relative humidity within your curing jars most precisely, but I was able to do this process for years without any extra tools just by following the general guidelines below for how buds should look/feel.
Overview of curing cannabis humidity requirements
For the first week, you want to air out your jars for a few moments at least once a day. Just open all the jars and close them again once a day. While the jars are open, check on buds to determine the current humidity levels. You may also take this time to shake the jars and move buds around, to ensure there are no moist spots, and buds aren’t sticking together in clumps.
This is what you’re checking for every time you open your jars.
Buds feel wet – Wet buds need to be placed outside the jar to dry for another 1-2 hours. Moist buds should not be touching each other! It is very important you react quickly if buds feel damp to the touch, as this is the most likely time for mold to grow.
> 70% humidity – When buds are too wet, your hygrometer will read greater than 70% relative humidity after buds are in jars with a hygrometer for 24 hours. If buds are very wet, you may see the humidity climb up this high within just a couple of hours. If you see the humidity rising on your hygrometer at a rate of 1% per hour or more, you may want open the jars early, or at least keep a close eye, as your buds are probably too moist.
Buds feel moist – If you shake the jar at this point, you may notice that some of your buds are still sticking together. You’re almost there, but buds are still a little too damp and you’re at risk for mold or anaerobic bacteria. If you live in a normal to dry climate, you may be able to get away with just leaving the top off the jars for 1-4 hours. If you live in a humid climate, you may have to take the buds out of the jars and lay them out until the outsides begin to feel dry again.
65-70% humidity – When buds are slightly moist, your hygrometer will read 65-70% relative humidity after buds are in jars with a hygrometer for 24 hours.
Buds are not wet, but also not brittle – You’re in the cure zone! Your buds may feel a bit sticky to your fingers. Buds should move independently and not clump together in big bunches when you shake the jars.
60-65% humidity – When buds are in the cure zone, your hygrometer will read 60-65% relative humidity after buds are in jars with a hygrometer for 24 hours.
Some growers prefer to keep it a little lower during curing, down to around 55%, especially if they’re curing a whole lot of cannabis, because it helps prevent the chance of mold or “moist pockets” in the jars.
At this point, some growers add a Boveda 62 Humidipak to their curing jar with the buds to help keep the humidity in the correct range during the rest of the cure. (More on Boveda 62 packs below)
Buds are too dry – Buds feel brittle and crumbly. At this point, there is not enough moisture in the jars for the curing process to continue at a normal pace, and buds tend to cure much more slowly.
Having Trouble Curing? Want to Prevent Problems During Your Cure? Get Boveda 62 Humidipaks
For those who struggle with curing even after going through all the steps in this curing tutorial, there’s a product known as a “Boveda 62” humidipaks which can help maintain the correct humidity in your jars. These are especially helpful at preventing the humidity from getting too low, even if the humidity is very low where you live. Some growers choose to use these every time they jar their buds to maintain the humidity in the 62% range.
Boveda Humidipaks (62% version) are specifically made for cannabis and can help maintain humidity at 62%, as well as rehydrate buds.
Humidipaks are used to regulate the humidity automatically. They were invented to keep cigars fresh in humidors (which is how they originally got their name), but the company now makes humidipaks that are specifically formulated for storing cannabis at the right humidity (as stated on their website). These are the Boveda Medium 62% Humidipaks.
Note: Boveda is trying to move away from the term “humidipak” these days for some reason, but it’s such a perfect name!
Here’s a picture of buds stored with a humidipak. You simply place the little pouches inside with your buds after they’ve finished drying.
Even when using Humidipaks, it’s important that you follow the rest of the steps outlined in this tutorial to ensure that your cure goes great.
Do you need to get Boveda 62 Humidipaks?
No. If you follow all the steps outlined in this article, you likely will not need Humidipaks. Most growers are able to cure their buds perfectly well without them.
However, they can be helpful if you will be curing your buds in an environment with the incorrect humidity, especially if the air is really dry where you live. They can also be helpful if you’re not used to curing and are afraid of messing it up.
