How to Dry Cannabis – Drying and Curing Cannabis

How to Dry Cannabis – Drying and Curing Cannabis

So you’ve successfully grown your very own marijuana plant, congratulations! It’s time to celebrate and you want to use the fruits of your labour for the occasion, so now what? If you want to learn how to dry cannabis, you’re in the right place. Read on to discover why it’s recommended to not only dry, but also cure your cannabis. We’ll cover the most popular and cost-effective methods available to dry and cure cannabis from your home, and the benefits that doing so offers. 

Why do you need to dry and cure your cannabis?

Why is drying and curing cannabis important? Well, if you’ve ever tried to smoke freshly harvested or “wet” marijuana, you’ll most likely know the answer. If you can even manage to light moist bud, it’ll be quite a harsh toke. Moisture is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and other unwanted fungi, which is why marijuana needs to be dried out in order to be properly and safely enjoyed. Proper drying and curing reduces the water content dramatically and produces dried bud that will be safe and enjoyable to consume for up to two years (if stored correctly, more on that below).

Additionally, if you don’t preserve cannabis properly, it loses all the wonderful traits you worked so hard to cultivate while growing and tending to your plants. Flavour, scent, THC content: all those hard won traits will degrade at room temperature if the plant is not dried or cured correctly. In fact, curing not only preserves but enhances the flavour, smoothness, and potency of weed. Many overlook curing and stick to simply drying cannabis, but curing is where the real magic and artistry happens.

What’s the difference between drying and curing?

Drying cannabis is the process of drying the plants to reduce their moisture content, at which point the cannabis will be ready to safely consume through smoking, vaporizing, or turning into other products such as oil, edibles, and more. Curing cannabis occurs after drying takes place and is an optional—but highly recommended—additional step. Curing produces more potent and more complex weed than simply drying it does.

Happily, both processes can be done with relatively simple set-ups and inexpensive equipment. Once you invest in a basic drying and curing set-up, it can be reused harvest after harvest. The basic goal of drying cannabis is to reduce the moisture content of your plants to about 10-15%, so that they burn or vaporize properly. However, as with all stages of the homegrown marijuana cycle, more attention to detail will yield higher quality products. If time is a concern, then simply drying your plants is the quickest option. If you can spare some extra time, curing will reward you with a complex, smooth, and potent pot. Let’s start with the basics: learning how to dry cannabis.

Best way to dry cannabis

There are a few different ways to dry your plants. Let’s cover the most common methods. 

Suggested materials:

  • Rubber or disposable gloves
  • Twine, string, hangers, or other materials to suspend the plant
  • A baking or drying rack
  • Cardboard box
  • Fan
  • A/C
  • Dehumidifier or humidifier

Steps:

  1. The first decision to make is whether you’ll dry your plants whole (AKA hanging the entire stem), or if you’ll trim the plant down into smaller branches. Since most of the plant’s moisture is stored in the stem, drying happens more quickly if you trim at this stage. It is recommended to wear gloves for this step, to avoid covering your hands in a sticky mess!
  2. You can then either hang your plants upside down with twine or string in a closet, in a cardboard box, or in another dark, enclosed space. Another option is to lay them on a drying rack in a similarly dark, enclosed space. If you choose to dry the plants on a rack or other mesh surface, you’ll need to rotate them regularly to ensure they dry evenly and are not flattened. 
  3. With either method don’t crowd the plants: be sure there is room for air to circulate around them.
  4. With either method, make sure to keep the plants away from sunlight and artificial light as much as possible. Aim to keep the room temperature between 60° to 70° F. If possible, keep the humidity between 45%-55% using a dehumidifier or humidifier (depending on the characteristics of your climate). 
  5. Air circulation is necessary for proper drying. Keep a fan in the room in order to circulate the air.
  6. As the plants dry, you’ll notice them getting smaller and denser. Check on your buds daily and rotate them often to ensure uniform drying. 

