HOME GROW 15: HOW TO STORE CANNABIS MEDICINEJulie Fulton @ 2020-05-11 13:36:30 -0500
Home Grow chronicles Dianna’s personal journey as a medical cannabis patient who registered and was approved by the Canadian government to grow and store cannabis in her home. Dianna’s experience is one grower’s point of view. Her ideas are neither the best nor the only proven methods for growing medicinal grade cannabis.
Now that cannabis cultivator/Boveda blogger, Dianna Donnelly has harvested, dried and cured her first crop, she needs to store her cannabis to preserve its terpenes and potency. After investing time and money growing her own medicine, find out how Di’s preserving surplus cannabis and stopping terpene and moisture loss.
For me, smoking or vaping those first few buds of fresh-to-me cannabis is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you’re like me, you savor those moments because they’re so fleeting.
Most flower bought by consumers is unprotected against moisture loss.
WHAT’S UNPROTECTED CANNABIS?
Unprotected means that flower was neither stored nor packaged with humidity control. In unprotected flower, terpenes start to evaporate immediately—even when you store your medicine in jars or zip-locked bags.
WHY THE LAST BUD ISN’T AS GOOD AS THE FIRST BUD
The last few flowers in my commercially bought stash were never as good as the first, so I’d end up ingesting more medicine to do the trick. Those last buds would be devoid of that va-va-va voom I craved, that va-va-va-voom of freshness.
I want my last nug to be pungent and effective. And now that I’m growing my own medicine, I can make that happen. I preserve flower’s healing qualities, keep its water weight on and make my cannabis last longer in storage with Boveda.
WHY AIRTIGHT STORAGE IS NOT ENOUGH TO KEEP CANNABIS FRESH
I feel an ever-present kinship with my ancestors and their ways of preserving their bounties. My foremothers stored cheese, meat and herbal medicine in chambers or rooms specifically chosen for their airtightness. Often the vaults were subterranean or deep inside rock to provide stable humidity control to protect these valuables from moisture damage.
I cultivated my cannabis in my own apartment, which is neither subterranean nor embedded in a rock wall. (No cannabis bat cave for me, darn.) So I had to create that perfect storage environment for my dried flower.
I chose CVault® cannabis storage containers to cure and store several months’ worth of my medicine. Because a CVault is stainless steel, I didn’t have to worry about light damaging my cannabis while it matured. A silicone ring and a lid that locks created an airtight seal to guard against oxidation of my cannabis.
But even in this airtight, light-free environment, my flower was still at risk for molding and over drying. I needed to store cannabis with humidity control, like Boveda. Known in the growing industry as the original terpene shield, Boveda prevents terpenes and moisture from evaporating.
WHY I DON’T SKIP HUMIDITY CONTROL WHEN I STORE CANNABIS
Moisture problems are caused by wavering humidity levels often from indoor heating and cooling systems. What keeps me warm and cozy in the winter and cool and dry in the summer can quickly destroy my flower. Cannabis starts to degrade immediately if it isn’t protected by a terpene shield.
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YES, I CAN PROTECT TRICHOMES
To a cannabis alchemist like me, every part of a cannabis plant is useful—even its roots. The most compound-laden parts are the trichomes. Preserving trichomes preserves the efficacy and quality of herbal medicine.
Until very recently, I thought the trichome was coated in a thin cellulose “skin” filled with resin. Now I know that the head and the shaft of the trichome are two completely different structures.
And inside the trichome, there’s a whole lot going on!
Lining the circumference of the trichome shaft are resinous gland cells that secrete chemicals. A drinking straw-like botanical freeway is at the center of the shaft to drive secretions up to the bulbous trichome head. These secretions are the “precursor” cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, water and other plant compounds. Covering the exterior of the trichome is a protective waxy layer that shields the trichome from degradation and evaporation. This layer keeps that goldmine of chemical compounds safely inside.
HOW TO SAVE TERPENES AND THE REST OF THE GOLDMINE
Storage is one of the main functions of the trichome. When chock full of chemical compounds, the trichome is at its peak ripeness. At this stage in my home grow, my goal was to “stop time” to prevent degradation of all that’s packed inside the trichomes.
My worry was that any amount of moisture evaporation weakens the trichome’s structural integrity and the strength of its cell walls. As natural evaporation occurs—sometimes within hours—both the trichome shaft and the bulbous head can shrivel and break apart. Once the trichome degrades, the damage is permanent. And no amount of rehydration can bring back evaporated terpenes. So evaporation is my main stressor when it’s time to store my home grown medicine.
The humidity level in my apartment can swing from 15% to 40% during the winter months. Just as my indoor humidity levels can be wildly inconsistent, so can the humidity levels inside cannabis storage containers.
My goal is to maintain a relative humidity (RH) level inside my airtight cannabis storage container that isn’t so low that it causes moisture and terpene loss, but isn’t so high that you’ve created a breeding ground for mold.
WHAT’S THE RIGHT RH TO STORE CANNABIS POST CURE?
The easiest and most precise way to keep flower in an ideal RH range is with a saltwater-based solution like the one in Boveda.
Cultivators like me strive to store cannabis at a sweet-spot between 58 and 62% RH.
Natural salt acts as a regulator to sustain that perfect RH level, lessening my worries. If needed, pure water vapor is released to create a protective monolayer of water molecules that naturally coats each trichome. This terpene shield acts as one more protective layer on top of that waxy top hat each trichome head already wears.