Humidipaks also work very well for long-term storage. When we used them, they didn’t seem to lower the humidity when it was too high in our curing jars, but they did protect buds from drying out.
Will Boveda 62 packs reduce the smell of your buds?
We have never noticed that. Most growers seem to agree that these packs won’t reduce bud smell if they are added to the jars after the humidity has already been stabilized around 62% humidity for a few days.
Keep opening all jars at least once/day for first 1-2 weeks of curing
For the first 1-2 weeks, whether or not you’re using Boveda 62 humidipaks, you should continue checking your buds regularly and opening all the jars once a day.
Once you are sure buds have been steadily in the cure zone for a few weeks, you may start opening the jars just once/week or even less.
Re-Hydrating Overdried Buds
If you feel like you’ve overdried your buds, don’t panic! Sometimes it feels like buds are too dry even when there is still moisture inside. It’s a good idea to leave buds in jars for at least 2-3 days to see if moisture starts coming to the surface from inside. If buds still feel bone dry after a few days of being jarred, that’s when you might consider rehydrating buds.
Don’t Panic if Buds Are Too Dry!
If you’ve only got household items, trying to re-hydrate buds afterward is risky and probably not a good idea. Re-hydration increases the risk of mold, especially if using something organic, like an orange peel, so use something that’s meant to do the re-hydrating.
Boveda Humidipaks for Re-Hydrating Dry Buds
If you’ve been watching buds closely from the beginning, it is unlikely that buds will become over dry. However, if you have over-dried buds, one safe option to at least reduce the brittleness (freshen them up) is to add 62% Boveda Humidipaks to your jars, which will bring the humidity back up to 62% (they don’t work well for reducing humidity though – they can only raise the humidity and keeping it at the 62% level).
These will help slowly infuse moisture back into your buds and won’t affect the taste or increase the chances of mold.
Once the buds have been re-hydrated, you can remove the Humidipak if desired. Some growers have reported that leaving Humidipaks in jars during the first 4 weeks of curing can reduce the taste/smell of buds, though when we used Humidipaks during the curing process we didn’t notice any difference in smell or flavor.
Step 7: Long term storage
As long as buds remain consistently in the cure zone after several weeks, you can begin to open jars once/month.
Buds will continue to improve from curing for up to 6 months. After 6 months, further curing will not continue to have much effect. At this point, you want to prepare the buds for long term storage to maintain their potency for as long as possible.
For long-term storage (months), buds should be kept in air-tight containers (the wide-mouthed mason jars they’ve been curing in are perfect) and placed in a cool, dark environment.
For serious long-term storage (6 months or more), you may want to consider vacuum sealing your buds, or even better, storing them in your freezer in tightly packed mason glass jars!
Buds should feel dry and have been curing for at least 3 months before any attempt to store them long term. It is better to err on the side of buds being too dry when you’re going to store buds for a long time without checking on them. Even if buds get brittle, they can be “freshened up” later with a Humidipak.
Properly stored buds can retain a lot of their potency for years
After curing for a year or more after harvest, buds will tend to produce more of a “mellow” effect and will look a lot more beige than green, but other than that the effects stay mostly the same as long as buds are stored properly.
62% humidity – When buds are dry enough for long term storage, your hygrometer will read 62% relative humidity or slightly less. It’s important that buds are not wet at all before long-term storage, or they may mold!
A great way to make sure buds don’t contain extra moisture is to leave your cured buds in unopened jars for a few weeks first, to make sure the humidity reading is completely accurate before your store your buds somewhere you won’t be able to easily check. Adding a Boveda 62 humidipak to the jar will also help keep the humidity where it needs to be!
That’s it! Perfectly cured buds every time!
Common Questions About Curing Cannabis
Now, you may be interested in…
Case studies on curing marijuana, by real growers:
This tutorial teaches you the best way to dry and cure cannabis buds after harvest, which greatly increases bud quality. Quality drying/curing ensures the best smelling, most dense and highest potency marijuana buds!
Dry & Cure Cannabis Buds Like an Expert!
