Are you the kind of person that stores their weed in ornate jewelry boxes or intricately engraved tins? For many stoners, the very act of bringing out the buds is a ritual in itself - one that involves secret hiding places, an assortment of your favorite cannabis accessories, and decorated storage containers. How to keep weed fresh is up to you, but there are many different schools of thought: the old tin you’ve kept since highschool… a decorated wooden box passed down from your parents… or some reliable glass jars, equipped with sealable lids and humidity packs. How you choose to store your weed might say a lot about your level of cannabis connoisseurism, but we’d argue that most potheads simply aren’t aware of the importance of proper marijuana storage.
Understanding the best ways to store weed can mean the difference between the dankest dro you’ve ever lit up, or the shabbiest skunk cabbage you wouldn’t give to your annoying neighbor. What are the best ways to store weed? What kinds of advantages are there to investing more resources in your cannabis storage? Let’s find out how to store marijuana like a true dro-pro so that your buds will be the freshest on the block.
The manner in which you store your cannabis can have an impact on how long your weed maintains its freshness and potency. Despite the very familiar idea of storing your cannabis in a bag (dimebag), plastic ziplocks are actually one of the worst ways to uphold the quality of your buds. Oxygen, light, temperature and storage material can all impact the freshness and longevity of weed, and a plastic bag doesn’t maintain any kind of environmental control. In fact, plastic bag weed storage can give your buds artificial, plastic tastes or aromas. We can already hear some of you saying “But I’ve always stored my weed in a baggie”, and you’re not alone.
The majority of stoners use common household bags or containers for their marijuna, but many plastics today contain a chemical ingredient known as BPA (bisphenol-A). You’ve probably heard of BPA-free containers because there’s been a lot of negative press in recent years concerning the harmful residues of BPA plastics. Many plastics companies have made the switch to BPA-free materials, but many of the cheaper providers can still contain this potentially toxic chemical. If you store your weed in any plastic bag or container made with BPA, you could be at risk of ingesting this harmful substance.
Additionally, metal tins and alloy-based containers are popular for storing cannabis as well. Coffee cans, tea containers, cookie tins or grandma’s old music-playing jewelry box can make for an innocuous place to store your weed but they’re not really suited to the task. Similar to plastics, many kinds of metal can pass along chemical residues when they come into contact with your cannabis. An obvious chemical reaction is rust or corrosion of iron, bronze or copper - moisture or oxygen can cause degradation to these kinds of metals. Other metals can react to certain household cleaners too, so there is a lot of room for errors when you rely on metallic containers for your weed storage.
Glass seems to be the consensus pick among potheads for proper marijuana storage. Any time you visit a cannabis shop, you’ll typically see the buds on display in glass jars, and many people give mason jars a new life of cannabis storage after they’ve stored jams or pickled goods. But did you know that glass isn’t even the most ideal way to keep cannabis fresh? Light exposure is something we’ll get into a bit later in this article, but for now just understand that glass checks the box for “non-reactive material”, however it can let too many light rays which can alter the cannabinoid profile of your buds.
If plastic, metal and glass aren’t ideal… then what the heck IS?! Don’t fret, we wanted to demonstrate that everyday, household storage containers aren’t usually suitable for maximizing your cannabis’ longevity, but there are many options for optimized marijuana storage. You can use anything to store your cannabis, even plastic bags, metal containers or glass jars, but they have to be able to maintain or control the elements we’ll find in the guide on “How to Keep Weed Fresh”.
Cannabis doesn’t have an expiration date or “best before” sticker on it - sometimes we really have no way of knowing just how new or old our weed is. If you’re growing your own, then you can track your cannabis flowers from seed, to harvest, to that glorious day when you pack a bowl or roll a fat blunt with much anticipation. If you’re not a greenthumb, you are relying on cannabis producers to uphold freshness, but as we all know supply-demand can fluctuate and sometimes the end consumers get whatever is available (no matter how fresh or old the buds may be). That being said, you can take certain steps to ensure that your marijuana storage is optimized, so that you can smoke the highest quality weed whenever suits your schedule.
