The Best Way to Dry Cannabis After Harvest

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The best way to dry cannabis seems simple at first. Hang it in a cool dark place, with a slight breeze moving air around until your buds are dry. But how this is done will differ from grower to grower. 

Some growers will chop buds off the plant and trim them neatly before drying them. Some will take whole branches and hang them without trimming them at all. 

In this guide we are going to cover the many different ways there are to dry cannabis. Then you will be able to make a well informed decision on which method will work best for you. But first, we should explain what happens when cannabis is drying and why it is important to do it properly. 

Why you Have to Dry Cannabis Properly

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When you first harvest your cannabis plants, the buds will be filled with moisture, and they will be unsmokable. To be able to use them you have to remove the moisture. But this has to be done slowly. 

After your plant has been harvested, the moisture in the plant matter will start to break things down. Sugars, starches and chlorophyll will still be in your plant, and moisture is needed to break them down. 

If the buds are dried too quickly, these sugars will not have enough time to break down. They will be left in the plant matter. This causes your buds to be harsh when smoked, and they will have a grassy flavour with very little smell. 

At the right temperatures and humidity, your buds will dry slowly, allowing the moisture to break down more sugars. This will leave you with a much smoother, tastier smoke. 

How to Dry Cannabis

Though the method of drying cannabis will differ from person to person, there are some things that everyone tries to do the same. For example, the temperature and humidity in the drying room, and drying their buds in darkness. 

Before we move onto different techniques used to dry cannabis, we should cover the things everyone does the same. 

Drying Cannabis in the Dark

A plant will produce sugars and starches from chlorophyll when it comes into contact with light. During the drying process, we are aiming to reduce the amount of sugars and starches in the buds, as they will make the smoke harsh. 

To prevent the plants from making more sugars in the leaves and buds, they are dried in complete darkness. This allows the plant to break down the chloroplasts, sugars and starches already in the leaves and buds, without producing more. 

Drying cannabis in the dark will make the smoke smoother, and give it more flavour. This is something all growers agree with, dry your buds in the dark.

The Best Temperature for Drying Cannabis

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Temperature for Drying Cannabis

To allow your buds to dry at the preferred rate, they should be dried at the right temperature. This is also important to the terpenes produced by the plant. Some terpenes are more volatile than others[1], and high temperatures will damage them. You should dry cannabis at a cool temperature, between 15 and 18c if possible. Try not to exceed 20c. 

This can be difficult to achieve in summer months, and air conditioning may have to be used to maintain the optimal temperatures. 

Best Humidity for Drying Cannabis 

Humidity is the measurement of the amount of moisture in the air. The more moisture there is in the air around the buds, the harder it will be for moisture to leave the buds. High humidity will not only extend your drying time, but it will increase the chances of mould spores germinating too. 

The ideal humidity for drying cannabis is around 45-55%. This can be difficult to maintain in some climates. You can use a humidifier, or dehumidifier to alter the humidity of the grow room if you need to. 

Air Flow Around the Buds

Mould spores will germinate in high humidity, and stale air. It is crucial to keep the air in your room moving. This can be done with a small fan at the bottom of the grow room, blowing air against the wall. 

If you blow air directly at your buds, they will dry faster than you want them to. They will be very crispy on the outside, but wet in the middle.

Blowing a fan against the wall on low power will dampen the breeze before it gets to your plant. This will disperse it more, reaching more air pockets and preventing them from going stale. You will also need to extract the air out of the drying room. 

Extraction and Carbon Filters

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There needs to be a constant flow of fresh air coming into the drying room. This is done by using an extractor. The size of the extractor you use will depend on your grow space. But if you are drying in the same space you grew in, then the extractor you currently use will be fine. 

Your extractor does not need to be on full power either. If your humidity levels are too high, increase the speed of your extractor. If the humidity is too low, reduce the speed. 

All of the air drawn out of your drying room by the extractor MUST pass through a carbon filter! This will scrub the air of organic molecules and remove the smell before it is vented outside. 

With good control of your environment, your buds should be dry in 7-10 days. This will depend on how big the buds are, and how you trimmed them before hanging them.

Wet Trimming Vs Dry Trimming

The amount of time it takes for the cannabis to dry will depend on a few factors. The size of the buds, how you hang them, and how much you trim off the plants before hanging them to dry. 

There are two trimming methods used by growers. Dry trimming, and wet trimming. The best way to trim your cannabis before drying it is up to you. 

What is Wet Trimming Cannabis?

Wet trimming cannabis is when a plant is harvested, and the buds are finely manicured. All of the fan leaves, and sugar/ tip leaves are removed using scissors, and the buds are hung to dry. Removing all of this plant matter will decrease the drying time.

On average, buds that are finely manicured will be dried and ready for curing after around 5-7 days, depending on the size of the buds. 

Wet trimming cannabis after harvest is the preferred method by most growers. The “tip” leaf cant be collected and used to make cannabis extracts like hash and oils. These can be used to make edibles.

