The Essential Guide to Drying and Curing Cannabis

three cannabis buds hanging on a string

Table of contents

  1. How to Dry Cannabis
  2. How to Cure Cannabis
  3. Storing Dry Buds
  4. Can You Freeze Weed?
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

Drying and curing marijuana properly is essential to the overall cultivation experience. Drying removes moisture, helps extend your bud’s shelf-life, and prevents mold growth. Curing accentuates the bud’s flavor profile and breaks down chlorophyll, allowing smoother smoke. 

While drying and curing cannabis is tricky to master on your first try, there are some strategies you can apply to increase your chances of success. Learn how to dry and cure cannabis at home in this comprehensive guide.

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How to Dry Cannabis

The process of drying cannabis will become easier with practice and fine-tuning. Here are some guidelines to follow the first time you dry cannabis at home:

What You’ll Need

First, set up a dedicated drying room to complete the drying process. This space could be your kitchen or a dark room — essentially any dark and dry place at room temperature. You’ll also need the following tools to dry cannabis:

  • Drying rack
  • Fan
  • Hygrometer (for tracking relative humidity and temperature each day)
  • Air conditioner (recommended)
  • Dehumidifier (recommended)

How To Do It

We can’t talk about drying cannabis flower without talking about trimming. Trimming involves removing the sugar leaves from your buds, and there are two types: dry trimming and wet trimming.

With dry trimming, you trim plants after they dry but before they’re cured. To dry your marijuana buds:

  1. Cut your cannabis plant at its base.
  2. Hang it upside down in a room or designated drying space with a fan. Your drying area should be in a controlled environment at around 50% humidity and 70° F.
  3. Once it’s dry, you’ll snip off each of the plant’s branches and trim them. You’ll then move on to curing.

If you opt for wet trimming, you’ll remove the sugar leaves immediately after harvest. They’ll be wet and very sticky. Place your trimmed buds on a drying rack in a room with a fan. Once the individual buds are dry, you’ll cure them.

There are pros and cons to each method.

Wet Trimming Pros

  • It’s easier to trim cannabis straight after harvest, as the smaller leaves are easier to get to.
  • Buds dry faster, and there is less chance of mold.
  • Some of the plant’s terpenes may be preserved.

Wet Trimming Cons

  • Some suggest that wet trimming reduces the quality of the product, as the buds dry too quickly and don’t cure as well.
  • There is more chlorophyll in the final product, which can add a harsher flavor.
  • The plants are pretty sticky and can be more difficult to handle.

Dry Trimming Pros

  • Buds cure better, as the longer curing period provided by the fan leaves retains moisture and helps break down chlorophyll. This means a smoother end product.
  • The buds are much less sticky and irritable to sensitive skin.

Dry Trimming Cons

  • It takes much longer to trim, as the leaves are dried and harder to cut out (fan leaves curl up and attach to the bud).
  • There is a higher risk of mold.
  • You need more space to dry trim, as you also have to consider the plant’s leaves.

Cannabis Drying Timeline

Drying time will take between three and seven days, depending on whether you are dry trimming or wet trimming the harvested plant material. 

How to Know When It’s Done

You’ll know your cannabis is dry and ready to cure when you take a stem, bend it, and hear a clean snap. Cannabis that doesn’t easily snap needs a little more time in the drying room. 

How to Cure Cannabis

Once your plant is dried correctly, you can start the curing process by storing the buds in airtight mason jars that are two-thirds full. We recommend you open these closed containers to “burp” them once daily, improving the bud’s smell and flavor.

When burping the jars, check your buds for mold and mildew and remove them if any is present. Place any clean buds back into the jar and toss them around a bit to ensure even curing.

Burping and proper curing will ensure the buds don’t grow mold or mildewand that the sugars and chlorophyll in the buds are broken down, providing a much smoother, fuller, and more pleasant-tasting yield. It usually takes about a month to cure buds properly, but some prefer to cure for two to three months. 

