How to Store Cannabis Long-Term and Preserve the Freshness
If you have a weed stash you haven’t touched for a bit, you may notice the buds getting dryer with time, and smoking them won’t get you as high as it did at first. While ageing is inevitable, it can be slowed down with proper preservation. We’ll teach you what can harm your buds with age, and how you can preserve them from time and the elements.
Keeping cannabis fresh is simple when you’re armed with the right knowledge.
If you’re the type to buy bud in bulk, or just don’t smoke too often, we can imagine you’ve ended up with old weed on your hands.
You can tell something’s off when you pinch the dried-up, lightweight nugs. You may need something to smoke, but would that old stuff even get you high at all? Even if it did, what would the flavour be like? No matter the answers, you’re most likely wondering how you can stop your weed from getting like that again.
Well, you can’t stop the ageing process, but you can definitely slow it down! Above all, you’ll need to make sure your weed is expertly cured, placed in optimal containers, and stored in a cool room at the proper temperature and humidity.
What Happens When Cannabis Gets Old?
Before we go deeper into that discussion, though, we want to offer you a deeper understanding of what happens when your weed starts to age.
As weed is exposed to heat, oxygen, and UV light, the cannabinoids within, including THC, will begin to break down. It doesn’t happen too quickly, but the change can become noticeable after a few weeks. It won’t leave you sober, but a joint won’t get you as high as the one you rolled when you first got it.
Conversion to CBN
As that THC breaks down, it doesn’t just disappear. In fact, it’s converted into another cannabinoid, known as CBN. This cannabinoid has some mild psychoactive properties, but it doesn’t get you high on its own. This conversion mainly occurs when weed is exposed to oxygen and heat, although the process takes time.
Lost THC won’t be the only consequence of keeping your weed in a warm spot. As it gets weaker, it’ll also taste and feel harsher upon smoking. This, of course, is a result of the terpenes drying out over time. Excessive light and moisture will bring about their downfall as well.
Does This Also Happen to CBD-Rich Bud?
If you’re more inclined to smoke CBD-rich strains, you may wonder whether any of this applies to you. Well, since CBD is also a cannabinoid, and since the buds also have terpenes, it too can degrade with age. The high isn’t a factor, but you’ll miss out on the other potential benefits of CBD.
What Causes Weed to Age?
We’ve alluded to certain causes of weed ageing, but let’s go ahead and break the issues down into clear terms.
You have to maintain a very precise balance when it comes to humidity and cannabis. If your storage method introduces too much moisture, you run the risk of mould infestation. If it isn’t humid enough, though, the terpenes and cannabinoids will end up withering away. While they’re quite different outcomes, the unpleasantness is equal between them.
Often going hand-in-hand with excess humidity, high temperatures can hasten the degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes. Generally, you should make sure your weed storage area doesn’t get hotter than 25.5ºC (78ºF). Simply enough, this is because any environment between 25.5–30ºC (78–86ºF) is prime for mildew and mould growth.
In short, persistent UV light will land a heavy blow on the impact on terpenes, THC, and other cannabinoids. This is especially problematic in tropical areas, where it joins forces with humidity and heat to harm your stash.
Lastly, while many aren’t even aware of this, your container’s base material can have a direct impact on your weed’s ageing process. See, while many place their weed in plastic containers, the material can cause your stash to “sweat”. This means, as with actual sweating, your plant will release its inner moisture. It’ll end up dry and harsh as a result.
Curing Pocket Box
How to Store Your Weed and Keep It Fresh
So, now that you know the enemies, you need to learn how to defend yourself and keep your weed fresh. Thankfully, it’s a fairly simple process, and you may already have everything you need to start storing your weed for a long period of time.
Really, the journey to proper cannabis storage begins with the post-harvest curing process. And, funnily enough, it involves maintaining the same sort of optimised environment for your flower. You’ll want to find a cool, dark, and moderately dry spot. Separate the buds, trim off the sugar leaves, and sort your stash into mason jars. Also, note that each jar should only be ¾ full.
