How to Properly Store Cannabis to Retain Freshness
Get the Most out of your Cannabis Strains
Like good whiskey or fine wine, cannabis does not have a definitive expiration date. But, also like whiskey or wine, if cannabis is not stored properly, it will not age well. In fact, too much light, too little or too much humidity and, especially mold and/or mildew can ruin your entire stash.
Thus, for those who truly appreciate the appearance and aroma of a fully matured and properly cured cannabis bud, preserving the beautiful colors and aromatic scent prior to smoking or vaporizing is a serious concern.
Therefore, storing your cannabis in the proper manner is of paramount importance regardless of whether you are only storing your cannabis for a short period of time or for an extended period. Consequently, you should avoid storing your precious pot in plastic baggies, paper envelopes, or aluminum foil and instead choose a proper means of storing your stash.
So, the first step to properly storing your cannabis is to place it in an airtight container such as a glass jar because, if odors are escaping, then both moisture and terpenes are being released as well. This, in turn, will result in your buds becoming excessively dry which will lead to a lack of flavor, a harsh taste, and an uneven burn and, most importantly, a reduction in potency.
However, even though they may be convenient, you should avoid storing your pot in plastic containers because most plastic containers are significantly more porous than glass jars and thus, they are only suitable for storing your portable, short-term, stash.
Excessive Air Space
Furthermore, you should also pay attention to the size of the container that you use because the more empty space your container has, the more air it will contain. In fact, while it is true that cannabis needs air while curing, too much air in your storage container can cause your buds to dry out more quickly and will speed up the degradation process as the cannabinoids and terpenes are exposed to oxygen.
On the other hand, too little air can greatly affect the relative humidity in your container; especially if the buds are not completely dry before being placed in the container. Therefore, you should choose a container that is large enough to allow you to store your buds without compressing them but which is not so large that you have excess air space.
Another factor that you should consider when storing your stash is how light affects cannabis. Thus, you need to be aware that light degrades THC. In fact, a study conducted at the University of London in the 1970s concluded that light is the single biggest factor in the degradation of cannabinoids. In addition, the same study concluded that cannabinoids maintain stability for up to two years when stored under the proper conditions.
However, because the essential oils that contain both the cannabinoids and the terpenes break down slowly over time, cannabis can partially maintain its potency for a much longer period provided that it is stored properly.
Thus, although clear glass jars are the most common type available, storing your cannabis in clear glass containers and then leaving it exposed to light will drastically degrade the potency of your pot and thus defeat the purpose of storing it in an airtight container.
Therefore, if you do choose to use clear glass containers, then you should place the container in a cool, dark, place. But, instead of using clear glass containers, an even better choice is to use dark, translucent, or even opaque glass or glazed ceramic containers.
Yet another consideration when storing your pot is the temperature at which you store it because mold and mildew is most prevalent on organic matter at temperatures between 77 degrees and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition, excessive heat can cause your cannabis to dry out even when stored in an airtight container because even glass containers have microscopic pores. Furthermore, exposing your pot to excessive temperatures will cause the essential oils that contain both the cannabinoids and the terpenes to evaporate which will result in both degraded potency, a lack of flavor, and harsh smoke.
On the other hand, storing your pot at too low a temperature will slow the process of decarboxylation which transforms the non-psychoactive cannabinoid THC-A into the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. Therefore, storing your pot at the right temperature will keep it in the “Goldilocks Zone”.
A fourth factor that you should be aware of when storing cannabis is controlling the relative humidity inside the container because carefully controlling the amount of moisture in your stash is paramount to preventing mold and/or mildew from ruining your pot.
Therefore, the general consensus is that it is best to maintain a relative humidity level between 59% and 63% in order to preserve the color, aroma, flavor, and potency of your pot because, if the relative humidity rises above 65%, then the risk of mold rises drastically. But, at the same time, if the relative humidity drops too low, then the Trichomes will become brittle and the essential oils they contain can evaporate.
Last, due to the plethora of cannabis extracts and edibles available on the market today, it is appropriate to also discuss the issue of storing these forms of cannabis as well.
Thus, you should be aware that because cannabis extracts (aka oil, butter, shatter) contain small amounts of bio matter, they too are subject to light degradation as well as to mold and mildew. Therefore, it is not recommended that you store cannabis extracts for extended periods of time but, if you do, then you should follow the procedures listed above.
Cannabis edibles, on the other hand, should be stored in a manner similar to other food items even though they have been infused with cannabis extracts. Thus, when storing cannabis edibles, you should follow the instructions printed on the package.
So, as mentioned above, the proper means of storing cannabis is to place it in an airtight, glass container and, preferably one made of dark, translucent, or opaque glass. In addition, it is also important to choose a container that is neither too large nor too small so that you eliminate excess air space without compressing your pot.
Furthermore, it is also important that you store your container or containers in a cool, dark, place in order to prevent both light degradation and evaporation while also controlling the relative humidity inside the container.
But, if you will make the effort to take these steps, then you can safely store your pot for periods as long as two years without degrading either the aroma or potency of your pot.