don't rehydrate your boveda :: understanding relative humidity and the role you play

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

you're buying exceptional cannabis at premium prices. if via regulated channels, you are paying at minimum one-hundred and eighty dollars for an ounce. at two dollars a bag, humidity control is one of the most inexpensive ways to insure the longevity of your cannabis if it will be on your shelf for more than a few days.

what is humidity control?

it is exactly what it says. like bags of silica found packaged with innumerable products ranging from food to furniture, bags of boveda or integra boost (the two most prominent brands in cannabis) provide for a controlled environment with respects to humidity and moisture. the term "relative humidity" (rh) speaks to the overall moisture level in the the storage container/environment and ultimately, to whatever is being stored within. in relation to cannabis, these hydration packs come with options ranging from fifty-five percent to sixty two percent rh. there is no right or wrong rh for cannabis within these ranges and can be chosen based on personal preference. sixty-two percent seems to gain the most traction with plant purists from dozens of dialogues.

what are the benefits of humidity control?

the benefits of controlling the rh in your storage containers is that it allows for your cannabis to maintain a consistent level of humidity that will ultimately support cannabinoid and terpene preservation. by comparison to a container that has no humidity control and is otherwise a "dry" environment, a container with humidity control will create a more hospitable and sustainable environment for your cannabis. this means the efficacy, terpene profiles, colour, and texture will be as true to form as it was when it was first packaged.

what are the drawbacks of humidity control?

there is a marginal cost associated to humidity control that comes anywhere in the range of one dollar per bag to three dollars per bag. given most people are paying upwards of two-hundred dollars per ounce at minimum for their cannabis, we are talking about a one to two percent insurance policy. cost is not a suitable reason to avoid humidity control. although terpenes are absorbed and can be viewed as a "drawback", please see the next paragraph that outlines - all things being equal - why humidity control is better for your terpenes than an uncontrolled, dry environment.

does humidity control absorb terpenes?

yes. these bags absorb many things along the way as they are made of paper and porous membranes in order to create the desired rh in any given environment. they absorb oxygen and particles that exist in the air, terpenes included. with that being said, there is nothing available on the market that will preserve your cannabis without cannibalizing your terpenes, and this includes doing nothing at all.

what else effects terpene counts?

there are a lot of factors that go into the degradation of terpenes. exposure to uv rays, irradiation at the time of being processed prior to packaging, excessive humidity and moisture, and also excessive dryness. the reasoning that you are somehow doing your cannabis a favour by foregoing humidity control altogether is extremely shortsighted and you have missed the point entirely. from considerable clinical application of humidity control, the glaring facts are this - an acceptable rh between fifty-five and sixty-two percent will most certainly allow for the longest shelf life and preservation of terpenes than any other option available.

can i take rh into my own hands?

yes. but just because you can doesn't mean you should. once again, from consistent clinical application of the "damp paper towel" humidification system, all signs point to mould and mildew. whether this was a damp paper towel placed inside a loosely sealed plastic sandwich bag inside another airtight container, a damp paper towel stuffed into the lid of a airtight container keeping both cannabis and "humidity control" from touching, or by haphazardly just tossing a balled-up, dampened paper towel directly into the bag, the results are all the same - mould grows and the container smells like a dirty gym bag!

what about rehydrating expired boveda?

again, this comes back to the old adage that "just because you can doesn't mean you should". below are a few reasons as to why this is not a suggested practice.

1. cross contamination of bacteria

:: ask any surgeon and they will tell you the importance of a sterile environment. although we don't need to be applying surgical standardization to how we treat and store our cannabis, it serves to remind us that bacteria and contaminants are something we should be concerned with. this isn't to suggest that by using humidity control, you will automatically be contaminating your cannabis. however, with repeat use (removing a bag of humidity control from one environment to be used in an entirely new environment), you are increasing the risks of cross contamination. have you ever seen a petri dish that has been touched by a relatively clean human hand? it grows a considerable amount of "warm and fuzzies". all things considered, this bacteria is what can be transferred by hand to any surface. if you not only reuse boveda but actively try to rehydrate it using water, steam, or by manipulating the rh of another container to be reabsorbed by said humidity control, this only exacerbates the growth of existing contaminants, let alone opening the door for new and nasty entrants.

2. cross-contamination of terpene profiles

:: when you remove your humidity control, you can smell that it has absorbed a variety of odours including those from plant matter and terpenes. if you reuse your humidity control bag, you will be introducing those odours into your virgin jar of cananbis and adversely effecting their precious terpenes. the last thing you want to have when you're celebrating quality cannabis is any unsavoury or otherwise foreign odours infiltrating your flower. now take this a step further and rehydrate along with reusing your humidity control and you've got yourself a package of contaminants that is going to chisel away at the true terpene profile of your new stash.

3. quality control and taking responsibility

:: are you willing to admit that you have reused and/or rehydrated your humidity control bags when that beautiful order of boutique cannabis that arrives from a reputable grower has mould or bacteria introduced because you felt compelled to rehydrate and/or reuse an expired or otherwise used package of humidity control? this is truly part of "respecting the plant" and everyone involved in the process. it makes one wonder how many times a quality grower has been unfairly chastised for questionable growing, curing, and processing practices when in reality, it was irresponsible consumer handling or "end user error".

4. faith-based rh endpoints

:: meaning, you have no idea what percentage of rh your rehydrated bag will boast. we know that humidity control comes in a vast range of options but specifically for cannabis, the "pros" recommend between fifty-five and sixty-two percent rh. what tools are you employing to ensure that after being rehydrated, your humidity control will boast anything close to the recommended levels? you may very well be over-hydrating or under-serving the needs of your cannabis. if there is too much humidity, you risk damaging the characteristics and profiles of the cannabis. this comes back to you taking responsibility for your ash potentially burning the darkest of blacks because the actual humidity in your container is upwards of seventy-five to eighty percent. but how would you know? and would you even consider this before chastizing the grower for sending you quality cannabis that you have deliberately altered with a practice they themselves would never employ nor suggest?

knowing practices like rehydrating humidity control tools exist to stretch a dollar is a real pain-point. the whole purpose of humidity control is to stretch the life of your cannabis and not your bottom line. you should be making an emotional investment in your cannabis and as such, your investment should be protected. fresh humidity control tools being introduced to every new jar of cannabis is one of the inaugural ways for you to celebrate quality from the start.

i will leave you with the following considerations to further discourage this practice.

would you purchase cannabis from a dispensary or retailer whom you've witnessed transferring a humidity control bag from one jar of super lemon haze into another fresh jar of super lemon haze? from a jar of super lemon haze into a jar of pink kush?

if you saw your budtender removing old humidity control tools, pinching them between unprotected fingers, and placing them inside a dish of water or a container to rehydrate for the next virgin jar, would you buy this cannabis or celebrate the dispensary for publicly engaging in the practice?

would you purchase humidity control bags from a retailer that have been rehydrated if they offered them at a discount?

i'm glad we finally see eye to eye.

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