How To Dry Cannabis Quickly
You want the truth about quick drying cannabis? We think you can handle it. So in this blog, we’ve compiled the best methods to get you a fast stash post-harvest. We can’t promise perfection but these methods will put a rush on the drying process and give you a decent bud to toke on.
OK, so you have cannabis plants close to harvest and insufficient marijuana reserves to see you through the typical 30+ day period between harvest and cured finished product. Perhaps you don’t even have a stash to make it through the average 1–2 weeks it takes to dry buds conventionally? Or perhaps you are just curious whether or not your flowers are ready to harvest? Regardless of your personal motivations, you have plenty of options when it comes to quickly drying cannabis. The problem is, the most popularised quick-dry methods will degrade buds so much in the process, they are hardly worth the effort.
Our readers deserve better. Not only will we break down simple ways to speed-dry Sinsemilla without ruining your reefer. We have also included a sticky surprise in the text for those cannabis concentrate lovers seeking more flavoursome extracts using the fresh non-dried material.
BROWN BAGS AND COMPUTER FANS
Simple brown paper bags, like the kind you get from the bakery, are perfect for drying buds. Especially popcorn buds. If you place a handful or two of freshly manicured smaller nuggets into a paper bag and leave them to dry for 2–3 days your halfway there. Ideally, you should leave them another 3 days to dry completely. But if you’re in a hurry, proceed to the next step.
Next, turn on your laptop and figure out where the fan is. Modern laptops all have fans expelling warm air to keep the internal workings of the device cool. Place the small half-dry nuggets on a paper towel on the keyboard. Or on a paper towel directly in front of the fan vents, if you have a model that vents a different way. Turn buds over every 10 minutes or so, until they feel dry to the touch. This may take an hour or longer, but the buds will still pack a punch. Don’t expect a full bouquet of aromas or mouth-watering flavour, rather an acceptable if a little harsh tasting smoke.
CONVERT THE BOILER ROOM INTO A DRYING BOX
Most private homes have a boiler room. The water boiler inside keeps the boiler room temperature pretty cosy and relative humidity is minimal. This is a great place to quick-dry cannabis. It’s best to place all small buds in brown bags, but you can use string to hang bigger buds as you usually would when drying. The big difference is that you are going to turn up the heat by switching on the hot water heater. You can completely dry huge harvests in 3 days if you leave the hot water on for most of that time. That’s sure to spike the utility bills. With normal use, expect the small buds to be dry enough to smoke in just 3–4 days, with thicker hanging colas requiring 6–7 days. This method has a lower impact on quality than most, but the buds still won’t taste fantastic.
ALTERNATIVE: GO LIVE
The dabbing trend of 2018 is live resin concentrates. Even the most potent extracts like wax and shatter have some room for improvement. Using fresh frozen flowers rather than carefully dried and cured buds is the breakthrough US extract artists have made to produce gourmet concentrates with far more terpenes. Something is definitely lost in transition with the standard BHO extraction methods. Live resin boasts the same skyhigh potency with a vastly improved flavour profile. Unfortunately, this is probably out of reach to the average ordinary home grower. The cannabis must be kept at subcritical temperatures for the entire extraction process and you really need lab conditions and equipment to accomplish this. Nonetheless it’s a top-shelf treat coming to all good cannabis clubs, coffee shops, and dispensaries in 2018. Be on the lookout for names like “sauce”, “sap”, and “syrup” popping up on the menu.
Outdoor ganja farmers have dried marijuana placed on rocks in direct sunlight for thousands of years. It’s certainly not the most efficient method to dry cannabis, but it works. Both heat and sunlight will degrade quality. However, if you want to dry small buds fast and it’s hot and sunny outside, you could do worse than tossing a handful of popcorn buds in a brown bag and sun-drying them. Best use a rock to weigh down the bag of buds in direct sunlight, you don’t want a gust of wind swiping your weed. Then you play the waiting game. After a day or two of warm dry sunny weather, you should have some crispy buds to toke on. Again flavour and potency will have deteriorated, so you are not getting the most from your marijuana with this method.
Baking buds in the oven is a horrible idea. Just don’t do it. It really is a waste of weed. Oven temperatures are far, far, far too hot for cannabis. Even on a low setting—still too hot. Sure the buds will dry out in minutes, but you’ll also have cooked off most of the cannabinoids. These buds will taste like burnt plant material and won’t get you high.
Microwave marijuana is another guaranteed disappointment. Nuking buds with 10-second blasts in the microwave is a disastrous way to dry weed. These methods likely origins are “the big book of bad ideas” and are to be avoided.
We all know that you really ought to slowly dry and cure marijuana. Sometimes you need to test for potency or just need a stash. Let’s talk quick drying weed.
How to dry and cure cannabis
How to dry marijuana at harvest
After cutting down your marijuana plants, a proper dry and cure are crucial. These help retain terpenes and cannabinoids, preserving and accentuating the flavors of weed, while diminishing chlorophyll, and getting rid of the vegetal taste of the plant.
A dry shouldn’t be too quick or too long. Too quick and the outsides of buds will appear dry but the insides won’t be. Too long and buds could develop mold.
The drying and curing processes are similar but with a subtle difference. Drying happens before or after trimming and occurs when the initial amount of moisture comes out of buds. This can happen after you cut down the plant in drying trimming, or after you trim the buds in wet trimming, when buds are in a drying room or on a drying rack.
Curing happens after this initial removal of moisture and after buds have been trimmed. It involves storing finished buds in containers to stop the loss of moisture and to preserve flavors and aromas. More on curing below.
Keep harvested weed in a dark room with temperatures between 60-70°F and humidity between 55-65%. A cheap hygrometer will help you monitor these numbers.
