Proper care and storage for your cannabis extract is paramount if you want to preserve all the precious cannabinoids and terpenes inside them. Neglecting these steps may cause them to go bad — wasting your money down the drain.
Cannabis extracts such as shatter, waxes, oils, and tinctures are great ways to medicate with the herb. You can dab them, infuse them in cooking oils to make delicious edibles, or puff them in a vaporizer.
But what if you only use cannabis extracts from time to time and you need to store them on a regular basis? How do you maintain their flavors and potency?
Cannabis is a natural product that contains many compounds that define its potency, aroma, and flavors. Cannabis plants contain not only cannabinoids but also terpenes — which can degrade over time. All these substances are actually quite delicate, hence the importance of proper storage.
In this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about storing your cannabis extracts, from short-term storage to freezing your buds.
What Are Cannabis Extracts?
Cannabis extracts are a product category involving all extracts sourced from cannabis plants, especially those high in cannabinoids — the main active compounds of hemp and marijuana.
Marijuana-derived extracts usually contain high levels of THC and low concentrations of CBD. In hemp products, these ratios are reversed. Hemp is rich in CBD and has only trace amounts of THC (below 0.3%).
Cannabis extracts are obtained through passing a solvent, such as alcohol, butane, hexane, or CO2, through cured or living plant material that has been finely ground prior to extraction.
The end product is a viscous green or amber-gold cannabis oil, depending on the extraction method used. These extracts are full of the plant’s active chemical ingredients.
Then manufacturers usually purge the solvent from the cannabis oils using heat and vacuum. This form of concentrated cannabis is further processed into many different forms, such as crumble, wax, shatter, budder, sap, live resin, and isolate crystals.
Cannabis concentrates can be vaped in a vaporizer or dabbed in a special rig. Their potency varies between 50–90% cannabinoids (THC or CBD depending on the source).
Cannabis extracts can also be infused into products like tinctures, topicals, edibles, and more.
Why Is Proper Storage Important for Cannabis Extracts?
If you’re an experienced user, then it’s safe to assume that you don’t have problems with measuring the right amount of dabs you need for the next day or two. But new consumers are often unaware of how important proper storage is for their extracts.
Numerous factors can impact the quality of your cannabis over time, including moisture, humidity, excessive light, and access to air. When exposed to those triggers, cannabinoids and terpenes will start to break down, and your extracts will lose their desired potency and aroma.
What Happens When You Don’t Store Your Cannabis Extracts?
As mentioned, exposure to light and heat will cause the breakdown of cannabinoids and terpenes. In addition, excessive humidity in the air can lead to the development of mould and mildew of your extracts. Last but not least, your product can also turn harsh and stale.
Not to mention that you risk spoiling your concentrate with environmental contaminants such as pet hair, dust, bugs, and dangerous substances. Not only will it compromise your experience with extracts, but it can pose a threat to your health.
How Long Can You Store Extracts?
To answer this question, we need to dig deeper into different storage methods.
Although there is no definite expiration date of the extract’s potency, it all depends on how well you’ve been storing your product.
For example, if you want to store your cannabis extracts for a few weeks, you can use a silicone container with a lid. Simply keep it in a dry and cool place, and nothing bad should happen to it. On the other hand, if you want to keep your extracts fresh for several months, you’ll want to look into other preservation techniques, such as freezing the dabs.
Cannabis Extracts Storage Options
In this section, we break down the best storage options for cannabis extracts depending on how long you want to keep them at home
Short-term (One Week)
If you’ve just bought a few days’ worth of extracts, the best way is to store them in a transparent silicone container. Silicone is the go-to material since it keeps the extracts from sticking to the sides of the container. Always make sure that your container is as big as your stuff — leaving as little air as possible.
Another essential thing for short-time storage is to place your containers in a dark and cool place like a home office cabinet. You want to avoid contact with light and heat.
Medium-term (Several Weeks)
Let’s say you want to keep your extracts fresh for up to one month. The key to proper medium-term storage is to use glass containers with an airtight lid. If you buy concentrates in bulk, we recommend splitting your stash into several batches. Fold a sheet of non-stick baking paper over each piece and place it into a Ziploc bag. Seal all your bags and place them in large glass mason jars. Again, it’s best to keep your extracts in a cool and dry location.
Long-term (Several Months)
Many types of cannabis extracts must be frozen in order to maintain freshness. However, freezing your cannabinoids comes with some downsides, which we’ll discuss later in the article.
Other forms, such as tinctures, use alcohol as a solvent. Alcohol provides them with a longer shelf-life, lasting up to 36 months if you keep them in glass bottles. The ultimate expiration date of your tinctures will depend on the potency of alcohol in the tincture and whether the extract contains additional ingredients that can break down over time.
