Don’t let improper marijuana storage become your 420 enemy
SneakGuard is marijuana storage that keeps your herbal products and medication safe from problems you can see as well as those you can’t. The visible ones are usually of the two – or possibly four -legged variety, but the less visible ones can come in the form of microorganisms, moisture, sunlight and even the air we breathe.
|Stored cannabis is susceptible to a number of chemical and biological threats. Some degrade quality, while others can cause illnesses that can be life threatening in patients with weakened immune systems.
This page outlines the major environmental threats to the quality and safety attributes of marijuana storage, explains the science behind those threats, and how SneakGuard can control them.
Exposing your herb to light – and sunlight in particular – won’t make it toxic, but it will degrade its potency more quickly than any single environmental factor.
An often-cited study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology found light to be “the greatest single factor in loss of cannabinoids.” And Hungarian researchers found that cannabis resin exposed to light exhibited a more pronounced decay of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive component of cannabis – than those stored in darkness for the same period.
Clear glass mason jars are a popular marijuana storage choice because they’re air-tight, but what their users may not realize is that clear glass magnifies and focuses ultraviolet (UV) light on the surface of the flower, where the delicate, photosensitive trichomes, which contain most of the plant’s THC; live.
SneakGuard’s storage area consists of a stainless steel exterior, which is opaque and reflects light away from the interior of the device, surrounding a completely opaque, food-safe ABS plastic inner chamber. In addition, the locking lid, air-tight construction and vacuum seal ensure that no light will leak in through small openings, and you control when and where it’s opened.
If you’ve researched the subject of proper marijuana storage before, you have probably come across recommended moisture levels ranging from 15-65%.
That wide range can be explained by confusion between relative humidity (RH), which is used to express the amount of humidity in the air (in the storage environment), and moisture content (MC), which is an expression of how much moisture is in the plant itself.
Good to Know
RH – Relative Humidity (%)
The amount of water vapor present in air relative to the amount needed for saturation at the same time.
MC – Moisture Content (%)
The ratio of the mass of water in a sample to the mass of solids in the sample. Both RH and MC are expressed as a percentage.
For the nerdier among us, RH is defined as “the amount of water vapor present in air relative to the amount needed for saturation at the same temperature;” and MC as “the ratio of the mass of water in a sample to the mass of solids in the sample.” Both RH and MC are expressed as a percentage.
Properly dried cannabis has a MC of around 10-12%, and fungus cannot grow on plant material with MC below 15%, and that’s the low MC number that sometimes gets mixed in with recommended RH range.
Generally speaking, MC is less meaningful to the average cannabis user because it’s difficult to measure, and as long as the flower is properly cured when they receive it, keeping storage RH within the recommended range should be their only concern.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, the recommended RH for storing cannabis is 55-63%, which explains the higher numbers you may have seen. Storing buds in this range (and following the other guidelines offered here) will keep them fresh, fluffy, flavorful and potent for a good while.
So what happens if the cannabis storage environment is significantly outside of that range?
If RH is too low for an extended period, it can cause MC to drop below 10%, at which point the trichomes become brittle and fall off easily, evaporation of essential cannabinoids and terpenes accelerates, and the plant material becomes brittle and crumbly; all of which will result in a hot, harsh, less potent smoke.
While smoking dry bud may be less than ideal, it does not present a health risk beyond that of cannabis with MC in the recommended range. However, the same can not be said for material with MC above 15%, because that’s where it becomes susceptible to microbiological contamination.
Studies have shown that smoking moldy marijuana, whether rolled or through a water pipe does little to eliminate its toxic components, though one study did demonstrate that baking cannabis at 302℉, for five minutes before smoking killed several types of mold, though it should be noted that doing so will dry out the flowers, resulting in hot, harsh smoke.
In short, once bud is contaminated, the options are to toss it or dry it out in the oven. So, as one researcher puts it “the best method of eliminating microbial antigens and toxins is by exclusion (which) requires careful attention by both cultivators and consumers.”
