It is always a good feeling to ‘find’ cannabis nugs we had completely forgotten about. It saves you a few bucks and a trip to your nearest dispensary. However, is it safe to use weed you discover after a few weeks or months? The answer depends on how the marijuana was stored. If it has been left exposed to heat or sunlight, its THCA will be converted into CBNA, which is then converted to CBN when heated.
As a result, you won’t enjoy the same psychoactive high and may even feel a little dizzy or nauseous. On the other hand, cannabis with a lot of CBN is still potentially useful as a topical. If, on the other hand, your marijuana has been stored in an airtight container in a place shielded from sunlight it could be ‘good’ for up to two years according to most experts.
There are several popular methods of storing cannabis and vacuum sealing is the subject of much controversy. Some users claim it is a fantastic method of keeping bud fresh for a long time, while others suggest it will ruin your weed. What is the truth?
What is Vacuum Sealing?
It is a method of packaging popular in the food industry and involves removing air from the package before you seal it. You can place the items in a plastic film package to remove air from the outside, and shrink film can be used in a pinch. The goal is to remove oxygen from the container to extend the shelf life of products.
It makes perfect sense to vacuum seal marijuana because the process reduces atmospheric oxygen and also prevents the evaporation of volatile compounds. Moreover, vacuum sealing also inhibits the growth of bacteria that would otherwise ruin your marijuana. Once you place your vacuum sealed weed in storage away from sunlight, it should theoretically be usable for years.
There are a variety of machines on the market that do the hard work for you. It is also possible to create your own vacuum sealed product using a Ziploc bag and water. Place the item in the bag and seal it but leave an inch of the seal open. Lower the bag into a tub of water, and be amazed as water pressure pushes the remaining air out of the bag. Seal off the opening before the bag becomes submerged and pull the bag out of the tub.
Is it a Good Idea to Vacuum Seal Cannabis?
On the face of it, there is no reason NOT to vacuum seal cannabis. The main thing is to ensure that the material you use does not contain harmful chemicals. For example, some plastics contain BPA (bisphenol A) which is an industrial chemical that seeps into the material and can imitate the body’s hormones and hurt several bodily functions.
It is better to vacuum seal marijuana than keep it in plastic baggies. These containers do little to prevent air, light, heat, cold or moisture from coming out of the herb. Even sealable baggies are not effective storage options in the long-term. Perhaps the biggest issue with vacuum sealing is the use of plastic. Plastic has a static charge that pulls trichomes from your plant matter onto the material.
It is common for marijuana users to vacuum seal their weed and then freeze it. The process of vacuum sealing eliminates issues with moisture, but you could end up crushing your buds. Freezing can also cause the trichomes to become brittle and break off when handled. Therefore, if you elect to freeze your weed, you have to be incredibly careful when taking it out.
There are usually two types of vacuum seal bags people use. The first option is a food-preserving bag which could allow you to seal up to 1,000 grams of weed depending on the size of the bag. These containers remove all of the air, a huge factor in reducing the risk of mold. The process of compression may reduce the quality of the bud, but at least you keep the aroma and flavor intact. When properly cured, dried, and vacuum sealed, marijuana could last for several years.
The second type of vacuum seal bag is the type that stores clothes. A vacuum cleaner is used to extract the air, and these thick bags have a zip seal that is airtight. You attach the vacuum cleaner to the bag’s nozzle to suck out the air and keep the buds nice and fresh. These bags are the right choice for those who grow marijuana on an industrial scale.
Storing Marijuana – Best Practices
No matter how you store your weed, keep the following factors in mind because they dictate how fresh your cannabis remains.
This process involves heating raw cannabis to activate its cannabinoids. It automatically happens when you smoke a joint or vaporize the herb. If you need to make edibles, you have to place the raw cannabis in the oven to ‘decarb’ it. When your weed is exposed to sunlight, its psychoactive THC degrades into CBN. The result is marijuana that provides a more sedative high.
The temperature your weed is exposed to makes a BIG difference to its quality. It is important to note that common molds and mildew thrive in temperatures of between 77- and 86-degrees Fahrenheit on weed and other organic matter. If you store your cannabis at a temperature higher than 86 degrees, you will dry out the terpenes and cannabinoids.
Terpene molecules vary in size with the smaller ones evaporating at temperatures in the high 60s Fahrenheit. On the other hand, excessively low temperatures could damage your trichomes and slow down the decarboxylating process where THCA is turned into THC. While you could store your marijuana at a temperature of between 32 and 68 degrees, in theory, it is best to keep it between 60 and 65 degrees in practice if at all possible.
This is one of the single most important storage considerations. If the humidity is too high, there is an increased chance of mold growth. If it is too low, the trichomes can break off, and the essential oils dry out. Ideally, your weed will be stored at a relative humidity (RH) of between 59% and 64%, with 62% often classified as the ‘sweet spot.’
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your buds and interfere with how marijuana affects you. Research has revealed that light exposure is the biggest factor in cannabinoids’ long-term stability rate. The study was admittedly conducted in the 1970s but looked at nine samples of weed left out in different conditions for two years. It found that weed retained its best condition in well-closed containers that were well-filled and left in a dark place at room temperature.
How Should I Store My Marijuana?
In the good old days, it was common to store weed in a ceramic pot or a tin can. Vacuum sealing works just fine as long as the material used does not contain any harmful chemicals. Avoid plastic if possible because it can damage the trichomes. When performed correctly, vacuum sealing prevents airborne damage of your nugs, removes oxygen from the equation and can also stop over-exposure to humidity.
You could vacuum seal individual doses and place them in an airtight glass jar. Perhaps the best method of storing weed IS the glass mason jar. It doesn’t allow oxygen in when tightly sealed, is not impacted by residual humidity and prevents your weed from being damaged due to temperature fluctuations. Glass is a great storage material because it doesn’t secrete any unwanted chemical compounds that could interfere with the aroma and flavor of the weed.
If you can, purchase a dark, tinted, or opaque jar to stop sunlight from causing damage to the cannabis. If you can’t find a glass mason jar for some reason, an airtight titanium container is another solid choice. No matter what option you choose, make sure the container is stored in a cool, dry, dark place which could be a cupboard or a drawer in your home; and keep it out of reach of children!
Final Thoughts on Storing Marijuana
In answer to the title question: It is NOT necessarily bad to vacuum seal weed. It keeps your cannabis fresh for years, but it is important not to use plastic if at all possible. Here is an overview of good and bad storage practices:
Good Storage Practices
- Relative Humidity (RH) of between 59% and 64%.
- Air temperature of between 60- and 65-degrees Fahrenheit.
- Vacuum sealing if plastic is not the material used.
- The use of a hygrometer or an alternative product to monitor RH levels.
- Keeping marijuana strains separated to ensure they retain their flavor profiles.
- Keeping your weed away from direct sunlight.
- Ensuring it is stored in an airtight container such as a glass mason jar or a titanium jar.
Bad Storage Practices
- Storing in a refrigerator because of the temperature fluctuations. Storage at very low temperatures slows down the decarb process.
- Storing in a freezer because it causes trichomes to become brittle and fall off if you don’t handle with extreme caution.
- Placing your weed in a plastic container because its static charge attracts the THC-laden trichomes.
- Storing it at a humidity level of over 64% as it increases the risk of mold.
- Allowing it to be exposed to sunlight as the UV rays reduce the potency of your herb.
- Storing near any appliance that gives off heat or electronics because heat rises.
- Any storage method that exposes your weed to oxygen will damage it severely.