Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Get it Dry and move it out

I have done everything from sun drying on screens to thousands of feet of industrial dryers. As a kid on my grandparents strawberry farm, we took screens and saw horses and dried berries. As an adult, I dried hundreds of thousands of pounds of apples commercially. Dehydrating consumables has been around since the dawn of time. Time can be money and if you have more things than to watch buds dry then I want you to look at dehydration.

Artificial dehydration is easy as everything is uniform. It literally works like this: Hot air + time = moisture loss through a membrane. Hot air holds more moisture than cold air. If you go too fast then risk shocking the membrane. (It's like searing a steak). The nonconformity of organic material makes it challenging and brings artistry to science. You put in controls and adjustments and that compensates for the seemingly random nature of vegetation.

The secret to stopping bacteria and mildew is moisture control. Living Cannabis plants have about 80% water. Fungi likes product with more than 15% moisture. If it is below 10% then it is brittle and can break apart. (Depending on what you are doing this low moisture level may be desired!)The sweet spot is between 10% and 15%. You want this moisture level uniform throughout the product.

Most are afraid of oven drying because it can lead to harsh product. (Remember that seared steak I was talking about?) Even grey mold dies if plants are carefully and quickly dried. Oven-cured pot rots less than air or sweat-cured crops. The risk is oxidizing the THC and reducing its potential. I am not going to tell you all of the secrets. The recommendations that I have seen is keep it below 200 Fahrenheit and no longer than 10 minutes under heat.

When you start adding checks to the moisture level, you will see some things happen. You will find out that it does not dry in a uniform manner. There will be plateaus where your pot keeps the same moisture for a long time and valleys where it dries quickly. A hot product will speed up extraction of moisture while increased airflow will pull it from the outside. There are limits to drying product.

Just like growing, controlling the environment, you control the quality of your product. What happens to your process if it is raining or temperature is below freezing? Are you checking the moisture content of the air? How are you maintaining the moisture level? By asking and answering questions, you create a process for excellent finished product.

There is even machines like the CannTrol Vulcan 50 which is designed to go into a 1300 square foot room and dry 50 lbs of weed in 7 to 10 business days. If you have $20K extra and quality smokable product in about a 1/3 of the time then this is an option.

If you have product that is hanging around for weeks in drafty warehouse then you are not making money and you are just exposing yourself to risk. Look at improving your drying process.

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