If you’re new to growing cannabis, you’re probably figuring out a lot of things as you go along. When those big buds show up on your plant, you probably can’t wait to get a taste of what you’ve worked so hard to create. There’s only one problem. Name a single time you’ve ever smoked wet pot.
Growing your cannabis is only half the project. The other half is finishing your cannabis. Using it is your ultimate reward. Drying cannabis is the first step in finishing it. The process of cannabis from seed to bowl takes a while, but it’s well worth the effort.
Why does cannabis need to be dried?
Even when the flowers have fully formed on your cannabis plant, they aren’t quite weed yet. Cannabinoids continue to transform after the buds have been harvested. The buds on your plant are packed with THCA, but not a lot of THC. If you were to smoke them green and fresh, nothing would happen.
THCA transforms into THC after your plant dries and cures. It needs to undergo those final processes before it’s ready to use. As tempting as fresh-picked pot sounds, it’s probably not what you actually want. You have a little more work to do if you want to enjoy your weed in its prime. You worked hard to grow it, and you deserve to use it when it’s at its best.
How to dry cannabis
If you came into growing cannabis from a gardening background, you’ve probably worked with kitchen herbs. Basil, oregano, and rosemary all need to be harvested and dried for storage. Drying the herbs preserves them and adds to the complexity of their flavors. If you’ve ever tried and failed, you know how heartbreaking it is to wreck a whole crop of everything you needed to make marinara sauce. Cannabis is no different.
You can dry your cannabis by removing whole branches or by removing just the buds. It’s simpler to remove just the buds, but it can be harder to tell when they’ve fully dried. When you remove the whole branch, it’s usually easier to tell when your cannabis is completely dry.
For whole branches, you can hang them from the ceiling. You can remove the leaves and manicure your buds before you dry them. For just the flowers, manicure them and place them on a drying rack.
The room you dry your cannabis in needs to be dark. It has to have sufficient air circulation and a maintained humidity level of about 50%. A dehumidifier can help you with the humidity level, and a tool called a hygrometer can measure the humidity in real-time. Accurate data will help you make adjustments to the humidity, which will usually involve adjusting the dehumidifier up or down.
The air should be moving around as much as possible. An air conditioner or an industrial fan can accomplish this part, but you want to make sure that it doesn’t get the room too cold. About 70 degrees is perfect. It won’t keep the weed chilly enough to preserve it without drying it, and it won’t be hot enough to cause the compounds to break down prematurely.
Cannabis can take up to two weeks to completely dry under ideal conditions. Cannabis on the branch will take longer to dry, but it’s also easier to check its moisture levels. If you can bend and snap the branch like a twig, it means that most of the moisture has left the plant.
The buds should shrink in size as their water content diminishes, and it’s not unusual for the outside to start to feel a little crunchy. When you have snapping branches and flowers with a crisp exterior, your weed is probably dry enough.
Making sure your weed is adequately dry before you cure it is extremely important. If you try to cure weed that’s still too wet, trapped moisture can make your flowers rot. There’s no coming back from that. On the other hand, you don’t want your weed to be too dry before you cure it, because it will shrivel away to nothing and degrade the THC to CBN, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid. You need to find the sweet spot.
You’ll have a few opportunities to check the dryness during the early stages of the curing process. Catching the signs early on can help you salvage your weed. If humidity levels aren’t looking right, place it back in your drying space for a day and try again.
How to cure cannabis
You can cure cannabis in any airtight container you would use to store cannabis. Mason jars are popular because they’re cheap, effective, and come in many different sizes. Place your trimmed dry buds into a mason jar without packing them in. Just drop them and let them settle naturally. Leave about ¼ of the jar empty, giving yourself some headroom.
Screw the lid on tightly and start shaking and spinning your jar. If the weed is dry enough, it will move freely. It might even make some clinking sounds. If it’s too wet, it will stick to itself when you shake the jar. It won’t move around as well. If the cannabis seems like it isn’t completely dry, give it another day or two in the dry room and try again.
If your weed is dry enough, close the jar and drop in your small hygrometer. If you don’t have one, you can pick one up at the hardware store or at the pet store. The pet store keeps them near the reptile supplies, and the hardware store keeps them by the thermometers. Keep an eye on the hygrometer throughout the curing process. You want the humidity to be around 60%. If it isn’t reading right, leave the lid off the jar for a few hours to allow air to enter and moisture to exit.
You can store your jars in your pantry or in a drawer. Anywhere they aren’t exposed to heat or light will work.
During the first week or so, open your jars every day for a few minutes to allow trapped moisture to exit and new air to enter. If you notice any mold or signs to decay, remove the impacted buds. If the jar starts to smell like ammonia, that’s a sign that bacteria is present and you need to toss the whole thing. Properly aerating and keeping your eye on the humidity will likely prevent this from happening.
You can use your cannabis after about three weeks of curing, but it’s even better after eight weeks. Some strains reach their prime after six months. Consider how patient you are. If you want your weed in a hurry, use it after a month. If you think it’s worth the wait, go longer.
3 ways to use dried cannabis
Now that your cannabis is dried and cured, it’s time to use it. This is naturally everyone’s favorite part of the process. How you use it depends on your preferences. Making tinctures, distillates, or THC oils is typically pretty complicated, and not to mention expensive.
Here are three easy ways that anyone can use their homegrown weed, and they’ll work out well for most anyone.
1. Smoke it
The most obvious solution is to smoke your cannabis. It’s the best way to taste and experience it in its purest form. Smoking it through a hand pipe or rolling it into a joint will make it clear why the curing process was worth it. You’ll taste all those beautiful terpenes and feel how smoothly it hits.
2. Eat it
If you fancy yourself a baker, make some edibles. Everyone loves a good pot brownie. You can also make cannabutter and cook your pot into cookies or cakes. If you’d rather keep things simple, spread it onto some toast with fruit preserves.
3. Infuse it
You can infuse cannabis into oils like olive oil and use it to garnish dishes. You can infuse it into MCT oil and take a spoonful every day if you’re already using coconut oil in your diet. Think of it as a homemade THC tincture, but much simpler to make.
Drying cannabis isn’t hard, but being patient is. The process isn’t complicated, but it’s a huge waiting game. It’s worth the wait when you finally get to sample the weed you grew with your own two hands.
If you need something to smoke while you wait, Emjay has everything you could possibly want. The best part is that our wait is only half an hour. We’ll deliver flower, pre-rolls, edibles, extracts, and THC wellness products right to your doorstep. We’ll be happy to keep you supplied while you’re waiting for your cannabis to cure!