Every stage of the marijuana plant’s life cycle is important. But the final stage — drying and curing weed — can literally make or break the entire process. It’s very much like spreading frosting on a cake. If you don’t do it right, you’ll ruin all your hard work.
As vital as drying and curing weed properly is to the success of your grow, few people know how to do it right. But the experts at Honest Marijuana have been growing, drying, and curing some of the best cannabis in the industry for many years now. We’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge in that time — what to do and what not to do — and we’re ready to pass it on to you.
Use this information to make your homegrown hash harvest the best it can be.
What’s The Difference Between Curing Weed And Drying Weed?
Many people use the terms drying and curing interchangeably, so there is some confusion as to what differentiates the two. Here’s what each term means as it applies to pot production.
Imagine one of your marijuana flowers as if it were your skin after a dip in the ocean. You’re going to dry your skin with a towel or let it dry in the sun. But that drying isn’t going to remove the moisture deep within your skin. It’s only going to get at the surface water.
The same concept is true for drying your pot buds. Drying weed removes moisture from the surface layers of your bud only. It doesn’t affect the interior of the flower. For that, you need curing.
On a technical level, curing weed is the manipulation of moisture deep within the cannabis flower in order to start, maintain, and control the chemical reaction of decomposition while keeping the bud from actually decaying.
The easiest way to understand curing weed is to think of it like aging wine. Allowing the wine to sit in a barrel or cask imparts flavor and smoothness that wouldn’t be there if you just drank it right away.
The same concept is true for curing your pot buds. Curing your weed allows the flower to develop a full spectrum of flavors and smells.
But curing weed isn’t just about how it tastes and how it smells. It’s also about the overall experience and how the marijuana affects your body and mind.
Why Is Curing Weed Important?
Curing weed does a number of vital things to the chemical makeup of the bud you smoke, vaporize, or turn into edibles.
The Flavors & Aromas
Chlorophyll is the lifeblood of the pot plant. It’s the chemical that makes your cannabis grow and thrive. But chlorophyll is also the chemical that makes your bud taste and smell like fresh cut grass.
Curing weed provides time for the chlorophyll at the heart of the marijuana to break down and leave the plant. This brings out the other unique, sometimes subtle, flavors of your cannabis strain.
Think about the minty aroma of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, or the fruity flavor of Fruity Pebbles. These novel flavors and aromas only come out after the chlorophyll is gone.
Curing weed reduces the harshness (from the chlorophyll) that’s common during the marijuana experience. Proper curing minimizes the “acidity” you feel in your throat during that first inhale. That leads to less hacking and a more enjoyable experience.
Curing weed improves the effects you feel and diminishes the likelihood that you’ll experience anxiety, paranoia, and racing thoughts after smoking a bowl or blunt.
Curing also gives the terpenes and cannabinoids time to fully develop. This actually improves the potency of your bud. So curing weed properly literally makes your ganja better. If you ask us, that’s worth waiting for.
Drying And Curing Weed Takes Time
A good point to remember about drying and curing weed is that all good things take time. You can’t rush through or force the process and expect to have a good batch of bud.
Drying your weed usually only takes a week to 10 days depending on the temperature, humidity, and air flow. Curing, on the other hand, can range anywhere from two to three weeks for a quality batch to four to eight weeks for an even better batch. Some strains even need six months to cure completely.
That’s a long time to wait for some weed, but the benefits will be well worth your time.
How To Dry And Cure Your Weed For Best Results
1) Harvest Your Weed And Trim The Leaves
The first step in the process is to harvest your marijuana plant at just the right time — not too early, and not too late. This helps to maximize the growth and development of the trichomes (the glands that produce THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, and all the other groovy cannabinoids).
Once you’ve cut down your pot plant, separate the buds from the main stem and trim off any leaves that protrude from the flowers.
This is an important step in drying and curing weed so we’ll take a bit of time to go into detail about how best to trim your cannabis flowers.
Trim All You Can Before Drying And Curing Weed
As we discussed in the previous section, curing weed correctly improves the flavors, aromas, experience, and effects of the finished product.
But the efficacy of the drying and curing process depends, in large part, on how thorough you are trimming the leaves after harvest.
Every part of the pot plant contains chlorophyll, but the leaves contain more than the buds.
Leftover chlorophyll is largely responsible for the harshness and hack-inducing feelings you get after a deep inhale from a bong or blunt.
The drying and curing process gets rid of the majority of the chlorophyll in the buds, but leftover leaves will still retain enough to make you cough like you’ve been pepper-sprayed.
Trim all you can before drying and curing weed. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pruning snips
- Pruning shears (yes, snips and shears are different)
- Disposable rubber gloves (thin latex medical gloves, not the thick dishwashing gloves)
- Three trays or cookie sheets (one for the cut branch, one for the trimmings, and one for your finished bud)
- Rubbing alcohol (for cleaning)
- Rag (for cleaning)
And here’s how to trim your bud right every time.
