Public perception of cannabis use has changed significantly over the years. Once viewed in a negative light by many, it has been gaining acceptance for its medicinal benefits, and that has led to greater acceptance for its recreational use as well. But whether you are a long-time fan of cannabis or are just now gaining an appreciation of it, your experiences will be improved if you understand the importance of preserving its freshness and potency.
Cannabis Freshness as the Keystone of Experience
Warm bread straight from the oven beats the loaf that has been sitting on a store shelf for two weeks. Just-picked fruits and vegetables are far more enjoyable than those from a can or the freezer. The difference lies in freshness, and this applies to your cannabis as much as your food. The quality of your experience is heavily impacted by how your store your cannabis.
This article will look at the factors that can cause degradation and offer some advice on how to maintain the quality and freshness of your stash through proper cannabis storage solutions.
Understanding Cannabis Composition and Degradation
Cannabis is a complex plant composed of a wide array of chemical compounds, including the cannabinoids and terpenes for which it is best known. Several factors can cause cannabis to degrade over time, making proper storage important.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes: Their Role in Freshness and Potency
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that react with the human endocannabinoid system to produce a range of effects. The two best known cannabinoids are Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The former is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while the latter may provide therapeutic effects without intoxication.
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds that provide the scent and flavour associated with each strain of cannabis. The synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes is known as the entourage effect and this can enhance the overall therapeutic effects of the plant.
A strain’s profile is determined by the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, which influence its potential medicinal uses. For example, a strain that features myrcene and limonene may produce a calming effect while simultaneously elevating the user’s mood.
It is the preservation of these compounds that determine the freshness of your cannabis.
Factors Leading to Cannabis Degradation: Time, Light, and Moisture
Everything organic degrades when given enough time. This is a normal and natural process, but the rate of degradation can be influenced by many external factors including time, light, air, and moisture. Exposure to these elements can cause THC to convert to the less potent cannabinol (CBN), and terpenes to evaporate, reducing flavour and diminishing your experience.
Time is one of the most important factors, with a process known as decarboxylation causing non-psychoactive acidic forms to convert into active compounds. This process can initially enhance the effects of cannabis for specific purposes, though prolonged exposure may lead to decreased potency.
Light is another significant factor in the rate of degradation. Cannabinoids and terpenes are broken down by UV rays, diminishing their effects by altering their chemical structure. You can guard against this by storing your cannabis in opaque containers.
Oxidation leads to the breakdown of cannabinoids and may also result in the growth of mold and bacteria. Moisture exacerbates the situation by encouraging microbial growth that alters the balance of cannabinoids and terpenes. Combat this effect by storing your cannabis in airtight containers with humidity packs.
Unravelling the Perfect Storage Conditions
Proper packaging, storage, and handling has a strong impact on the longevity and quality of cannabis products. As a consumer, you must be mindful of the best cannabis storage methods to ensure that you get the flavour and experience you are seeking.
Because storage is such a major consideration in the maintenance of potency, flavour, and overall quality, users should strive to maintain specific conditions to preserve the freshness and therapeutic properties of their cannabis. Understanding temperature and humidity, in particular, can help unlock the full potential of your experience.
Temperature: The Sweet Spot for Maintaining Cannabis Freshness
Storing your cannabis at the appropriate temperature is an important part of cannabis potency preservation. Ideally, you should be storing it between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 15.5 to 21 degrees Celsius. This range is the sweet spot to help ensure that the volatile compounds remain intact and stable. Higher temperatures can lead to accelerated degradation. Storing your cannabis in a cool dark place away from sunlight not only protects it from excessive heat, but also shields it from harmful UV rays that break down the cannabinoids, reducing flavour and potency.
Avoid freezing cannabis as this can lead to the expansion and contraction of the trichomes that produce the terpenes and cannabinoids, which may cause them to fall off.
Humidity: Striking a Balance to Prevent Mold and Over Drying
Humidity control is essential to maintaining cannabis quality. As we have already discussed above, it’s important to avoid excessive moisture. The optimal humidity range for storing your cannabis is roughly 59% to 63%. If you live in an area with high humidity, you can protect your cannabis by storing it in an airtight container with humidity control packs.
At the other end of the spectrum is humidity that is too low. Over drying is a common problem that occurs with improper storage. Cannabis that has become too dry may produce a harsh and unpleasant experience. The plant’s flavour and effects are diminished when the cannabinoids and terpenes degrade. Areas of low humidity will require careful monitoring and humidification to keep your cannabis from becoming too dry.
Finding the perfect balance can be challenging, but it does more than simply protect your cannabis; the growth of mold can pose health risks if it is consumed. Maintaining the suggested temperature and humidity levels protects both your cannabis and your well-being.
Light Protection: The Reasons Behind Choosing Dark Storage Locations
By now you already know that it’s important to protect your cannabis from light, but it’s worth covering one more time. Light, especially UV light, is a catalyst for cannabinoid and terpene degradation, leading to a loss of potency and flavour. Heat and light may also contribute to the growth of mold and mildew on cannabis buds, potentially destroying an entire stash. Keeping your cannabis in opaque containers, in a cool dry place, is your best method of protecting it.
Air Control: Ensuring the Right Amount of Oxygen Exposure
Proper air control will minimize oxygen levels, protecting your cannabis. Vacuum-sealing your cannabis may be beneficial for long-term storage, as might nitrogen flushing, which replaces the oxygen in containers with nitrogen, but in most cases, you can simply store your cannabis in air-tight containers, such as glass jars with rubber seals.
The Best Tools for Cannabis Storage
Now that you understand the importance of proper storage, let’s look sat some of the best methods for keeping your cannabis safe and fresh.
