Correct storage means the difference between long-lasting cannabis with robust, flavorful healing properties and a quick descent into dry ruin. So how do you keep your medicine good to consume for any extended period? There are a few key factors to bear in mind for the optimal flower quality.
Just as they scorch grass in the summer, UV rays will kill your cannabis over time. In fact, a 1970s study named light as the greatest factor in cannabis (or more specifically, cannabinoid) degradation. The study tested various conditions, concluding that cannabinoids can stay stable for up to two years if they are kept under the right conditions. Cannabis is safe to consume for even longer, since its essential oils break down slowly over time.
The key here is to avoid storing cannabis in temperatures too high or too low. Molds thrive best at temperatures between 77° and 86° F, while excessive heat can dry out the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis plant material and result in a harsh, uneven smoke when consumed. On the flip side, lower temperatures slow cannabinoids’ decarboxylation process, which makes for a more sedative experience. Room temperature is fine, but a little lower is optimal – aim for somewhere in the 55° to 72° F ballpark.
Molds and contaminants also like moisture, so relative humidity (RH) is another important balancing act. An RH of 65 percent or above is too high, increasing your chances of mold. Too low will dry out trichomes, the sticky resin that carries all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavors responsible for the taste and potency of each strain. For the best consistency, aroma, and flavor, cannabis is kept at an RH level of 58 to 63 percent.
Finally, air control is crucial to keeping cannabis fresh. Too little air plays a part in relative humidity, especially if the buds aren’t fully dried pre-storage; too much air exposes them to excessive oxygen and, like light, speeds up degradation. Your buds do need oxygen during growing and curing, but not when stored, so you’ll need to keep them in something that minimizes O2 exposure as much as possible. Which leads us to…
The Perfect Container
Let’s start with places you should never keep your cannabis: a refrigerator, freezer, or cheap plastic sandwich bag. For temperature and humidity reasons, a fridge or freezer spells bad news for trichome quality (and speaking of appliances and electronics, avoid storing your cannabis around any that give off heat).
Plastic baggies, even sealable ones, aren’t usually a good idea – odors, flavors, and moisture can still permeate them easily – unless they’re specialized for cannabis storage, such as mylar bags. We include these in flower packaging at Sira Naturals, as well as Boveda packs (small brown packets that help to control the flower’s moisture content) but we only recommend plastic bags for short-term storage.
When in doubt, a cool, dry, air-tight container is your best bet for both flowers and concentrate products. It should be a reasonable size, as extra space means extra air; opaque or made of glass to protect from light and static; and preferably vacuum sealed. Store jars in a dark, cool, enclosed area, such as a cabinet or drawer – never in a hot car or your pocket – and store strains in separate jars to maintain each one’s unique flavor profile. Concentrate, specifically, should be stored in an upright jar, not sideways or upside-down.
All in all, there’s a lot to remember – but new and exciting products are emerging all the time to meet various cannabis storage needs. Keep tabs on what your dispensary has to offer!