The difference between cured and uncured bud is night and day. Longer cures can improve the taste immensely, and sometimes even bud that looks scraggly and with no bag appeal can become a one-hit-wonder after a couple of months’ good curing.

What You’ll Need

  • Airtight storage containers (preferably glass jars)
  • Individual hygrometers for each jar

Timeline

Most cannabis strains will cure within four weeks, but some cultivators prefer to wait as long as six months for a final product with maximum potency. A good baseline is between two and four weeks, but you may cure your buds for longer to get the best results. 

How to Know When It’s Done

The aromas from the jars will tell you that your buds are cured. If you smell ammonia, then your buds were likely not sufficiently dried. In this case, “burp” the jar again and let the buds breathe for a day. 

Properly cured and sealed bud can stay potent for up to two years if kept out of humid areas and direct sunlight. However, many say that well-cured marijuana is at its best between three to 18 months, with potency reducing after the 18-month mark.

Storing Dry Buds

There’s no one right way to store your cannabis. If it’s kept in an airtight container, out of the heat and humidity, and correctly cured, it will keep well for months without any concern. 

However, some cannabis storage methods are better than others. Here’s the scoop on how to store your weed short-term or long-term.

Best Cannabis Storage Options

The best environment to store cannabis is cool and dark. Cabinets, cupboards, and even dresser drawers may make good storage locations if they are cool and dark.

In terms of cannabis storage containers, some work more effectively than others. Here are some storage containers to consider after you have dried and cured your cannabis:

Mason Jars

Many people find that storing cannabis in a glass container like a mason jar is the best storage method, especially for long-term storage. Glass doesn’t leach chemicals the way some plastics do, which means that your marijuana will be less likely to degrade or become corrupted. 

Airtight Containers

Airtight containers made of plastic are other possible storage units for cannabis. But many cannabis enthusiasts contend that the aromas and flavors of the plant remain potent longer in a glass mason jar. 

Plastic Bags

Avoid plastic bags, which provide a moist environment where the bud can “sweat” and cause mold, mildew, and an unmistakable stench noticeable to anyone who walks by. Plastic bags also cause static, attracting valuable trichomes from your bud and sticking to the plastic.

The bottom line on storing is: however you choose to store cannabis, keep it away from heat and light. Also, be mindful of humidity levels, as high moisture can cause cannabis to spoil more quickly.

Can You Freeze Weed?

Freezing is not the best way to store weed because cannabis contains water. Putting cannabis into a standard home freezer will freeze the water and damage the buds, meaning you could also lose many vital therapeutic cannabinoids. 

Should you choose to freeze your cannabis plants, it is perhaps best to freeze-dry them in a frost-free freezer after vacuum-packing, as this technique will ensure that the chemical compounds don’t become damaged. Freezing fresh cannabis can also make rather potent hash and hash oils.

Did you know that some states with medical marijuana programs allow medical marijuana patients to grow their weed? Connect with Leafwell’s qualified physicians and apply for a medical marijuana card today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make sure that your cannabis is well-dried and cured?

To enjoy the fruits (or flowers) of your labor, ridding your cannabis of excess moisture is crucial. Make sure your cannabis is well-dried and cured by going through the process and avoiding shortcuts. Patience during the days and weeks involved in the process will reward you with strong, aromatic, and flavorful cannabis that can last for months. 

How long do you dry cannabis?

Drying marijuana plants after harvest usually takes seven to 12 days in a clean, dry space with no direct sunlight. Proper drying is essential to getting your buds to last longer, and not doing so is one of the leading causes of moldy buds.

For immunocompromised patients, failing to dry marijuana properly may potentially (but, thankfully, rarely) be dangerous. You can usually tell when a plant is appropriately dry by quickly snapping the twigs inside the buds.

Can you skip curing when harvesting cannabis?

Skipping curing is not recommended, as curing cannabis protects the plant from mold and other types of degradation. When you cure cannabis, you ensure that the therapeutic terpene and cannabinoid content will stay as potent as possible long-term. You’re also locking in the plant’s most appealing aromas and flavors to experience one week from now or one month from now.