Harvesting your precious bud is the end of the hardest part of growing your own cannabis. There are, however, two last, and very important, steps before you can enjoy it. These are drying and curing your weed.
Originally posted 18th December 2015, Updated on 9th January 2020
There are three main ways of drying cannabis and which one you choose will probably depend partly on what kind of space you have and partly on how much bud you have. Whichever method you choose, remember the importance of good airflow and keeping the humidity at around 50%-60%. More than that and you risk mould, less than that and your cannabis may lose some of its flavour (although that’s much the lesser of the two evils).
If you have issues controlling your humidity then try keeping all the leaves on your stems if you live in a dry area and removing as many as you can if you live in a humid area. The presence or absence of leaves influences the extent to which air can reach the buds and hence the speed at which they dry.
The easiest way to tell if your buds are dry is to try snapping a stem. If it breaks easily then all the moisture has been removed. If, however, you can only bend it easily, but struggle to break it, then it still contains moisture and hence needs longer to dry.
Screen drying cannabis is really only suitable for very small amounts of bud. To begin with, you need to remove the leaves from the stems so that you can remove the buds from the leaves. The more bud you have, the more of a hassle this becomes. Secondly, buds of different sizes dry at different rates. This means that you either have to group them into batches of the same size or keep checking them regularly throughout the drying process. Otherwise, damp patches will develop and you risk losing your whole crop to mould, which would be heartbreaking.
Ideally, you’ll want to put some cloth (or even paper, like newspaper) under your screen, partly to protect what’s underneath it but mostly so that it will absorb the moisture from the buds. Then you just change it out whenever you feel it getting damp. This will help reduce the chance that the water will make its way back onto the buds.
If hearing all this makes you wonder why we bothered mentioning screen drying cannabis, the answer is that it’s a great way of drying small quantities of bud.
Line drying has been used for thousands of years and is a very effective way of drying cannabis. It’s simple and just requires you to hang the buds upside down either using string, a clothes hanger or any other was you can think of. Unlike screen drying cannabis, you can just hang up the stems complete with leaves, but it helps to do a bit of trimming to improve air flow. Have we mentioned mould? We don’t like to go on about things but this is really important.
Basically this is line drying cannabis but instead of just running a line along a ceiling or wall, you run it (or more likely them) across the top of a box with netting (or something similar) to allow for air flow. The advantage over traditional line drying is that there is more flexibility to move the cages around. For example if you want to use a fan, you can move the buds over to the power supply even if there’s nowhere to hang a line. If you’re going to do this, however, remember to avoid having the fan blow the air directly onto the buds.
Curing cannabis is what takes your precious buds to the next level of smoking pleasure. This may sound like an overstatement, but if you think we’re joking, try saving some of your uncured buds and smoking them. You’ll notice the difference. Even partially- cured cannabis is better than uncured cannabis, although nowhere near as good as properly-cured cannabis. Again, if you don’t believe us, try taking out some buds part-way through the curing process and comparing them with properly-cured cannabis.
The good news is that curing weed is actually quite easy. Put your buds into glass jars (like mason jars) and leave at least an inch/a couple of centimetres at the top. Store these jars in a cool, dark place. For at least the first week (ideally two weeks), you need to open the jar every day to let out the moisture.
Take this as an opportunity to feel the buds and give the jar a good shake to see how they respond. If you feel any moisture on the buds or see that they’re sticking together, pull them out and give them more time to dry. If you see any buds with mould on them, take them out and bin them.
If you really want to get the best from the cannabis curing process, you will need to control the humidity and you will want it to be slightly higher than it was during the drying process. The ideal humidity for curing cannabis is between 60% and 65%. This hits the sweet spot of curing your weed slowly so that the terpenes develop while avoiding the conditions which promote mould.
Using a hygrometer will help you to check on the humidity of you buds. As mentioned the optimal humidity for curing you cannabis is 60-65% but what should you do if your humidity is higher or lower then this?
If your humidity is above 70% then chances are your buds will still feel wet. If this is the case then you need to remove the buds and let them dry for another few hours before returning to the mason jar. After this allow them to sit in the jar with the hygrometer for at least 24hrs to get a more accurate reading of the humidity.
Another sign that humidity in you jars is higher then it should be is if you give the jar a shake and notice that buds are sticking together. This is a sign that you are nearly there, however they need to dry out a little more. If you are in a dry climate then simply leaving the lid off of the jar for a few hours should dry the buds out sufficiently. A more humid climate will require the buds to be removed and given more time, until they feel dry.
Another problem that can arise during the curing process is buds drying out to much. This usually takes place when you have a humidity reading of <55%. Buds will feel dry and brittle to touch as they do not contain enough moisture. These buds can be left in the jar and will continue the curing process, just at a slower rate. You could also add something such as a boveda pack to your jar, which will help rehydrate your buds and bring the conditions up to the optimum humidity.
After the first couple of weeks, you’ll start to feel your cannabis become stickier. This is normal, in fact, it’s what you want and is a large part of the reason for the curing process. Curing cannabis generally takes one to two months. As a beginner err on the side of caution and give it as long as you can. Once you develop more experience, you’ll get a “feel” for when it’s ready. You can then transfer it into a suitable container for storage. A tobacco humidor is ideal.