How long does it take to dry cannabis?

It depends on the size and density of the buds and stems, but generally it will take from 7-14 days. If you are drying whole stems, it may take longer as the stems hold a lot of moisture.

You’ll know the plant is fully dried when a branch snaps cleanly. If the branch bends and doesn’t snap in two, or is stringy, it still has too much moisture.

Follow the temperature, humidity, and light guidelines above in order to dry your cannabis at the correct pace. If dried too quickly, cannabis loses potency and traits such as flavour and scent (this is why it is NOT recommended to dry cannabis in the sun). If dried too slowly or in a humid environment, mold and other bacteria can fester.

Best way to cure cannabis

You know what they say: patience is a virtue. That definitely holds true for curing cannabis. Now that you’ve learned how to dry cannabis, it’s time to finesse your buds.

Suggested materials:

  • Mason jars or other lidded glass container
  • Cardboard box

Steps:

  • Once you ensure your marijuana is sufficiently dried, it’s time to break it down and trim into small buds. 
  • Fill glass mason jars or other airtight containers with dry cannabis, lightly packing to about 3/4 full. You want to leave some space at the top for air circulation: this will help to deter the growth of mold or other bacterias.
  • (Optional). Gently crush a couple pieces so that the trichomes break: this causes oils and terpenes to spread over the other buds and will enhance the final product.
  • Store the jars in a dark, cool place such as a kitchen cupboard, or in a loosely sealed cardboard box. The ideal conditions are about 64 ° F, with a humidity level of around 55% to 62%. 
  • You’ll notice the marijuana gets a little humid around the edges after a few days: this is the internal moisture being drawn out. If this process doesn’t occur, it’s likely you’ve over-dried your bud during the initial drying process.
  • If you’re a home baker, then you may be familiar with the concept of “burping” your sourdough starter. Similarly, you’ll need to “burp” your jars in order to allow moisture to escape and replenish the oxygen. For the first few days, unlid the jars at least twice daily for a couple minutes, slowly decreasing to once a day, and eventually to every couple days after the first week. If you notice excess humidity or any moldy buds, remove the offending piece and transfer to a fresh, clean jar and restart the burping schedule from scratch.

How long does it take to cure cannabis?

Like with wine, more time = a finer product. After about two to four weeks stored in airtight containers, the cannabis will be sufficiently cured, AKA preserved and enhanced! However, you can continue to cure the cannabis, burping occasionally and checking for moisture and mold, for 6 months. 

How store cannabis once it’s dried and cured

Now that we’ve learned how to dry cannabis and covered the benefits of curing cannabis, let’s learn how to store it properly so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. Like wine, it’s best to store your dried and cured cannabis in a dark, dry place away from sunlight, moisture, and any dramatic climate changes. You don’t need to invest in a weed cellar; a place like a kitchen cupboard, dark closet, or other dry and dark space will do just fine. Be sure to store your product in containers with airtight seals. Once properly stowed, cannabis can last for up to two years while maintaining its quality and potency.

Remember, investing in proper drying and curing techniques will ensure you create the highest quality marijuana possible. From germination, to growing, to cultivating, to the final stage of drying and curing, growing your own marijuana is a fun, creative, and cost effective way to enjoy the benefits of the plant. Now that you’ve learned the basics of drying and curing cannabis, you’re ready to embark on your own home gardening adventure. Once you have the fundamental principles down, do more research on how advanced techniques (such as alternating temperatures and humidity a, etc) can enhance your final bud even further. Curing is an artistic, expressive process that rewards patience, diligence, and experimentation. Now go out there and have some fun!

Kelly LaRoche Written by: Kelly LaRoche

Kelly LaRoche is a writer, researcher, and cannabis enthusiast based in Ontario, Canada. Look to her well-researched articles for objective, accurate and informative cannabis and CBD information. With a background in music, she's also interested in the intersection of cannabis and the arts.

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