Drying and Curing Cannabis
…for the Most Potent Smoke
Drying and curing cannabis properly will yield the most THC-potent smoke. When dried and cured improperly, potency can diminish substantially. The level of THC in a plant is determined by its genetics. Proper drying and curing will keep the THC level as high as genetically possible. It does not increase potency. A little background on what happens inside and outside the harvested drying plant will help you understand why proper drying and curing are so important to good quality dope.
Drying evaporates most of the 70- 75 percent water content in fresh marijuana. Drying also converts THC from its non-psychoactive crude acidic form to its psychoactive pH-neutral form. Once dry, THC-potent marijuana can be smoked and you will get high. Every THC molecule must shed their moisture content before they are fully psychoactive. In other words fresh green marijuana will not be very potent.
When you cut a plant or plant part and hang it to dry, the transport of fluids within the plant continues, but at a slower rate. Stomata, small openings on leaf undersides, close soon after harvest and drying is slowed since little water vapor escapes. The natural plant processes slowly come to an end as
the plant dries. The outer cells are the first to dry, but fluid still moves from internal cells to supply moisture to the dry outer cells. When this process occurs properly, the plant dries evenly throughout. Removing leaves and large stems upon harvest speeds drying, however, moisture content within the “dried” buds, leaves and stems is most often uneven. Quick drying also traps chlorophylls and other pigments, starch and nitrates within plant tissue, making it taste “green” burn unevenly and taste bad.
Taste and aroma improve when these pigments break down. Slow even drying – where the humidity is similar inside and outside the foliage – allows enough time for the pigments to degrade. Hanging entire plants to dry allows this process to occur over time, about 3-4 weeks at 50-60 percent relative humidity and a temperature range of 60-70 degrees F. (15-21 degrees C.) The large outer leaves also form a protective sheath around buds. This protective foliage shields resin glands on buds from rupture and bruising.
Removing large leaves and stems upon harvest saves time. This is what most growers do, because fresh supple leaves are easier to work with than dry leaves. When you are looking a manicuring 5 kilos, you make it as easy as possible! However, this process often causes uneven drying and keeps moisture inside the foliage. This is why it is important to “cure” the “dry” marijuana.
Curing lets the plants continue to dry slowly. The first week of curing affects potency in that it removes moisture within the bud evenly, so that virtually all the THC is psychoactive. Curing also allows buds to dry enough so that mold does not grow when it is stored. A well-cured bud will also burn with an even glow.
Rough handling and friction from fondling hands will bruise and knock off resin glands. Even with proper drying and curing, brutal handling of harvested marijuana will diminish THC content.
Here is one of the best ways to dry plants to retain the maximum amount of psychoactive THC. Cut the entire ripe plant at the base and hang it upside down on a line to dry. Try to keep plants from touching each other to avoid uneven drying and mold. Keep the humidity between 50-60 percent. Keep the temperature at about 60-70 degrees F. (15-21 degrees C.). The room should be relatively dark as light, especially direct sunlight, degrades THC.
A circulation and ventilation fan may be necessary to control heat and humidity. You can also use a dehumidifier to control humidity or an air conditioner to lower ambient relative humidity and control room temperature. Do not train fans directly on drying plants it causes them to dry unevenly.
Depending upon atmospheric conditions and the size and density of plants and buds, plants should be dry enough to smoke in about a week. Plants with outer “fan” leaves intact take longer to dry than if leaves have been removed.
Check for dryness by bending a stem. It should snap. The bud should be dry to touch, but not brittle. The bud should burn well enough to smoke now.
Once dry, carefully manicure buds by cutting large leaves where they attach to the stem. Leaving the petiole (leaf stem) can cause mold to grow. Snip off smaller leaves that show little resin so that buds a beautiful bud remains.
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. CO” changes from its frozen solid to a gas without turning into a liquid, a dry (ice) process that is called sublimation. The atmosphere contains little CO2. Dry ice sublimes (converts) completely into a gas leaving virtually no liquid. It is dry.
When moist marijuana is enclosed with dry ice at virtually zero relative humidity, water molecules migrate from the cannabis to the dry ice. The relative humidity of the CO2 increases and the moisture content of the marijuana decreases. This process occurs below 0 degrees C (32 degrees F), preserving the cannabis.
Place equal amounts of dry ice and bud into a container. Dry ice on the bottom and bud on top. Seal with a lid. Make a few small holes in the lid of the container for excess gas to exit. Place in the freezer. Check the dry ice every 24 hours. When the ice is gone, the buds will be completely dry. If not dry, add more dry ice until cannabis is dry. Conserve dry ice by partially drying buds for a few days before enclosing with dry ice.
