Flowers are delicate and precious things that must be cared for if you want them to survive. This is especially true when the plant is as valuable as a cannabis bud. Once cultivated, it needs to be stored quickly and carefully to stay fresh.
The shelf-life of marijuana left out without a container is only a few weeks. Once it’s exposed to the air, the THC slowly turns to CBN (a weaker version of THC) and begins to lose its potency.
But if you store it correctly, it can last up to a year. In some cases, you might even be able to enjoy it for up to two years after storage. Follow these tips to maximize your cannabis flower’s shelf life and keep those delicate buds delicious for as long as possible.
1. Start With the Temperature
Cannabis is sensitive to temperatures while growing and after it’s cultivated. When you store your weed, choose a spot that is consistently about room temperature. It can’t be too hot or too cold, or mold and mildew will set in.
An ideal place for your stash will be between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. While some cannabis growers suggest freezing weed to keep it fresher longer, remember that it’s a flower. It’s sensitive to extreme temperatures.
When you freeze it or let it get too hot, it dries out the terpenes and cannabinoids. Sure, you’ll have a fresh, green plant to smoke, but you won’t get any of the benefits of its components.
2. Don’t Go Toward the Light
While most plants need sunlight to grow, those UV rays are a serious danger to your bud’s growth and freshness.
You might have heard that UV rays increase terpene production, and that’s true — to a degree. Cannabis growers expose their growing buds to strategic amounts of UV light that trigger the growth of terpenes, which determine the flavor, fragrance, and color of each plant. But too much UV light can damage the sensitive leaves in much the same way as we get sunburns.
Exposure to UV light, even indirectly, can speed up the decomposition of marijuana. It will lose its potency quickly. If you’re storing it anywhere near a window, use a dark container that seals it airtight.
There are glass jars designed for cannabis storage, and the more opaque it is, the fewer UV rays get through. If you’re buying from a licensed dispensary, they likely carry containers ideal for storing your stash. Otherwise, a dark mason jar should do the trick, provided you seal it as instructed by the manufacturer.
3. Avoid Air and Humidity Exposure
Temperature is relatively easy to control and monitor using a decent thermometer. Air exposure is preventable by using an airtight, sealed container. But humidity is a little more complicated.
When cannabis is exposed to oxygen for too long, it increases the pace of breakdown or degradation. Storing it in a cool (not cold) place using a dark, sealed container takes care of most of the concerns.
But if you’re not careful to avoid humidity, those precautions won’t help.
High-humidity environments attract microorganisms like mold and mildew. Over time, they can get into the container and breed. This is dangerous to whoever consumes the mildewy or moldy stash, and it damages the flavor and odor of the plant.
However, low-humidity levels can be just as threatening to your valuable buds. When there isn’t enough moisture in the air, it dries out the leaves and decreases the THC potency.
So where’s the sweet spot? According to this article by Veriheal, cannabis should be stored in an area with a relative humidity of 54-62%. Keep it away from rooms that tend to see a lot of moisture, like the bathroom and kitchen.
4. Keep Your Container Clean
Investing in a container you can reuse is cost-effective and makes you feel good about helping the environment. If you go this route, though, you need to clean your container between uses.
Dark mason jars are the preferred container of many weed users for a reason. Not only are they easy to use, but the sealed lid protects the trichomes — the cannabinoids in cannabis that give you the benefits you’re looking for. Trichomes hold the terpenes that we talked about earlier, and they’re the part of weed responsible for things like anxiety, nausea, and pain reduction.
Sealing your container and keeping it clean is the best way to protect those delicate trichomes. When you use your jar regularly, you’ll inevitably have shake residue and plant resin sitting around the bottom and side of the glass. Eventually, this will attract mold, and those organisms will get into your fresh stash.
Tips for Cleaning Your Container
The key point to remember when you clean your weed container is to make sure it’s completely dry before you add your bud. You don’t need (or want) chemicals in there. Harsh chemicals can last a while, and the plant will absorb them, which means you’ll be tasting cleaning supplies instead of your usual flavors.
Instead, stick with simple ingredients. Isopropyl alcohol is inexpensive and good to have on hand in your home for various purposes. Put a little of the liquid inside your jar, seal it, then shake it vigorously. Open it and scrape any leftovers off the glass; repeat, then let dry.
You can also let your dishwasher do the job. The high temperature kills bacteria and germs without leaving a chemical residue. Just check to ensure your container is dishwasher-safe (another reason mason jars are so popular).
Unless you’re a high-level consumer of cannabis, you might need more than a few weeks to get through all your bud. But sticking it in a ziplock baggie and shoving it in a drawer isn’t going to help the plant stay fresh and potent as long as it could otherwise.
To maximize the shelf life of your cannabis flower, use a dark, airtight, sealed container stored away from too much or too little humidity. Avoid extreme temperatures and sunlight, and enjoy it for up to two years!