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Have you ever thought about freezing marijuana to increase its shelf life? As any perishable item, the cannabis plant begins to degrade immediately after harvest. While they can certainly last for years, cannabis flowers gradually lose out on potency, flavor, and aroma over time.
Most users store cannabis in an airtight container at room temperature or a cold and dark place. But can freezing cannabis make it last longer? Ultimately, maintaining an optimal temperature, lighting, and humidity can preserve your bud's taste and smell for a long time.
Effective cannabis storage is imperative, whether for medical or recreational use, as it ensures the preservation of its quality, benefits and longevity.
Cannabis is most potent when it has been dried and cured. Cannabis loses its effectiveness with time, especially if it is exposed to heat and light.
There are a few techniques that have been used to maintain freshness. However, is freezing cannabis one of these?
First, The Basics
When you store cannabis, keep in mind that post-curing, cannabis thrives in cooler, dimly lit environments.
Exposure of the cannabis plant to temperatures exceeding 77 degrees Fahrenheit can facilitate the rapid development of mold and mildew.
On the other hand, if the temperature is too low, it can reduce the level of potency.
To get the best out of your cannabis, it is best to have it at a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can You Freeze Cannabis?
Although you can freeze cannabis, it may not be the best cannabis storage solution.
A research project from the University of Mississippi followed cannabis stored at room temperature (68º-72º F) for 4 years. Researchers found that over time THC loss was proportional to its time in storage. Surprisingly, the most THC loss occurred during the first year.
Here’s a breakdown of their findings:
- 1 year in storage – 16.6% THC loss
- 2 years in storage – 26.7% THC loss
- 3 years in storage – 34.5% THC loss
- 4 years in storage – 41.4% THC loss
The main argument in favor of freezing weed is that it’ll slow down the natural process of decarboxylation but the freezer may do more harm than good.
One of the main disadvantages of freezing cannabis is it’ll cause the trichomes to become brittle and likely fall off. Can you freeze weed? Let's learn how to freeze weed.
Cannabis can, in fact, be frozen, but whether or not you should do so is contingent on your objectives as well as the method you use. The following is a list of some pros, disadvantages, and other considerations:
The Advantages of Freezing Cannabis:
The process of freezing cannabis can lengthen its shelf life, which is especially beneficial if you plan to keep it in storage for a significant amount of time.
Prevention of Pests If you are concerned about pests, freezing can kill the larvae and eggs of many different kinds of pests.
Trichome Separation Freezing the cannabis plant before preparing hash or any other extracts will help make the trichomes, which are glands that secrete resin that contains THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, more brittle and hence easier to separate.
Negative Aspects of Freezing Cannabis
Damage to the Trichomes
Freezing causes the trichomes to become more brittle, which makes it easier for them to break off when the buds are handled. When the flower is smoked or vaporized in this manner, the psychoactive effects of the plant may be diminished.
Concerns Regarding Moisture
If the cannabis isn't well sealed, moisture from the freezer can be transferred into it, which might potentially cause to concerns with mold or mildew when it is thawed.
Flavor and Smell
Freezing the cannabis could change or lessen the terpene profile, which is a factor in the flavor and smell of the plant. Terpenes contribute to the flavor and smell of cannabis.
Access Is Restricted
f you need your cannabis right away, you'll have to wait for it to thaw before you can use it.
Several Things to Consider Before Freezing Cannabis:
If you intend to freeze your cannabis, you must first ensure that it is stored in a container that has been airtight and vacuum-sealed. This helps to protect it from getting freezer burn as well as dampness.
Limit Your Handling
When handling frozen cannabis, try to do so as little as possible in order to avoid damaging the trichomes. The cannabis should be allowed to thaw inside of its packaging in order to decrease the chance of condensation, which could lead to mold or mildew growing on the product.
Freeze in Separate Portions
If you are going to be storing a significant quantity, you should think about freezing it in separate portions. In this manner, you can thaw only the amount of cannabis that you require, so lowering the total number of times that any particular bit of cannabis has been frozen and thawed.
Although it is possible to freeze cannabis, it is imperative to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of this method and to take necessary steps in order to keep its quality intact.
When you need to preserve cannabis for a very short period of time (a few months), freezing it might not be the best option. Instead, you could try storing it in a container that is airtight, cool, and dark.
How to Freeze Weed
If you plan on freezing your buds, make sure you handle them with care to avoid breaking apart the trichomes. When you’re ready to use your buds, remove them from the freezer and give them some time to thaw.
The thawing process allows you to work better with the material without ruining the preserved trichomes, cannabinoids, and terpenes.
Also, consider the moisture content. Freezing can cause excess moisture to form ice crystals. Drying the weed appropriately can overcome this issue.
Vacuum sealing your weed can get rid of your moisture problems. Vacuum sealing your dried weed can keep it fresh (without ice formation) for several months.
However, vacuum sealing can overly compress your buds if you’re not careful. Some growers choose to use carbon dioxide or nitrogen to remove the excess air through the injection of the container. The excess air exits through a separate hole and the holes are sealed afterward.
