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How to Dry and Cure Cannabis Buds

Created by
JoshuaHolt JoshuaHolt
Added 28 September 2020

Curing Is An Essential Part Of Cannabis Cultivation

After months of hard work there is nothing like sitting back and smoking your own home grown. Harvesting your cannabis plants can feel like all that effort has paid off. The bad news is, you still have some work to do. Drying and curing is the way to achieve the best quality nugs for your stash.

You might have recently harvested and be wondering when you can tuck in. Unfortunately, you're probably going to have to wait at least a few more weeks. It may be a challenge, but you will thank yourself later. While you're waiting why not have a read of our top post-harvest tips.

What is Curing?

Curing your cannabis means drying it slowly under specific conditions and then keeping it in jars for a period of time. Drying is done in a controlled environment where the buds cannot dry too quickly nor go moldy. If done correctly, this gradual process removes moisture from the flowers in such a way that eventually cannabis tastes, smells and even feels more potent.

Cured Cannabis Buds

The process of curing allows a cannabis plant to use up its last store of nutrients and sugars so that they do not remain inside the bud once fully dried. Removing these residues helps to preserve, meaning growers can stock up for the rest of the year without worrying about their weed getting ruined. 

One of the main reasons cannabis benefits from curing is because of the maturing of cannabinoid compositions. As sugars break down, certain cannabinoids decarboxylate and convert into THC compounds. This results in stronger, more potent buds with richer terpene flavour. 

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Cannabis Terpenes

Why should you be patient?

You will probably be eager to get those buds ready so you can roll up that first joint, however you must hold tight if you can. Fortunately, curing cannabis is relatively simple if you're not in a hurry to smoke it all. Of course, there are also some important reasons why growers cure their weed, which we will discuss now.

  • Well dried and cured weed tastes much nicer and delivers a smoother smoke.
  • Cannabis has increased potency after curing.
  • Buds will last much longer.

Curing Cannabis Improves Flavour And Potency

Properly cured and stored marijuana can have a shelf life of up to 2 years before it starts losing too much potency or flavour. Like most consumable cupboard products, cannabis should be kept in a cool, dark place away from sunlight.

Drying Cannabis

After harvesting your cannabis plants you need to dry them. The curing process essentially begins here, meaning the right conditions needs to be met to avoid any problems. Drying your weed at the right pace requires you to monitor humidity and temperature.

Firstly, choose an appropriate space that you dedicate to drying. Some people remove buds and dry them straight on a rack but most growers choose the affordable option of hanging. As a minimum, the space should be dark because UV rays can affect the quality of your weed before (and after) it is dry.

Cannabis Can Be Hung On A Line To Dry

If you are not using a drying rack, start by hanging the branches (or the whole plant if you prefer) upside down on a clothing line, making sure to leave some space between for airflow purposes. The movement of oxygen should be constant to avoid stagnant air sitting around buds. Setting up an ambient oscillating fan is recommended.

The ideal temperature for drying weed is between 16 - 21°C with a humidity level of at least 45%. Anything less and your buds may dry too quickly. A humidity of over 55% raises the chances of mold so try to keep it somewhere between these two figures.

Drying will take a week or two, but carefully monitor during this time so you can pick up on any strange smells or unwanted changes in the bud. High humidity combined with the break down of organic matter creates the perfect breeding ground for bad bacteria. Depending on your region or current season, a humidifier or dehumidifier can help you maintain the correct levels. Just as weed loses moisture it can reabsorb it.

Keeping The Correct Drying Conditions Helps To Prevent Mold

After about a week buds should be nearly dry. Once the stems crack from bending them and buds feel slightly crispy, you can begin removing them and putting them in air-tight, glass jars. This process we will go over more thoroughly in the next section as we are now fully into the curing stage.

How to Cure Cannabis

The next step involves a lot of waiting, and in most cases the longer you can wait, the better. Cannabis can be cured up to a certain point and after that it won't necessarily make sense to continue unless you are planning to store your weed.

Buds Cure Well In Glass Jars

Once your weed is sufficiently dried, it is time to get it into a container. Here are the steps:

Step 1 - Wear gloves to avoid damaging or removing too many trichomes. Handling weed without care results in loss of potency and flavour.

Step 2 - Remove the buds from the stems and place into air-tight glass jars. Mason jars are a good choice for curing and storing. Lightly fill the containers so that buds have space and are not crammed in tightly.

Step 3 - Close the containers and store them in a cool, dry and dark place where they will not get disturbed by light.

Step 4 - Open the containers 2 - 3 times per day for a few minutes to remove moisture and replenish oxygen. This process is called 'burping' and needs to be done daily for a week.

Step 5 - After a week of step 4, you can burp your jars every 3 days. You need to do this for at least 3 - 4 weeks if you are looking to do a proper cure. This process can last up to a few months if you are willing to wait. Bear in mind that bud improvement from curing will likely stop after 5 - 6 months, depending on the strain.

Keeping the right humidity levels in the jars is crucial in preserving cannabis for the long term. It is worth buying a hygrometer to check the levels inside your jars. If humidity is too high, jars can be left open for longer to allow the moisture to escape. Humidity levels under 50% could mean the weed has dried too quickly, which can result in loss of flavour and a harsh smoke.

Humidity

Curing

Action

<50%

Too Dry

You can try using a humidipack or other hydration method to reestablish moisture in buds. 

50 - 55%

Lack Of Moisture

Keep jars completely closed and check again after 3 days to see if moisture surfaces.

55 - 60%

Buds Dry Faster

Jars should be checked less frequently. Aerate once every day.

60 - 65%

Optimum Level

Open containers 2 - 3 times a day to let air/moisture circulate for 3 - 5 minutes.

65 - 70 %

High Moisture

Leave jars open for a few hours instead of a few minutes.

>70%

Too Wet

Remove buds from jars and allow to dry for another 12 - 24 hours on a rack or screen.

Some strains will benefit from longer cure times, while others may not require as much. It depends a lot on the size of your buds and how dry they are when you start curing. The trick is to take it slow and steady.

Conclusion

Now that you have your dried bud safely in jars it is time to practice patience. Remember with each day your cannabis will be getting tastier and stronger, so keep checking back to see how it's improving. You can even sample some along the way so you end up with cannabis just the way you like it.

If you have any curing experience we would love to hear from you. How long did you cure your cannabis? Did you notice improved flavour and potency? Leave us a comment below!

External References

An Investigation Of Decarboxylation Of Acidic Cannabinoids: THCA-A, CBDA And CBGA. Planta Medica. - Wang, Mei & Wang, Yan-Hong & Avula, Bharathi & Radwan, Mohamed & Wanas, Amira & Antwerp, J & Parcher, J & ElSohly, MA & Khan, Iftikhar. (2016)

This article was updated September 2020






Comments

OnTheMoon
OnTheMoon

Thank you, perfect timing as I am in the middle of harvesting.