Drying and Curing
Drying and curing marijuana is a critical step in the growth process. During this stage you can lose, preserve, or cultivate odor, flavor, and potency. Odor and flavor must be carefully cultivated. The drying and curing process allow the plant to purge sugar and if desired to purge chlorophyll (although some have developed a taste for the chlorophyll in the plant).
Improperly dried and cured marijuana can lose almost all of its original potency and lower potency marijuana can be concentrated to slightly higher potency if handled properly. Four things reduce the potency of marijuana; those things are exposure to light, heat, damage to the plant tissue, and air. Additionally, marijuana that is not dried and stored properly can contain too much moisture and grow mold (mould). It is important to remember that many rapid drying techniques will dry only the outside of a compact flower and that slow techniques like curing may be needed to draw that moisture to the surface.
The virtue in drying and curing as with all stages of marijuana cultivation is patience.
Air Drying is probably the most popular method of drying marijuana. Air drying can be very well controlled. By controlling the amount of airflow, you control the speed of drying. A common technique is to suspend the plants upside down in a room with a circulating fan blowing (but not actually blowing on the plants themselves) in order to keep air moving. Another technique is to put the buds on a half open drawer or tray in a place with moving air. The further along in the drying process the more you close the drawer to reduce airflow.
A simpler way to dry the marijuana is to put the buds in a layer in a brown paper bag. This is simpler but faster and therefore the output is less desirable.
The speed in this process is a trade off. If you dry too fast then it will take longer to cure the marijuana properly. If you dry too slowly you will be exposing the marijuana to more air therefore reducing potency. Many growers shoot for about seven days drying time. If you are not going to cure the marijuana the plants should be dried until the stems snap easily rather than bend. If you are going to cure then you can begin with slightly more damp (but still mostly dry) marijuana.
Dry Ice Drying
Because light, heat, and air all degrade potency someone came up with the idea of using a can or other container in a freezer or using a cooler to dry the marijuana using dry ice. Dry ice can be purchased at virtually any supermarket and is simply frozen carbon dioxide gas. In order to avoid injury you should avoid direct contact with your skin.
By using about the same amount of ice as marijuana you can dry your weed out without exposing it to air or light and certainly not heat! Simply lay down a layer of dry ice, put an insulating layer of breathable cloth over it like a cheesecloth or a simply kitchen towel. Then lay the buds spread out on top of the ice. Make sure there is a way for the gas to escape as the dry ice evaporates.
Dry ice never becomes liquid, it sublimates directly into a gas form and carries moisture away from your bud when it does. Once all the ice is evaporated your bud should be mostly dry. If not, put a little more ice in and repeat until it is dry.
Some experiments with this method have suggested that it may be better to remove the marijuana before the ice is completely evaporated, since some condensation will collect in the container adding moisture back (although this moisture will dry more quickly since it is not locked in the cells of the plant).
Unfortunately, this method causes the trichomes on your marijuana to fall off leaving you with a less potent product.
Microwave and Oven
A microwave and an oven both dry marijuana using heat. You can cover bud between layers of paper towel in a microwave or use an oven on the lowest setting with the door cracked open to dry marijuana but heat will absolutely degrade the potency of your final output dramatically.
Food Dehydrator Drying
Food dehydrators can be used to dry marijuana along with most other materials but are not recommended for this purpose. Food dehydrators use the direct application of rapid air movement and in most models the application of heat to dry materials. As explained previously heat and air will degrade the psychoactive components in the marijuana such as THC.
Now that your initial drying is over you need to distribute the remaining moisture evenly through the bud because right now its all in the middle. You also might want to remove some more of that moisture and maybe some chlorophyll with it.
The traditional technique is the slow cure. With the slow cure you will put the material into a sealed container such as a glass jar or Tupperware container in the fridge until moisture rises from the center of the bud to the surface. When the buds feel moist you will sit them out in open air until they feel dry again and then repeat. The period of time before the moisture is drawn out will become increasingly longer. Most growers recommend curing for a minimum of two weeks. Generally medicinal grade cannabis can be stored for approximately 6 to 12 months before any degradation is noticed.
Water curing is an innovative idea. The resin in marijuana is not water soluble, so everything in the plant that is water soluble is an impurity. Water curing involves taking dry marijuana and submerging it in distilled (or at least not chlorinated) room temperature water (room temp is important, heat degrades potency and cold will make trichomes brittle). Change the water daily. This can be done for anywhere from 3-14 days and results in a dark chocolate brown marijuana. Wet marijuana and the same slow drying techniques should be used to remove the moisture from the marijuana the second time around to ensure complete drying.
This is often done in impoverished nations with large commercial crops and is similar to how tobacco is commonly cured. Pile your buds into a pile of alternating layers. Shift around the buds periodically. This will cure and brown the marijuana quickly but is using heat to do it. This technique will reduce potency and helps breed harmful fungus and bacteria. For these reasons it is not recommended. it is also common among Jamaican and Rasta culturistic curing techniques. . .