I knew that including Boveda in each container allowed me to preserve my precious medicine post cure. I feel like I’ve stopped time in each cannabis container. Now my home-grown cannabis can continue to age and mature without degrading. And I don’t have to stress about my stored cannabis anymore
Home growers like me trade cannabis storage tips with each other. Some growers who use Boveda with every harvest post cure, say they have jars of bud that’s been perfectly preserved by Boveda for about three years! (Now when curing cannabis for that long, you have to replace your Boveda when it gets hard and crunchy—usually every four to six months. Add new Boveda, keep on aging.)
WHY I NO LONGER JUDGE AN UNGROUND BUD’S HEALTH BY ITS AROMA
Cannabis consumers are conditioned to judge bud by its bag appeal. Who doesn’t open a bag or jar and stick her nose inside to take in that earthy cannabis smell? Turns out, when dried cannabis has a strong pungent smell before the grind, it means terpenes are evaporating.
Like other people who’ve compared flower stored with and without a terpene shield, I found that medicine stored with Boveda will have a more subtle scent. And no, this doesn’t mean that the humidity packet is stealing terps. Boveda’s terpene shield is why flowers stop exuding a strong terpene scent, which is a good thing. (Flower, after all, only has so many terpenes to exude. And once terpenes are gone, they’re gone forever.) I protect my buds with Boveda, encouraging them to retain chemical compounds in their trichomes. Me, and my green goddesses, worked so hard to produce them, after all.
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HOW MUCH CANNABIS MEDICINE I HARVESTED
My first home grow yielded 186 grams of primo bud, excluding small buds and trim. In fact, higher quality medicine is one of the most important benefits of home growing if it’s legal where you live.
On top of the 186 grams, I was also awarded with two quart-sized mason jars of sugar leaf and valuable trim. Post cure, I stabilized the RH level inside the jars of trim with Boveda as well.
I’ve made several oils to fill gel caps or consume sublingually (held under the tongue for 60 seconds). I also occasionally use bud in food— but only in savory recipes. I find, I can always taste bud when I bake it into sweets. (So I use cannabis oil in sauces and gravies.)
WHY MY HARVEST WILL LAST EVEN LONGER WITH BOVEDA
My cannabis doctor “prescribed” 5 grams of cannabis per day. So those 186 grams will last me about two months. The added benefit of storing my medicine with Boveda is that my flower will hold its water weight. I won’t lose any biomass to evaporation. With some of the primo bud, smaller buds and trim, I also made enough oil to last up to four months.
- Each morning, I vape about one gram.
- Throughout the day, I’ll ingest two more grams via my homemade cannabis oil.
- At dinnertime or in the evening, I smoke joints that I’ve rolled with my premium medicine.
In the Canadian medical program, a patient can only buy one month’s cannabis at a time. So this was the first time I’ve ever had a surplus of medicine! The challenges of maintaining quality for an extended time for any extra medicinal cannabis were brand new.
Rationing my bounty while stashing it away in a perfectly stabilized environment created by Boveda gives me peace of mind and ample time to make plans post cure. My apartment is strewn with notes, recipes and new ingestion ideas. (Check out my cannabis jalapeños pictured below.)
HOW MUCH MONEY I SAVED GROWING MY OWN MEDICINAL CANNABIS
When I was buying from LPs, I expected to pay between $6 and $15 per gram for my medicine depending on supply and demand. I estimate that I can grow for around $1 (CD) per gram. Some outdoor legacy growers I know say they can grow for as little as 35 cents per gram. (I need a bigger apartment!)
So (drum roll, please…), the value of my first home grown harvest is between $1,116 and $2,790, plus 13% tax!
BOVEDA IS MY CO-PILOT WHILE I’M ON TO MY NEXT HARVEST
I used to believe that most of the medicinal value in cannabis was in its THC and CBD. Now I’m a firm believer of the “the entourage effect.” That means hundreds of cannabis compounds, including terpenes, work together to create the plant’s healing benefits.
As a home grower, I’ve experienced so many more terpenes, which I’ve found equally as medicinal as those famous cannabinoids. Using Boveda to keep those precious compounds stable and shielded from degradation is therapy in itself! With the help of Boveda technology, I single-handedly grew and preserved months of my own medicine, fueling my mental wellness.
As an intermediate level grower, it’s up to me to ensure that every aspect of my garden’s needs are considered and managed. For me, Boveda is like my co-pilot that keeps my dried flower fresh, so I don’t have to worry about my first harvest. Good thing Boveda works automatically, because I’m busy cultivating my next crop.
“Looking back, I think my dad, a legal cannabis patient who passed away amid my first harvest, would agree that I grew it well.”
Follow me on Instagram as @thecouchactivist to see pics of my evolving cannabis garden, including upcoming harvests.
FINAL YIELD REVEAL:
- Sweet Purple 73 grams >THC 12-16% & CBD <0.1% (night time use)
- Sensi Star 51 grams >THC 18-22% & CBD <0.1% (night time use)
- Durga Mata 2 CBD 62 grams > THC 5-9% & CBD 8 to 12% (daytime use)
HOW HOME GROWERS TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF CURING
The Boveda Home Grow Kit checks off all the must-dos to save terpenes and preserve the potency of your home grown medicine. Cure and store cannabis like the pros with Boveda, the original terpene shield. Includes Boveda, CVault and expert advice.
- Evaporation stopped
- Humidity regulated
- Terpene shield formed
Dianna Donnelly is a cannabis educator, blogger, and freelance writer living in Kingston, Ontario. She counsels new patients on the safe and effective use of medicinal cannabis and believes that with enough time, cannabis, and coconut oil she can heal the world.
Dianna Donnelly’s posts are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Boveda or any of the products, services or opinions of Dianna Donnelly. Boveda bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of this post or links to the posts. Contact Dianna Donnelly for answers to questions regarding her content.
Boveda. The Original Terpene Shield.