Fortunately, most ready-made extracts from dispensaries usually have storage recommendations listed on their containers — including where and how to store them. Make sure that you read these labels. Most of the time, all you have to do is keep your extracts chilled in the fridge.
Tips for Storing Your Cannabis Extracts
Here are some handy tips you can use to keep your cannabis extracts fresh for as long as possible:
1. Choose an Appropriate Container
There are many choices when it comes to storing cannabis extracts, but the best approach is to keep them in glass jars or special cannabis humidors.
Different types of extracts are better suited for different storage materials. For example, shatter and wax may stick to glass jars whereas oils and live resin are easier to handle. Choosing the right size of the container is also important — the less air can accumulate inside, the better.
For small batches of cannabis extracts, silicone containers are the best choice. They work well with virtually any cannabis concentrate and can protect it against all environmental factors.
2. Use Parchment Paper
Parchment paper will create an extra protective layer for your storage. It will also keep your extracts cool, dry, and free of moisture. Parchment paper is cheap and you only need a small sheet to wrap it around your stash.
Split your concentrates up into smaller bits and fold them into parchment paper. Splitting them into individual servings will also make dosing much easier.
However, parchment paper won’t work well with some forms of concentrates. For example, you can’t use it with runny extracts such as THC oil.
3. Keep Your Extracts Away from Air and Light
Once you’ve chosen the right storage container for your cannabis extracts, you need to keep them somewhere — preferably in a cool and dry place.
As mentioned, air, water, humidity, and light can quickly deteriorate the quality of the extract. You’ll need to pick a place that keeps those factors away.
Storing your extracts near a window is a textbook example of wrong storage.
The best approach is to keep these products in a drawer or closed cabined where they’re not exposed to excessive heat, light, and air. Only take them out when you need to use them.
4. Avoid Moisture
Excessive moisture can speed up the degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes. Therefore, it’s paramount to keep your extracts moisture-free.
First and foremost, make sure your containers are completely dry. If you wash them before putting your extracts inside, you need to dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Always keep your containers away from damp areas and sources of water.
As long as your extracts remain in a cool and dry location, there’s nothing to worry about. If you’re particularly sensitive about the freshness of your products, you can store them in the fridge, although this isn’t obligatory.
5. Don’t Keep Them in the Storage for Too Long
Cannabis extracts can be stored for quite a while while using proper maintenance methods, but it’s never a good idea to keep them there for too long. Marijuana compounds naturally degrade over time, changing the effect profile of the extract, and weakening its potency.
In fact, research shows that cannabis usually degrades by around 17% after a year of storage.
Should You Freeze Your Cannabis Extracts?
If you have shatter, wax, or oils and want to store them for a very long time, freezing your stuff may be the only option. This process is a bit risky since it can affect the quality of your extracts when not handled carefully. The major problem with freezing is that it makes your products exposed to humidity, which can negatively impact its quality. Moreover, using too low temperatures may damage the terpenes and more volatile cannabinoids inside.
Want to know how to freeze your cannabis extracts and minimize the risk as much as possible?
The general principles are the same as with the medium-term storage. For freezing your extracts, you’ll want to use a glass airtight container that is suitable for keeping in the freezer.
First up, wrap your extracts in non-stick parchment paper and put them into Ziploc bags. Then place the entire bundle into your airtight glass containers, leaving them in the freezer.
When you’re ready to use your frozen extracts, take them out of the freezer and allow them to reach their previous temperature slowly — don’t rush the process or it will create moisture and waste your precious material.
Regardless of the storage method you choose, you’ll eventually end up with a few containers scattered all around your house. Now, if you forget what type of concentrate is in each container, and how long it’s been sitting there for, your storage efforts will come to no avail.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for that problem: you can label your storage containers with the name of your extracts and the date they were sealed. This will help you to use the oldest products first and make sure that not a single milligram of THC or CBD will get wasted.
Final Thoughts on Storing Cannabis Extracts
Storage is a big deal when it comes to marijuana products. You want to keep your extracts fresh and tasty for as long as possible. Neglecting this part will leave you with a poor-quality product — an excuse of what it once used to be.
However, once you get a solid grasp of proper storage for cannabis extracts, you’ll be able to enjoy them long after the purchase, sometimes even up to one year.
Let’s summarize the most important points of this guide:
- Always keep your cannabis extracts away from light, air, and heat.
- Avoid humidity at all cost.
- Use silicone and glass containers for storing your extracts.
- If you want to keep some of your concentrates for an extremely long time, consider freezing them (but do it carefully).
- When dealing with large amounts of extracts, divide them into single servings and fold them into parchment paper for easier storage.
How do you store your cannabis extracts? Do you use any special techniques you’d like to share with us and other readers?