Proper storage of medical herb is key to ensuring that buds stays fresh over an extended period of time. Whether you’re an herb connoisseur, legal bud dispensary or medical patient, keeping your stash contained correctly will help to reap dank, aromatic rewards.
Keep your stash at the right humidity
Nobody likes to smoke pepper buds; herb that has gotten too dry irritates the throat and lungs when smoked. This is a common result of quickly ‘flash drying’ buds – Even if re-hydrated, the smoke’s harshness. When drying fresh herb, it is essential to slowly and gradually reach the desired humidity levels (about 55% – 65% RH).
On the other hand, herb that has been stored too moist will most often develop mold issues and take on an unpleasant, rancid smell. This is a frequent mistake of ‘jumping the gun’, storing buds in jars before they have dried all-the-way through. Moldy plant matter should never be smoked. Remember: the moisture in a stem often takes longer to dry out then the bud surrounding it.
Plastic zipper sandwich baggies are to be avoided at all costs. There are a few reasons for this: First, zipper baggies are not fully airtight, and depending on your climate, alter the humidity levels of the herb while also releasing scents. Herb stored in plastic baggies notoriously goes stale quick. Second, buds are easily crushed in these thin baggies, and the static that plastic bags generate goes even further to damage buds. Even plastic grocery bags closed with a half hitch work better for storing herb than zipper sandwich baggies.
Be certain that buds are fully cured before they are put away for long-term storage. Herb releases chlorophyll gas during it’s curing process, and this gas must be able to escape. Storing uncured buds long-term will keep chlorophyll trapped in, degrading scents and tastes.
Watch out for light
A dark place, or using a UV protected container is effective in preserving delicate cannabinoids from light deterioration. As the University of London found in a study, “Solutions of pure cannabinoids, nine samples of herbal and two of resin cannabis (one freshly prepared) were stored in varying conditions for up to 2 years. Exposure to light (not direct sunlight) was shown to be the greatest single factor in loss of cannabinoids”.
Glass Jars for Storing Herb
Glass jars are the gold standard for high-quality medicinal herb storage, and are so for valid reasons.
- Glass is nonporous and impermeable, which means that the volatile aromas and flavors of your precious herbs will be well preserved in a airtight, durable container while properly sealed. No oxygen goes in, no oxygen goes out.
- Using glass jars is a reusable, long-term herb storage solution. Many people use the same glass jars again and again with each new year, as glass will not degrade in quality. Other plastic storage options on the other hand, may break down and lose integrity quickly over time.
- Glass has virtually a zero rate of chemical interactions – assuring that herb stored in glass jars retains it’s original fragrance, quality, and taste, without any imparted or altered effects.
Light must be avoided while storing herb in clear glass jars – exposure to sunlight has unwanted outcomes such as steam room like jar sweating (an invitation for mold problems) and degradation of active ingredients in herb. Keep your stash in a cool, dark place and avoid storing in areas that pick up indirect sunlight. Cabinets, chests, and drawers are all fine, suitable options.
A vacuum-seal can be obtained in glass jars without using the traditional method of water bath sealing, as placing jars full of delicate herbs in hot water would be ridiculous. Safe and effective vacuum-sealing can be done with a wide-mouth jar sealer or a vacuum lid & pump(Amazon links).
Traditionally used to store cigars and other tobacco products, a humidor is a type of box (usually wooden) that provides constant humidity in an airtight container.
Old school cigar humidors are most commonly made of Spanish cedar, a very porous wood that is ideal for higher relative humidity storage (often 70%-75% RH). Cedar is favored for it’s oils, that add a unique taste and characteristic to cigars and tobacco when smoked – not a desirable quality for medicinal herb storage.
Modern day herb humidors provide a solution to this. By using a more neutral cherry or mahogany wood, the oils do not impart scents or flavors into herbs, and is easily kept at an optimal humidity level (55%-62% RH) for medicinal herb storage.
Anybody who has over-dried herb before has seen their beautiful sticky resin vanquish into brittle powder. While often this is done out of necessity for long-term storage, over-drying bud turns sweet candy flavors into harsh grass. Using a properly adjusted humidor keeps herb fresh and sticky for ages.
UV Protected Stash Containers
UV protected stash jars/containers offer airtight protection against the damaging effects of light exposure, direct and indirect, although are a bit more pricey.
As stated above, sunlight and herb storage do not mix well. With UV exposure comes loss of quality, potency and shelf-life. While this is easy to say and understand, at times it is not always possible to keep herb in a dark, protected environment when you are constantly using and sharing it.
While not practical for storing large quantities of herb, UltraViolet glass jars offer convenient protection against harmful light, perfect for those who like to keep a stash on the coffee table or shelf.
For at home or on the go, the discreetness of a UV glass container is a high selling point – the dark blue-purple UV glass is virtually opaque, keeping out not just sunlight, but also wandering eyes.
The best UV glass jars/containers are surprisingly heavy duty, having survived being dropped numerous times by a clumsy fellow or two. Take your stash out to the park, on a car trip, or simply keep it anywhere in the house without fearing the sun like a troll.
Long-term herb storage tips
- Bringing the relative humidity(RH) of the herb to 50% keeps buds in a stasis more suitable for extended storage, and preserves much better over long periods of time – although don’t expect the same juicy resin content you’d get storing at a higher humidity.
- Be dead certain that buds are fully cured before putting them away- or else the herb’s chlorophyll will gas off. Unable to escape this gas will transform fresh green buds into a brown, urea stinking surprise.
- When loading jars, make sure to fill them up completely. More buds = less air. Don’t crush them when loading, but DO pack them in lightly.
- Pick a storage area that stays dark and cool, where temps don’t fluctuate. Beware of storing by walls that get heavy sun exposure on the outside.
- Stay away from twist cap pickle/salsa jars – they are not airtight! Just add some water and shake it upside down to test this.
- If stashing large quantities of herb, go for bigger jars that can be vacuum-sealed. A wide mouth 1 gallon glass jar(Amazon link) works well and seals airtight.
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