A Pocket Guide to Storing Your Cannabis Products

by Chase Newman

There’s no worse feeling than opening up all the goodies in your stash, ready and prepared for an elating high, only to find the weed moldy, the edibles expired, or the shatter sugared.  

Let’s face it-- no one should have to deal with consuming a stale edible or gross, crumbly bud. Without proper storage of cannabis products, you’re likely to ruin the effects and possibly put your health at risk. Thankfully, this handy guide is here to assist you in saving your products so their effects can last longer and keep you satisfied.  

Does weed have an expiration date?

Yes. Some products, such as edibles, place the date on the packaging itself. Flower, which doesn’t have an expiration date when sold, can still go bad and be prone to mold and deterioration. Moldy weed, when inhaled, can damage lungs and cause infection. Likewise, an edible is still composed of a large amount of food product, which means disregarding the “Best by” dates on the packaging can ruin the taste and potency, and possibly cause foodborne illness.

Other factors, such as exposure to air and light, can mitigate the effects of the high as well. Yes, storing your stash correctly is key when it comes to getting your money’s worth from your weed.

Storing Flower

Fresh flower is generally soft, squishy and moisture-filled. This is in part due to the presence of the moist, oily cannabinoids that give the bud its potency. These cannabinoids can dry out over time due to exposure to a myriad of factors, including sunlight, air, and excessive heat.

The best way to store flower is by keeping it locked in an airtight, sealed jar. A mason jar is a simple and easy option for a container. From there, make sure it’s stored somewhere with little exposure to air, heat or light, and make sure to maintain a warm room temperature. The recommended temperature for storage is between 77 and 86 degrees F. A cabinet or drawer that invites minimal light when opened can also do the trick.

It should also be noted that there are several improper ways to store flower. Humidors, for example, can oversaturate the cannabis due to the humidity. They can also alter the flavor, so put the cigars back in the humidor and take the bud out.

Plastic containers are also a no-go. Plastic is prone to producing static electricity, which can attract and remove the trichomes, aka the fine hairs on the flower.

Storing Edibles

As stated earlier, the most important thing to look at first and foremost when consuming edibles is the “best by” date. Regardless of how well kept your edibles are, the quality will reduce over time, and the date on the package can be useful in determining how much time remains before the gravy train leaves the station.

Like flower, the cannabinoids found in edibles are also susceptible to a decrease in quality when exposed to air, light, heat, and other extreme conditions. For edibles that are baked goods, such as cookies and brownies, storing in the fridge is a great way to keep the edible moist, tasty and potent.

Storing Shatter

While shatter can be one of the most fun products to use, it can lose a lot of its punch if not stored properly. Contrary to the popular belief that concentrates are timeless, cannabis oil can start to develop waxes and lipids within the shatter itself when exposed to primarily air, but also heat and light.

This all occurs during a process called nucleation. The wax and lipids that form within shatter can drastically alter the potency of the concentrate, as well as make the smoke harsher on inhale, and ruin the flavor profile from the terpenes within.

To properly store shatter, make sure to keep it wrapped around parchment paper and secure it in an airtight glass jar. Keeping it in a refrigerator should preserve it at an ideal temperature for long-term storage and use.

Storing Cartridges

It may seem, at first glance, that cartridges are immune to the elements due to their pre-packaged and highly contained nature. However, cartridges, like any other product, can be subject to deterioration over time. Exposure to light can alter the color of the oil within, and turn it darker. This darker color is usually the product of oxidization that can take place within the cartridge when exposed to unnecessary light. This alters the potency and the flavor of the oil.

For storing cartridges, it’s best to keep these in a dry, dark place—a desk drawer is a perfect example. It’s also important to note that keeping a cartridge stored upright can help prevent the potential of oil leaking. It’s important to keep them away from heat, as higher temperatures can cause the potency and flavor to decrease. Room temperature should do the trick.

Storing Tinctures

Tinctures, if well-made, have the longest shelf-life of all the items on the list. That said, it also takes careful and considerate storage to keep this product long-lasting.

Tinctures are best stored in a dark amber bottle in order to reduce the effects of sunlight. Yes, even tinctures can lose some of their potency and staying power when exposed to sunlight. Storing them in a cold place, such as a refrigerator, will preserve tinctures better than, say, a cupboard drawer.

Some of the longevity has to do with how the tincture itself was produced. Pure MCT oil will generally last much longer than those produced with a chemical known as glycerin, which will degrade much quicker in comparison.

Storing Topicals and Balms

For those who prefer the soothing benefits of THC and CBD without the intense high, topicals and balms are a wonderful entry point. These products are often sold bottled, and are mixed with essential oils therefore help enhance the effect of the balm.

It’s important to store your balms at room temperature and to keep the container closed when not in use. Because terpenes can be found in the balm, light exposure and air can cause degradation. This leads to a less potent and fresh-smelling concoction and lackluster results.

To ensure the best cannabis experience possible, it’s always important to be mindful of how cannabis products are stored and kept. By minimizing exposure to the elements and being considerate of the information on the labels, it should be a cinch to keep your products fresh, potent and, ultimately, enjoyable.