Glass Jars: The Benefits of Airtight Seals
Glass jars are a popular choice to preserve cannabis freshness. With their airtight seals, glass jars create the optimal environment for maintaining freshness. Their impermeable nature blocks elements from entering and compromising your cannabis. Glass is also inert, meaning it won’t interact with your cannabis or cause an unwanted chemical reaction that might alter its composition.
Vacuum-Sealed Containers: Why and Where to Use
Vacuum-sealed containers are especially useful if you need to store large quantities of cannabis that won’t be used immediately. By removing air trapped within the container, you dramatically reduce the likelihood of oxidation and maintain the optimal humidity level.
Vacuum-sealed containers are also a good choice for on-the-go storage, as their airtight seal prevents odours from escaping. These containers are best used for storing concentrates and edibles, as sealing them too tightly can cause compression and damage to delicate cannabis flowers.
Specialty Storage Solutions: Advantages and Why They’re Worth It
Specialty containers may make a good choice for storage. They are carefully crafted to ensure the preservation of the product, and some may feature unique materials and additional safeguards. For example, you might invest in wooden boxes designed with humidity control compartments.
Common Mistakes in Cannabis Storage
By now, you can probably guess at some of the common mistakes of cannabis storage. They include exposing your cannabis to excessive heat or moisture, direct sunlight, or leaving it in a container that lets it dry out.
Another common error is storing cannabis in plastic bags. These are a poor choice for several reasons. Not only are they not airtight, but they also offer no protection against light. Additionally, plastic bags can create static electricity, which can potentially damage the delicate trichomes.
Storing Different Forms of Cannabis Products
With the wide variety of cannabis products now available, it’s worth taking a moment to review the different methods of storing that they require.
Edibles: Shelf Life and Optimal Conditions
Edibles include cannabis-infused chocolates along with such favourites as gummies and of course, baked goods. They should be stored in a cool, dark place, well removed from sunlight and heat. Baked goods, in particular, benefit from airtight packaging as they tend to dry out faster than some other products. Always be sure to check the expiration of store-bought edibles and consume them prior to that date to ensure optimal potency.
Tinctures and Oils: Preventing Separation and Spoilage
Tinctures and oils are popular for their fast-acting nature and precise dosing, but they require special care. Over time, improper storage can lead to the separation of components, which can affect both the potency and the consistency. It is recommended to store them at a consistent temperature in an upright position. You can help to redistribute any separated components by shaking them occasionally. Dark glass containers offer extra protection against light.
Topicals: Ensuring Consistent Efficacy
Topical are creams, balms, and lotions that are made using cannabis extracts. They are often used for localized relief from pain and inflammation. Like other cannabis products, keep them in a cool, dry location to maintain their quality. Check them periodically for changes in colour, smell, or texture, which may be indicators of degradation.
Identifying Stale Cannabis: Signs and Implications
As with any other natural product, cannabis has an effective shelf life, and no one wants to consume a degraded product. This can produce a less-than-desirable experience, but more importantly, it could pose a health risk. Recognizing the signs of stale cannabis is important to both recreational users and medical patients.
Cannabis is considered stale when its cannabinoids and terpenes have degraded over time, often due to improper storage. Perhaps the most obvious sign of staler cannabis will be a change in its aroma. Fresh cannabis has a strong and distinct smell that can diminish over time. It may also become dry or even brittle once its moisture content begins to evaporate, and the colour may shift from a vibrant green to dull and yellowish.
Consuming stale cannabis typically has a much less potent effect than desired, likely to leave the user disappointed and unsatisfied. The smoke or vapour may also be harsher, potentially leading to discomfort when inhaling. These results tend to be fairly mild. The more significant problem arises when the breakdown of cannabinoids results in molds and mildew that can cause respiratory issues when inhaled.
Elevate Your Cannabis Experience with Proper Storage
The journey of cannabis from seed to consumption reveals the complexity of this plant. For those who wish to fully appreciate what it has to offer, it’s important to ensure that it is stored correctly. This becomes much easier when you understand the factors that impact its potency, such as light, heat, and moisture.
Here are some common questions regarding the storage of cannabis.
How Often Should I Check on My Stored Cannabis for Signs of Degradation?
Generally speaking, you should perform regular inspection of your cannabis every few weeks to look for signs of degradation. If you follow the guidelines above, you can significantly extend its shelf life, but it should still be inspected on a regular basis given the potential health implications of mold and bacteria.
Does the Type of Cannabis Strain Affect How It Should be Stored?
Yes. While the basic principles of proper storage, including airtight containers, darkness, controlled humidity, and controlled temperature are universal, each strain may have its own optimal storage condition that differentiates if from others.
What Are the Risks of Consuming Stale or Degraded Cannabis?
The most noticeable effect of consuming degraded cannabis will probably be a less enjoyable experience. With diminished potency, flavour, and aroma, the stale cannabis will likely leave you feeling dissatisfied. Potential therapeutic benefits may be compromised, and you also run the risk of inhaling mold and bacteria that could impact your health.
Are There Any Storage Solutions Tailored for Travel or On-the-Go Use?
Absolutely. Compact, airtight containers are available for use when travelling. They will help maintain the freshness of your cannabis while also allowing for greater discretion.
Can Humidity Control Packs Restore the Freshness of Dried Out Cannabis?
Humidity control packs can provide overly dry cannabis with some additional moisture, but it is not enough to bring it back to its original potency of freshness. The best you can do is to ensure that you follow our cannabis storage tips to avoid having it dry out.
For more information about preserving the freshness of your cannabis products, or to obtain premium storage solutions, contact us