Add a small fan to circulate air, and you may need to add a dehumidifier or AC as well. If it’s taking too long to dry buds in your space, you may need to adjust the temperature or humidity to help along the drying process.
When dry trimming, you can hang harvested plants upside down on a line or hanger—it prevents buds from getting flattened or misshapen as they dry. Also, keep buds connected to branches to help create an even, slow dry.
If dry trimming, check your drying branches after they’ve been hanging for 3 days. A good test is to bend a branch with buds—if the stem snaps, that means buds are dry and ready for trimming.
If they don’t snap, leave them and check the next day. Drying usually takes 3-7 days, but could take longer.
When trimming wet, you’ll need a flat rack—you’ll have lots of trimmed individual buds, so you can’t hang them. Flat racks are circular with layers of mesh, and are great for airflow.
Check wet-trimmed buds drying in the flat rack after 2-3 days by giving them a little squish. If they’re still too wet, leave them and check again the next day.
How to cure marijuana
When buds are done drying and have been trimmed, the initial amount of moisture is out of the buds and it’s time to cure.
For curing, you’ll be storing finished buds in containers—typically airtight glass jars—to stop the loss of moisture, and to preserve flavors and aromas. Curing usually takes two weeks to a month, and humidity inside curing containers needs to be between 55-65%.
Why curing cannabis is important
The curing process is possibly the most overlooked aspect of growing weed. During curing, moisture continues to draw from the center of the bud toward the outside.
Curing affects the flavor and quality of the smoke. Many terpenes, which give cannabis its unique smell and flavor, are quite volatile and can degrade and evaporate at temperatures as low as 50°F. A slow cure at low temperatures will preserve terpenes better than a quick, hot dry.
Hot, humid conditions also create an optimal environment for enzymes and aerobic bacteria to break down leftover minerals and the undesirable sugars produced by the decomposition of chlorophyll during the drying process. The presence of these sugars and leftover minerals can cause a harsh throat-burning sensation when smoking.
A proper cure also allows you to store weed for long periods without worrying about mold or loss of cannabinoids. Well-cured flowers can be stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place for up to two years without significant loss of potency.
Once buds are dry, it’s time to cure them.
Place the trimmed buds into some type of airtight container. Most people use wide-mouth quart or half-gallon glass mason jars, but you can also use ceramic, metal, or wood vessels.
Plastic bags are unsuitable for curing as they are not impervious to oxygen and can degrade when they come in contact with some terpenes in cannabis.
Pack buds loosely in containers without compacting or crushing them. Seal containers and store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Within a day or two you’ll notice buds get a little softer as moisture from the middle of the buds rehydrates the outer portions. If this doesn’t happen, you have likely over-dried your cannabis.
Humidity inside the sealed jars should be between 55-65%. If you’re unsure, you can also buy a digital hygrometer—which measures moisture—available for $20 or so at any hardware store.
Burp your buds
Seal jars overnight and check on them the next day. If buds are too wet, leave the lid off for half a day or a full day before resealing at night. Repeat this process until they are ready—give them a gentle squeeze to test softness and moisture content. Again, a hygrometer comes in handy here.
During the first week of curing, regardless of humidity level, open the containers once or twice a day for a couple minutes—this is called “burping.” This allows moisture to escape and replenishes the oxygen inside the container.
If you notice an odor of ammonia when opening a container, it means the buds are not dry enough and anaerobic bacteria are consuming them, which will lead to moldy, rotten cannabis. Leave the lid off for a day and reseal tomorrow.
After the first week, you only need to burp containers once every few days.
After two to four weeks in containers, your cannabis should be cured enough to provide a quality experience. Some people prefer to cure for four to eight weeks, and some strains even benefit from six months or more of curing.
How to store your harvested buds
After curing, you can store buds for up to two years without much loss of potency. Like fine wine or a whiskey barrel, properly dried and cured cannabis is best when kept in a cool, dark place—mildew and other molds on cannabis and organic matter thrive in temperatures between 77-86°F.
Excessive heat can dry out cannabinoids and terpenes that have taken months to develop. When these essential oils get too dry along with plant material, it can result in a hot, harsh smoke.
Lower temperatures also slow decarboxylation, the process in which THCA converts into the intoxicating THC. THC eventually degrades into CBN, a cannabinoid with different effects and properties. Additionally, warm air holds more moisture than cold air.
Humidity control is paramount to keeping mildew and other mold contaminants out of your cannabis. Keep cannabis between 55-65% relative humidity when stored to maintain and enhance color, consistency, aroma, and flavor.
Harmful UV rays break down many organic and synthetic materials, and UV rays will degrade cannabis over time. A study in the 1970s concluded that light was the single biggest factor in the degradation of cannabinoids.
The same study concluded that cannabinoids maintain stability for up to two years when stored under the proper conditions, though it can remain effective and safe to consume for much longer, as essential oils slowly break down over time. Storing your cannabis out of direct light will also help control temperature.
Having too little air can greatly affect humidity, especially if buds aren’t completely dried before storage.
Too much air, on the other hand, will speed up the degradation process as cannabinoids and other organic matter are exposed to oxygen. There are a variety of hand and electric vacuum pump attachments available for canning jars that can help minimize oxygen exposure.
- Store out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry place
- Store in containers with a neutral charge, like glass mason jars
- Use hygrometers or products like Boveda to monitor and control humidity levels
- Vacuum seal jars and containers to minimize oxygen exposure
- Separate strains to maintain individual flavor profiles, and label with a date—it sucks to mix up strains
Will Hyde contributed to this article.
Often overlooked, drying and curing are the last step of the harvesting process before you can smoke your homegrown cannabis. Learn about the differences between the two and how to do them.