Table of Contents
Harvest: Harvest cannabis when the white hairs have darkened and curled in. Too early can sometimes trigger anxiousness or headaches for some people. When do I harvest? The most common way to harvest cannabis is: cut down branches, trim off unwanted leaves, then hang branches upside down in a ventilated area.
Drying: Dry buds slowly for 3-7 days. The amount of drying time will vary depending on your local temperature and humidity. Don’t let buds touch each other during drying, especially in high humidity. Watch buds closely to make sure they’re not drying to a crisp overnight (drying too fast), or parts of buds feel wet and don’t seem to be drying (drying too slow). Drying is finished when small stems start to snap instead of bend.
1st Level Curing: Put buds in quart-sized glass mason jars for at least 2 weeks. Curing for 2-4 weeks will reduce “harshness,” the fresh-cut-grass smell of newly dried buds, as well as help prevent headaches and anxious effects. Open jars at least once a day for a minute or two. The outside of cannabis buds should never feel wet; if they feel wet then leave lid off jar for an hour or two until they feel dry again, and go back to curing.
2nd Level Curing: Continue curing buds for 2-6 months to further increase smoothness and potency (while buds “feel stronger,” it’s unknown whether 2nd level curing has any effect on the medical benfits of cannabis)
Long-Term Storage: After 6 months, you should prepare your buds for long-term storage
It takes a lot of patience to wait for your buds to mature until they’re ready for harvest. Many cannabis growers (especially first-time growers) have a tendency to harvest their cannabis too early out of excitement.
To test your patience even more, after you’ve harvested your cannabis, buds still need to be dried and “cured” to achieve the proper taste, smell and potency most growers are looking for in high-quality buds.
Drying and curing your buds improperly (or not drying and curing at all) will result in buds that are harsh, taste/smell bad, and actually seem less potent. Improperly dried and cured buds can also give you a headache or increase your chances of feeling anxious or paranoid during use. This article will give you hints and tips to achieve the perfect dry/cure every time so you produce the best buds possible with every harvest.
Note: Read the full article with step-by-step instructions on how to dry/cure your cannabis buds here. This article provides extra tips and hints for the best cannabis curing results, but the above link will give you detailed step-by-step instructions.
Why Do Growers Cure Buds After Harvest?
Here’s what drying and curing cannabis will do for you…
Dramatically improves taste of buds after harvest
Gets rid of the unpleasant “fresh hay” or “cut grass” smell which is common on newly harvested buds
Brings out the subtle flavors and unique smell of your cannabis strain
Reduces “harshness” in buds; you’re less likely to start coughing or get a headache
Buds that are dried/cured properly are less likely to cause anxiety, racing thoughts, or paranoia
Increases storage time; you can store properly dried/cured buds for years and buds will retain a lot of their original potency
Reduce the chance of mold growing on your buds
Curing increases the perceived “potency” of your buds. Buds actually produce stronger effects!
Detailed Breakdown of the Dry/Cure Process
Harvesting your cannabis at the right time will dramatically increase the quality of your buds. When do I harvest? The first step of a great dry/cure is to harvest your cannabis the right way at the right time.
During harvest, you will cut the buds from your cannabis plant. How do I harvest the buds from the plant? For most growers, harvesting plants means cutting stems with buds on them away from the main plant.
At this point, most growers will trim the extra leaves off their newly harvested buds. Leaves do not contain as much THC and other cannabinoids as the buds themselves, and leaving too many leaves on the buds will contribute to “harshness.”
Don’t worry, you can still use the extra leaves or “trim” to make hash or edibles (like Canna Caps, Cannabis Extract Oil or Dry Ice Hash). These processes extract the “good stuff” from the leaves of the plant, while getting rid of the inert matter in the leaves that can cause harshness.
Some growers choose to trim leaves off the buds after the drying process, but please note that trimming after drying is much more difficult! I only recommend waiting to trim if you live in a very dry area (extremely low humidity), and absolutely need the leaves to help slow down the drying process. Otherwise it’s recommended that most growers trim their cannabis buds immediately after harvest.
