Just like any other organic matter, dried cannabis flower doesn’t last forever. The best way to preserve its freshness, then, is to make sure that cannabis is stored in a way that extends its shelf life. Below, learn why proper storage matters and take home some tips on how to extend your flower’s freshness with the right storage conditions and techniques.
Why does proper storage matter?
The cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis plant, which affect the potency, flavors, and aromas, naturally break down over time. To slow down this natural degradation, it's important to properly store your cannabis to ensure the best possible sensory experience.
Cannabis storage in a too humid environment can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. Most of the time, you can see mold spores. But sometimes, you might smell foul odors without seeing mold. If you don’t hear that classic cracking sound when you split your flowers, your cannabis is too moist.
On the other hand, improperly storing cannabis in environments that aren’t humid enough can dry out your cannabis and render it unusable. If you break open your cannabis flowers and they crumble to the touch, your cannabis is too dry to use.
Using the wrong container for your cannabis can also cause your flowers to smell like the container. This is a sign that your container isn’t neutrally charged, meaning that your cannabis is interacting with it and undergoing physical transformations while it’s supposed to stay stable.
Interested in learning more? Check out our article on why cannabis goes bad.
What should I consider when storing cannabis?
The environment in which your cannabis is kept is key to ensuring its proper long term storage. You’ll need to consider the following environmental factors when storing cannabis:
- Light exposure: Keep cannabis in a cool, dark place, preferably at room temperature, away from both house lights and sun exposure. The UV rays in sunlight are especially harmful for your cannabis, because they rapidly accelerate the breakdown of cannabinoids and terpenes.
- Air exposure: Store cannabis in an airtight container, ideally with a vacuum seal. Oxygen exposure accelerates the breakdown of cannabinoids and terpenes just as light exposure does.
- Humidity: Ideally, cannabis should be stored at 59 to 63 percent relative humidity. Lower humidity levels can make your cannabis too dry to use. Higher humidity levels can lead to mold and mildew. Investing in two-way humidity packs can help maintain the moisture content of your cannabis at a good level.
- Temperature: In an ideal world, your cannabis would never be exposed to temperatures higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but room temperature is acceptable for proper cannabis storage. Above this temperature, the terpenes in your cannabis can begin to polymerize, which can change the way your cannabis smells and tastes. High temperatures also promote bacterial growth and the degradation of the cannabinoid THC.
- Container type: Containers made of materials with a non-neutral charge can interact with your cannabis and change its chemical composition. This phenomenon explains why glass jars and mason jars are the most common storage environments for cannabis. Glass is a neutral-charge material that doesn’t interact with cannabis. Plastic is not neutral-charge, so you should only use them for short-term storage of small amounts of cannabis.
- Cannabis type: Edibles, tinctures, and concentrated cannabis products have different storage guidelines than dry herb material. Although all types of cannabis share certain storage basics, edibles, for example, are perishable and should be stored in the same ways as other perishable foods. Read the packaging and follow the guidance.
What’s the best environment to store cannabis?
For starters, do not store your cannabis in the original container from the dispensary, as it is not sufficiently airtight. Similarly, don't keep it alongside any other smoking or vaping accessories, which will likely bring with them unwanted environment factors.
The best environment for storing cannabis is in a cool, dark glass container with a vacuum seal, 59 to 63 percent relative humidity, and temperature no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Vacuum sealing containers can be challenging, humidity is far more difficult to control than temperature, and 70 degrees Fahrenheit is a bit colder than room temperature, but all three conditions can be achieved with the right tools.
You can improve on the airtight seal of your favorite glass container with a vacuum seal attachment. These pumps, which are either hand-powered or electric, add an extra defense against oxygen exposure beyond the standard glass jar seal. Mason jars offer especially airtight seals, but a full vacuum seal can go an even farther distance for your cannabis.
Humidity control is possible inside sealed containers with two-way humidity packs. These devices work to draw moisture away from other objects in small, controlled environments, or they can add back moisture into the environment as needed.
To keep your cannabis consistently exposed to temperatures no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you may want to consider lowering the air conditioning in the room where you store your cannabis. Setting your thermostat a degree or two below 70, in combination with the above techniques, can go the extra mile in extending your cannabis’ longevity.
It's well worth your while – and wallet
With proper care you can get the most out of your cannabis, preserving its integrity and potency for months after purchase. All you need is a few helpful tools and the right storage place.