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Very few things beat lighting up a bowl full of greens that you grew, harvested, trimmed, dried, and cured yourself. You could call it the ultimate zen DIY project. But did you know that how you dry and cure your plants can have a massive effect on the overall quality of the smoking experience it provides? It’s true. So, how do you dry cannabis, and what makes it such an essential step in the growing process?

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about drying cannabis and how it differs from curing to help you get the most out of your homegrown greens!  

Why Do I Need To Dry My Cannabis?

Ultimately, drying your cannabis plants before consuming them will significantly improve your buds’ overall quality and shelf-life. “Moist” plants will often have a strong, bitter taste thanks to their high chlorophyll content, which has not yet had time to decompose. 

Drying your plants allows the chlorophyll more time to decompose, significantly reducing the unpleasant vegetal flavor and allowing more of their unique flavor profile and tasty terpenes to shine through.

More practically, when your buds are too moist, they won’t light very well or burn evenly. As you may know, this is a recipe for a poor-quality session. Simply put, when your greens aren’t burning properly, they aren’t converting the compounds found within the plant into THC for your body to absorb.

Less THC means a weaker high, and, honestly, nobody wants that. 

What’s The Difference Between Drying And Curing?

You will often hear folks refer to both drying and curing cannabis in the same conversation and may be wondering about the difference between the two. While this guide primarily focuses on how to dry cannabis, it is essential to know the difference between the two and what they achieve.

The main difference between the two is that drying is a process that allows some of the moisture within the plant to evaporate so that it can be smoked or vaporized as clean and efficiently as possible. 

Drying your plants also increases their overall shelf life, as moisture in plants can begin to quickly degrade the potency and taste of your greens. Moisture can also allow harmful mold and mildew to begin to grow within your plants, which is obviously terrible for your health. 

Curing, on the other hand, is the process of allowing your dried cannabis buds to “cure” in a sealed container for a period of time to allow even more chlorophyll to decompose. This ultimately allows the full terpene flavor profile to develop and produce a distinctive taste and smell.

When Do You Cure Cannabis?

Curing your cannabis comes after drying it and is the last step before your greens are ready to be consumed! Typically, you will want to allow your plants to cure in a sealed container for around 2-6 weeks in a cool, dry place.

Hang Drying Cannabis Plants
Hang Drying Cannabis Plants

How To Dry Cannabis (Step-By-Step)

Below you will find a simple step-by-step guide on how to dry cannabis. While these are just some general guidelines to keep in mind, following the steps below should help get you pointed in the right direction to get the most out of your plants!

Step 1: Harvest & Trim Your Buds

When it comes time to harvest your plants, you will need to prep them for drying. There will be certain signs you can keep an eye out for that will clue you into when to harvest weed plants, such as distinctive changes in plant and trichome color and bud size. 

Once your plants have been harvested, it is time to trim them for drying. Trimming is the process of removing excess branches, stems, and any unwanted fan leaves. While removing these bits will make for a smoother smoke later on, it doesn’t mean you have to waste that excess material! 

If you are what to do with leftover leaves and stems, you can make everything from cannabutter to tinctures & oils, topical creams, and more!

Step 2: Choose A Drying Method

There are a few methods you can use to dry your cannabis plants, depending on the space and equipment available. Regardless of your chosen method, you should try to dry your plants in a cool, dry place.

UV rays from sunlight can begin to quickly degrade your plants, and humidity can prolong the drying process while potentially allowing mold to begin growing.

Home growers’ two most popular drying methods are the hang-dry method and the rack dry method.

  • Hang Dry Method: With the hang dry method, you typically leave your plants together on large branches and hang them upside down for a period of time to allow them to dry out. This process usually takes a little longer, as there are usually more leaves and branches intact, to make it easier for hanging.

  • Rack Dry Method: With the rack dry method, you would remove most of the excess trimmings before drying, preparing individual buds to arrange on a mesh rack that allows air to flow through. Since your buds are already fully trimmed, this method usually takes less time as there is less plant matter that needs to dry. 
Rack Drying Cannabis Plants
Rack Drying Cannabis Plants

Step 3: Set Your Temperature Humidity 

When you are drying your plants, maintaining control over the temperature and humidity of your drying space will make a world of difference. Ideally, you would want your drying space to remain between 60-70°F, allowing the buds to dry at an even rate.

Maintaining a relative humidity level between 55-65% is crucial to prevent your plants from overdrying and becoming brittle and less potent. This will also prevent mold and mildew from forming within the buds.

Depending on your climate, you may need to invest in either a humidifier or a dehumidifier to achieve this humidity level. Investing in a hygrometer for your drying space is a good idea, which can often be found relatively cheaply and will tell you both the temperature and humidity.

Step 4: Wait

Once your plants have been prepared for drying and your drying space is ready to go, all you need to do is kick back with a fresh joint (from an early harvest, of course) and wait. While your plants are drying, you will want to leave them be.

It is not only a great idea to give your plants a peek once a day to ensure everything is going well (and the plants aren’t getting too dry), it’s highly advisable. Unexpected changes in temperature or humidity can wreak havoc on your plants growth potential unless you’re able to catch & fix the issue as soon as possible.

Aside from this, you’ll just want to be patient and let the plants do their thing!

How Long Does It Take For Weed To Dry?

Under ideal conditions, such as those laid out above, most cannabis plants will be adequately dried within about 4-8 days. The size and quantity of your buds will affect the dry time, as will the amount of plant matter you have left intact.

Branches tend to hold the most water, so leaving your greens on the branch for drying (as you might do for hang drying) will take a bit longer. 

As your plants dry, they will lose size and weight as they lose water. Don’t worry, this is totally normal!

How To Know When Your Buds Are Dry

It is absolutely essential that you take care not to overdry your plants! Plants that are too dry will be brittle, harsh to smoke, less potent, and overall pretty unpleasant.

One simple way you can test your plants to see if they are dry is to simply grab a small branch off of a plant and try to give it a little bend. If the branch is crispy and snaps immediately, your greens are dry and good to go. Now you’re ready to move on to the curing stage.

If the plants still feel a little “rubbery,” that’s a sign that they need a little more time. Remember– the branches hold the most water, so testing a branch gives you a pretty good idea of where the plants are in the drying process.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to dry your cannabis plants the right way not only ensures you will get the highest quality smoking experience from your plants, it helps improve shelf-life and highlights the unique characteristics of your strains. 

While the process is pretty simple, a little prep and patience will go a long way towards getting the most out of your plants. Hopefully, this guide has given you a basic understanding of the cannabis drying process and will have you ready for this season’s harvest!