Some growers choose to store weed in small containers (about a week’s worth) for personal use. When storing small quantities, choose small containers and store the rest in a separate larger container to leave it undisturbed.
Can You Freeze Cannabis Edibles?
Now, what about freezing other cannabis products apart from flower buds? Should you do it?
If you plan on making a big batch of edibles or cannabutter, refrigeration is critical. However, some edibles like gummies and candies can stay in an outside container without going bad.
Freezing your baked goods (brownies, cookies, etc.), cannabutter, or infused oil can keep them fresher for longer without losing too much potency. Freezing your edibles can extend their shelf life up to six months or more, in some cases.
Keeping them cool in the refrigerator before freezing can help the transition. When you’re ready to use them, take them out and allow them to thaw to room temperature.
Before we dive deep into the mechanics of freezing cannabis, let's discuss the basics of cannabis storage first. Ideally, cannabis buds and other products should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark space after they have been dried, cured, and processed. Cannabis shelf life is directly affected by four main factors: friction, humidity, light, temperature.
Storing cannabis buds in temperatures exceeding 77º F can increase the risk of mold and mildew formation. Consuming mold can be harmful, especially after prolonged use and for people with compromised immune systems or respiratory conditions.
High temperatures and too much humidity can do more than increase your mold risk. They can cause highly sensitive essential oils such as aromatic terpenes to evaporate more quickly, leading to dry and crumbly buds that are harsh to smoke or vape.
Extremely cold temperatures can also affect the potency of your bud. For best results, we recommend keeping your cannabis flowers in temperatures between 50 and 60º F in a dark space with a relative humidity between 59% and 63%.
Is Freezing Marijuana Good for Your Cannabis?
In short, freezing marijuana is usually not recommended unless you practice great care in its storage. Extremely cold temperatures won't slow down the natural degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes like you’d think. Freezing marijuana can actually speed up the degradation process.
After harvest, the cannabis flower is usually left to dry and cure to remove the additional moisture and refine its aroma and flavor. Throughout the process, the buds undergo a natural decarboxylation process that converts the acidic THCA and CBDA into the psychoactive THC and CBD. Freezing temperatures can slow down or stop this natural process, leading to diminished product potency with age.
When exposed to freezing temperatures for a long time, the plant's trichomes will freeze and become more brittle, and more vulnerable to damage, falling off with the slightest disturbance. The only instance freezing cannabis is recommended is when making ice water hash or live resin frozen cannabis plants.
Frozen weed is essential in the production of live resin, a concentrate known for its high terpene levels compared to other concentrates. Cannabis growers preserve the plant’s peak cannabinoid and terpene levels by immediately freezing the buds after harvest.
Usually, growers harvest the buds, put them inside sealed and moisture-resistant bags, and immediately store them in a freezer. Some growers will use dry ice or liquid nitrogen to freeze the flowers on site after the harvest. Keep in mind dry ice should not be poured directly over the buds. Ideally, you would pour it into a container of bagged buds.
When freezing marijuana for live resin, we recommend taking great care of the material. Avoid compressing the buds together in the bags, since this can risk destroying their trichomes. Instead, loosely pack the cannabis to avoid having frozen buds stuck together.
During transport to the extraction room, you have time, but not too much time. Don’t allow the cannabis to thaw before extraction. Cooler temperatures are better able to keep the weed’s compounds well preserved.
What Freezer to Choose for Cannabis Storage
For proper weed storage under freezing temperatures, you need a functioning freezer. While you don’t need an expensive one, it should be able to reach 0º F for best results. As freezer temperature capabilities increase, so does the price of the unit.
Freezing marijuana in a working freezer can keep them stored for years. One study analyzed the effects of maintaining cannabis in four controlled storage conditions: light and room temperature, darkness and room temperature, refrigeration, and freezing.
Researchers found that almost all THC degraded after four years when stored at room temperature. When refrigerated, THC degraded moderately. When frozen at -4º F, the THC remained near its original levels after four years.
We don't recommend keeping your flowers in a plastic baggie or a cardboard box such as an empty shoebox if you can avoid it. These storage methods can negatively affect the flower’s quality. Plastic has a static charge that can pull away trichomes, reducing the flower’s potency over time.
You may think that keeping your buds in a refrigerator may be the best option since they will not be at freezing temperatures, but fluctuations in temperature and humidity from opening the fridge throughout the day can increase the risk of mold and mildew.
What is the best way to store weed to preserve its aroma and flavor? We recommend keeping your cannabis in an airtight container such as a glass jar, preferably an opaque glass jar to protect it from UV rays and artificial light and reduce the risk of mold. If you don’t have dark glass containers, you can wrap dark material around them to block out the light.
Providing your cannabis with the right amount of oxygen can maintain optimal humidity to keep your buds from drying out. For best results, we recommend investing in a hygrometer or humidity packs to ensure your humidity levels are just right.
