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How To Control Humidity When Storing Cannabis

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How To Control Humidity When Storing Cannabis
November 19, 2019
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    Although cannabis buds do not have expiration dates per se, its proper storage can extend its shelf-life and ensure the retention of its freshness, flavor, and potency. Fostering optimal environmental conditions is paramount to appropriate cannabis storage. Hence, factors such as humidity must be kept within an acceptable range. Otherwise, mold infestation may become a devastating problem. In essence, keeping the humidity levels in check is one of the fundamental skills that must be learned if the aim is to relish fresh, flavorful buds.

    Regulating Humidity In Cannabis Storage

    Several factors come into play when storing cannabis – one of which is monitoring humidity levels. Failing to do so could lead to disastrous consequences such as mold proliferation. As tedious as it sounds, there are quick and effortless ways to keep the moisture in check.

    Jar of Cannabis

    What Is Humidity?

    Relative Humidity (RH) pertains to the percentage of moisture in the air in relation to the amount of moisture the air can hold at a given temperature. In short, it represents how moist the air is in a specified area. Humidity impacts a stash of cannabis in many ways. For one, it can affect the smoothness of a hit and even the efficacy of cannabinoids in providing its medicinal benefits.

    The ideal humidity range for cannabis storage is between 60% to 65%. This range impedes the growth of molds, mildews, and other fungi while preventing the buds from drying out too much – therefore ensuring top-notch bud quality and resin strength. Balanced moisture content will help the buds preserve its aroma and potency for months. However, maintaining the ideal RH can be tricky as several factors can affect it – from the slightest temperature shift to switching the grow lights on and off. When this delicate balance is impaired, the cannabis plants can be altered in myriads of ways.

    Effects Of Improper Humidity Levels On Cannabis

    The trademark aroma and flavors of certain strains are due to terpenes – the fragrant essential oils that also facilitate the entourage effect which, in turn, increases the cannabinoids’ bioavailability. In addition, most terpenes do have its own medicinal benefits similar to cannabinoids so, in essence, it enhances the therapeutic properties of cannabis.

    When the humidity levels are out of whack, the aroma, flavors, and therapeutic benefits of cannabis may suffer. In conditions where the humidity levels are lower than 60%, the trichomes containing the terpenes and cannabinoids will break down. When this happens, the potency of the bud will be reduced, and the mentioned benefits of terpenes would cease to exist. In addition, the nugs will be too brittle, dry, and harsh to smoke.

    On the other hand, when humidity levels are beyond 65%, it will accumulate moisture inside the container and attract molds and mildews. This could render the stash unusable because mold-infested buds are unsafe to smoke.

    The Do’s & Don’ts Of Cannabis Storage

    The implications of improper humidity levels are enormous and can be devastating. Fortunately, these can be averted by starting with small steps, such as knowledge of the proper cannabis storage practices. Four major environmental factors play a role when storing the stash – humidity, temperature, light, and air flow.

    The Do’s

    • Store the cannabis in a cool, dry, and dark place. Always keep the containers away from direct sunlight as the UV rays in it may induce the breakdown of cannabinoids.
    • Store the jars in places with temperatures below 21°C (70°F). Extreme temperatures may trigger the onset of molds, as well as dry out the coveted terpenes and cannabinoids.  
    • Monitoring humidity is vital for inhibiting the growth of mildew and other contaminants. Make use of tools such as hygrometer to keep the RH levels in check. In case of excessive humidity, use food-grade desiccants such as those found in dried seaweed packages to help reduce moisture from the surrounding air.
    • Use inert containers such as glass jars or metal canisters as containers like these will not affect the flavor and aroma of the buds. Silicone containers are also recommended.
    • Ensure that the jars are airtight to reduce oxygen exposure. Excessive air exposure may accelerate the decomposition of plant constituents, while air deficit may increase RH.
    • Use the correct container size relative to the amount of stash being stored. Keeping small amounts of buds in oversized jars means more oxygen could get in. Meanwhile, storing too many buds in a small container could crush it and cause the trichomes to break off. Moreover, it could increase the RH levels inside the jar and invite molds.