Here’s some examples to help show you what I mean.
Drying before trimming (not recommended unless you live in a extremely dry environment)
The buds still have all of their leaves because they were not trimmed before being hung to dry
Drying after trimming (recommended)
Notice how the leaves have been mostly trimmed away before the buds were hung up to dry
Drying: Dry buds slowly, for 3-7 days
While “drying” and “curing” are usually thought of as two separate events, the “curing” process actually starts as soon as you cut your buds from your plants. Drying your cannabis buds slowly is a part of achieving the best cure.
It’s important to leave just the right amount of moisture before taking buds down. If you dry the buds too quickly, or too much, it can actually halt the whole curing process so you don’t get as much benefits or improvement from jarring your buds.
When deciding when to pull buds down during the drying process, it’s better to err on the side of leaving buds too wet than too dry. You can always dry buds more, but the curing process will not go as well if you’ve dried your buds too much.
Some growers like to use mesh racks for the drying process. I personally believe most growers, especially small-scale growers, will get the best results by drying their buds hanging upside down with buds still attached to their stems.
When using mesh racks, buds will dry quicker because you cut the buds off the stems (which contain moisture and help the buds dry slowly). Being horizontal (as buds will be on a mesh rack) also seems to make buds dry more quickly. Additionally, buds tend to flatten on the side that’s lying on the mesh due to gravity and the softness of buds.
Racks will help your buds dry faster (and prevent mold), so they are a great choice if you live in a high humidity area, and/or if you’re drying a LOT of buds in a small area. If you’re drying a pound or more of buds in a small space, you may want to invest in a mesh rack to make sure buds don’t mold.
Remember how we had to trim the buds earlier? Racks are also useful for those who have huge harvests because it is easier/faster to trim buds when they’ve been separated from the stems. Some growers even use trimming machines to trim buds, but machines need the buds to be separated from their stems. Trimming buds while still on the stems can be time-consuming. A rack allows you to dry buds no matter how they’ve been trimmed, even if they’ve been separated from the stems.
That being said, I highly recommend trimming your buds while still on their stems, then hanging them upside down if possible. You want your buds to dry relatively slowly to achieve the best cure, and I’ve always achieved the best results by drying my cannabis buds by hanging them upside down by their stems. When I’ve used mesh racks to dry my buds, they’ve always tended to dry too quickly.
Whether your hanging your buds or drying them on a mesh rack, don’t let buds touch each other during the drying process! This increases the likelihood that your buds will get mold. Throughout the drying/curing process, it’s a battle between drying too fast and the possibility of mold. One of the best things you can do to prevent mold is to never let buds that feel wet on the outside touch each other.
Never let buds touch each other during the drying process
(arrange them so buds don’t touch)
When it comes to drying slowly, it’s good to aim for a drying process that has your buds ready to put in jars after about 7 days. That being said, growers have dried buds for only a few days, and up to a few weeks and still gotten great results.
The most important thing to remember is to always take buds down and put them in the jars before they’re too dry. If they’re too wet, there’s still a lot you can do to dry them out more, but you can’t fix overdried buds.
When are buds done drying? Your buds are ready to be placed in jars when the outsides of buds start to feel dry to the touch. At this point, some of the small stems will snap, though the thicker stems should still have a small amount of flex when you try to bend them in half. This flex indicates that there’s still moisture contained inside the stems, which is what you need for the curing process.
1st Level Curing: Keep buds in glass mason jars for 2-4 Weeks
When buds have just finished drying, they tend to have a “fresh cut grass” smell instead of the skunky or sweet scent they carried during the flowering stage. If smoked, newly dried buds which haven’t been cured tend to be “harsh” and are more likely to cause headaches, racing thoughts or anxiety.
1st level curing will reduce harshness and bring out the natural taste and smell of your cannabis. It will make your buds smoother and can actually increase the perceived potency compared to newly dried buds.
The first step of 1st level curing is to place buds in quart-sized, wide mouth glass mason jars for at least 2-4 weeks.
