by Nebula Haze
How Long is My Weed Good For?
When it comes to storing your cannabis, the method you choose makes a huge difference in how long your buds maintain potency and freshness! But what’s the best way to store weed? Is it vacuum-sealing? Will freezing your buds hurt them in any way? I’ve tried a few different methods for storing marijuana over the years, and today I want to share what has and hasn’t worked for me!
Properly stored buds have some natural color and don’t crumble apart
Properly stored weed looks full and sparkly, with at least a little color life. Marijuana buds are often green with orange hairs, but sometimes you’ll see other colors like purple or pink.
Improperly Stored Buds Start Turning Brown and Crumbly
Brown or tan weed isn’t necessarily bad, as well-cured cannabis also loses color, but brown and crumbly nugs are often old or weren’t stored in an airtight container. If there are random brown patches on otherwise good-looking weed, it could also be a sign of mold!
These brown, crumbly buds weren’t stored properly
Note: Some people actually prefer the effects of wet-cured or very long-cured buds, which may offer unique smells and tastes. This typically causes buds to take on a mostly brown or tan appearance. Buds that are still good usually “stay together” as opposed to being crumbly. Although there are exceptions, usually buds that have turned brown are losing their overall potency and smell as time goes on.
How to Store Cannabis to Last for Years
If you grow a lot of cannabis at once, you want it to last long enough to use it all. Outdoor growers usually harvest once a year and may need to store buds until the next year’s harvest.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy and cheap to store your buds. You don’t need any special equipment besides an air-tight glass jar.
Air-tight glass jars are one of the best places to store cannabis buds
But that’s definitely not your only option!
Here are the main methods and tools for storing cannabis, with the pros and cons of each:
1.) UV-Proof Glass Stash Containers
If you need to store a small amount of bud, a UV-proof glass stash box works wonders. These glass containers not only prevent smells from leaking out, they can also help fresh buds continue curing to improve the quality.
This glass stash box is both UV-proof and smell-proof. The perfect place to store small amounts of weed!
2.) Stash Boxes
These boxes are super fancy and classy. They contain compartments to hold various tools or different strains of weed.
When choosing wood, some woods are better than others. Avoid cedar (for example many cigar humidors) as it leaves a cedar taste. Cannabis-made humidors or stash boxes are usually made out of things like teak, bamboo, acacia, mahogany, cherry or walnut wood. These woods won’t affect the smell/flavor of your buds.
This bamboo stash box is smell-proof and includes air-tight containers and a built-in rolling tray. Besides bamboo, other great wood options include teak, acacia, mahogany, cherry, or walnut. Avoid cedar boxes!
This decorative stash box is not only smell-proof but waterproof
3.) Glass Mason Jars in Cool, Dark Place
A cool (60-70°F or 15-21°C) dark place is the most popular way for growers to store buds and is one of the best and most effective. Quart-sized glass mason jars are found everywhere from grocery stores to home improvement stores. These are often used for cooking (making preserves or marinades for example), but when it comes to storing cannabis they help maintain potency by protecting buds from moisture and air. Glass jars will also completely contain smells while preventing buds from getting crushed during handling. Make sure jars are at least 3/4 full so there’s not as much air being stored in with the cannabis (if you have less bud, use smaller glass jars). Buds stored in airtight glass jars in a cool, dark place will maintain their potency for a year or more.
Wide-mouth quart glass mason jars are an excellent place to store weed (note: it’s usually much cheaper to buy in a store than online)
4.) Freeze Your Buds (Best for Long-Term Storage)
If buds are completely dry, you can freeze them and they will maintain their potency for years.
Some growers double-bag buds in Freezer bags and then wrap the bags in foil. This works okay but you can actually store your buds directly in glass mason jars. If you’ve got a lot of bud that needs to be stored for a long time (years), the freezer is the best way to do it.
One option is to store buds in double-bagged Freezer bags (the freezer kind is more air-resistant than regular plastic baggies) and wrap it all in aluminum foil. Squish all the air out at each step, or even vacuum seal them first. Don’t forget to add a label with the strain and date!
