Published: May 22nd, 2018
Categories: Cannabis Cultivation
After going to all the effort of growing the best marijuana possible, it is very important to dry and cure your weed well. Cannabis needs to be dry to be used properly in most scenarios. Wet weed doesn’t burn, and the THC is not yet properly active until it is dry. After drying, it then needs to be cured to bring out the highest quality in the dried buds. Drying makes it usable, while curing changes the chemical composition slightly and makes the same buds outstanding. They will be more potent, have a more developed and layered aroma, and be smoother to smoke.
In a correctly temperature and humidity-controlled environment, cannabis flowers will take between 3 days to 2 weeks to be sufficiently dry. 3 days for small “popcorn” buds, usually detached from branches. 2 weeks for larger nuggets or whole plants/colas hung to dry. If it is not dried through properly, there is a risk of mould when they are being cured. In drier conditions, they will be ready quicker, and the opposite is true in humid conditions.
First, get the drying space clean and sterile. Wash it down as you would a grow room. A clean and dry room ensures pathogens that cause mould and allergens like dust are absent. Quality, unpolluted buds are the desired end result of a good grow.
Drying in an enclosed space means you can modify the environment if necessary—fans for air circulation, humidifiers and dehumidifiers for RH control, and heaters/coolers/air conditioners for temperature control.
STEP 1: Harvest and trim your plants. Some growers prefer trimming on the plant and others prefer not to trim at all. It is down to personal preference. The more leaf material left on, the longer buds take to dry. In warmer conditions or in low humidity, this can be advantageous as it stops buds from drying too quickly.
STEP 2: Hang the buds to dry if they have been left on the branch. Clothes hangers, string, fold out laundry racks, or wire mesh all work well. If buds have been removed from the plant and were trimmed and manicured, dry them on a wire drying rack. This allows for full air circulation around the buds.
STEP 3: Slow drying is the key to great weed. Ideal RH is 50%. Ideal temperature is 21°C. Buds dried too quickly tend to be harsh, although this can be corrected during curing. Smaller buds are ready for curing when they are dry to the touch and snap cleanly away from the branch. If you snap off a bud and strings of fibre come away with it, it is still too wet. If buds are crumbly to the touch, they are too dry. Larger buds take longer to dry. When the stem carrying them snaps cleanly rather than simply bending, then the bud will be dry enough to be put in the curing jar.
Over a minimum two-week period, dried cannabis drops a water molecule from the psychoactive compound chain. In fact, the longer they are cured, the better. This makes the buds stronger and more flavoursome. Many aficionados will not indulge in uncured buds and can tell immediately if they haven’t been treated right. You will too once you sample the difference—it can be quite jarring.
The chlorophyll also degrades during this process. Most of the green dissipates, leaving the buds as a rainbow of colours, depending on species. Tan, deep blue, purple, and gold can all be observed in well-cured cannabis. The ideal in-jar conditions should be a temperature of 21°C and an RH of 58–65%.
Wide-mouth Mason jars are the preferred curing and storing method for cannabis. This is simply because you can get your hand in there. Glass is also very easy to keep sterile and allows you to observe the buds from outside. Similarly, the CVault range of containers are stainless steel curing containers of varying sizes with wide necks and silicone seals.
STEP 1: First, sterilise your vessels. The easiest thing to do is spray them inside and out with isopropyl alcohol and wipe them dry.
STEP 2: Loosely place your buds in the jars and put the lid on. Don’t push them in or pack them tight. Only fill the jar ⅘ full. Put the jars in a cool, dark place like a cupboard or pantry. From here on out, there are a number of variables that can affect the curing process:
• If the buds are completely dry when you put them in the jars, all they will require is daily “burping” to allow for air circulation, and so that mould doesn’t propagate.
• If the buds are a bit wet, it will be obvious when you open the jar the next day; they will be wetter on the surface than when they went in. There may also be moisture on the walls of the jar. Wipe the jars dry, then replace the buds; leave the jars open for the buds to dry more thoroughly. Then, begin the full, lid-on curing process again. This can also sometimes happen if the internal stalk still contains too much moisture, which then migrates into the bud.
• For buds that were too dry, put some potato peels in the jar before adding the buds. They will absorb the escaping moisture from the peels and rehydrate sufficiently to cure properly. Remove the peel and continue to cure once the desired level of dryness is reached.
STEP 3: During curing, the jars need to be regularly burped. At least once daily or twice if you think the buds might still be a bit damp. This is simply opening the jar to the atmosphere to let accumulated gases vent off. Remember, curing is subtracting a water molecule from the chemical composition of the buds.
Gently roll the jar and turn it upside down so the buds move around, preventing any nasty pockets of moisture. Don’t shake them, you don’t want to destroy their beauty. When the humidity stabilises, the curing process is done and it is time to store your weed away.
Alarm bells should ring if there are ever smells of ammonia. This indicates rot and will spread quickly. Hygrometers or humidity indicators take the guesswork out of humidity control. A hygrometer placed in the jar can easily be read through the glass and give accurate RH readings.
Once dried and cured, it is time for long-term storage. Just like many foodstuffs, cannabis needs to be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. Light can degrade THC and too much heat will certainly cause the buds to mould, even when cured well.
It is essential to keep the jar and contents at an RH of 60–65%. This maintains the best quality. Products like Boveda or Integra humidity packs were specifically developed for storing cannabis. They automatically maintain humidity in the cannabis-friendly zone. This is the not-too-dry, not-too-wet, ready-to-go RH for the knowing toker.