With a few weeks of patience, you’ll be rewarded with fresh, smokable flowers. If you really want to ensure freshness, though, you’ll want to make sure no excess moisture gets trapped in your curing jars.
To accomplish that, we recommend utilising our specialised RQS Moisture Fighters. These plant-based sachets are designed to rest right in your stash jars, absorbing or releasing moisture according to the conditions. They’ll last up to four months, and just one 8g sachet will keep your personal stash fresh. If your jar’s a little heftier, there are sachets in sizes up to 67g available as well. Either way, you’ll want to select the ones that maintain 58% or 62% humidity. Get the former if you’re in a more humid environment, and the latter if you’re living in a dry climate.
“But how will I know if the sachet is still working? Do I need to open up the jar to check?”. Thankfully, no! They each feature a dot that changes colour depending on their condition, so you’ll know exactly when you need to replace them.
Humidity Control Pack
Use Air-Tight Glass/Ceramic Containers or Vacuum Bags
Once your buds have been sufficiently cured, we’d recommend you keep them in their mason jars. Considering how much damage oxygen can do, air-tight containers are the best choice you can make for your weed.
It can’t just be any container, though. As we mentioned before, plastic can actually hasten the ageing process, so Tupperware would be unwise. A glass or ceramic container, however, will keep it safe and fresh.
That being said, vacuum bags are also incredibly effective, as they’re naturally devoid of air.
Keep It Dark
Along with your container of choice being air-tight and glass/ceramic, it should also be opaque. Light can wreak havoc on your cannabis, and blacking out your jars can ensure total safety. Before that, however, you should make sure your curing room is completely dark (with the lights off) to begin with. With blacked-out jars, though, you can turn on the lights to check in without worrying too much.
As it turns out, our specialised RQS Re:stash Jars fulfill every one of the requirements you need your containers to meet. They’re layered with a jet-black silicone sleeve, boast air-tight lids made from hemp, and come in sizes of 4, 8, 12, and 16 ounces.
Maintain Cool Temperatures
Once you’ve got your buds in their containers, you’ll need to make sure the room stays consistently cool: below 25.5ºC (78ºF) to prevent mould from thriving. Turning it down to 21ºC (70ºF) would be optimal.
Ensure Clean Storage
Now, with almost everything in order, you just need to make sure things stay clean. Make sure you dust the shelves and jars, along with vacuuming or mopping the floor when needed. In turn, make sure you don’t spend too much time in there, as any dirt you track in will have to be cleaned up later.
Will Weed Stay Fresh When Frozen?
Through all of this, some of you may have been thinking, “I can keep food in the freezer for months, so why don’t I just freeze my cannabis?”. Others amongst you may hear someone suggest that and gag at the thought, thinking it ruins the flowers.
Those in the latter camp, however, may be surprised to learn that you can effectively store your bud in the freezer for 1–2 years. If you go for it, just make sure you’re very careful to avoid touching the buds, as the trichomes (which contain almost all of the resin) will quickly fall off.
Let them naturally thaw outside the freezer, and note the top layer of the buds may be sub-optimal. The rest of it, however, will be nearly as good as it was one or two years before.
Aged Buds: A New Trend?
To cap off our discussion, we thought we’d take a look at those people fighting against the notion of age being a detriment to cannabis. See, for some people, the curing process is an art form. For lovers of aged weed  , the prime flavour of a strain emerges with time, and some consider it necessary to wait at least five months after curing before smoking their stash.
This is still a very new school of thought, though. In general, we wouldn’t recommend trying it unless you have lengthy experience with cannabis. Yet, your journey with weed is your own, and we don’t want to stop you from experimenting!
While wine and cheese benefit from age, weed buds get dry and lose their potency. Here, we'll teach you how to preserve cannabis long-term and keep it fresh.
The Shelf Life Of Weed: How Long Does Flower Stay Fresh?