Use glass mason jars that are quart-sized with a wide mouth, like this:
Never leave buds closed in jars for long periods of time if they feel moist or wet! You need to open your jars at least daily and monitor your buds closely for the first few weeks, and this gives you a perfect chance to check on the moisture levels of your buds.
If you ever notice that buds feel moist or wet, you should leave jars open for 20 minutes to an hour (or until the outsides of the buds feel dry to the touch). If buds ever are left in jars while they feel wet on the outside, they are much more likely to get mold! Buds should feel dry on the outside every time you close them in your jars.
During the first few weeks of the curing process, it’s normal for buds to periodically feel wet as the moisture from the inside of the buds works its way to the outside. That’s a good thing because it means you didn’t overdry the buds, but this is also part of why it’s so important to open jars at least daily for the first few weeks – you need to check on them and control the moisture levels.
2 weeks of curing is generally considered the “minimum” amount of time for acceptable curing. 4 weeks of curing is a great goal. I personally do not start sampling my buds until they’ve been curing for at least 4 weeks.
It’s crucial to open jars daily for at least the first 2-3 weeks of curing, and to continue to open jars regularly throughout the rest of the 1st level curing process. Even if you’ve overdried your buds, it’s still important to open jars daily for the first few weeks to achieve the best results.
Almost all growers agree that there are additional benefits to curing your cannabis buds past 4 weeks. In my experience, buds will continue to improve from additional curing for about 6 months.
When I say “improve” I mean that buds subjectively seem to get “stronger” or more potent. Buds seem to get “smoother” after a long cure. The smell continues to change during the curing process, and most growers seem to agree that the changes in smell are a big improvement that brings out the natural taste and smell of your cannabis.
That said, buds are good to go after 2-4 weeks. Getting to the end of the 1st level cure is the most important part of the drying/curing process, and the remaining benefits of further curing are all gravy as far as I’m concerned.
2nd Level Curing: Continue keeping buds in mason jars for 4 weeks – 6 months
Continue curing buds for up to 6 months to further increase smoothness and potency (though it’s currently unknown if 2nd level curing has an effect on medical benefits of cannabis). Yes, buds actually seem to get more potent if you continue curing past 4 weeks. The exact process is not well understood, but it’s true. I encourage you to test your buds at all stages of curing so you can see for yourself!
Once you hit 2+ months of curing, buds will begin losing some of their color. Bright greens and purples will become darker and less vibrant, though potency continues to improve. There is a common misconception that brighter or more vibrant colors indicates more potent buds, but that’s not the case. This myth may have started because buds that have actually turned brown (not just muted green or purple) usually have been harvested at the wrong time, overdried and/or not stored properly. You don’t want brown buds. Yet muted greens and purples do not mean the bud has lost any potency.
What do medical cannabis dispensaries do? I’ve noticed that dispensaries around here (in California) do a very short cure, only 2-4 weeks. I think this is because it’s easier and cheaper to have a fast turnaround as opposed to doing a long cure. A fast cure allows businesses to get rid of their stock sooner, so they don’t need to store buds for as long. A quick cure also allows dispensaries to sell buds that are still bright green or purple. People like bright colors in their buds, even if the colors don’t necessarily indicate a better product.
After about 6 months of curing, I haven’t really noticed more improvement in potency. Buds may continue to get smoother, but they stop getting stronger. So with a long cure, you gain potency and smoothness but lose some of the color. I recommend preparing your buds for long term storage after 6 months of curing to maintain the most potency.
After a very long cure (12+ months), the buds begin to lose their potency and smell unless you’ve prepared them for long-term storage. Over-cured buds will tend to make you feel sleepy. Unfortunately, buds don’t continue improving forever.
After 6 months, you should prepare your buds for long-term storage. If it’s just going to be a few months, this means storing your jarred buds in a cool, dry place. If you plan on storing buds for longer than that, it’s recommended that you use a vacuum seal.
Review: Timeline for Drying & Curing
Harvest: Cut down your buds
Drying: Dry buds for 3-7 days
Start Curing: Put buds in glass jars and open daily for 2+ weeks.
