With cannabis legalization sweeping the United States it’s never been easier to get your hands on some fresh herb. The problem is keeping it fresh. If you’re tired of dried out, crumbly pot you’re not alone, and we here at High There are are ready to help.
In today’s article we’ll be talking about the best ways to keep your weed fresh, some common mistakes to avoid, and even a few more high-tech options for the true cannabis connoisseur. Let’s dive in!
Why Does Weed Lose It's Freshness?
Let’s start with a metaphor.
Picture, if you will, a freshly-picked rose. Straight from the bush this rose is still brightly colored and smells sweet; it’s stem is long and green and firm enough to support the weight of the flower at it’s head.
Give this same rose a few days, though, and it begins to decompose – The petals begin to dry up and fall away, the stem wilts and becomes weak, the terpenes that formed its once-potent scent dissipate and become hard to detect. Now detached from it’s mother bush the rose flower is dying, and entropy is in full swing.
All things degrade over time. From our example rose to a can of beans in your pantry, chemicals break down, lose potency, go “bad” and eventually become unfit for human consumption. If you think of cannabis as any other consumable good, it makes sense why weed would go bad – Nothing keeps its freshness forever. But even then, is “fresh” marijuana exactly what you want?
Much like tobacco, most cannabis available on store shelves has undergone a drying or “curing” process, primarily to help remove water weight from the flower bud. As anyone who’s taken a rip off some freshly-picked weed will tell you water vapor can be harsh on the lungs, so a little time hanging out and losing some of that freshness will make for a much smoother smoke. This process of letting weed age also helps reduce the chance of mold creeping in when you, the consumer, go to store your cannabis.
But there is a fine line between “well aged” and “dried”, and too much exposure to the elements can not only make your marijuana hard to smoke, it can also decrease your weed’s overall potency. Assuming your cannabis provider is giving you buds with trichome resin cured to the desired point of quality, let’s talk about how you can keep your weed there for as long as possible.
Avoiding The Big Four
Other than time, there are four forces that can decrease the potency of your marijuana products: Air, Temperature, Light, and Moisture.
Air exposure, and by association oxygen, can be harmful for weed in multiple ways. First, air movement can wick away moisture from plant matter – Good for freshly-picked weed buds, bad for marijuana flower that’s already been cured. Secondly, oxygen breaks THC down into CBN, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that, while still medically interesting in itself, does little-to-nothing for getting someone high.
Temperature changes also have an adverse effect on the moisture level of cannabis; anything too warm will lead to the flower buds drying out or potentially growing mold. Likewise, anything too cold (IE: your freezer) will also lead to moisture loss, as the water molecules contained within are more likely to evaporate after having been frozen; this evaporation then carries precious cannabinoids and terpenes away from the marijuana.
Light does all of the above and then some, making temperatures in your cannabis fluctuate, enticing water to evaporate, potentially leading to the development of mold growth on your weed, and rapidly breaking down cannabinoids into non-psychoactive forms. Studies show that exposure to UV rays is one of the most efficient ways to transform cannabinoids such as THC into their inert forms, so blocking out light is a big priority for keeping your weed fresh.
Moisture has been brought up in all of the above scenarios with good reason: Maintaining proper moisture levels is one of the biggest factors in keeping your weed “fresh”. Too much moisture and your cannabis not only becomes hard to smoke but is a vector for mold; too little moisture and you end up with the dried-out, easily-disintegrated bud we mentioned earlier.
Thankfully combating all four of these issues at the same time is relatively easy. There are a number of classical ways to store your weed that can help mitigate these problems, and we’ll go over the pros and cons of several below.
The Zip-Top Bag
The convenient classic, throwing your weed into a ziploc sandwich bag and calling it a day is a traditional storage method familiar to most stoners. While resealable plastic bags are convenient and will do an OK job of keeping out air & humidity these do nothing about light, and can be easily punctured by sharp stems attached to your bud. We like to recommend reducing usage of disposable plastics where ever possible anyway, so for more efficient & environmentally friendly ways to keep your weed fresh we suggest looking into other options on our list.
The Aluminum Foil Pouch
The concept is simple: Take some tin foil, place your weed inside, fold until wrapped tightly. And this does work in a pinch, but for long-term storage this is far from air-tight, and your cannabis will still be exposed to humidity and air; not to mention this method doing absolutely nothing for odor control. Again, tin foil may work as a makeshift container for carting around a small bit of weed for a few hours, but overall there are better alternatives for weed storage.
The Resealable Jar
Either an overly large medicine bottle (economy-sized aspirin bottles work well here) or an old-fashioned Mason jar are both classic methods of stashing your weed. Each has their pros and cons: While the glass jar typically has a better sealing lid the medicine bottle is likely opaque, blocking out cannabinoid-wrecking (and mold-growing) UV light.
Neither method is perfect on its own, but putting your weed in a tightly-sealed canning jar tucked away in a dark space works as a great low-budget way of keeping your stash as fresh as possible.
This option is for the more serious cannabis enthusiast, but one worth looking into if keeping your weed stash fresh is a top priority. Though a tobacco humidor will work there are cannabis humidors built specifically for the job of keeping humidity levels for your weed at prime levels. Much like regular tobacco humidors a cannabis humidor is designed to regulate temperature fluctuations, and is possibly the best way to keep your plant matter at optimal conditions. But such humidors can be expensive, more so than average cannabis consumers may wish to spend. However there is a middle-ground storage solution in…
Cannabis Humidity Packs
If maintaining a full-on humidor feels like it’ll involve a bit too much rocket science and/or upfront costs for you, there’s always the disposable humidity pack. Working off the same principals as cigar humidors, these small sachets are filled with a mix of salt and purified water, to help make sure your cannabis remains at the optimum humidity levels for the best smoking experience.
These packs are typically easy to use, requiring little more than opening the pack and tossing it into whatever weed storage method you prefer. Note, though, that humidity packs like these will do nothing to prevent UV rays from damaging your cannabis, so if keeping your weed in canning jars or some other fashion of glass container, make sure to tuck it somewhere dark after throwing in your humidity pack.
A mark of the desperate and the shrewd, throwing in a spare fruit peel (such as orange or apple peel) will work toward keeping your cannabis moist; tossing an orange peel into a big bag of weed is an old dealer’s trick for keeping larger quantities of cannabis seeming “fresh” without adding in noticeable flavor, and the addition of an apple peel (or even slice) to a tobacco bag was a classic cowboy method of keeping smoke moist and fresh while out on the trail.
Flavor can and will still seep in, though, even if the citrus-tones of an orange play well with the skunky nature of marijuana terpenes. And even worse, there’s no direct control over your moisture levels, making adding in a fruit peel just another way of inviting moldy growth. We recommend skipping this method, unless you’re just completely out of other options.
Keeping your weed at optimum conditions may be simple, but that doesn’t always make it easy. As weed gets up in age cannabis will begin to degrade; a pot stash will only stay fresh for so long, and it doesn’t matter what fashion of storage you choose, sooner or later your cannabis will have passed it’s prime freshness.
Just remember our big four: Temperature, air, light and moisture are all major factors you’ll need to control to keep your stash as fresh as possible. Tightly sealed glass jars and medicine bottles make for a good start to effective marijuana storage but keeping your weed buds away from heat sources, light, and unwanted moisture also go a long way to ensuring maximum shelf life.
Whether a glass jar in the pantry or a specially-crafted marijuana humidor, we hope our article on the best ways to keep weed fresh has helped you find some new ways to keep your marijuana at peak levels. Happy smoking!