Dec 11, 2018 5 minute read
An explainer on how long weed will stay good. Or, what to do when you rediscover some premium herb in your sock drawer.
Here’s a true story. Lately, I’ve had a lingering desire to make some cannabutter (my mom’s recipe—coconut oil infused with cannabis by way of a long, slow simmer). But not wanting to spend premium cash on premium herb for some butter I could very well botch, I found myself at a loss. Then, while cleaning out the clustercuss that is my pantry, I found a generously sized bag of the kind of scraggle weed that’s perfect for home-brewed butter.
“ When treated right, well-cured weed can stay good for six months to a year. ”
The only problem? The bud was as crisp as a mummified box of saltine crackers, a relic of my freeloading college days. Which led me to ask myself a bunch of questions. If I try to grind this ancient herb, will it turn to dust? Will it work? Will I die? Is this even weed? Look, I’m no expert, but I do know how to use the Google and figured out how to change a tire once, so I felt I was up to the task of digging deep into the science behind keeping cannabis fresh. Because whether it’s affordable herb or the best flower money can buy, you’ll want it to be fresh when you light up.
Here’s what I learned: As is the case with most organic elements on earth, nothing lasts forever. Everything is temporary. My apologies if you’re first hearing about mortality via a cannabis website, but hey, there are worse ways to learn about death. Generally, when treated right, well-cured weed can last for a good six months to a year. Now, after that date, it’s not as if smoking some dusty weed will kill you. In fact, it might not do much of anything. In the same way other drugs and even spices in your pantry lose potency over time, your old herb won’t give you the same lift as that hot, young herb. It’s an ageist, terrible reality, but it is what it is.
But exactly how shitty will your weed be if you forget about it all year, you ask? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has a solid answer. Basically, the gradual loss of THC in stored cannabis is proportional to the amount of time your weed sits in storage. Overall, the study’s authors found that after one year of being kept at room temperature, your flower’s THC content will decrease by about 17%. After two years, you’re seeing a 27% loss in potency; three years brings you a 35% drop; and by four years, your weed is almost half as potent as it once was. So, say you start off with a nice, potent Purple Punch that was lab-tested at 22% THC. Store those flavorful nugs in your bedroom for four years, and that flower will probably just put you to sleep if it does anything at all.
It’s not bad to smoke geriatric weed, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s good either. Cannabis is different from a fine wine in that it won’t always get better the longer it is aged. However, like fine wine, you want to store your nugs in a cool, dark place to help it last longer. Your mom’s basement will do just fine. One of those nifty cannabis humidors would be perfect. And Buffalo Bill’s lotion pit works, too, if being a creeper is more your style. Point being, keep your weed out of the sun and rain if you want it to get you high.
And if you want to make that weed last—whether you’re a slow burner or prepping for the apocalypse—there are a couple key tricks to keeping it tight. For instance, avoid too-large containers, paper anything, and plastic baggies that get punctured easily and aren’t particularly airtight anyway. So much for my hidden pantry weed. Sigh.
On the flipside, glass and ceramic jars are great for weed storage for a variety of reasons. You can get a good seal with jars and they generally maintain proper humidity levels. (Jam jars make a lot more sense now, don’t they?) Should you want to get super fancy, grab your mom’s vacuum sealer and zip those puppies up like a Space Bag infomercial.
Fancy tools aside, the single best thing you can do to keep your weed good is to keep it out of the sun. Sunlight degrades THC, converting it to the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, cannabinol or CBN because #science. That said, CBN contains beneficial properties of its own and is believed to help some patients with sleep, pain, inflammation, and reduced appetite. Some dispensaries have started offering concentrated forms of CBN for those looking beyond CBD to manage their pain. At the end of the day, it seems weed is the wonder drug we all think it is—even when treated with more neglect than your old Tamagotchi.
Be sure to check out all of our top-rated (and super fresh) flower here.
'How long does weed last?' It's an age old question we'll help answer plus give you some tips on what to do with old weed!