How to dry and cure cannabis
After cutting down marijuana plants at harvest, a proper dry and cure are crucial for buds. These processes help preserve and accentuate flavors by retaining terpenes and cannabinoids, while diminishing chlorophyll and getting rid of the vegetal taste of the plant.
The drying process is the initial drying of buds, which usually happens in the open air—freshly harvested plants can lose up to 75% of their weight to moisture loss, as well as sticks, stems, branches, and leaves that get trimmed off.
When dry trimming, drying happens first and then buds are trimmed; in wet trimming, vice versa.
A dry shouldn’t be too quick or too long: Too quick and the outside of buds will appear dry but the insides won’t be; too long and buds could develop mold.
When buds are trimmed and dried, they are placed in airtight containers for curing. This stops the loss of moisture, preserving flavors and aromas and allowing buds to take on their full flavor.
How long does it take to dry cannabis?
Drying takes about 2-7 days. The process is usually shorter when wet trimming because most of the plant material is trimmed away first and there is less plant to dry.
When dry trimming cannabis, you can hang harvested plants upside down on a line or hanger, either whole plants or branches—this prevents buds from getting flattened or misshapen as they dry.
When wet trimming, you’ll place trimmed buds on a drying rack.
Whether wet or dry trimming, check drying buds or branches after two days by bending a branch or stem—if the stem snaps, that means buds are fully dry. If they don’t snap, leave them and check the next day.
How to set up a cannabis drying room
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 the drying process.
Cannabis drying room equipment
- Drying rack or line to hang buds for drying
- Hygrometer to measure temperature and humidity
- AC unit (optional)
- Dehumidifier (optional)
How to dry buds without hanging on a line
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
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube.
When buds are done drying and have been trimmed, the initial amount of moisture is out and it’s time to cure your weed.
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 sensitive 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.
A proper cure also allows you to store weed for long periods without worrying about mold or cannabinoid or terpene degradation. Well-cured flower can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to two years without significant loss of potency.
Equipment and tools needed to cure cannabis
When curing cannabis, it should be done in a room or space that has a stable temperature and humidity—dank, wet basements or hot, muggy attics aren’t ideal. The space should maintain room temperature and not be too humid.
Light can also degrade terpenes, so it’s ideal to be able to turn off the lights in the space or be able to cover jars so light doesn’t leak in.
To cure buds, you will need:
- Airtight jars
- Hygrometer (for each jar) to measure temperature and humidity
Curing cannabis buds
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. Also, you don’t want your weed tasting like plastic.
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 parts. If this doesn’t happen, you have likely over-dried your cannabis.
Humidity inside sealed jars should be 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.
If buds are too dry, you can add a humidity pack, such as a Boveda pack, to rehydrate buds.
If buds are too wet, leave the lid off for half a day or a full day before resealing them. Be sure to check humidity levels every day and leave the lid off for a period of time if they still are too wet.
Burp your buds
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 releases moisture and replenishes 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, burp containers only once every few days.
How long does it take to cure cannabis?
After two to four weeks in containers, your cannabis should be cured enough to give you a flavorful, aromatic, and 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 cannabis buds
After curing cannabis, 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.
Here are some tips for storing buds:
- 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 a Boveda pack 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
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. Storing cannabis out of direct light will also help control temperature.
Will Hyde contributed to this article.
Read more of Leafly’s guide to growing marijuana
- How to grow weed: Basics of growing marijuana
- 4 stages of marijuana plant growth
- Marijuana plant anatomy
- How to grow weed indoors
- How to grow marijuana outdoors
- Cannabis seeds 101: How to grow marijuana from seed
- How to clone cannabis plants
- Marijuana seedling and plant care
- How to harvest marijuana plants
- Troubleshooting common cannabis plant problems
- Buyer’s guides for cannabis seeds and growing equipment
- How to grow marijuana using hydroponics, aeroponics, or aquaponics