Keeping your buds in a vacuum-sealed container can help minimize exposure to oxygen. In addition, we recommend keeping your fresh cannabis flowers stored away from anything that may affect their smells, such as used pipes, grinders, and other cannabis accessories.
Freezing Marijuana FAQ's
Can you freeze marijuana?
Yes, it is possible to freeze marijuana. In order to lengthen the amount of time that cannabis can be stored, some people choose to freeze it. In order to avoid causing any harm to the trichomes and to maintain the high quality of the marijuana, it is essential that the process be carried out appropriately.
Does freezing marijuana affect its potency?
There is no inherent change in the potency of marijuana in terms of the amount of THC and CBD that it contains when it is frozen. However, improper freezing can cause damage to trichomes, which are the minuscule crystal-like structures that are responsible for the production of cannabinoids and terpenes. This damage has the potential to impact both the potency and flavor of the cannabis plant.
How should marijuana be stored in the freezer?
In order to avoid freezer burn and the accumulation of moisture, marijuana should be kept in a container that is airtight or in a bag that has been cleaned with a vacuum seal. For the purpose of preventing the growth of mold and mildew, it is essential to make certain that the cannabis is entirely dry before freezing it.
Can freezing marijuana make it last longer?
The deterioration process of marijuana can be slowed down by freezing, which can result in an extended shelf life for the drug. It is possible for marijuana to keep its potency and quality for a longer amount of time when it is stored in a freezer as opposed to being stored at ambient temperature.
How do you defrost frozen marijuana?
Remove the marijuana from the freezer and allow it to gradually thaw at room temperature. This will allow the marijuana to be defrosted. If you want to speed up the process, you should avoid using heat sources because doing so might cause moisture issues and could potentially cause damage to the cannabis.
Is freezing marijuana better than refrigerating it?
It is generally agreed upon that freezing marijuana is preferable to storing it in the refrigerator for an extended period of time. Because of the potential for temperature and humidity variations, refrigerators are not necessarily the best choice for the storage of cannabis. The freezing process creates an atmosphere that is more stable for longer periods of time.
Can freezing marijuana cause it to lose its flavor or aroma?
There is a possibility that marijuana will lose some of its qualities or fragrances if it is stored without suitable protection or if it is frozen improperly. More often than not, this is the result of trichomes being damaged or being exposed to dampness.
What are the risks of freezing marijuana?
Some of the most significant dangers include freezer burn, the accumulation of moisture that can lead to mold, and the possibility of trichomes breaking. The quality and safety of the marijuana may be impacted as a result of these.
Can you freeze marijuana edibles?
In the same way that conventional food products may be frozen, marijuana edibles can also be frozen. It is possible, however, that the edible's quality and texture will alter based on the ingredients that it contains.
Should I freeze marijuana as a regular storage method?
There is a universal consensus that freezing is the best option for long-term storage, although it is not advised for normal storage. It is recommended that marijuana be stored in a cold, dark place in an airtight container if it is to be used on a daily or frequent basis.
Can freezing cannabis make it moldy?
Mold should not grow in sealed cannabis frozen after drying. Mold growth is possible if cannabis is not totally dry or if moisture enters the storage container. Never freeze cannabis without complete drying.
Is it necessary to defrost frozen cannabis before using it?
Before grinding, frozen cannabis should defrost at room temperature to avoid breaking trichomes. If using it for cooking or infusions, defrosting may not be essential.
Does freezing cannabis change the flavor or smell?
Properly maintained and treated cannabis shouldn't taste or smell different after freezing. However, rough handling of frozen cannabis can break trichomes, altering the terpene profile and flavor and aroma.
To freeze weed or not to freeze weed? That is the question. The freezing process can be a bad idea in most cases, but if you use best practices to store your cannabis in a freezer, it can actually extend its shelf life beyond storing them at room temperature.
If you want to know how to make the most of your marijuana, enroll in Cannabis Training University’s online Master of Cannabis Program to become a weed expert and earn your cannabis certification. Our curriculum teaches you everything you need to know, from growing weed from seed to using it as medicine.
Whether you bought or grew your weed, preserving its potency, aroma, and flavor is top of mind. The best cannabis storage practices for bud do not involve freezing it. Consider every aspect of the cannabis’ storage environment and look for a cool, airtight place with minimal light.
Want to learn how to grow weed and all about using and storing weed? Enroll in Cannabis Training University’s cannabis education program that covers every aspect of being a stellar user and grower.
Fred Hernandez is a highly accomplished and versatile writer, boasting an extensive background in the cannabis industry. With an in-depth understanding of various sectors including cultivators, processors, retailers, and brands, Fred's expertise spans across the entire cannabis landscape. As a prominent contributor to CTU, he consistently delivers insightful articles exploring the latest developments, news, and regulations shaping the cannabis industry. Whether it's delving into the intricacies of cannabis products, cannabis strain reviews, or providing comprehensive analyses of cannabis laws, or sharing expert insights on cannabis cultivation techniques, Fred's wealth of knowledge positions him as an invaluable writer and educator for all cannabis-related subjects.