Specifically, the researcher is referring to maintaining a storage environment within the recommended ranges.
SneakGuard’s double-walled, vacuum sealed architecture allows precise control over the storage environment, while integrated reservoirs that hold Integra Boost humidity control packs will maintain 62% RH in the storage area, which will help prevent the growth of dangerous microbiological contaminants, while keeping the buds fluffy, flavorful and potent.
Once the flowers are removed from the plant THC begins to oxidize into cannabinol (CBN), a which replaces the ‘high’ with drowsiness and lethargy.
The only way to slow the process is by controlling the amount of oxygen the cannabis is exposed to, and the best way to do that is by pumping the air out of an airtight container, which SneakGuard achieves with a manual pump and vacuum indicator built into the top of the device.
When using other vacuum sealed storage devices, one must be careful not to remove too much oxygen, as doing so can make it difficult to control RH, but that problem is eliminated when the recommended Integra packets are used with SneakGuard’s integrated humidiccant storage reservoirs.
As explained earlier, humidity is measured relative to temperature because the amount of moisture that air can hold increases with temperature (hence the ‘R’ in RH), which tells us that temperature and humidity are highly interdependent.
Once you understand that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that moisture-loving mold and bacteria thrive in the ranges of 70-90℉ and 40-140℉, respectively.
In addition to supporting the growth of microcontaminants, warmer temperatures accelerate evaporation of cannabinoids and terpenes, resulting in less potent, harsher smoke.
On the other end of the thermometer, freezing temperatures make the delicate trichomes brittle and even more susceptible to damage than they are under ideal conditions. Additionally, lower freezing inhibits decarboxylation, which is the process by which non-psychoactive THC-A found in uncured marijuana is converted into psychoactive THC.
It’s also worth noting here that the strong smell of cannabis in the air is a by-product of terpenoid evaporation, which starts at 70℉, which means that keeping your stored bud below that number has the added benefit of eliminating widespread odor.
Taking all of those factors into account, the sweet spot for storing marijuana is 65-35℉, making the inside of a refrigerator, which averages 35-38℉, seem like an ideal location. But unfortunately, refrigerators subject their contents to rapid, wide-ranging fluctuations in temperature and humidity every time someone opens the door.
Relative humidity in a fridge that’s been closed for a while can dip below 10%, but as soon as the door opens, warmer external temperatures cause internal temperature and RH to rapidly increase beyond the recommended levels discussed above, only to head in the other direction once the door shuts.
It is simply too difficult to control the internal environment of the containers that have traditionally been used for marijuana storage to use them in such a dynamic environment, but SneakGuard’s double-walled, vacuum-sealed design allows its owners to take advantage of the refrigerator’s lower temperatures by isolating its contents from rapid temperature fluctuation while using the recommended Integra Humidity Control Packets in their integrated humidicant reservoirs keeps RH at a constant 63%.
In an influential study on marijuana storage, one researcher referred to trichomes as “well filled, well closed containers” full of THC. But as previously mentioned, those “containers” are so delicate that even handling cannabis flowers results in some damage and/or loss.
While it’s not realistic to expect zero THC loss from trichome damage, storage methods that produce a lot of contact and/or friction between the trichomes and the container’s surface exacerbate the problem.
As a result, smell-proof plastic bags and regular plastic bags should only be used for a short period of time and care should be taken to minimize friction; and vacuum sealed bags, which do a good job of reducing oxidation, cause widespread trichome damage by crushing the flower and placing the inside of the bag in constant contact with it.
Because it’s air-tight, vacuum sealed, and rigid, SneakGuard offers the odor-elimination of a smell-proof bag, and the oxygen reduction of a vacuum sealed bag without the associated trichome damage.
As you can see, maintaining the quality and safety of harvested and cured cannabis is all about controlling the storage environment, and with so many factors to consider, it can be a bit of a balancing act.
SneakGuard takes the guesswork out of proper storage, freeing you to enjoy the benefits of safer, fresher, longer-lasting cannabis.