It's easy to dry & cure cannabis once you know how! Read on to find out exactly what to do, from start to finish.
Temperature & Humidity
Once you have harvested your cannabis (look here for our dedicated guide to harvesting cannabis), you need to dry it. It’s very simple to dry cannabis properly, but you need to be aware of certain fundamental requirements. Most importantly, that’s the temperature and humidity of your drying space.
If your space is too hot and dry, your cannabis could quickly end up crispy on the outside and wet on the inside. Too cool and humid, and your cannabis could end up with mold, which is even worse as it presents serious health risks!
To ensure that your cannabis dries evenly and thoroughly all the way through, you need to keep your temperature around 18-24C / 65-75F and your humidity between 40-60%.
It’s important to ventilate your space well throughout your drying period. If you don’t, any mold spores that are hanging around have a better chance to multiply and cause white, fluffy mold to start growing inside your bud.
Ventilation can also be a fundamental part of controlling temperature and humidity, as it carries away warm, moist air and replaces it with fresh air. When your bud is drying, it’s releasing water vapor into the air, so if you don’t ventilate properly then your humidity is going to rise! This can be a particular problem in small drying spaces such as tents and cupboards.
When your space is maintained at the right temperature and humidity, it’s time to hang your cannabis up to dry. You can do this by simply stringing up some twine, or you can make use of various specialized hanger systems designed for drying cannabis.
Once your buds are hung up, you should leave them for around 5-10 days to fully dry. Some small buds could take as little as 2 or 3 days to be smokeable, but larger buds usually need to be left for at least 5 days. You’ll know your buds are ready when the stems snap neatly without bending.
What is Curing, Anyway?
After you’ve dried your cannabis, the next step in the process to fully dry & cure cannabis is the curing stage. But what exactly is curing? Surely it’s enough to just dry your buds?
If your bud is of good quality and has a developed favor and aroma, it’s fine to smoke it as soon as it’s properly dry. But many crops of cannabis will be further improved by curing, so it’s a great idea to try it out at least. Furthermore, if you intend to store your cannabis for long periods, following the steps outlined will ensure it stays good for up to two years!
“Curing” basically refers to the process of drawing out remaining moisture in a way that preserves flavor and aroma as well as possible. Many types of food, such as meats, cheese, and fish, can be “cured” in various ways, such as by pickling, salting or smoking. Tobacco also can be “air-cured” by leaving it to hang in a well-ventilated barn for up to 8 weeks.
So How Do You Actually Cure Cannabis?
To cure your cannabis, all you have to do is place it into airtight containers (such as glass jars or plastic tubs) as soon as it’s dry, seal those containers tightly, and place in a cool, dark place (optimum temperature is around 21C / 70F).
If you can check the humidity inside the jars, do so – it should be around 60%. Above 70% and you need to dry your buds a little more before resuming the cure. Below 50%, and you’ve dried your buds too much. You may be able to “rehydrate” them a little by exposing them to air of a higher humidity for an hour or so, before resuming the cure.
Then, maintain your cannabis in these conditions for anything from one week to six months! For the first week, open the containers at least once a day for a few minutes at a time, to let the evaporated moisture out. After a week, you can reduce frequency to every other day. After a month or so, reduce to around once per week. After six months or so, if you wish to continue storing your cannabis, keep it as airtight as possible from there on out, and open your containers as infrequently as possible.
That’s your typical form of curing, and most growers swear by it! But if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can also try out a rather obscure method known as water-curing. Here, you soak your fresh, undried buds in room-temperature water for 7 days, before removing them and drying them fully in the manner described in the first section of this article.
Water-cure enthusiasts state that the cannabis takes on a much smoother, cleaner taste and aroma, and that harsh elements like chlorophyll are completely removed. They also claim that the cannabis becomes stronger! However, you also run the risk of stripping away a lot of terpenes too with this method, as certain terpenes are more water-soluble than others.
What Happens to Cannabis As It Cures?
Curing cannabis helps to draw out remaining moisture in an even and consistent fashion, but it has various other effects that can be highly desirable in some strains. For example, the chlorophylls and sugars can be broken down by aerobic bacteria and enzymes, reducing harsh flavors and aromas.
On the other hand, THC may also begin to break down slowly to CBN during curing. The THC-CBN conversion happens naturally on exposure to light, warmth and air, and will happen more rapidly if you cure your buds in a space that’s too warm. It may be desirable to have a tiny proportion of CBN as it has gently sedative properties, but too much could prove unpleasant!
As well as this, some of the volatile monoterpenes that give cannabis its floral, citrus and piney notes may be lost during curing, leaving behind a higher proportion of earthy, spicy sesquiterpenes. This can lead to a much rounder, smoother smoke for some strains – but on the other hand, fruity, flowery strains may lose a lot of flavor if stored for longer than a few months.
Generally, if you maintain the optimum temperatures of 21C / 70F while curing, and make sure your containers are airtight, terpene evaporation and THC degradation should be kept to a minimum.
How do you dry & cure cannabis? Do you do it in the traditional way or do you work with fancy techniques such as water-curing? How does your method affect the flavor, aroma and effect of your cannabis? Let us know in the comments!