A. Find A Weed-Trimming Area
You’re going to need a lot of room, so clear off the kitchen table or set up a folding table in front of the TV.
Depending on how many pot plants you have, you’re going to be trimming for quite a while, so get a comfy chair or make a nest on the sofa.
We also recommend arranging for some type of entertainment because the trimming process can get extremely boring really quickly if you don’t have something to distract you once in a while.
We like sticking in one of our favorite stoner movies because we’ve seen them so often that we don’t have to pay complete attention to what’s going on.
If you’ve got all day, try binge-watching Survivor, Stranger Things (Netflix and chill), or some other intriguing show. Just try not to get distracted and forget to focus on the weed at hand.
B. Set Up Some Ventilation
Trimming weed will dank up the room you’re working in, so it’s a smart idea to crack a window, run an exhaust fan, or set up a carbon scrubber (a sploof for your whole house) to reduce the tell-tale marijuana smell that will surely get everywhere.
Of course, this is completely optional, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
C. Gloves For The Win
This step is also optional — but highly recommended. Trimming weed is a sticky job, and resin will get everywhere. If you don’t want to wash your hands every five minutes throughout the process, keep a box of disposable latex gloves nearby.
If you opt for the ungloved route, be sure to have plenty of rubbing alcohol on hand to cut the sticky icky off your digits. Trust us, soap and water don’t cut it.
One of the nice things about using gloves is that when they get too sticky to work with, you can trade them in for a fresh pair.
When you do, set the old pair in a bowl or at the corner of your tray. Then, when you’re finished trimming, see if you can extract any of the sticky icky off the surface of the gloves.
Why would you want to go to all that trouble? Because that stuff is basically hash and will make a nice addition to your next smoke sesh.
Try using your fingers to roll the resin off the gloves into little balls (this is the hand-rolling method that canna-enthusiasts have used for thousands of years to make hashish).
For more advice on how to make hash at home, check out this article from the HMJ blog: How To Make Hash: The Complete Guide.
D. Remove A Branch From The Plant
Remove a branch from your pot plant and lay it on one of the cookie trays. Some of the branches will be pretty thick so scissors won’t do.
We recommend buying a sturdy pair of pruning shears that you use exclusively for trimming weed.
Shears are made for cutting thick branches and stems and differ from snips which are made for cutting leaf stems and small-diameter plant matter.
E. Remove The Fan Leaves
You should be able to identify the fan leaves without too much difficulty — they look like every picture you’ve ever seen of a marijuana leaf.
If you’re still confused, keep this in mind: fan leaves grow out of the buds at the ends of the branches. The easiest way to remove the fan leaves is by hand.
Grip the fan leaf at the base of the stem near the branch, apply a bit of pressure, and the leaf should snap right off (latex gloves come in really handy here because your fingers are going to come in contact with a lot of sticky resin).
Don’t discard the fan leaves just yet — they’ve still got their uses. Just pile them on one of the empty cookie trays for now and we’ll get back to them later.
F. Snip The Sugar Leaves
After you remove the fan leaves, you’ll be able to see smaller leaves sticking out of the bud. Typically, just the tips of those leaves will emerge from the bud and you won’t be able to see (or get ahold of) the stems.
This is where your smaller pruning snips come into play.
With snips in hand, cut the sugar leaves so that they’re flush with the bud itself. Do your clipping over the cookie tray that’s already holding your fan leaves.
Remember, you can use all this plant matter later while you’re waiting for your harvest to be ready for consumption.
If your snips get too sticky to use while you’re trimming weed, scrape off as much of the resin as possible and save it for later. Then clean the blades with rubbing alcohol and a rag.
When you’re done trimming weed, the finished bud will look something like this:
Try not to cut the actual bud, but get rid of as many of the leaves as possible.
It’s all right if you leave some (especially on your first try), but any leaf matter left on the bud will make for harsher smoke when you decarboxylate.
Place the finished branch on the third cookie sheet, and go back to your plant (with shears in hand) for a new piece to trim.
Return to step one and repeat the process until you’ve removed all the branches from your pot plant and trimmed all the leaves from your buds.
H. Do Cool Things With The Leftovers
As we hinted at in step five, the stuff you cut off the plant in preparation for drying and curing weed is useful too. And most of it you can use right away while you wait for the newly-trimmed buds to cure.
Here’s what you can do with the “leftovers” of the marijuana plant.
- Stalks — Toss them in a wood chipper to make mulch for the next generation of cannabis plants.
- Fan leaves — Juice them or brew them as weed tea.
- Sugar leaves — Cook up a batch of cannabutter.
