What Is the Best Environment for Hang Drying Cannabis Flowers?

THE PRESS CLUB DRYING CANNABIS FLOWERS
THE PRESS CLUB TIPS AND TRICKS TODDE
Todde Philips   

🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur

There’s more to cannabis cultivation than simply growing high quality flowers from premium genetics. After plants are grown to full maturity and the flowers are carefully harvested, drying remains a key piece of the puzzle that allows the buds to reach their full potential. Drying is a make or break process that can raise your cannabis to trophy-level status or actually diminish its therapeutic value. Without proper drying techniques, the best flowers from the best genetics will fall short of delivering the optimum effects. 

The most obvious reason to dry cannabis flowers is to remove enough moisture so they can catch fire for smoking. Wet flowers don’t combust, which is why picking flowers from a live plant and rolling them into a joint won’t work! But there are other factors at play beyond just the moisture content of cannabis flowers, and how readily they’ll combust. Other noteworthy changes occur within cannabis flowers while drying, although they’re not completely automatic. The right environment must be created and maintained for drying to be most effective. 

How do you know when to harvest and hang dry for peak ripeness? The answer can be found in the trichomes, and we wrote an article to help you time your harvest for optimum ripeness.  Read more in How To Harvest Cannabis for Peak Ripeness.

When the trichomes are displaying ideal maturity, the plants are carefully taken down branch by branch and hung upside down to dry. Delicate handling minimizes the amount of trichomes that inadvertently drop from the flowers. 

What Happens to Cannabis Flowers While Drying?

The most evident change that occurs during drying is the reduction of weight of the flowers, accompanied by a reduction in volume. Like humans, plants are composed mostly of water, meaning most of the weight of fresh flowers will disappear as moisture evaporates. Cannabis flowers lose around 80% of their weight during drying. 

But there are also unseen chemical changes that are taking place. For example, chlorophyll, which is the green pigment in cannabis that’s essential to photosynthesis allowing the plant to convert sunlight into energy, breaks down into metabolites. This is significant in part because chlorophyll imparts a harsh, unpleasant taste in smoke, much more so than the metabolites. Drying not only readies the flower for combustion, but it gives the chlorophyll contained within the opportunity to break down for a smoother and more mellow smoke. 

 

THE PRESS CLUB SHOP NOW

 

Another chemical change takes place with the conversion of cannabinoids from the acidic into a non-acidic form. Cannabinoids in their acidic form (e.g. THCA) can offer therapeutic value, but not to the extent that their non-acidic counterparts can. While THC is known for its psychoactive and euphoric effects, THCA doesn’t provide those same benefits. While drying, the THCA in cannabis flowers (and more specifically within the trichome heads), naturally converts into THC. The same goes for CBDA and others. So even if you could smoke freshly picked, wet buds, they wouldn’t get you high. This is because the cannabinoids are still in their non-psychoactive, acid form. 

In addition to the transformation of acidic molecules into non-acidic molecules, some cannabinoids will transform into others while drying. The most noteworthy is the change of CBGA into THCA. CBGA isn’t a highly desirable cannabinoid, but THCA is. CBG is a precursor to THC, but the transformation doesn’t happen in full until the plant is dried. While the cannabis flowers are drying, CBGA changes into THCA. And from this acidic form, further drying allows it to convert into THC. 

Do You Always Have To Dry Cannabis?

 

Cannabis needs to be dried for smoking, and it also needs to be dried for pressing flower rosin. However, if you want to preserve the maximum amount of terpenes, freezing the wet flowers instead of drying them makes an ideal source material for washing hash. You can read more in our article about Air Dried vs Fresh Frozen Material

 

THE PRESS CLUB DRYING CANNABIS FLOWERS

Things To Avoid When Drying

Microorganisms like mildew can thrive in wet, recently harvested cannabis flowers and will rapidly ruin a crop if given the right environment. Creating an environment where mold and mildew can flourish is the major thing to avoid when drying cannabis. 

Conditions that allow cannabis flowers to dry too quickly will also prove to be counterproductive. Minimizing the likelihood for mildew growth shouldn’t come at the expense of a slow and even drying process. Forcing cannabis flowers to dry out too quickly will actually diminish the positive changes that take place during a more gradual drying time. 

Finally, environmental factors that will contaminate or degrade the delicate trichomes should be avoided at all costs. Clean rooms free of dust and other pollutants are the ideal spaces for drying cannabis. 

Now, let’s look at the specific factors that you can control in order to maximize the success of your hang drying process. 

Environmental Factors That Impact Drying

There are several variables that can either positively or negatively impact the drying process. The goal is to maximize the positive benefits of drying flowers while minimizing the potential downsides that can occur after the flowers are harvested. 

 

THE PRESS CLUB HOW TO DRY CANNABIS FLOWERS

Temperature
A good target temperature for drying cannabis is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature helps the buds dry before mildew or fungal infections can take hold, while remaining low enough to preserve volatile terpenes. 

 

 

Humidity
Drying either too fast or too slow will have negative effects on the quality of cannabis flowers. Both temperature and humidity are important factors for a consistent and even dry over the course of a week or two. Significant swings in humidity levels invite mildew and fungal spores to germinate, so keep humidity as consistent as possible. 50% relative humidity is the ideal for a drying room.

Air Flow
Air flow ensures even drying and keeps the risk for mildew growth at bay. Especially if humidity is any issue, air flow is essential to keep pockets of moist air from collecting in the drying room. Keep air flowing with fans, but not blowing directly on the flowers. This will lead to rapid drying, which is a negative.

Light
Light degrades cannabis, so make sure the drying room is dark. Darkness facilitates a positive environment for the right chemical reactions to take place in the flowers, without excessive degradation.

 

THE PRESS CLUB VIP MEMBERS

 

When Is Drying Complete?

Drying normally finishes between one and two weeks, but it’s not the length of time that’s most important to monitor. Rather, pay attention to the feel of the flowers and stems. The flowers should feel just a bit crunchy when gently squeezed between your fingers. Another sign that the flowers are ready to go into the curing phase, is that the smaller stems should snap when bent, rather than folding over. 

After hang drying on the branches the flowers are trimmed, removed from the main branches, and placed in sealed jars for a cure. To learn more about curing, check out our article How To Cure Cannabis Flowers

Conclusion

After months of care and attention in the garden, a correct drying process ensures your cannabis flowers reach their full potential. Incorrect drying environments can not only diminish quality but potentially ruin your entire crop. Setting up the environment to dry is just as important as setting up the environment to grow.  

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Does cannabis always need to be dried?
No, if you're making bubble hash you can freeze the flowers instead of drying them. This is known as fresh frozen material

What is the best temperature for drying cannabis?
A good target temperature for drying cannabis is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature helps the buds dry before mildew or fungal infections can take hold, while remaining low enough to preserve volatile terpenes. 

What is the best humidity for drying cannabis?
50% relative humidity is the ideal for a drying room.

Can I have the lights on in the drying room?
Light degrades cannabis, so make sure the drying room is dark. Darkness facilitates a positive environment for the right chemical reactions to take place in the flowers, without excessive degradation.

How can I tell when cannabis is dry?
Drying normally finishes between one and two weeks, but it’s not the length of time that’s most important to monitor. The flowers should feel just a bit crunchy when gently squeezed between your fingers, and the smaller stems should snap when bent, rather than folding over. 

THE PRESS CLUB ROSIN STARTER GUIDE

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published