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How Does Humidity Affect Your Cannabis?

This article is sponsored by Boveda, the global leader in two-way humidity control products for cannabis and a number of other industries.

There are many elements to consider when properly curing and storing your cannabis. One of the most crucial considerations is managing the relative humidity (RH) of the plant material while it is stored in an airtight container. Having too much moisture will increase the risk of contamination by mold or mildew, while having too little moisture will cause the trichomes to dry out, becoming brittle, harsh, and less effective as the essential oils that carry the cannabinoids and terpenes slowly degrade.

Luckily, there’s a solution that avoids the difficult balancing act of monitoring the ambient humidity of your climate, maintains the ideal RH, and gives you a powerful tool to give your cannabis the best possible cure.

What is Ambient Humidity?

Ambient humidity is what’s happening outside your container of cannabis. It could be your bedroom, the trunk of your car, or the outdoors. In air conditioned homes, the humidity is usually 20-30% because the AC scrubs moisture out of the air. In a heated home, the humidity will often be even lower as the furnace scrubs much of the ambient humidity.

In the time it takes to open and prepare cannabis for consumption, the flower can lose a detectable amount of moisture. Without a proper way to monitor and adjust humidity in your container, the cannabis will dry over time.

Using humidity control products like Boveda 62 in the container allows you to quickly replace the lost moisture both in the air and in the plant, so the cannabis is the same original quality every time. Some would even make the case it gets better with age, like wine or cigars.

The RH “Sweet Spot”

Humidity control packs can monitor ambient humidity and add or remove moisture to deliver a precise RH, giving your cannabis the optimal moisture content and keeping it true to its original form. For example, the Boveda 62, developed after repeated requests from cannabis aficionados to create a pack that held a lower RH, keeps your buds at the perfect 62% RH level.

To determine the best RH for cannabis, we hired a third party laboratory to do a moisture sorption isotherm on a single strain of cannabis. A moisture sorption isotherm test applies a wide range of humidity levels to an item and determines an RH range in which the properties of the item doesn’t change. For the strain of cannabis the lab tested, 59-63% RH showed to be ideal.

In the same way nature has gifted the world cannabis, it gifts us the natural salts that provide the key to balancing RH levels. Different salt compounds hold a varying range of moisture, which makes it crucial to source a salt that stabilizes moisture content at an ideal 62%.

Many who prefer vaporizing their cannabis are finding they favor even lower humidity levels, such as the 54%. Personal preference can also dictate your ideal RH “sweet spot,” with elements like plant density and personal taste being the deciding factors.

How Does RH Affect the Curing, Drying, and Storage of Cannabis?

If you want the best possible cure, you need to store cannabis in an environment with stable RH within the ideal range. The ambient humidity isn’t much of a concern, because Boveda responds to conditions inside the container, absorbing or releasing moisture to maintain the ideal 62% inside.

From there, your major concerns are temperature and light. Boveda adjusts the humidity based on temperature changes, but cannabis should always be kept away from high temperatures to avoid decarboxylation or activating the precious cannabinoids. And as widely recommended throughout the cannabis industry, always store you cannabis in a cool dark place.

While Boveda is effective at removing excess moisture, growers should still dry cannabis using their traditional methods, and when the branches feel close to their target moisture content, put the buds in containers with Boveda to help adjust the RH to the proper range for cannabis.

If you have more questions about how humidity can affect cannabis storage, please visit our FAQ section or contact us. We wish you a happy and healthy storage!

Monitoring and controlling humidity levels plays a key role in keeping your cannabis fresh. Learn how you can maintain the potency and flavor of your buds with one simple tool.

Cultivation & Growing

Historically, cultivators, processors and packagers have emphasized keeping flower below a particular humidity “ceiling” for a reason: Flower that’s too moist is prone to hazardous mold and microbial growth, so it’s understandable that many operators err on the side of being overly dry.

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Vintners have known for centuries that every step in the winemaking process—from cultivation and harvest techniques to fermentation, aging and bottling—has immense impact on the quality and value of the final product.

