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Your Ultimate Guide for Properly Drying Cannabis (and Curing it, too!)

By December 10, 2017 No Comments

You’ve figured out how to grow your own marijuana plants, followed some best practices, and now it’s time to harvest. You roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath… and realize you’re not totally sure what to do. Do you just pick the a bud off and pop it into your favorite bowl? While that may be tempting, you’ll need to invest a little more effort and dry your buds before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Drying cannabis is an integral step in the harvesting process and is the first stage of the curing process. After you’ve harvested your bud, drying it out helps it to smell better, reduces harshness when you smoke it, brings out its best flavor, and enhances the potency of the strain’s effects.

Drying Cannabis – What do I need?

First and foremost, you will need to establish the proper conditions to dry your bud. The three most important environmental conditions are darkness, moderate temperature (65°F – 75°F, 18°C – 24°C), and low humidity (45% – 55%). Sunlight during the drying process can reduce the THC levels of the bud and increase chlorophyll levels and therefore the bud’s harshness, which is why it is very important to keep your drying buds in a dark environment. In addition, cooler temperatures and high humidity can slow the drying process and increase the risk of mold on your bud, while higher temperatures and low humidity can accelerate the drying process to the point where the bud dries too quickly, leaving the final product tasting bitter.

Due to these specific needs for proper environmental conditions, a closet is ideal for drying marijuana. If you do not have a closet available to you, try using a large wooden or cardboard box. Be sure to cut out holes in the sides, allowing for air circulation.

Keep in mind that light, heat, and over-handling during the drying process can lead to less favorable, less potent bud. Patience is key in the drying process – using a dehydrator, stove, microwave, or dry ice will leave your weed tasting terrible, smelling even worse, and comes with stronger side effects of paranoia or migraines.

Line-drying cannabis in 4 steps

If you decide to approach drying cannabis by hanging it, you will first need a line that can support your buds’ weight. A safe bet is to use fishing line, clothes line, or another sturdy hanging line that spans the drying environment. While drying, it is important that your plants are not touching anything, including each other and the walls of the drying environment, due to the resin that excretes from the drying plants.

Now that you’ve set up your line-drying environment, it’s time to harvest the bud and dry it. Let’s get started!

1. Harvest your marijuana

There are two popular ways to harvest your marijuana for line-drying. You can cut the entire plant at the base and leave all of the branches intact, or cut off individual branches for more separated hanging. This is usually based on preference, so the choice is entirely yours.

2. Trim and manicure your bud branches

Wearing gloves can help avoid the stickiness of the resin on the plant. Trim away any large fan leaves that are growing from the branch. You can stop there, but many harvesters prefer to trim away the small leaves that grow from the buds as well. Removing these leaves makes for a smoother, less harsh smoking experience (and makes your bud look much cleaner). If you live in a more humid area, remove as many of the leaves as possible to prevent mold and speed up the drying process. If the humidity is low, consider leaving more leaves intact to help slow the drying process.

Note: Save your dried trimmings to make cannabis extracts or marijuana butter!

3. Hang them out to dry

With a clothespin, attach your bud branches by the stem to the line in your drying environment so they look like they are hanging upside-down. Make sure the branches or buds are not touching anything other than the line. You may wish to use an oscillating fan to ensure air circulation, but be sure not to point the fan directly at the drying buds, as this will dry them out too quickly.

4. Dry for 3-9 days

Leave your branches hanging for as long as it takes for them to dry (normally 3-9 days). Be sure to check on them every day for signs of mold or over-drying (brittleness). It’s a good idea to rotate the branches (handling them by the stems only) to make sure they dry evenly. Once the outsides of the buds are dry to the touch, the larger stems bend (but don’t snap), and the smaller stems snap off without leaving any sort of stringy trail, your buds are ready for the curing process!

Rack- or screen-drying cannabis in 3 steps

If you live in high humidity conditions where mold is common, have exceptionally large buds, or have a large amount of marijuana that needs to be dried in a small space, you may want to choose to dry your buds using a drying rack or screen (a clean window or door screen will do). It is important to note that in normal humidity conditions, a drying rack can easily dry out your buds too quickly.

1. Harvest your marijuana

Cut off individual buds from your marijuana plant. There should be no leaves on the buds and little to no stem. Remember, the more stem you leave on each bud, the longer it will take to dry.

Note: Save your dried trimmings to make cannabis extracts or marijuana butter!

2. Lay them out to dry

Lay your buds out on a drying rack or screen inside your darkened drying environment. Try to avoid touching any of the buds to one another or to the sides of the rack. You may wish to use an oscillating fan to ensure air circulation for rack drying as well, but as with line drying, be sure not to point the fan directly at the drying buds.

3. Dry for several days

Leave your buds out on the rack or screen for as long as it takes for them to feel dry to the touch. Be sure to check on them every day for signs of mold or over-drying (brittleness). You may wish to carefully rotate the buds to make sure they dry evenly. Once the outsides of the buds are dry to the touch, they are ready for the curing process!

Ready, set, cure!

It’s time to put your dried bud into jars for storage during the curing process. When beginning the curing process, ensure that the relative humidity of the room falls somewhere between 60% – 70%, with a temperature of around 70°F (21°C). If the humidity is too low, you will notice that your buds crumble or appear dusty in your hand.

 

Fill a 1 quart wide-mouth mason jar ¾ of the way full of bud, allowing for air at the top of the jar. Give the jar a shake – if the buds stick to one another, or if they do not feel completely dry to the touch as you are putting them in the jar, they are too damp and need to be dried further or else mold can form. Keep the curing buds in a cool, dark place.

 

Over the first week or so, open your jars a few times a day to shake up the buds, check the moisture levels, and allow fresh air to circulate. If your buds feel wet, remove them from the jar and dry them for an additional 12-24 hours. If moist, simply remove the lid of the jar and allow the air to dry them for 2-4 hours. Once the buds are dry to the touch, replace them in the curing jar and fasten the lid.

 

For the first 2-3 weeks of the curing process, it is important to continue opening the jars at least once per day to air out the buds inside. Around the fourth week of curing, you will notice that your buds weigh roughly 75% less than they did when you began the drying process. Congratulations, they are ready to be smoked or stored!

Enjoy your harvest!

If you choose to store your buds, just keep them in the same curing jars in a cool, dark environment and make sure to open the lids at least once per month. Your buds will continue to cure for up to six months, which means they will continue to improve in quality. So go ahead and grind up one of your freshly-cured buds. You’ve certainly earned this relaxing reward after the time you spent growing and drying your cannabis!

Pro Tip: Using Integra Boost can help keep your bud fresh for longer!

Note: it is illegal to sell marijuana if you are not a licensed grower or dispensary, even in states where medical and/or recreation marijuana are legal to purchase.