Or put in the freezer inside glass jars. Using jars instead of bags helps prevent trichomes from breaking off during handling. Pack each jar tight!
Avoid handling buds when they’re still frozen as the trichomes (glitter) become brittle and easily break off at freezing temperatures. Freezing off trichomes is actually how you make bubble and dry ice hash. Always let frozen buds come to room temperature before handling.
Note: Moisture is associated with mold/bacteria growth and faster degradation in long-term storage. Buds should be stored at normal temperature for several weeks before any long-term storage method to make sure all moisture in the middle of each bud has worked its way out. If you’re using a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels, it should consistently stay below 55% for at least a week before long-term storage. If you’re having trouble drying out your weed because your local humidity is too high, a 49% Boveda pack can help lower the humidity and remove moisture as you prepare buds for storage.
Buds that are frozen properly will maintain their potency for years
5.) Refrigerate Your Buds (Avoid!)
Buds stored in the fridge tend to mold after a while, even in air-tight containers. Either keep buds outside the fridge or put them in the freezer. If you must use the fridge, it’s especially important to make sure buds are completely dry to avoid mold, and keep them in the back in a crisper where the temperature and humidity don’t fluctuate as much. But again, if possible you should avoid using your refrigerator to store buds just in case; a regular cabinet or drawer is usually better!
6.) Plastic Baggies (Avoid!)
Although this is the most common way for non-growers to store cannabis, it’s one of the worst. Buds lose their smell and tend to get dried out and brittle in plastic baggies. The potency degrades quickly, and the lack of protection means that handling the buds tends to crumble them. Plastic baggies should only be used short term, or avoided altogether.
Don’t use a plastic baggy!
7.) Vacuum Sealing
You can use a vacuum sealer to take all the air out of a container before long-term storage. You tend to get the best results when vacuum-sealing bags, though some growers use these machines to vacuum seal mason jars.
Vacuum sealing is recommended if you plan on storing buds for a long time. However, even if you do vacuum-seal your buds, make sure to still follow all the other steps. If buds aren’t properly prepared (for example if they’re still wet), vacuum-sealing isn’t as effective at slowing down the bud degradation process.
The ultra-cheap way to “vacuum seal” is to get a stash jar that lets you create a vacuum when you close the top. These help slow down bud degradation a little. A decent option for small amounts you plan to use in the near future.
But if you’re serious, an actual vacuum sealer will take all the air out of a bag of weed before storage
What about vacuum-sealing buds in mason jars? When I experimented with vacuum-sealing buds in mason jars using an accessory for a compatible vacuum-sealer, I found that the vacuum-sealed buds didn’t seem to be any different from the same batch of buds stored in non-vacuum sealed jars. After a year of storage, they looked and smoked the same as far as I could tell. If you do plan to vacuum-seal, use the included plastic bags.
More on Freezing vs Refrigerating Buds
Freezing buds is controversial because it’s easy to lose trichomes when moving frozen buds. You do need to be extremely careful when handling frozen buds as the trichomes (glitter) become brittle and can easily break off at freezing temperatures.
However, if this does happen you can still collect trichomes from the bottom of the container and use them (just like the kief that falls to the bottom of a grinder!); the trichomes do not “vanish” into the ether!
Additionally, you can dramatically reduce this problem by always letting buds come to room temperature before handling them. The fact of the matter is that buds will stay potent for longer in the freezer than if kept at room temperature, so it’s up to you to decide whether the risk is worth the reward. I can tell you that many growers freeze their buds for years to maintain potency, especially outdoor growers who may harvest pounds at a time.
So if you want to use the refrigerator to store buds, don’t risk mold by using the fridge portion – put your buds in the freezer!
Weird fact: Ever notice that the word ‘refrigerator’ doesn’t have the letter ‘d’ in it, but the word ‘fridge’ does? Although ‘fridge’ and ‘frig’ are technically both acceptable spellings, one proposed explanation is that the word was originally spelled ‘frig’ but adding the ‘d’ and ‘e’ became much more popular since the word is pronounced as if it rhymes with ‘ridge’.