Some avid stoners consume cannabis at a daily-clip, so there’s no real need to worry about how to keep weed fresh - it’s all gone within a day or two! Nevertheless, we’ve all been gifted that one magical batch of buds, or bought an exciting, new strain that truly wins us over with a potent high or dazzling array of scents and flavors. When you come across these memorable strains, you want to hold onto them for future get-togethers with friends & family, or save some for your birthday or anniversary. Like a favorite bottle of wine, many potheads have a secret stache of choice buds that they save for special occasions. So, do you know how to store marijuana properly? How can you be sure that your cannabis storage is sufficient enough to maintain the quality of the buds that you so covet?
It’s time to discuss the “freshness principle” - no, not ‘Fresh Prince’, but the principle of maintaining freshness through control of 4 major factors: light exposure, oxygen, humidity (moisture) and temperature.
The reason we’re starting with light is because it is a little-known fact that exposure to different spectrums of light can actually be the most detrimental factor for your weed’s longevity. Throughout many studies conducted in the 1980’s, it was concluded that light is the most significant factor in deterioration of cannabinoids and the overall speed at which cannabis ages. Light, specifically ultraviolet light (UV), continually degrades cannabis and even materials like tinted glass jars can’t filter out all of the damaging UV rays.
What does light actually do to degrade your weed? Just like we need varying levels of light exposure while we grow our weed, light rays can continue to impact your cannabis flowers even after they’ve been harvested. Light rays aren’t necessarily harmful to the plant material - obviously, we need light to initiate photosynthesis, which grows the flowers in the first place! - but interaction with light does affect your buds’ chemical composition. Prolonged exposure to light, even when filtered through certain kinds of glass, can cause the THCA content of your buds to convert to THC and CBDA to transform into CBD. You might be thinking, “Well great! More of the good stuff!”, but the chemical reactions don’t stop there. THC can further convert into CBN (Cannabinol), which has no known psychoactive effects, while THCV can degrade into CBV, also reducing the “high” you might be seeking from your weed. Think of light as having similar effects to decarboxylation, but where decarbing buds can convert acidic forms of cannabinoids into active compounds through heat, light exposure will convert raw cannabis into active forms but at a rate that doesn’t allow you to benefit from this chemical conversion.
The surefire way to ensure your buds are safe from light is to store them in sealed, zero-light containers (opaque, solid color storage). You may have heard of the “beer bottle method”, whereby brewers use brown glass bottles to maintain their beer’s freshness. Brown glass has the unique ability to filter UV light rays, and green glass does this to a lesser extent as well. Nonetheless, glass is popular in retail stores and is obviously handy for showing off your weed, but whenever you risk light exposure you might be degrading your cannabis’ quality. So, even if you’re using glass, by painting or covering the outside translucent surfaces of a jar you can drastically improve its ability to protect your buds from light exposure.
Similar to light, oxygen is another crucial element in the cultivation of cannabis, but following harvest your buds can be negatively influenced by exposure to too much oxygen. Oxidation can occur when cannabis flowers absorb oxygen molecules which can lead to degradation of their biochemical compounds. Oxygen exposure can lead to Cannabis terpenes becoming oxidized, which changes their overall flavor, aroma and potency profile. If you’ve ever left your buds out for a long period of time, by accident or just out of ignorance, you might have noticed they begin to smell like hay or cut grass.
Limiting the amount of oxygen in your weed storage container might seem like a tough task, but there’s some simple tricks to avoiding oxidation that anyone can use. First of all, try to use containers that snuggly fit your cannabis buds - i.e. don’t use a big mason jar that is only a quarter or half full. By reducing container size to comfortably fit the cannabis you’re storing - being careful to not cram too much in there, or you’ll risk other issues - you can optimize the oxygen-plant material ratio.
Another trick to managing oxygen levels in your marijuana storage is to only open then containers when absolutely necessary. This might seem silly, but opening and reclosing your bud containers is the most common reason why cannabis storage can become tainted with altered temperatures or levels of moisture and oxygen. It might be tough to resist, but don’t check on your buds too often. A simple fix for this conundrum is to purchase sealable, opaque weed storage containers that have a built-in “viewing window”. Containers of this kind typically have a porthole with a shutter or cover that can be lifted to allow you to peek at your gorgeous ganja, without altering the environmental controls within the container or letting in too much light.