- Roots — Grind them up and brew them into tea or prepare as a topical cream.
- Stems — Take ten minutes and whip up a batch of cannabis stem tea.
Honestly, there’s so much you can do with almost every part of the cannabis plant that once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at the awesome things canna-enthusiasts have come up with (even smoking meat with the stems!).
Now that you’ve got your buds all trimmed, neat, and pretty, you’re ready to start actually drying and curing weed.
2) Hang Your Weed Up To Dry
Got an empty closet with a clothes rod? You’re ready to hang your weed up to dry. If you don’t have an empty closet, don’t worry. Even two hooks and some string will work.
It really doesn’t matter what you use to hang your weed as long as you control the environment around the buds.
The optimal drying environment for your marijuana is:
- 70 degrees Fahrenheit
- 50 percent humidity
Depending on where you live and the conditions in your grow area, you may need an air conditioner, an evaporative cooler, a dehumidifier, a humidifier, and/or a heater.
Adjust the environment to meet those conditions, and then leave your weed hanging for a week. You’ll know your pot is ready for the next step with the buds feel dry to the touch and the smaller stems snap instead of bend.
3) Transfer The Buds To Jars
The best storage containers for curing weed are wide-mouth canning jars (e.g., Mason, Ball, etc.). You will need lids for the curing process, so be sure you’ve got some on hand before you begin.
Loosely fill the jars about three-quarters full and screw on the lids. When you shake the jars, the buds should move around. If they don’t, you’ve packed it too tight.
4) Store The Jars In The Right Environment
Just as there were optimal conditions for drying your weed, there are also optimal conditions for curing weed.
The optimal curing environment for your marijuana is:
- 70 degrees Fahrenheit
- 60 to 65 percent humidity
It’s also vital that you keep the jars out of the sun. Even though it may be the right temperature and humidity in the room where you store the jars, if they’re in the sun, the heat can cause the temperature and humidity inside the jars to soar.
The best place to store your jars is in a cabinet, closet, or room without direct sunlight. If you use a cabinet or closet, make sure you optimize temperature and humidity inside those spaces.
So, for example, if you store your jars in a closet in your spare room, make sure that the closet — not just the room — is at the optimal temperature and humidity. The conditions inside an enclosed space can differ dramatically from the conditions on the other side of the door.
If you want to be really thorough, you can place a hygrometer in a few of the jars before sealing them up. The hygrometer shows you how humid it is inside the jar so you can get your conditions just right.
Once you’ve finished storing your jars in their place, you’ve technically started the curing process. Congratulations! But, wait, there’s more. Your work’s not done.
5) Open And Inspect The Jars At Least Once A Day
For the first few days curing weed, you may want to open and inspect your jars several times a day. This is especially useful if you’re worried that your bud may still be too moist (which can promote mold and bacteria growth).
If you feel good that your bud is plenty dry at the start of the curing process, stick to this schedule for seven days:
- Remove the lid of each jar and count to five.
- Replace the lid.
- Gently shake the jar to move the new air (and your buds) around.
Continue “burping” your jars once a day during the second week. If everything looks good after two weeks, start opening the jars just once a week for the next two weeks. That will take you through a complete month of curing.
After this first month, you only need to check (i.e., open and shake) your jars once a month for the remainder of the curing process.
Don’t Underestimate The Importance Of Curing Weed
As you can see from this article, the curing process is one of the most important parts of producing a quality pot plant. At the same time, it just may be the most overlooked and ignored step in the journey from soil to joint.
That’s a shame because curing weed can turn a decent bud into a truly righteous product. Thankfully, now you know why it’s essential and how to do it correctly. So get out there and make your homegrown marijuana the best it can be.
If you want the best cannabis experience without the worry of drying and curing your own weed, don’t settle for anything less than the all-natural, organically-grown strains from Honest Marijuana.
At our Rocky-Mountain-based grow facility, we employ world-class organic growing methodologies to provide cannabis connoisseurs with the purest marijuana experience on the planet.
We grow our plants the way Mother Nature intended: in organic soil without chemicals or pesticides. We even hand-trim our plants so that they’re organic from the ground up.
Not only does that make all your smoking, dabbing, and edible experiences infinitely better, but it also means that you don’t have to put your own time and effort into drying and curing weed — you can let the professionals do it for you.
Once the process is finished to perfection, we put the buds in resealable cans to preserve the freshness and effects longer.
We even take the extra step of preserving the flowers with nitrogen before sealing the containers. This preserves the cannabis longer and ensures that you see, smell, and taste everything exactly the same way we do at the growery.
Yes, drying and curing weed is a good skill to learn, but if you just want to relax and smoke a doobie, find some Honest Marijuana near you and roll one up. You won’t be sorry.
For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100-percent all-natural marijuana products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.