Using Glass for Storage
- Air-tight and smell-proof
- Doesn’t stop the curing process, and buds may actually continue to cure and gain potency over time
- Doesn’t affect the natural smell/taste of buds (unlike plastic, metal and some types of wood)
- Won’t cause trichomes to break off due to static
- Buds last for 1+ years in a cool, dark place without losing potency
Sometimes called Humidipaks (their old brand name, which I thought was muck more descriptive), the renamed Boveda Packs can basically turn any airtight space into a cannabis humidor. The 58% and 62% Boveda Packs are both specifically designed for storing cannabis and can be placed in a sealed container with your buds to regulate the humidity to the ideal level for marijuana storage. The 58% version is better for storage, while the 62% version makes softer buds.
Boveda packs also help keep buds from getting dried out or brittle (and can re-hydrate buds that are too dry).
Bonus Use: In addition to storage, for those who have trouble getting buds to cure properly, these can be a valuable part of the curing process! Simply place them in your jars a few days into the jar-burping process to help regulate the humidity.
Buds Must Be Dried and Cured Before Storage
If buds are still fresh and green, they need to be cured before being put into long-term storage.
Example of Fresh Bud (May Feel Wet and Usually Appears Very Green and “Plump”) – Never put fresh bud into long-term storage!
Cured Buds (Color Has Darkened Slightly, Buds Feel More Dense and Are Completely Dry) – Always wait for buds to cure for at least 4 weeks before long-term storage!
Whenever Storing Cannabis Long-Term, Make Sure….
- Buds Have Been Cured for 4+ Weeks – Buds should be cured at least 4 weeks before being put into long-term storage. The potency and smoothness of your buds is greatly improved during the curing process, and you want to make sure they’ve reached peak potency before you put them in storage. Additionally, the curing process is integral to setting a good moisture level for buds about to be stored long term.
- Buds Are Dry Enough – Buds should never feel moist and jars should never “sweat” during the curing process. These are signs the buds still contain too much moisture and aren’t ready for storage. Why? Even in a sealed container you can still get mold, and wetness causes potency to deteriorate faster (and buds turn brown and crumbly)! This is really important because buds being too wet is one of the biggest factors that cause buds to degrade early. If you have a humidity monitor, you are aiming for humidity under 55% RH before putting them into storage. This recommended humidity is a little lower than what’s generally recommended for curing, but helps prevent unwanted biological processes during long-term storage.
- Keep Buds in the Dark – Avoid letting buds be exposed to light because UV rays cause bud potency to diminish
- No Heat, No Middling Temperatures – Avoid letting buds be exposed to heat or middling temperatures. The temperature should be 60-70°F (15-21°C) or under 32°F (0°C) for the best results. Don’t let buds get cold, then hot, then cold, etc. Don’t store them near electronics that may heat up. Try to maintain a steady temperature until you’re ready to use your buds.
- Glass is Best, Avoid Plastic or Metal – Although plastic and metal can be used to store buds in the short term, they can start to affect the smell/taste after a while. Therefore they are not recommended for long-term storage. Plastic also tends to be “static-y” which can cause trichomes to fall off the buds and stick to the sides or the bottom of the container. Your best bet is glass, which is completely airtight and nonporous. Quart-sized mason jars are a tried-and-true storage container, which is why they are so popular for cannabis growers.
- If You Do Go For a Wood Container… avoid cigar humidors as they can impart a cedar taste. Cannabis-made humidors are usually made out of things like teak, bamboo, acacia, mahogany, cherry or walnut wood, as these won’t affect the smell/flavor of your buds. However, wood doesn’t seem to be as effective as glass when it comes to cannabis storage, and buds won’t last as long when compared to being stored in glass.
- Avoid the Refrigerator – Although refrigerators might seem like a great idea, they don’t maintain a consistent humidity and temperature. These fluctuations increase the chance of mold and other unwanted biological processes. Keep your buds at a cool room temperature or in the freezer.
Now that you know how to store your marijuana properly, you can enjoy every big harvest for years to come!
Beginner Shopping List (What You Need to Start Growing)