Lastly, using vacuum seals to remove oxygen from the container can be helpful, just make sure you’re being delicate with your buds when sealing containers (trichomes can be sucked out or broken down). Some sealable containers that allow you to replace oxygen with nitrogen can be purchased online as well. Nitrogen is handy because it does not affect your cured buds in the same way oxygen does, and it does not allow molds or bacteria to form (these organisms need oxygen to proliferate). However, remember that not all oxidation is bad for your buds - when you’re curing cannabis, oxygen and oxidation is absolutely key - so when we’re discussing oxidation we mean for storing cannabis that has already been cured to your heart’s desire.
Cannabis, just like food, needs to be kept at an ideal balance of temperature and humidity. Too much moisture can lead to mold, bacteria and degradation of the plant material itself. This is essentially how refrigerators work, but sucking the heat and moisture out of the air you can more easily maintain the temperature and humidity levels that are ideal for longevity. For marijuana storage, maintaining the same levels of moisture that were present in the buds during curing is the goal. A good range for ideal moisture control levels in your cannabis flowers is 6-9%.
If you deviate from this range of moisture control too much, you might risk losing terpenes and cannabinoid purity in your buds. If you lose too much moisture your buds can become dry, brittle and lose flavor. On the flip side, too much moisture added to your stored cannabis flowers can lead to molds and potentially dangerous bacteria forming in and around your cannabis.
Humidity levels need to be kept at the same levels with as little change as possible. With just a simple humidity control pack, like the ultra-popular Boveda two-way humidity controller, you can maintain the ideal level of 0.5 - 0.65 water activity within your cannabis. Any humidity levels about 65% will likely result in deterioration of your buds, in addition to risks of mold and bacteria. The average range of 0.55 - 0.65 water content is an industry standard, so the real trick is to keep it below 65% at all times. It is recommended that you don’t play around with humidity too much, because even if you’re below the 65% threshold too much change (increase or decrease in moisture) can have detrimental effects for your cannabis flowers.
Marijuana storage is all about maintaining balance, and temperature ranges are like relationships - too much drastic change, one way or the other, can lead to breakups. Your significant other might have completely different temperature comfort zones than you, but when it comes to your cannabis flowers there’s no drama: just keep your buds below room temperature, or anywhere below 21℃ (70 ℉). Obviously, you don’t want to delve too far below this ideal temperature - some people like to freeze their buds, but there’s not really any benefit to doing so. In fact, when trichomes become frozen they can break off entirely, so the lower you go in temperature the more risk you have of lowering your weed’s potency.
Too much light can cause decarboxylation in your cannabis flowers, and so can too much heat. Any time you introduce heat to cannabinoids like THCA or CBDA, you can initiate decarboxylation which can produce more THC or CBD. This might not sound problematic if you’re seeking to maximize your cannabinoid potency, but you cannot monitor how far these changes will go. Cannabinoids can degrade to the point of losing all psychoactive effects, or high temperatures can lead to deterioration of the buds themselves, through drying or loss of oxygen. Temperature fluctuations can also cause spikes in mold or bacteria growth, so again the key to proper temperature for storing cannabis is all about maintaining balance.
A good example of an improper storage situation is the classic “weed in a jar, on the windowsill”. In this example you’ve got a translucent container that can let in light rays, which can alter the buds and raise the temperature within, thereby drying up the moisture or reacting with the oxygen levels to unstable conditions. This example demonstrates the importance of keeping your marijuana storage containers in a dark, cool place (i.e. not the fridge, not places with lots of light, but somewhere in the middle like an office or bedroom).
Consistency is king when it comes to how to keep weed fresh. Your cannabis storage is only as good as your commitment to maintaining proper levels of humidity and temperature while limiting the presence of oxygen and light. No matter what you store your cannabis flowers in, as long as you’re making sure that their environment is consistently balanced then you’ll ensure they will last as long as possible.
Next time you purchase some bodacious buds from Haute Health, make sure you're maintaining their top-notch quality and storing your cannabis in the right conditions.