    The Don’ts

    • Do not refrigerate or store the buds in the freezer. The changes in temperature and humidity during refrigeration may attract mildew and mold. Moreover, the buds will become brittle. This may cause the trichomes to break off from the buds.
    • Do not store the cannabis in plastic bags, as its static charge may cause the loss of trichomes. In addition, plastic containers can elicit sweating.
    • Refrain from using a tobacco humidor for cannabis. A humidor is a humidity-controlled box designed for storing cigarettes or pipe tobacco. It is fashioned from cedar wood, which contains oils that can be transmitted to the cannabis, ultimately affecting its flavor. Moreover, the sponges inside may overly drench the plant.
    • Keep the cannabis away from any electrical appliances that emit heat.

    Preventing Contamination During Storage

    Weed in Jar

    As mentioned, maintaining the RH can be particularly tricky. As such, aside from the practices mentioned above, extra measures must be taken to ensure that the humidity levels remain stable, and consequently, that the buds are kept fresh and devoid of molds and contaminants.

    How Controlled Humidity Curbs Contamination

    Contamination is a primary concern when storing cannabis. The presence of infectious agents such as molds, mildews, and other fungi do not only lead to nasty odors and flavors but also pose possibly lethal problems when cannabis is administered as medicine. When the immune system is already weakened because of various illnesses, the consumption of contaminated marijuana may endanger the compromised bodily defenses even more. As a result, instead of being a remedy, the buds may invite a whole slew of diseases. For example, those afflicted with HIV/AIDS and cancer are especially susceptible to ailments such as aspergillosis, a potentially lethal lung condition, which may arise from ingesting Aspergillus, a cannabis mold.

    In that regard, controlling humidity is more than just a step to inhibit contamination – in the end, the skill to modulate RH is synonymous to shielding against these contamination-born disorders.

    Products For Humidity Management

    With the dangers that accompany poor humidity, its maintenance is considered serious business. It is imperative to constantly monitor humidity levels to ensure that they stay within the ideal range. Fortunately, with the help of certain products, this task is made a lot easier and more efficient.

    Humidity packets. Also known as humi packs or humidor bags, these implements help in soaking up excess moisture when humidity is too high and discharging it again when RH is too low. Humidity packets typically come in different sizes, each suited to various container sizes. Moreover, these are also straightforward to use. It just needs to be placed inside the storage box, and it will instantly start working, with no activation or maintenance required. Once inside, it is guaranteed to keep the buds at the most favorable humidity level.

    Upon initial usage, the contents of the packs are liquid. Eventually, as salts mix with the water to moderate humidity, the pack will begin to harden. Once it has completely solidified, it is time to replace it. Its lifespan varies on the environmental conditions and how often the container is opened. It could be months or years before it needs to be disposed of.

    Cannabis humidor. These luxury boxes offer unrivaled protection while ensuring that the herbs are furnished with proper temperature and humidity controls. Moreover, it is fashioned from premium wood, thereby hindering any light from affecting the buds. By keeping the cannabis in a cool, dark, and dry place, humidors guarantee that the buds stay fresh and are impervious to molds and other contaminants.

    Unlike tobacco humidors, these boxes are not lined with cedar, which has oils that may tamper with the flavor of cannabis. Besides, these containers do not use propylene glycols or sponges to control humidity. The latter, as mentioned, will contain too much moisture for the buds to handle. With cannabis humidors, the integrated system both absorbs and emits moisture to maintain a well-balanced ratio, thus ensuring that the optimal environmental condition is always met.

    Anti-moisture packets. Also referred to as moisture packs or silica gel packets, these small sachets absorb and hold moisture. As the name suggests, it contains silica gel, which has millions of micropores that can store moisture. Like salt-containing humi packs, these also maintain a constant relative humidity and are equally fuss-free to use.

    Keeping The Cannabis Fresh And Contaminant-Free

    There are plenty of considerations when it comes to cannabis storage such as maintaining the optimal environmental conditions. This includes regulating humidity, which is a vital factor in ensuring that the herbs stay fresh and that the strain retains its distinct aromas, flavors, and medicinal effects.

    Stored Cannabis in Jar

    Achieving the optimum humidity can be challenging as it requires constant vigilance and quick judgment. However, the innovation of products designed to rein in the moisture levels without a fuss has made this task much easier to manage. With the use of such tools and by implementing smart storage practices, keeping the cannabis fresh and free from contaminants is achievable.