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.
Learn How to Store Weed So It Lasts!
How Long is My Weed Good For?
When it comes to storing your cannabis, the method you choose makes a huge difference in how long your buds maintain potency and freshness!
But what’s the best way to store weed? Is it vacuum-sealing? Will freezing your buds hurt them in any way?
I’ve tried a few different methods for storing marijuana over the years, and today I want to share what has and hasn’t worked for me!
Properly Stored Weed Looks Full and Sparkly, with at Least a Little Color Left
(Marijuana buds are often green with orange hairs, but sometimes you’ll see other colors like purple or pink)
Improperly Stored Buds Start Turning Brown and Crumbly
(brown or tan weed isn’t necessarily bad, as well-cured cannabis also loses color, but brown and crumbly nugs are often old or weren’t stored in an airtight container. If there’s just random brown patches on otherwise good-looking weed, it could also be a sign of mold!)
Note: Some people actually prefer the effects of wet-cured or very long-cured buds, which tend to be very smooth and offer unique smells, but can also cause buds to take on a mostly brown or tan appearance. In that case, buds should still “stay together” and not be crumbly. Although there are exceptions, usually buds that have turned brown are losing their overall potency and smell as time goes on.
How to Store Cannabis Properly (so it lasts for years!)
If you grow a lot of cannabis at once, you may want to store it so that it lasts until your next harvest! Some growers only harvest once a year (especially outdoor growers) and may need their bud to last until the next fall harvest!
Luckily it’s pretty easy and cheap to store your bud. You don’t need any special equipment besides an air-tight glass jar!
Air-tight glass jars are the best place to store cannabis buds!
Here are the main methods and tools for storing cannabis, with the pros and cons of each:
What’s the Best Method for Cannabis Storage?
1.) Store in Glass Mason Jars in Cool, Dark Place
A cool (60-70°F or 15-21°C) dark place is the most popular way for growers to store buds, and is one of the best and most effective. Quart-sized glass mason jars are found everywhere from grocery stores to home improvement stores. These are often used for cooking (making preserves or marinades for example), but when it comes to storing cannabis they help maintain potency by protecting buds from moisture and air. Glass jars will also completely contain smells while preventing buds from getting crushed during handling. Make sure jars are at least 3/4 full so there’s not as much air being stored in with the cannabis (if you have less bud, use smaller glass jars). Buds stored in airtight glass jars in a cool, dark place will maintain their potency for a year or more.
2.) Freeze Your Buds (Best for Long-Term Storage)
Once buds are completely dry and have been stored for at least 4 weeks, you can freeze them and they will maintain their potency for years. Some growers double-bag buds in Freezer bags and then wrap the bags in foil. This works okay but you can actually store your buds directly in glass mason jars. If you’ve got a lot of bud that needs to be stored for a long time (multiple years), the freezer is the best way to do it!
Note: You should avoid handling frozen buds as the trichomes (glitter) become brittle and can easily break off at freezing temperatures. Always let frozen buds come to room temperature before handling.
3.) Refrigerate Your Buds (Avoid!)
Buds stored in the fridge tend to mold, even in air-tight containers. Either keep buds outside the fridge or put them in the freezer! If you must use the fridge, it’s especially important to make sure buds are completely dry to avoid mold, and keep them in the back in a crisper where the temperature and humidity don’t fluctuate as much. But again, if possible you should avoid using your refrigerator to store buds just in case; a regular cabinet or drawer is usually better!
4.) Plastic Baggies (Avoid!)
Although this is the most common way for non-growers to store cannabis, it’s one of the worst. Buds lose their smell and tend to get dried out and brittle in plastic baggies. The potency degrades quickly, and the lack of protection means that handling the buds tends to crumble them. Plastic baggies should only be used short term, or avoided altogether. If you need to store a small amount of bud, it’s recommended to get a UV-proof glass stash box (will also prevent smells from leaking out!). As a bonus, a small glass container can help buds continue curing.
Don’t use a plastic baggy!
Note: Freezing buds is controversial because it’s easy to lose trichomes when moving frozen buds. You do need to be extremely careful when handling frozen buds as the trichomes (glitter) become brittle and can easily break off at freezing temperatures.
However, if this does happen you can still collect trichomes from the bottom of the container and use them (just like the kief that falls to the bottom of a grinder!); the trichomes do not “vanish” into the ether!
Additionally, you can dramatically reduce this problem by always letting buds come to room temperature before handling them. The fact of the matter is that buds will stay potent for longer in the freezer than if kept at room temperature, so it’s up to you to decide whether the risk is worth the reward. I can tell you that many growers freeze their buds for years to maintain potency, especially outdoor growers who may harvest pounds at a time.
So if you want to use the refrigerator to store buds, don’t risk mold by using the fridge portion – put your buds in the freezer!
Weird fact: Ever notice that the word ‘refrigerator’ doesn’t have the letter ‘d’ in it, but the word ‘fridge’ does? Although ‘fridge’ and ‘frig’ are technically both acceptable spellings, one proposed explanation is that the word was originally spelled ‘frig’ but adding the ‘d’ and ‘e’ became much more popular since the word is pronounced as if it rhymes with ‘ridge’.