Continue to cure buds (while opening jars occasionally) for as long as you want, up to 6 months.
After 6 months, you should prepare your buds for long-term storage
After 12+ months, buds will begin to lose their potency and smell unless they’ve been stored properly
Tips to Take Away
Trim your buds to prevent harshness (leaves left on buds tend to be harsh). I recommend trimming leaves immediately after harvest (before drying) unless you need to leave them on to help buds dry slowly, for example if you live in a very dry area. It’s much more difficult to trim buds properly after drying.
Don’t over-dry buds or dry them too quickly – remember that drying is actually part of the curing process, and it’s better to dry buds slowly. Mostly importantly, never dry buds in an oven, a dehydrator, or in the microwave. These fast-drying methods will ruin the taste and smell of your buds, and prevent them from ever being able to cure properly.
Mesh Racks (or any way to dry buds horizontally) will help your buds dry faster, so they are a great choice if you…
- live in a high humidity area (faster drying will help prevent mold in high humidity)
- if you’re drying a LOT of buds in a small area, or
- if you just can’t make the time to trim buds on the stem. Otherwise…
Trim buds on the stem and dry them by hanging upside down for a long, slow cure. It’s the best way to do dry your buds!
Never let buds touch each other while drying! When buds that feel wet on the outside are touching, it increases the likelihood of mold. Throughout the drying/curing process, it’s a battle between drying too fast and the possibility of mold. One of the best things you can do to prevent mold is to never let buds that feel wet or moist touch each other. This goes for drying and curing. During drying, make sure you arrange your buds so that there is always some amount of air between buds that feel wet on the outside. During curing you will monitor your buds closely to make sure they never feel wet (more info below).
Notice how none of the buds are touching each other in these pics
(click for closeups)
5.) Do yourself a favor and get quart-sized glass mason jars for the curing process. Don’t get larger or smaller sized jars. Paradoxically, jars that are too large or too small will both increase the chances of mold showing up. The specific seal you get from mason jars seems to consistently get the best results when it comes to curing. It’s also important not to completely fill up your jars with bud; try to leave at least 1.5 – 2″ of air space at the top of your jars.
6.) Cure your buds for at least 2-4 weeks (1st level cure) – trust me it’s worth it! You can always sample buds along the way to see for yourself how big a difference it makes.
7.) Open all the jars daily (at least) for the first few weeks of curing, even if you’ve overdried your buds. This is an important part of the curing process and will also give you a chance to check on the buds.
8.) Never place anything wet in your jars during curing to try to “fix” overdried buds. I’ve heard of people sticking a piece of potato or other things like that to try to get more moisture to the buds. It doesn’t help the curing process, can negatively affect bud flavor, and may even cause mold. Even Humidipaks, which can help re-hydrate buds, will not improve the curing process for the first few weeks. If you’ve overdried you buds, just continue the curing process as normal for the first few weeks to achieve the best results.
9.) It’s normal for buds to occasionally feel wet or moist during the curing process as moisture from the inside of the cannabis buds works its way to the outside. This is actually what you want because it means that enough water was retained during the drying process for a great cure! Because you are opening all your buds daily for the first few weeks of curing, you will be able to identify this quickly. If buds ever feel wet or moist when you open the jars, you need to leave the jars open for 20 minutes to an hour (or until buds feel dry on the outside again) before closing jars again. You should also check buds (by opening all the jars) a few times a day when buds have recently seemed moist. This will help dry out the buds so they never feel moist on the outside while inside the jars. This will prevent mold while allowing the curing process to continue perfectly.
10.) 2 weeks of curing is generally considered the “minimum” amount of time for acceptable curing. 4 weeks of curing is a great goal. Letting buds cure for even longer is better, Yet after 6 months of curing, you won’t really see further gains. That’s why it’s recommended to prepare buds for long-term storage once you hit 6 months.
Dry & Cure Cannabis Buds Like an Expert! Table of Contents Harvest: Harvest cannabis when the white hairs have darkened and curled in. Too early can sometimes trigger anxiousness or