What is Dry Trimming Cannabis?

Dry trimming cannabis is when a branch is cut off a plant and hung straight away. Sometimes the big fans leaves are removed, but in most cases, everything is left on the plant. It is then trimmed and manicured when it has properly dried. 

On average it takes between 10 and 14 days for dry trimmed cannabis to be properly dried. It can then begin the curing process.  

The best way to dry cannabis is different for each person. Dry trimming is good for people who do not have time to finely manicure their buds after harvest. Just chop the branches off the plant, and hang them. 

Different Ways to Dry Cannabis

Ok, so far we have covered trimming methods, and what kind environment your buds should hang in. It should be dark, with temperatures between 15 and 18c, with humidity between 45 and 55%. 

There should be a light breeze moving air around the grow room, and stale air should  be extracted out of the drying room using an extractor and carbon filter. But we haven’t covered how to hang your buds after harvesting them yet.

Now there are a few different ways to do this, and again, you just have to choose which one is the best for you. 

Hanging Branches in a Drying Room

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Most growers tend to hang their buds in the grow room the plants were grown in. This is done using string. Simply anchor string from one wall/ pole to the other, and hang the branches on it as they are ready to be dried.

Make sure the string or cord is strong enough to hold the weight of the plant, and it is high enough off the ground to ensure the buds don’t touch the floor. 

The buds should also hang separately. They should not touch each other or the walls of the drying room. This will prevent any stale air pockets or moisture building up. 

When harvesting branches to be hung in the grow room, chop them in a way where you can use a side branch to hang it on the string. 

Using a Drying Rack to Dry Cannabis

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A drying rack is a series of nets that are hung in your grow room. The buds are finely trimmed and laid onto these nets to dry. This method is often used by people who trim their buds before hanging them to dry. 

All leaves and stems are removed, leaving just buds behind. These buds are then laid out evenly across the net, and left to dry. Drying this way will decrease your drying time, and your buds will be dry in 4-7 days. 

Drying Cannabis in Cardboard Boxes

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If you do not have a designated drying space, cardboard boxes are an option. Tie string from one side to the other and hang your buds inside. Then add a small hole in the side of the box and use a small fan to move the air inside it. 

This is a great option for small grows. Using cardboard boxes to dry your cannabis also helps with humidity. The walls of the boxes will absorb excess moisture, so humidity levels will be kept in check.

Freeze Drying Cannabis

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Freeze drying cannabis is a reasonably new technology. It is claimed that in just 24 hours your cannabis can be dried and cured. To put simply, the buds are placed in a vacuum, and the moisture is slowly pulled out of them. 

This is an expensive process right now, but maybe one day it will be more cost effective to the consumer. Not only does freeze drying dry cannabis speed up drying and curing time, it also preserves the terpenes and resins like no other method. 

Speed Drying Cannabis

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Speed drying cannabis is not advised at all. The quicker the moisture evaporates from the bud, the less time it will have to break down the sugars and starches. You may be tempted to quickly dry a bud in the oven, on a radiator or with a hair dryer. Please don’t do this. 

You have spent months growing your cannabis from seed. Wait until it is fully ripe and ready for harvest. Do not rush the last few days! The drying time is one of the most important stages of your grow, do not cut corners here. The quality of your crop will suffer if you do. 

How long Does it Take for Cannabis to Dry?

In the right conditions, cannabis will take between 7-10 days to dry on average. For the best results, try extending the drying time to 14 days by dry trimming and drying in a cool environment. 

Do not put your cannabis into jars or air tight containers until it is properly dried! Just because the outside of the buds feel dry, it does not mean the centre is. Jarring your buds too soon will cause the moisture to seep out of the middle and all over the buds, wetting them again. This can damage the terpenes and ruin the flavour. 

Make sure the buds are properly dried before removing them from the drying room and putting them into jars. 

How to Tell if Cannabis is Dry Enough to Cure?

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Is my Cannabis Dry

You never want to remove all of the moisture from your buds. They will end up dry and powdery. You have to find the right level.

The key to making sure your buds are perfectly dry, is snapping the branches. 

Around 5 days after harvest, small buds may be dry. But bigger buds will take longer. To test if a branch is dry, simply bend it.

If you bend the branch, and it doesn’t snap, the buds are not dry enough for jars. 

On the other hand, if the branch snaps, and you also hear it snap, the buds are ready to go into jars and begin curing. 

Find our Guide on How To Cure Cannabis for The Best Taste Here

To Summarize

The best way to dry cannabis after harvest will differ from person to person. You have to try different things to find out what’s right for you. The main things you need to take away from this are:

Keep the air moving in the drying room with a small fan. Mould spores will germinate in stale air! To prevent your buds getting mouldy, keep the air moving. 

To prevent your buds from drying too quickly, keep them at 15-18c and around 50% room humidity. Do not put them into jars until the branches are snapping. 

The drying stage is very important, do it right, and you will have top shelf cannabis. Take your time, and if you need any help, ask in the forum.

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