Using Glass for Storage
- Air-tight and smell-proof
- Doesn’t stop the curing process, and buds may actually continue to cure and gain potency over time
- Doesn’t affect the natural smell/taste of buds (unlike plastic, metal and some types of wood)
- Won’t cause trichomes to break off due to static
- Buds last for 1+ years in a cool, dark place without losing potency
Using the Freezer for Storage
- If using Freezer Bags (as opposed to glass jars), buds may lose some of their smell/flavor over time due to the plastic, and are easily damaged from handling in their frozen state. However using glass jars in the freezer will help prevent these problems.
- Always allow buds to warm up to room temperature before handling to prevent trichomes from falling off into the jar
- Buds that are frozen will maintain their potency for years
Should I Use a Vacuum Sealer?
You can use a vacuum sealer to take all the air out of a container before long-term storage. You can use these with bags, and you can also use these with actual mason jars!
Vacuum sealing is recommended if you plan on storing buds for a long time, and it’s probably a good idea, but in my experience it hasn’t seemed to do much (at least on its own) to slow down the bud degradation process.
When I experimented with vacuum-sealing buds in mason jars, I found that the vacuum-sealed buds didn’t seem to be any different from the same batch of buds stored in non-vacuum sealed jars. After a year of storage, they looked and smoked the same as far as I could tell.
So even if you do vacuum-seal your buds, make sure to follow all the other steps, too!
Boveda Packs – A Helpful Storage (and Curing) Tool!
Sometimes called Humidipaks (their old brand name), the newly renamed Boveda Packs can basically turn any airtight space into a cannabis humidor. The 62% Boveda Packs are specifically designed for storing cannabis and can be placed in a sealed container with your buds to regulate the humidity to the ideal level for marijuana storage.
Boveda packs also help keep buds from getting dried out or brittle (and can re-hydrate buds that are too dry).
Bonus Use: In addition to storage, for those who have trouble getting buds to cure properly, these can be a valuable part of the curing process! Simply place them in your jars a few days into the jar-burping process to help regulate the humidity.
Buds Must Be Dried and Cured Before Storage
If buds are still fresh and green, they need to be cured before being put into long-term storage!
Example of Fresh Bud (May Feel Wet and Usually Appears Very Green and “Plump”) – Never put fresh bud into long-term storage!
Cured Buds (Color Has Darkened Slightly, Buds Feel More Dense and Are Completely Dry) – Always wait for buds to cure for at least 4 weeks before long-term storage!
Whenever Storing Cannabis Long-Term, Make Sure….
- Buds Have Been Cured for 4+ Weeks – Buds should be cured at least 4 weeks before being put into long-term storage. The potency and smoothness of your buds is greatly improved during the curing process, and you want to make sure they’ve reached peak potency before you put them in storage. Additionally, the curing process is integral to setting a good moisture level for buds about to be stored long term.
- Buds Are Dry Enough (55-62% Humidity) – Buds should never feel moist and jars should never “sweat” during the curing process. These are signs the buds still contain too much moisture and aren’t ready for storage. Why? Even in a sealed container you can still get mold, and wetness causes potency to deteriorate faster (and buds turn brown and crumbly)! This is really important, because buds being too wet is one of the biggest factors that cause buds to degrade early. If you have a humidity monitor, you are aiming for humidity around 55-62% RH before putting them into storage. This recommended humidity is a little lower than what’s generally recommended for curing, but helps prevent unwanted biological processes during long-term storage.
- Keep Buds in the Dark – Avoid letting buds be exposed to light because UV rays cause bud potency to diminish
- No Heat, No Middling Temperatures – Avoid letting buds be exposed to heat or middling temperatures. The temperature should be 60-70°F (15-21°C) or under 32°F (0°C) for the best results. Don’t let buds get cold, then hot, then cold, etc. Don’t store them near electronics that may heat up. Try to maintain a steady temperature until you’re ready to use your buds.
- Glass is Best, Avoid Plastic or Metal – Although plastic and metal can be used to store buds in the short term, they can start to affect the smell/taste after a while. Therefore they are not recommended for long-term storage. Plastic also tends to be “static-y” which can cause trichomes to fall off the buds and stick to the sides or the bottom of the container. Your best bet is glass, which is completely airtight and nonporous. Quart-sized mason jars are a tried-and-true storage container, which is why they are so popular for cannabis growers.
- If You Do Go For a Wood Container… avoid cigar humidors as they can impart a cedar taste. Cannabis-made humidors are usually made out of things like teak, bamboo, acacia, mahogany, cherry or walnut wood, as these won’t affect the smell/flavor of your buds. However, wood doesn’t seem to be as effective as glass when it comes to cannabis storage, and buds won’t last as long when compared to being stored in glass.
- Avoid the Refrigerator – Although refrigerators might seem like a great idea, they don’t maintain a consistent humidity and temperature. These fluctuations increase the chance of mold and other unwanted biological processes. Keep your buds at a cool room temperature or in the freezer.
Now that you know how to store your marijuana properly, you can enjoy every big harvest for years to come!
Beginner Shopping List (What You Need to Start Growing)
Learn the best way to store your weed so it stays potent and smelling great! Proper storage of cannabis can even make buds feel stronger!