How to preserve the smell of your cannabis

Published Jan 29, 2019 02:54 p.m. ET

 Cannabis’ has an earthy, intoxicating aroma. Here’s how you can preserve that fresh smell. First off, although convenient, the plastic lunch bag you may have received your weed in is not conducive to preserving the aroma; this method will deteriorate the aroma of your cannabis. Proper storing of your marijuana is paramount to preserving the aroma.  Some may find that immediately after drying your weed the aroma has ceased.  Given 2 to 3 weeks of proper storage, the smell will return.

Since aromas are determined by the terpene or fragrant oils it is interesting to note that these oils are secreted in the flowers sticky resin glands; these same glands produce THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

Here are some of the most common terpenes in cannabis are:

Humulene - known for its earthy woody aroma

Limonene -- citrus aroma

Linalool -- floral aroma

Myrcene -- spicy balsamic flavor and aroma

Pinene -- pine aroma

So how do we protect our terpenes? The natural botanical process of decomposition called decarboxylation is prevented when your cannabis is stored correctly. Thereby enhancing and maintaining the aroma. Storing in glass is a good idea, for example, mason jars are a great container.  Storing correctly with help maintain your aromas.  You need to store your aromatic cannabis so there is minimal oxygen interaction and low light, doing this will keep your senses perked.

Also when you think of preserving the aroma, many factors are involved in the growing and harvesting process that will contribute in one way or another. If you are a DIY person, there are several things to take into consideration during the production stages such as flushing, harvesting, drying, and curing.

These are all equally important steps to consider for the success of the final product. Cannabis does need a bit of tender loving care to become a compound that is medicinally and therapeutically beneficial. It is not quite as easy as growing house plants and does require careful observation. It also requires learning the signs to watch out for and study of requirements for each stage in the process.

Flushing is a process by which you stop the application of nutrients and just giving the plants water instead. You should fully saturate and repeat about 15 minutes later, doing this too soon or too late could result in a lower quality product. Different strains and different growing mediums will require other flushing time frames. For soil, it is two weeks, Rockwool and Coco, and Hydroponics require just one week. Do not flush if using amended organic soil. Flushing should be done just before harvesting. For ten days if using a hydroponic setup and fourteen days if using soil.

When your crop is ready to harvest, you should know by the appearance of trichomes. Those lovely little bulbous hairs that grow and produce the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Coloration remains the standard for deciding when it is time to harvest most strains. When the trichomes begin to emerge and start to turn milky, it is time to start harvesting.

Drying is the next step, and the herb should be kept at a temperature of 60-70 degrees F. The humidity should be maintained around 45-55%. A fan to keep air circulating is helpful. This is the stage where your herb does the conversion to THC. It usually takes anywhere from 5-15 days. Most people hang their plants with strings from the stalk upside down in a dark room. Remove any unwanted leaves, trim now or after drying, it is entirely up to you. Test the dryness by bending the stems, if they snap their dry if they bend they need more drying time.  Finally, the last step is curing. This involves storing the buds in airtight containers after you have trimmed the stock and leaves. Plastic bags are not suitable because they are not immune to oxygen. They degrade overtime as they come in contact with the terpenes in cannabis.

You must seal and isolate the buds in a damp, dark environment for the drying process. On the very first day, you’ll able to observe the buds re-hydrate somewhat as moisture forms on the flowers and blankets the outer portion. If this doesn’t happen, your plants have been over dried. The initial week of curing requires that you burp your containers every day for a few minutes. Just open and let air in and moisture out which helps to replenish the oxygen. If at this point you smell ammonia, sadly the buds weren’t dry enough to cure and can lead to a moldy and ruined crop.

There is a lot of time and effort that must go into preserving the aroma of your cannabis. You need to consider the heat, light, time and agitation. Touching the plants too much could destroy your finished product. The most effective way to preserve the aroma is through producing extracts or concentrates. The concentrate enhances cannabinoid purity can allow for a more tailored cannabinoid profile. It is easily consumed, and the effects are stronger and longer lasting. So, while it may be a bit of work, it is absolutely worth it in the end.

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