Keeping Weed Fresh

Have you ever gotten a sticky bag of weed that smells great only to have it dry out before you can smoke it?

This can happen seemingly overnight and then you are faced with a choice; burn it down extra fast or try and re-hydrate it to the correct level. Burning weed that is too dry makes it harsh, burns it faster and can lead to increased particulate (ash in the mouth).  The harshness that you get from dry herb is a burning sensation down your throat that makes the hit quite harsh.

  S20160817_0030A harsh hit can lead to bouts of coughing for even the most experienced smoker.

Coughing can lead in extreme cases to scarring on the inside of the lungs, tear vocal chords and cause a person’s blood pressure to skyrocket momentarily putting additional strain on the cardiovascular system. Asthma is also a consideration when thinking about strain on the system. While cannabis is known to improve blood flow to certain areas of the body, it may not be enough to counteract the negative strains put on the body from various consumption techniques.

While a healthy cardiovascular system should be able to deal with any damage caused, people with compromised body systems (like people with a cold or high blood pressure) should limit their exposure. Even healthy people like myself have burst blood vessels in my eye from an intense coughing attack. While cannabis consumption won’t lead directly to cancer or brain damage, the secondary effects of consumption like coughing or smoking moldy weed can lead to serious negative health effects.

So what is the right hydration level and how do we get  there without going over?

Lets discuss how to keep weed fresh first since the cure from a dispensary Like Central Organics or a grower like Oregon Territory Organics will likely be better than anything you could add to later. After that we can talk about how to get it back to the right level if it drops too low. I will cover methods for long-term storage in another article but for today, let’s focus on humidity control.

S20160817_0059Cannabis should have an internal humidity level between 50-60%.

Dispensaries often use humidity packs to normalize the humidity within their own packages to minimize the amount of product that turns to shake. If the dispensary pre-weighs the product, it can be drier than otherwise because of the poor seals on most pill bottles and pop top jars. If the jar has been sitting out for a week, the bud inside might be significantly drier than the ideal 50-60%. Most of the time, this won’t be an issue.

Once you get it home, you need to find a clean air-tight container just large enough to fit the flower without crushing it. Ziploc bags and the like are not good enough under most conditions. Ideally, I like to store my cannabis in a small glass jar with a latched rubber seal. The closer to the size of the jar to the size of the stash the better because you want to minimize the air within the jar.

 Remember that every time you open the jar, the air gets cycled.

To keep my stash fresher longer, I keep a day or so supply in a small jar and the rest of my flower in another larger jar. This makes sure that when I open the small jar to load a bowl, only a small portion of my stash gets exposed to the air. The larger bulk stays fresher longer not to mention the on-hand portion is easier to move around.

S20160818_0030Even the best container will eventually dry out product if you open it often enough.

Re-hydrating cannabis is a tricky subject and many old-time stoners insist doing so is a mortal sin. I feel that smoking a $40 eighth in a single day is a sin so I will monitor the humidity of the flowers and add water when needed. I use the good old snap test to monitor when to add hydration.

IMG_20160302_083321To perform the snap test, bend a stem until it breaks.

If the stem snaps without bending, it is too dry and will burn fast/hot while being harsh on the throat.  If the stem bends slightly (about 5-15 degrees) before snapping cleanly, it is perfect. The weed will smolder and smoke slowly with minimal harshness. Once you can bend the stem more than 45 degrees without it snapping, you have product that is too wet.  It will take direct flame and fail to smoke, as well as smash down to almost nothing when trying to break up a nug.

IMG_20160107_152009Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different things to re-hydrate my weed.

Everything from lettuce to lemon peel  has gone in and most have had iffy results at best. More often than not a piece of lemon or orange peel would make my weed so wet it would crush under my fingers and rip apart. I would need to twist the stem this way and that while I pulled in order to tear a chunk off.

Besides making it hard to judge the correct amount to add, the lemon peels would start to mold after only a day or two. I don’t know about you but smoking moldy weed is not something I want to do. While it didn’t always result in moldy weed if I changed it regularly, it was often enough that I sought out an alternative hydration technique that didn’t involve adding mold to my weed supply.

Weed MacroI found that using a cotton swab was the perfect way to get the right balance.

They are small enough hydrate an eighth if only one tip is used while slightly damp and large enough to hydrate a whole ounce if both ends get dipped in water. I increase the humidity of my cannabis by adding a damp Q-Tip to the jar without having the two contact each other. A single Q-Tip dipped in water is enough to hydrate an ounce of weed over the course of about 4-8 hours. Make sure the fibers of the Q-Tip are not in contact with the flower to prevent getting it stuck in the leaves of the nug.

IMG_20160131_194751I also like to reuse a Q-Tip only as long as the flower lasts.

When I get a new strain, I change Q-Tips. It may be a little overkill but I would rather not deal with the chance that the swab becomes a home for micro organisms. Changing the swab and cleaning the jar regularly keeps the chance of ruining a stash much lower.

My favorite part about using Q-Tips is that they are clean and won’t add bacteria or other pathogens like produce does. Even the cleanest lemon peel will mold when stored with weed in a sealed container like glass and may even do so if stored in an open container like a sandwich bag. The likelihood of mold has to do with the breakdown of organic matter so things like warm environments and darkness can accelerate the development of a colony.

In conclusion, there is something you can do to keep your weed fresher longer.

First, keep it in a air-tight container just big enough to fit it. Second, keep a small jar for loading bowls throughout the day and a larger container to keep the main stash fresh. Third, add a cotton swab dipped in water to an ounce of dry cannabis to get it well hydrated in just a few hours.  Fourth, make sure to change the swab regularly to prevent creating a home for harmful organisms to grow. I hope everyone can keep their weed nice and fresh, thanks for reading.

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