How to Preserve the Fragrance of Cannabis

How to Preserve the Fragrance of Cannabis

Created: 22.11.2018

Cannabis can make you forget your worries. It may also give you the feeling of your head parked firmly amidst passing clouds. Indeed, marijuana is famous for making users “high”, but it’s also popular for the fragrance it emanates. You don’t know what you’re missing until you run your hands on a bunch of buds that are oozing with resin. Seriously, a perfume that can beat the aroma of cannabis is yet to be invented.

If you’re lucky enough to grow weed at home, you know what I’m talking about. Sure, the buds found at a dispensary smell awesome too, but nothing can compare to the tantalizing scent of fresh cannabis. As the buds are cut and harvested, the natural process of degradation begins immediately, but you can still preserve the fragrance to a large extent. And, this article will explain how to do just that.

  • Handle the trichomes carefully

The flavor of a cannabis bud is determined by the terpenes. Terpenes are nothing but the essential oil molecules found in the plant. They are rich in fragrance and have many medicinal benefits. And, they are found in other plants and insects too. For instance, Limonene – the terpene found in citrus fruits – works as an antidepressant.

However, the one drawback of terpenes is that it’s volatile. They readily evaporate into the air. Now, what does that have to do with trichomes, you ask? Well, a lot, considering that trichomes contain a helluva lot of terpenes. Trichomes are the small hairs or bulbous little projections found in several plants. They secrete oils, and it’s safe to say that you’re saving terpenes when saving the trichomes.

The cannabis plant has the ability to preserve its terpenes, but it becomes your responsibility once you harvest the buds. This is key to understanding why cannabis buds last only for a short time. However, if you do a good job of preserving the terpenes by drying, curing and then storing them optimally, they last for a long, long time. In fact, the fragrance becomes more complex after storing them for a while.

The only problem is that apart from being volatile, terpenes have many other enemies including heat and time. They also disintegrate very quickly if you handle them roughly or agitate them. The trichomes have a waxy outer layer to protect the terpenes. As the plant matures, you’ll notice million of tiny hairs or trichomes forming on the surface of the leaves and buds.

The trichomes contain cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that form throughout the lifecycle of the plant. It’s the combination of these compounds that give the bud an incredible flavor. However, like terpenes, the trichomes are fragile too.

Therefore, it’s critical to handle them gently. Remember the time you crushed a sugar leaf or rubbed your hands on the trichomes of a fresh bud? Yep, that’s the fragrance of a destroyed terpene right there. Also, the trichomes and terpenes fail to develop if the plant is grown in harsh conditions with extreme heat or light, so it’s important to provide the best conditions for the plant to grow well.

  • Curing

Experienced growers will tell you the difference between well-cured and uncured marijuana. Yes, it’s tempting to smoke those juicy buds as soon as they are dry, but you’re doing more harm than good by skipping the process of curing.

Not only will your harm your lungs by smoking uncured cannabis because of all the plant matter (chlorophyll), but you’ll not receive the benefits of the plant either. It takes time for THCA to break down and form THC. The slower the buds are cured, the more the THC. It’s a chemical process that occurs gradually with time, which is why you should cure buds as much as you can.

If the buds are cured well, the flavors and terpenes actually become better over time. It’s not uncommon for growers to cure their buds for long periods of time, sometimes extending more than a year, but at least 6 weeks of curing will deliver good results.

Here are a few tips to cure cannabis properly:

  • Store the buds properly

After all that hard work that goes into growing and harvesting the plant, you throw the buds in plastic containers or bags to store them. Does it even make sense? It’s annoying, no, it is blasphemy! It’s like disrespecting the buds that have worked so hard to serve you. And the least you can do is store them well.

So, throw those plastic bags out and get yourself some glass jars. Not any jar will do. It needs to be air-tight with a good locking mechanism. Also, don’t dump all the buds into one glass jar. They will destroy the terps again. Instead, fill up the buds up to only half of the jar so the buds can breathe. If you have too many buds (how lucky can you be!) then get as many glass jars.

It’s stupid to worry about the cost of the jars when compared to how much you’re actually wasting. Smoking or consuming buds with no terpenes is a waste of time and energy. So, make sure you treat those buds well.

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Storing fresh buds in glass or any container will attract mold and other issues. That’s why it’s recommended that you let the buds breathe by opening the jars for at least an hour during the first three weeks of curing.

Obviously, they need to be dried before you can store them. Fresh buds contain a lot of moisture, because, well, they are still fresh. During curing, the moisture is removed slowly, and it also depends on the humidity, which brings us to the next point…

  • Pay attention to the humidity

Cannabis buds need to be stored in an area with very little airflow. This is done to preserve the fragrance of the flowers. The area should be dark and cool because warm environments with lots of light can degrade the trichomes. And that’s why the humidity matters. It’s crucial, in fact.

Humidity is important to keep the buds intact. The levels of humidity will determine how long the buds last. Even if you grow the plants well and harvest amazing buds, it doesn’t take a long time for it to degrade if the humidity fluctuates.

Also, it’s important to maintain an optimal level of humidity. For instance, too much humidity can make the buds wet and attract mold. On the other hand, too little humidity will dry the buds to such an extent that the smoke tastes downright awful. The trichomes degrade pretty quickly in dry areas, and no trichomes equate to no terpenes.

Since the buds are stored in jars, the room humidity doesn’t matter a great deal. But, the humidity inside the jar matters. So, how do you maintain the humidity inside? You use humidity regulators like Boveda or Integra to maintain a consistent 55 percent or 62 percent humidity inside the jar.

Not only will the buds be safe from mold and other problems, but the freshness and fragrance will also be preserved. It takes a lot of effort to grow top-quality buds, but if you mess up the curing process, all the hard work goes down the drain.

  • Make extracts or concentrates

No matter how much you try to preserve the terpenes and trichomes, some of it will be lost while handling it. You can be very careful, yet the trichomes are so fragile that they burst on contact. So, how do you ensure that you enjoy all the terpenes without having to worry about handling them? You make extracts.

One of the most effective methods to preserve all the goodness of the buds is to make concentrates from them. That’s perhaps why dabbing is so popular. By making extracts, you not only conserve all the terpenes, but the taste and the high are enhanced as well. Even the oils and waxes produced by the plant are intact during the extraction process.

In simple terms, the flavonoids, cannabinoids, terpenes, and trichomes are all safe while the plant matter is eliminated with no hassles. Basically, an extract is a concentrated form of all the medicinal benefits the plant has to offer.

Whether it is oil or Budder or Shatter or wax or Rosin, the flavor and the richness of the buds are preserved. Some methods involve heating the buds at very temperatures, but since the goal is to get the terpenes, such methods should be avoided. Instead, stick to making Rosin that requires the buds to be heated at lower temperatures.

Just ensure that you don’t burn the buds at extremely high temperatures while making the extracts because the terpenes will burn along with them. You can also make edibles like Cannabutter to get maximum terpenes.

However, the buds need to be decarboxylated before you make them. In layman terms, the process of decarboxylation is nothing but heating the buds at the right temperature to activate the THC. Keep in mind that CBD has a higher melting point than THC. So, to preserve both CBD and THC, make sure that you don’t go above 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 104 degrees Celsius.

Cannabis buds are flavorful and full of many benefits that can cure many illnesses. But, all that depends on how you grow and store them. They can be stored for a long time if cured and preserved properly, so follow all the processes carefully to enjoy those magnificent buds.