The temptation can be overwhelming.
You’ve just harvested a home-grown crop, and you can’t wait to sample it. Or maybe you’re out of weed, but the buds you’ve collected haven’t been properly dried and cured yet. “Desperate” may be too strong a word, but it might be close.
So you start thinking. You regularly decarb your pot in the oven before you use it to make edibles. The oven is hot. Heat dries things out. The solution seems obvious: why not just dry your weed in the oven?
Here’s the honest answer: because just tossing it into the oven will likely cause it to lose much of its flavor, aroma, and potency.
Let’s find out when and why weed should go into the oven, and when it probably shouldn’t.
Why Weed Has To Be Dried
If you’ve ever handled flowers straight from the plant, it should be obvious that they can’t be smoked right away. It’s not dry enough to burn.
Cannabis is a very delicate crop, and when it’s first harvested, it’s loaded with moisture from all the water it’s absorbed during the growing process. That means three things: the bud has to be dried, it has to be dried right away to prevent mold and fungus from growing, and it has to be dried very carefully.
The recommended process is to trim the plants and then hang them on a drying rack in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment for about 7-10 days. You can dry the plants without trimming them first, but that will take longer.
Once the weed has dried, it should be cured in airproof containers for 2-4 weeks before it’s ready to enjoy. Curing allows more of the moisture to evaporate, making the cannabis safe to store for long periods of time without growing mold. It also encourages further development of the flower’s potency and terpene profile, meaning it will taste and smell better, and deliver a better high.
That’s a lot of time to wait. But remember that cannabis is a delicate crop. Spending the time it needs to be properly dried and cured will preserve the bulk of the crop’s important cannabinoids and terpenes. Short cuts can easily damage or even destroy the weed you spent months growing.
That’s all well and good – but what if you’re in a hurry?
Pros And Cons Of Quick-Drying Weed
Here’s the only pro: it’s quick. Some commercial growers actually do fast-dry a small amount of their crop. That’s simply to sample it and make sure that it’s ready for harvest, though; they know the final product will smell, taste, and hit much differently after it’s been dried and cured.
Now for the cons.
The most fragile components of cannabis are its terpenes, which provide aroma and flavor. They can begin to degrade at temperatures as low as 70°. Needless to say, ovens and other sources of heat reach higher temperatures as soon as you turn them on.
Now, let’s talk cannabinoids. The potency of a crop obviously depends on its concentration of THC. Four factors can affect that potency: humidity, exposure to air, light, and heat. That’s why weed is usually dried in rooms with proper temperatures and humidity, and cured in air-tight, humidity-controlled containers that are stored in dark, room-temperature spaces.
Without those precautions, THC degrades into non-psychoactive CBD. Putting buds that haven’t been dried and cured into an oven, microwave, or food dehydrator upsets the delicate balance of cannabinoids that give pot its potency.
Finally, it’s extremely easy to overdry cannabis when you use a quick-dry method. Very dry weed not only tastes and smells worse, but it burns much hotter and faster than it should. You have to smoke a lot more of it to get buzzed.
That may leave you with one question: if the heat does so much damage, why do you bake pot in the oven to decarb it?
Drying vs. Decarbing
First, a quick explanation for readers who have never made their own edibles or oils. Decarbing is shorthand for decarboxylating. And weed that isn’t going to be smoked or vaped must be decarbed before it can be used.
Here’s why. Cannabis doesn’t really contain THC; it contains THCA, a precursor to THC. In order to turn THCA into THC, the flower must be heated. That happens naturally when you smoke or vape. Otherwise, the weed must first be exposed to heat, or your pot brownies won’t get you high. They’ll be nothing more than brownies with some useless herb in them.
Decarbing “activates” the THC, and it’s done by simply putting the weed into an oven at about 220° for 45 minutes or so. It’s then ready to be made into cannabutter or cannabis oil for baking.
OK, the question still stands: why is decarbing weed in the oven good, but drying it in the oven is bad?
The answer is simple. When you decarb cannabis, it’s already been dried and cured. You’ll be doing very little damage to its taste, aroma, and potency as long as you keep the temperature low enough. But if it hasn’t already been dried and cured, you’re asking for trouble.
Do you still want to quick-dry weed in the oven? Fine. Here’s how to do it.
How To Dry Weed In The Oven
One warning before we start: be careful. Setting the temperature too high (or using an oven that runs much hotter than its settings) will burn the bud and turn it nasty. And if you leave it in the oven too long, it can completely dry out and lose most of its strength.
Here we go.
- Line a baking tray or cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
- Spread the buds out on the foil, so they’re in a single layer.
- Bake for ten minutes at 120-125°, turn them over, and bake for five more minutes.
- If the weed still isn’t completely dry, continue baking for a few more minutes at a time.
You’ll end up with weed that’s harsher than it “should” be, and it may not taste and smell as good as you’d hoped. Most of the potency should remain, though, as long as you’re careful with times and temperatures.
And perhaps you’ll plan better for your next crop, so you have enough time to properly dry and cure it before you need to use it.
How To Dry Weed In The Oven FAQ
Q: What about drying weed in the microwave instead?
A: You can do that too, but you’ll do the same “damage” to your crop’s taste, aroma, and possibly its potency. Set the microwave at 30% power and nuke for 15 seconds, then turn the flower over and do it again. If it’s still not dry, continue the process as necessary.
Q: Can you just put the crop out in the sun?
A: You can, but that’s an even worse idea. It’ll take 2-3 days for the weed to dry out, but sunlight will destroy most of the terpenes and much of the THC, and the bud will become brittle and unsatisfying to smoke.
Q: Isn’t there anything faster than a drying and curing process that takes more than a month?
A: The best alternative may be to put a few buds into a brown paper bag, and put the bag into a cool, dark place for 4-5 days. Be sure to open the bag a few times a day to allow air to circulate; even so, it will still be humid inside the bag, and there’s a good chance that mold or mildew will grow on your weed.