This method retains potency, freshness and causes very little degradation of resin glands by the bad guys – heat, light, air and fondling hands. The marijuana tastes ‘minty’ because the chlorophyll does not break down.
Even though the plants appear to be dry, they still contain moisture inside. This moisture affects taste and potency. To remove this excess moisture, curing
is necessary. Curing makes the bud uniformly dry and converts virtually all THC into its psychoactive form. Cut stems into manageable lengths – less than 12 inches (30 centimeters) – and place them in an airtight container. Glass containers with a rubber or similar seal on top are the best. Avoid Ziploc plastic bags, which are not airtight. Many growers also avoid plastic containers such as Tupperware, sighting the plastic imparts an undesirable flavor in the buds.
Enclose buds in a container. This creates a microclimate that allows moisture to “even out” within the buds. Internal moisture will migrate to the dry portions of the bud. Gently pack as many buds
in the glass container as possible without damaging them. Leave the jar(s) in a cool dry dark place. Check the jar in 2-4 hours to see if buds “sweated” moisture. Check buds by gently squeezing to feel if they are moister than they were a few hours before. Be careful when squeezing buds, they bruise easily. Most often they will be completely dry. If not, leave them in the sealed jar overnight and check the next day.
The buds will be a bit moist. Remove them from the jar and gently lay in the bottom of a paper bag. They can be stacked in the paper bag as high as 10 centimeters (3 inches). Close the top of the bag by folding once. Check the buds 2-3 times during the day to see if they are dry. Carefully turn them in the bag so that different sides are exposed. Remove when they are dry and place back into the sealed glass jar. Check them the next day to see if they are evenly dry and not moist again. If moist, remove and place back in the paper bag until dry. When dry place back in the glass container. Repeat process until buds are evenly dry.
If buds appear to have fairly low moisture content, you may be able to leave them in the jar and let excess moisture escape out the top. Simply open the jar for a few minutes every few hours to let the excess moisture escape before closing the lid again.
Check the container daily, leaving the top open for 5-10 minutes so moisture evacuates. After a week or two, it should be totally dry and ready to seal airtight. Vacuum seal the jar and place it in the refrigerator for storage. Leave it in the refrigerator or a cool dark dry place for a month or longer. The taste and potency will be tops! Refrigeration slows decomposition but remember, refrigerators have a high humidity level, so the container must be sealed airtight. I just checked the relative humidity in temperature in my refrigerator – 65 percent relative humidity and 5 degrees C. (40 degrees F). Do not place it in the freezer. Freezing draws moisture to the surface of buds, which can harm resin glands on the surface.
I do not recommend fast drying however here is a brief rundown on several methods for those of you who can’t wait.
Method One: Manicure fresh buds. Spread them out evenly and wrap in paper or enclose in an envelope. Place the paper or envelope on top of a warm object – refrigerator, radiator, television, etc. Depending upon heat level, buds will be dry in a few hours to overnight. Buds should be a bit crispy when dry. Place buds in an airtight container until they sweat. Follow curing instructions above.
Method Two: Cut up fresh buds and foliage. Place on a 6-inch (15 centimeter) square of tinfoil. Hold or place it over a 60-80-watt light bulb. Stir every 30 seconds. The weed takes 1-3 minutes to dry.
Method Three: Place cut up buds and foliage on a cookie sheet in an oven at 65 degrees C. (150 degrees F.) for 10-15 minutes. Check regularly until dry. Follow curing instructions above.
Method Four: Place cut up buds and foliage in a microwave oven. Power the oven to 40-50 percent and give short 5-10 second bursts. Check regularly until dry.
Method Five: Cut fresh buds and foliage into small pieces and place them in a glass jar with an airtight lid. Place several silica gel desiccant packs (the kind that come with electronic devices and cameras) into the glass jar and seal the jar. Moisture will migrate to the silica gel in a few hours. Remove the packets and dry in the sun. Replace silica packs until marijuana is dry enough to smoke. Find silica gel packs at auto parts or electronic stores.
Method Six: Peel stems so they plants dry faster. First remove large leaves. Peel off the outer layer of the stem with a knife. This exposes the inside of the stem and cuts drying time by about 20 percent.
Patient growers smoke no bud before its time!
Some of the information in this article was extrapolated from the “Frequently Asked Questions” and “Forums” found at www.overgrow.com. The following OG members were sighted in putting together this article: Apollo11Genius, BigIslandBud, Doctor Dangerous, Fatima, Fergetit, Flick, Glass Joe, HashMan, Leaf, Lock, Lord of the Strains, Mr. Beaner, PREMIER, Psychotropic Nomad, SC, and Twofingered. Thanks for the help!