Once you have purchased or harvested your cannabis, you need to store it properly and safely so it will stay fresh and potent until you are ready to consume it.
When stored and appropriately aged in a cool, dark place, cannabis products don’t have a precise date of expiration.
Keep in mind that there are some critical factors to consider when storing cannabis for a long time.
One of the most essential factors in cannabis storage is controlling the temperature.
Excessive heat could dry out the valuable cannabinoids and terpenes that have taken months to develop during growth.
On the other hand, very low temperatures slow the decarboxylation process of cannabinoids. Decarboxylation is the process that converts THC-A into psychoactive THC while degrading the CBN.
When the plant material and essential oils in the cannabis plant become too dry, it results in aharsh smoke is the result. Warm air also holds more moisture than cold, so humidity becomes a factor as well.
Humidity control in your storage environment is of extreme importance to prevent mold contaminants and mildew from ruining your cannabis. A controlled environment should have a relative humidity (RH) level between 59-63%. RH levels falling below 59% can dry out the essential oils and cause the trichomes in your cannabis to become brittle. Maintaining your storage environment’s humidity levels will also help to enhance consistency, aroma, color, and flavor.
Although cannabis requires oxygen throughout the growing and curing periods, maintaining the right amount of air in your storage containers is essential to keeping your cannabis fresh. Too much air can speed up the degradation of cannabis because the cannabinoids and other organic plant matter have been exposed to oxygen.
Not enough air will create issues with the humidity levels and can allow molds and mildews to grow, especially if the cannabis wasn’t appropriately dried before storage.
An assortment of electric and hand operated vacuum pump attachments are accessible for canning jars which are designed to minimize the exposure to oxygen.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are harmful to many organic materials and are the primary cause of cannabinoid degradation.
Just like the sun dries the grass in your yard, the UV rays will degrade your cannabis over time. If stored in the proper environment, cannabis is thought to maintain stability for approximately two years, but can still be effectively used for a more extended period before the break down of its essential oils.
Cannabis storage away from any direct light will also help with temperature control.
Cannabis Storage Tips
- Store your cannabis in a cool, dark place away from direct light, heat and oxygen.
- Use containers that are impermeable to avoid oxygen or moisture getting to your cannabis. Glass jars are recommended. It is also wise to use containers that are an appropriate size for the amount of cannabis you have.
- Minimize oxygen exposure by vacuum sealing jars and containers.
- Don’t store your cannabis in the refrigerator because you cannot accurately control the temperature and humidity, which increases the chance of molds and mildew.
- Don’t store your cannabis in freezing temperatures. The trichomes will become brittle and break off.
- Don’t use a tobacco humidor because they are usually made with cedar wood which contains oils that can change the flavor profiles of your cannabis products. Sponges containing propylene glycol used to regulate humidity are also used in humidors, which can cause oversaturation of your cannabis.
- Avoid storing your cannabis products near or above any appliances or electronics that emit heat. Because heat rises, the best location for cannabis storage is in a low cabinet or in your basement.
- Monitor RH levels with a hygrometer.
- Keep different strains in separate containers to maintain their flavor profiles.
- Plastic bags/containers hold a static charge that pulls trichomes off of your cannabis like a magnet. If necessary, only store a small amount of cannabis for a short time in any plastic.
- Store your paraphernalia away from your cannabis. Ash and resin left behind from burnt flower or concentrate tend to cause a lingering smell.
Trichomes are incredibly sticky, so if you touch your dried cannabis a lot, or shake it, you will cause the fine trichomes to break off and stick to your hands instead of the flower.
Over-handling your cannabis degrades the integrity of the flower, and you’ll end up with a lot of “shake”. This is the collection of tiny cannabis particles at the bottom of your jar. “Shake” is less potent and doesn’t last as long as the flower that remains intact.
Storing Cannabis Tinctures and Concentrates
The same basic requirements for storing cannabis flower apply to the storage of tinctures and concentrates. Tinctures made with glycerins have a much shorter shelf life than those made with pure alcohol.
Alcohol-based tinctures and other concentrates are much less susceptible because they don’t contain the bio-matter from the cannabis plant itself. But, they still must be stored properly to maintain their potency.
Following these simple guidelines for how to store your cannabis, along with a little diligence and extra care, will go a long way toward keeping your cannabis supply fresh and potent.