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How to Preserve the Fragrance of Cannabis

01 March 2023
The aroma of a beautiful cannabis bud is very tantalizing. So much that you want to preserve it forever. Indeed, there are ways to maintain the fragrance, and this article delves into a few methods.
01 March 2023
12 min read
How to Preserve the Fragrance of Cannabis

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  • 1. Use the best nutrients, supplements, and additives available
  • 2. Use a lighting system with strong uv-b capabilities
  • 3. Handle the trichomes carefully
  • 4. Curing
  • 5. Store the buds properly
  • 6. Pay attention to the humidity
  • 7. Make extracts or concentrates
  • 8. Choose strains that have powerful terpene profiles
  • 9. In conclusion

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 feminized seeds 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.

Before we get into how to preserve the aromas of weed, you need to properly understand exactly what contributes to this sensory experience in the first place. Cannabis plants produce over 500 compounds of interest, and these chemicals fall into several different large families. When it comes to taste and scent, terpenes reign supreme. There are over 30,000 of these molecules in nature, and over 150 of them occur in cannabis buds. As hydrocarbons, these molecules consisted of—you guessed it—hydrogen and carbon atoms. However, these molecules are highly volatile, meaning they quickly evaporate and degrade. This is why terpenes readily permeate the air and make any grow smell so strong. While they smell superb, this volatility means that they quickly degrade when exposed to certain environmental conditions. Both heat and light can quickly volatilize terpenes. Therefore, if you don’t keep your flowers stored properly after snipping and trimming them, you could find that their quality drastically reduces.

1. Use the Best Nutrients, Supplements, and Additives Available

It may sound obvious, but to get the absolute best out of your buds, you need to feed them with the best stuff available! Before you even think about a way to keep the buds smelling great after harvest, let’s get those aromas firing! Now, the nutrient, supplement, and additive market can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. There is just a ridiculous amount of options to choose from, so how do you pick from such a huge range of options? Well, you can always go down to your local hydroponic supply store. These guys are usually an overflowing fountain of knowledge when it comes to the products they stock.

You can also read all the blogs and reviews available. But really, it comes down to experience. Not every option will work amazingly with every strain, so if you’re new to the game, try a few different products with a couple of strains and see what works best for you.


How to preserve the fragrance of cannabis: use the best nutrients

Trichomes contain cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds.

To get the best terpene production, you do not want to overfeed your crop with nutrients during the flowering stage. As the plants switch away from veg growth into flower, the specific nutrient levels they desire change. They no longer need as much nitrogen and start looking for more potassium and phosphorus. If using synthetic nutrients, make sure you switch over from the veg to the bloom bottles and look for a specific supplement or additive with clear terpene boosting qualities. Many growers attest to the idea that the best tasting and smelling flowers come from organic cultivation methods. This is a contentious issue and is hotly debated.

One of the issues that are less frequent with organic cultivation is overfeeding in the flowering growth stage, which can affect the overall terpene profile and cause harsh flavors in the final product. But, as long as you are careful with nutrient amounts and give the crop a thorough final flush you should see great results.

2. Use a Lighting System with Strong UV-B Capabilities

Recent studies have found a direct correlation between UV-B and trichome production. Trichomes have evolved to protect the plant from harmful light that can burn the plant, and UV-B light promotions the explosion of trichomes, and with it extra terpenes (and cannabinoids). If you are unable to grow outdoors under the sun’s natural UV-B spectrum, try incorporating some LED or CMH/LEC lighting into your indoor operation. While HID lighting can produce amazing results all on its own, LED and CMH/LECs do a great job of providing that extra boost. For most indoor HID grows, there is the need for a hood over the lighting to reduce heat, but this hood (and its glass barrier) reduce the UV by a large percentage, so by adding other lighting options you can give your crop the best chance of not only maximizing the yield but also enhancing the terpenes to levels unseen before.

3. 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.


How to preserve the fragrance of cannabis: handle the trichomes carefully

Make sure to handle the trichomes carefully during the cultivation process and after.

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 millions 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. Trichomes are essentially the biofactories of cannabis plants that work hard to churn out the secondary metabolites that make the species so valuable. Us humans value both trichomes and their chemical products because they get us high and taste and smell so good. However, plants use them for much different means. 

They’re essential manufacturing hubs for defensive chemicals. Recent science has also shown that they harbor nitrogen-fixing bacteria and that the antioxidant properties keep these microbes safe from oxidation so that they continue to live and supply nitrogen to trichome cells. 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.

4. 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 you 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.

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How to Cure Buds

5. 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. 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…

6. 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 them 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.

7. Make extracts or concentrates

No matter how much you try to preserve the terpenes and trichomes, some of them will be lost while handling them. 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, 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.


How to preserve the fragrance of cannabis: extracts or concentrates

Making concentrates or extracts, especially with cannabis flowers is highly recommended.

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 which 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's 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.

8. Choose Strains That Have Powerful Terpene Profiles

If you have followed all of the tips laid out above, you should be well on your way to having some of the best smelling sticky icky ever! And, while most of the strains available today have interesting and varied terpene profiles, you can help your flavor and smell game by picking certain strains that match the terpene profile you are looking for.

  • Mimosa Cake Auto is one of our most popular strains for a couple of reasons. The remarkable terpene profile offers hints of citrus and flowers, backed up by a beautifully balanced earthy kick. It is a Sativa dominant beast, with a cerebral while relaxing high.
  • Strawberry Gorilla Auto comes from our range of Gorilla Glue offshoots, with a ridiculous +27% THC, and a terpene profile fit not just for a king, but a whole royal court! As the name suggests, Strawberry Gorilla Auto’s terpene profile is heavy on the berrylicious side, with hints of pine and a delicious sweetness to back it up.
  • Banana Purple Punch Auto is a true specimen to behold. With naturally occurring, bulbous purple colas and one of the most interesting terpene profiles, it’s no wonder that this is among our top 5 selling seeds. The fragrance is almost pure fruits, with hints of banana, strawberry, and citrus all rolled into one.

9. In Conclusion

Growing great cannabis isn’t child’s play. It takes time, effort, dedication, and a tiny bit of luck thrown in. But, if you can keep on top of a few small things, you should end up with a product that smells amazing. Then all that’s left to do is dry the buds correctly, and give them the time to cure. Remember, the longer you can let that curing process go on ( to about 6 months or so), the more complex the final terpene profile will be. So try and be as patient as possible, and trust us when we say the wait will definitely be worth it!