Properly storing your weed is crucial if you want to preserve the quality and flavor of your precious buds. Your cannabis will inevitably degrade over time but the way you store it can make a huge difference.
After cannabis is dried and cured it should be stored in a cool, dark place. There is no definite expiration date for weed but you can expect it to last for 6 months to a year until the potency becomes minimal.
Ideal temperatures for storing weed
Mold and mildew can develop on your buds if they are stored at high temperatures along with high humidity. Mold grows between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 to 49 degrees Celsius. Between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 to 32 degrees Celsius, mold is most active.
Cannabinoids and terpenes are vulnerable to excessive heat. The terpenes have oils that may dry out and lose their efficacy, resulting in a loss of scent and harsher smoke.
High temperatures are responsible for the process called “decarboxylation.” This is the process of the cannabinoid THCA converting into THC, which is the psychoactive cannabinoid. After converting to THC, the cannabinoids next convert into CBN which is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid.
Moisture levels for cannabis
Water and moisture levels also make a difference in preservation. After a cannabis plant is harvested it should then be dried and cured.
The purpose of curing weed is that it allows moisture inside the bud to slowly evaporate without changing the consistency and flavor. Between 6-9 percent moisture level is perfect for nugs.
Losing too much moisture from your buds can drastically alter their structure. Similar to the consequences of excessive heat, the terpenes degrade when they dry out.
Achieving and understanding appropriate water levels for cannabis is rather complex. Research done by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) provides some explanation. “Standard Specification for Maintaining Acceptable Water Activity (aw) Range (0.55 to 0.65) for Dry Cannabis Flower” was published by ASTM back in 2018. It explains 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 represents the air surrounding the flower. Water activity measures vapor pressure against pure water. If water activity is 0.55, it is 55 percent of water.
Cannabis water activity during storage needs to be within 0.55 and 0.65. As temperature increases so do water activity. As a result, we can conclude that storing weed at humidity levels over 65 percent leaves it susceptible to mold and a loss of potency.
Light conditions for storing weed
UV-radiation accelerates the degradation of organic matter either by photolysis or oxidation. Leaving your weed out in the light certainly applies here.
In the 1970s the University of London conducted a study that concluded light is the most critical variable in cannabinoid degradation. The study also found that when stored under the proper conditions, cannabinoids remain stable for up to two years.
Keeping your buds out of direct light also helps with temperature control.
Air control for cannabis storage
You must keep your weed in air-tight jars to best preserve it. Jars that are opaque such as brown-tinted Mason jars are great for air control as well as light control.
These jars seal in the moisture levels of the buds. If your weed has been properly cured then the moisture level should be stable enough that you can leave weed in a closed jar for a while with no problem. If your weed has not been properly cured then you will need to open the jar from time to time to keep the humidity levels under 65 percent.
The reason air-tight storage is key is that oxygen can degrade compounds. When organic materials decompose in the presence of oxygen, the process is called “aerobic.” The aerobic process is most common in nature.
You want to minimize the amount of oxygen in your jar as much as possible. Keep your weed in appropriate-sized jars for the amount you have. To prevent an abundance of air in your jar, avoid using big containers to store little amounts of cannabis.
Also, be sure to not leave your jars open for long durations. Open it to get your bud out and then seal it back shut as soon as you can.
How to store edibles
Edibles are best stored in a refrigerator at temperatures in the low 30s. Edibles with ingredients prone to spoiling can develop mold if they sit out at room temperature for long periods. Weed-infused candies or gummies do not have such a problem.
You can also store edibles in the freezer. If you do this make sure to wrap them well with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn. Cannabutter is also best stored in an air-tight jar in a refrigerator. Weed-infused butter and oil can also be put in the freezer but this can be rather inconvenient because they have to thaw before being used.
How to store concentrates
Cannabis concentrates should be stored in specific containers as well. Certain consistencies of concentrate do not work well stored in glass jars. Products such as shatter can get stuck to the glass making it nearly impossible to get off.