Drying cannabis is easy, it just takes space and time. The drying process should take 3–14 days, depending on relative humidity and temperature.
Right after you harvest, the plant matter will still be full of chlorophyll. The goal is to get as much chlorophyll as possible to be changed into glucose, to make those buds sugary and easier on the throat. Before the drying, it will taste unsavory and bitter, and it will definitely not be ready for consumption. The process only takes a few days of drying, but it is absolutely vital that you do it right.
Make sure to put as much effort into drying and curing as you did to growing your cannabis plants. This will have a major role in what your buds taste and smell like. Cutting short on this will cost you all the effort thus far.
There are different ways to cut your plants depending on your preference:
- Cutting the plant down at the base and hanging the whole plant upside down to dry.
- Cutting off branches and hanging them to dry.
- Cutting off individual buds, laying them out, and drying them on a mesh screen or rack.
The most popular way is to cut 12-16” branches from the plants, remove unwanted leaves, and then hang the branches from string or wire.
Before starting the drying process, most growers will trim away extra leaves.
The biggest factor when deciding whether to trim your buds or not is the relative humidity of your drying space.
Too Dry (Under 30% RH) – If you are drying in a space that is under 30% RH you might want to leave most (or all) of the leaves untrimmed to help slow down the drying process. The more plant matter left behind, the slower the buds will dry and ultimately the more even the process will be.
Optimal Drying Environment (45-50% RH) – If humidity and temperature are within the optimal range, feel free to trim as much as you would like.
Too Humid (Over 60% RH) – You might want to consider actually separating buds from branches after trimming and put them on a drying rack or mesh to help speed up the drying process and prevent mold.
The main objective while drying is to make sure you are not drying too slowly or too quickly. Drying to slowly can lead to mold and drying to quickly can lead to brittle and unsavory buds.
Tip: As you are trimming, you may want to save your trim (resin-covered leaves or tiny buds you’ve trimmed off). These extra leaves are not great to smoke by themselves, but after being dried, the trim can be processed to make marijuana butter or other cannabis extracts.
How To Dry
Never let buds touch each other during the drying process!
It’s very important to check your buds often throughout the drying process. If they begin to get too crispy, they are getting too dry and you need to gently increase humidity. If parts of the buds aren’t drying, you may need to adjust air circulation and decrease humidity but be careful if adding a fan, not to point it directly onto the buds as this may lead to further uneven drying.
Hanging the buds upside down and providing good spacing and airflow allows the moisture to dissipate at a slow but steady pace. This is considered the “standard” way of drying and can be done on clothe-hangers, string, or almost anything you can think of. The stem will drain its moisture into the center of the bud as the outside draws the moisture out – metabolizing all of that moisture and turning the chlorophyll into glucose. It also gives a good indication of how far along you are in the drying process. Drying is complete when small stems snap instead of bend, and buds feel dry to the touch, but not crispy.
Taking the buds off the stem and placing them on drying racks will allow you to fit more buds into a smaller drying area. A drying rack will dry your buds faster than most of the other methods because the stems are removed from the buds (and the stems contain a bit of water). Using a drying rack is the preferred drying method if you live in a humid area where mold is a problem, if you’re drying a lot of buds in a relatively small space, or if you have huge colas or buds that you’re worried might mold or dry too slowly. Just make sure there is plenty of airflow.
Pay close attention, however, if you are drying in a place of low relative humidity because there is no stem to hold water, the buds dry very quickly. When the bud is quickly dried it makes the cannabis much harsher tasting. Also, buds that dry on the screen often end up with a flat spot on one side that leaves them with a bit of a smashed look.
Other ways of drying can include drying buds in paper bags or even laying them out on cardboard. Just make sure that if you’re laying your buds on something flat like cardboard, you realize that it can create wet spots, and will leave an imprint on the sides of your buds where they touched the flat surface.
Regardless of which method you prefer, you will need to keep the harvested cannabis in a dark room (not to tamper with the THC) with temperatures kept within the 60-70°F range and humidity between 45-50%
3-14 Days Later
You will know that your buds are finished drying when buds feel dry to the touch, and smaller stems snap instead of bend and buds will “snap” off without leaving a stringy trail. At the center of the bud you want to hold 10 to 12% humidity.
- If your buds are dry sooner than 3-4 days, it may mean you’ve dried your buds a little too quickly. Drying too fast will cause the next step (the curing process) to take a little longer than normal.
- If you accidentally over dry your buds by drying for too long, the curing process slows down dramatically, or may even come mostly to a halt. However just like buds dried too quickly, over dried buds will still cure, but it takes longer. Remember, you do not want your buds to crumble or seem dusty in your hands.
- If you pull down your buds before they are done drying, you’ll find they tend to be too wet once you put them in jars. In this case, it’s better to take buds down too early and have to dry them some more than over dry them.
- If your drying method included removing the stem, it’s important to jar buds as soon as the outsides feel dry to the touch, before the buds dry all the way through, since there won’t be any stems to “hold onto” some extra water. At the center of the bud you want to hold 10 to 12% humidity.
- If you notice that any buds feel damp or moist, do not store them in the jars yet! Allow those buds to continue drying slowly until they start to feel dry on the outside before putting them in jars. If they’re already in jars and feel moist, make sure to leave the tops of the jars off until the buds feel dry again. Buds should always feel completely dry on the outside, and shouldn’t stick together. If you ever smell “ammonia” it means they’re too wet and bad bacteria is starting to grow.
Ready To Start Curing
When you’re ready to start curing, you’ll need enough containers to hold all of your buds without being more than 75% full. Buds should not be more than 3 inches in length and should have their stems and leaves removed before beginning the curing process.