And that same level of scrutiny is now being applied to cannabis production.

As someone who has worked in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) space for decades, I’ve been interested in finding out how post-harvest storage and packaging affect the quality and value of cannabis flower. After digging into the issue some more, storage conditions and humidity levels have indeed come into focus as major factors, beyond just the challenges of preventing mold.

Weighty Matters

I enlisted my research team at Boveda, which has studied moisture control in all manner of manufactured and natural CPG products, to look closer at what’s happening with cannabis once it leaves the cultivation room. There’s not a lot of research on cannabis storage—we checked—and so we explored this aspect further. We were frankly surprised by what a big effect evaporation has on quality and how this is playing out on the retail level.

We suspected moisture loss could affect the bottom line too, and so we did some number-crunching.

It’s well understood that the weight of cannabis flower directly correlates with its profitability—the heavier the yield, the higher the market value. Here’s what our analysis found: A mere 5% dip below the optimal relative humidity (RH) storage environment eliminates six pounds per every 1,000 pounds of cannabis flower. At $5 per gram wholesale, that works out to upwards of $13,500 in lost revenue—and that’s with just a 5% drop in RH below the target range of 55-65% established by ASTM International, an independent industry standards organization.

We also purchased flower at retailers in multiple state markets and commissioned a lab to test the samples, which revealed that most strains sold today are well below the optimal RH range (55-65%). Regardless of fluctuating wholesale prices, when you do the math it’s clear that tens of thousands of dollars in revenue are simply evaporating into thin air.

Why So Dry?

Historically, cultivators, processors and packagers have emphasized keeping flower below a particular humidity “ceiling” for a reason: Flower that’s too moist is prone to hazardous mold and microbial growth, so it’s understandable that many operators err on the side of being overly dry.

The misconception that cannabis flower can be “rehydrated” is another cause of dryness damage. But this method irrevocably damages the quality of the flower through trichome damage.

The fine outgrowths, referred to as trichomes, house the majority of the plant’s resin

Those delicate plant structures that house the all-important cannabinoids and terpenes become brittle and fragile when stored in an overly dry environment, and are prone to breaking off from the flower; they cannot not be recovered even if the flower is later rehydrated.

When trichomes are compromised, terpenes responsible for the aroma, taste and scent of cannabis also can evaporate. Overly dried-out cannabis doesn’t just lose weight and efficacy—it loses shelf appeal, which is particularly risky in today’s market.

Today’s consumers have an appreciation for how premium flower should look, smell and taste. Rehydration cannot put terpenes back in the flower, nor can it re-attach trichomes to the flower, which is why preservation of these elements is so key.

Cannabis Humidity Control

Cured cannabis flower can remain in storage potentially for months prior to sale or consumption. By the time it reaches the end consumer, much of the cannabis sold in regulated environments in the U.S. and Canada has suffered from dry damage.

Rows of cannabis plants drying and curing following harvest

There are various humidity controls available for cannabis cultivators: desiccants that absorb water vapor; mechanical equipment that alters RH on a larger scale; or two-way humidity-control packets designed for storage containers.

In the CPG sector, with other moisture-sensitive products such as foods and electronics, we’ve seen that employing humidity controls will preserve quality, and cannabis flower is no different.

Saltwater-based humidity control solutions with two-way vapor-phase osmosis technology automatically add or remove water vapor as needed to maintain a constant, predetermined RH level and ensures a consistent level of moisture weight inside the cannabis flower.

Here’s one more notable finding we discovered in our storage research: Third-party lab tests commissioned by Boveda showed cannabis stored with humidity control had terpene and cannabinoid levels that were 15% higher than cannabis stored without.

Cannabis stored within the optimal humidity range maximizes all the qualities that attract and retain customers. Similar to wine-making, when cannabis cultivators focus on quality control they need to look beyond the harvest.

Cultivation & Growing Historically, cultivators, processors and packagers have emphasized keeping flower below a particular humidity “ceiling” for a reason: Flower that’s too moist is prone to