You’ve successfully harvested your cannabis plant and can’t wait to sample the fruits of your labor. But hold on! The job is not quite over. Before indulging in your freshly trimmed buds there are a couple more steps that need to be undertaken. It’s time to dry and cure your weed.
What is drying and curing weed?
Drying and curing marijuana are two completely different things, but both are necessary to ensure you get the best quality, taste, potency, and smoke from your buds.
Drying as the name suggests is the process of drying your fresh buds to remove the moisture contained in them. This then allows you to smoke or vaporize your weed properly.
Once dried your cannabis buds will then need to go through the curing process. Simply put, curing is where the buds are stored in sealed containers for two weeks or more. This helps your buds mature and improves the flavor and aroma, as well as helps produce a smoother, cleaner smoke.
Why do I need to dry and cure my weed?
Although you will be tempted to want to sample your freshly harvested buds as soon as they’ve been harvested, it’s important to understand why drying and curing are so essential.
Freshly harvested flowers contain moisture in them, which makes it difficult to even ignite them to smoke. And even if you are able to smoke them, the inhale will be very harsh and contain very little flavor. By drying the buds, therefore removing the moisture, you will reduce the harshness of the smoke, as well as allow the terpene profile of the weed to develop.
Another important reason to make sure your weed buds are dried is to remove the chances of mold growing on your stash. Mold thrives in damp, dark conditions, and will ruin your buds if it is allowed to grow.
Curing is such an important process as it helps enhance the flavor and potency of the buds, as well as helping preserve them, meaning your weed can be stored for a long time without degrading.
Freshly harvested buds contain excess sugars and starches that eventually come under attack from airborne bacteria and enzymes. By curing your buds, you encourage the degradation of these nutrients, making for a smoother, better-tasting final smoke.
The best way to dry your buds
There are two main ways to dry your harvested buds. They are both very effective, however, factors such as the humidity of the climate you are living in, and how much space you have might mean one is more suited to you than the other.
Whichever method you choose, remember the importance of good airflow. You’ll want to ensure that air can move freely, coming into contact with the buds on all sides.
Line drying is a very effective way of drying cannabis. It’s simple, and just requires you to hang your cut and trimmed branches upside down either using string, a clothes hanger, or any other way you can think of.
Using a drying rack is another common way to dry your cannabis. Using racks requires you to trim the stems, so you are left with just the buds. You then lay out all of your trimmed buds over the rack and let them dry out. Using drying racks is usually a faster way of drying your buds, as the stems have been removed. Drying racks are also the preferred drying method if you live in a humid area where mold is a problem.
Remember to regularly turn over your buds when using racks to ensure they don’t flatten on one side.
By placing individual buds on a drying rack or hanging branches upside down you’ll reduce the water content of your buds by 10–15%. This process removes water from the outer layers of each flower, but you’ll need to cure them as well to rid moisture from deeper within the buds.
Amazon has a large range of drying racks available
Don’t fast-dry your buds
Although it is tempting to want to dry out your buds as quickly as possible in order to start smoking, we advise against doing this. Buds that are fast-dried using a dehydrator, oven, or microwave will smell bad and taste even worse. So remember that being patient will pay dividends.
What humidity level do I need to dry my cannabis?
Along with airflow, the most important factor in successfully drying your cannabis is humidity. The optimal humidity level required for drying weed is between 45-55%.
How long does the drying process take?
In general, your buds should be dry within 7-14 days. However, several factors can affect the drying time.
The size of your buds will affect the drying time, larger, denser buds will take longer to dry than smaller ones. Also depending on how you trimmed your plants will make a difference. The branches of your plants hold the most water, so if you hang large branches, they will take longer to dry than smaller ones or individual buds.
Finally, the temperature, humidity, and airflow in your drying space will have an impact on the time it takes for your weed to dry.
When do you know your buds are properly dry?
The easiest way to tell if your buds are dry is to try snapping a stem. If it breaks easily then all the moisture has been removed. If, however, you can only bend it easily, but struggle to break it, then it still contains moisture and needs longer to dry.
If you’ve used a drying rack where the stems have been removed from the buds, you want to wait until the outside of the bud feels dry to the touch, but not dry all the way through. The rest of the moisture in the bud will be removed during the curing process.
Tips to help you with the drying process
- Keep the drying room temperatures at around 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius).
Using a fan can help circulate the airflow around the room.
Having a Hygrometer in your drying space will give you an accurate reading of the humidity levels.
If humidity levels are too high then using a dehumidifier will help to lower them.
If humidity levels are too low then using a humidifier will help raise them.
How to cure cannabis
Once your cannabis buds are dried they are now ready to be cured. Curing cannabis is what takes your precious buds to the next level.
Firstly you will need to trim your buds. If you have hung branches of flowers to dry you need to cut away all the stems and leaves so you are only left with the buds. If you have used racks to dry your buds then you are good to go.
Next, put your buds into glass jars (like mason jars) and fill them to about 75% of the capacity of the jar, so there’s room for additional air, and to reduce the risk of mold or mildew ruining your harvest. Store these jars in a cool, dark place.
For at least the first two weeks you need to check on your buds at least once, every day. When you check on them, open the jars to allow moisture out, and let fresh air in. This is known as “burping”. You should also take this time to inspect each bud to see if there are any signs of mold or mildew. It also allows you to feel any moisture on the buds. If the buds feel moist or are sticking together then take them out and allow them more time to dry.
What's the best humidity for curing cannabis?
If you want to get the best results from the cannabis curing process, you will need to control the humidity. The ideal humidity for curing cannabis is around 62%. This hits the sweet spot of curing your weed slowly so that the terpenes develop while avoiding the conditions which promote mold. It is best to use a hygrometer for keeping check of the humidity in your jars, just place one in the jar and look at the readings.
Another alternative is to use Boveda Humidipaks. These humidipaks are specifically formulated for storing cannabis at the correct humidity.
How long does the curing process take?
After 2-3 weeks of curing your weed, it will be ready to consume. However, most growers will usually leave the buds to cure for at least 1 month, with some experts even stating that curing for 4-8 weeks is the optimal amount for perfect buds.
How to store your weed after curing?
Once you’ve finished your cure, you can keep your buds in the same jars. Remember to store them in a cool, dark place. As you will no longer need to check on your buds as frequently, make sure to keep your jars well sealed to prevent your flowers from drying out.
The process of drying and curing cannabis is not a difficult one. However, it is essential to maintain the right environment when undertaking both processes. Having everything set up right, and constantly checking your buds will give you the best chance to get the desired results. And remember drying and curing your buds correctly will significantly impact the taste and general quality of your cannabis crop, so it’s worth getting it right.