To preserve the aroma of your cannabis, you have to save the trichomes. And by save the trichomes, we mean save your terpenes. Terpenes are what give the cannabis plant its distinctive aroma, and they have many enemies in the world that can destroy them, leaving your buds smelling and tasting dull.
After harvesting your cannabis plants, these volatile compounds begin to degrade, but there are several steps and tips you can follow to avoid this process—or at least delay it. If you get this right, your cannabis buds will actually have a long shelf life, will smell and taste better, and will even have a more potent effect.
Some of these tips even begin while you are still growing your cannabis, but most of them apply to the phases after harvest—and some actually apply to how you use your buds once they are completely cured.
Let’s delve into these helpful tips!
AVOID TOO MUCH CONTACT WITH THE TRICHOMES
This tip applies to all phases of your cannabis grow; from the growing process and the trimming to the drying and curing. If you constantly touch your plant’s sugar leaves and buds while it’s growing, you will already have lost many trichomes during the process. Your fingers will smell great, but that’s because you’re destroying the trichomes that protect the terpenes.
Avoid too much agitation while trimming as well. Of course, you have to hold something in order to manicure your buds perfectly, but just be gentle with them. The same principle applies to the drying and curing process. Don’t shake the buds in the jars or touch them the whole time as this will only cause the trichomes to fall off, leaving you with a diminished end product.
Before you can harvest, you need to flush your cannabis properly to remove any excess nutrients that have built up during the growing process. This will result in a smoother smoke that burns evenly and tastes better, because the aroma and flavour can cut through more. You can recognise a good flush by the colour of the ash. Light grey or white ash indicates a thorough flushing. Black ash signals otherwise.
The right moment to begin the flush depends on your growing style. If you grow in soil, it is recommended to flush your plants with pure water 2 weeks prior to harvest time. If you grow in a hydroponic setup, you should flush your plants 10 days before harvest. Only with an organic, soil-based growing style do you not have to flush your plants for long. But you must still give them pure water for at least a week prior to the chop.
When your cannabis is ready for harvesting, you have to choose whether you want to “wet” or “dry” trim. Wet trimming means you trim your cannabis plant stalk by stalk directly after harvest and hang them upside down for the drying process. Dry trimming involves hanging the whole plant in the drying room after harvest, then trimming it when it’s dry.
If you want to preserve as many terpenes as possible, you should opt for the wet trimming method. This way, you will save the most trichomes. When you dry trim, chances are you will lose a lot of trichomes because they tend to fall off a lot easier. Plus, you have to really handle the buds to trim them properly.
This step is crucial for getting supreme buds at the end of the process. After you have trimmed your cannabis, it needs to dry to get rid of the moisture in the buds. This will not only prevent trouble with mould and mildew, but will also lead to exceptional aroma and flavour. Light and moisture are the two main enemies here, so dry your cannabis in a cool and dark place that has a temperature of 15–22°C and a humidity level of around 50%. If the temperature is too high (above 26°C), your terpenes will begin to evaporate, which you want to avoid at all costs. This can happen if you dry in hot summer conditions.
How long you have to dry your cannabis for depends on your drying environment. Most growers dry their cannabis for 3–7 days, but there are some that even go 14 days. You will know when buds are ready to be put in jars via the snap test. Regularly check your cannabis stems or twigs. If they snap easily, they are dry enough to proceed with the next step. If they bend, it means they still have too much moisture in them. For more information about drying, check out our comprehensive article on the subject.
Some growers will say that the product is already finished at this stage, but for the best possible aroma, you should definitely go the long way and cure your cannabis properly. This will give it the finishing touch, refining it so that you end up smoking some delicious-smelling and tasting weed.
Moreover, this process will increase the overall potency and cannabinoid effectiveness of your buds. So, don’t skip it! To cure your cannabis, loosely add your buds to wide-mouth mason jars with an airtight seal. If you grow different strains, don’t just put them all together in one jar; separate them to get the most out of each cultivar. Avoid using plastic bags for the curing process. They increase the risk of mould and mildew, and furthermore you don’t want your precious buds to make contact with harmful microplastic particles. What’s more, the buds are mangled together in these bags because of their shape, which will ultimately result in the loss of many trichomes and terpenes.
The temperature in your jars should be approximately 21°C, with the humidity around 60%. There exist several means on the market to ensure these conditions are consistently met, such as humidity packs. For the first two weeks, open or “burp” the jars once or twice a day to exchange air and inspect your buds. You should notice how the smell of your buds enhances over time. After two weeks, your buds should be dry to the point where you can leave them in the jars without opening them all the time. But the curing process still continues. Most growers say cannabis is properly cured after 4 weeks. But some even cure for several months.
USE A GRINDER
Even after you have successfully dried and cured your cannabis, there are still some things to consider when preparing and using your buds to achieve the best aroma and smoking experience. Using a grinder will unlock the pleasant aroma of your tight and dense nuggets. Don’t break your buds apart with your fingers like a Neanderthal. This will only make your fingers sticky from all the resin you now have on your hands instead of in your bowl or joint.
Most stoners use normal lighters because they are convenient and easy to come by. But these lighters use butane for their flame. Butane is not only unhealthy, it masks the terpene profile of your smoke. Trust us, you don’t want that! There are several alternatives to lighters. You could use hemp wick or a plasma lighter for a natural taste and less harmful smoke.
For maximum aroma and taste, you should always make sure that you use clean smoking accessories. What we mean is that you should clean your pipes and bongs regularly. Why? Because nothing ruins the aroma of a perfectly dried and cured bud so effectively as a nasty, foul-smelling smoking device. And always go for glass gadgets, for other materials will kill your experience with their unpleasant taste.
If you prefer smoking joints, be sure to select rolling papers made from natural materials and produced without any chemicals or additives. Don’t ruin your aroma and taste with rolling papers that are full of chlorine and taste like newsprint. Unrefined options don’t alter the aroma of your joint. Companies like RAW, Smoking, and others offer several options for you that are thin, natural, unrefined, and even vegan. Some options actually make use of hemp instead of normal paper.