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Do Concentrates go bad? Here's your answer.

Many people believe that because marijuana concentrate are concentrated forms of cannabis, their potency, smell and taste last longer than flower but contrary to popular belief, that’s not true. In fact, concentrates have about the same shelf life as flower—around 6 months to a year. However, unlike flower, unopened concentrates can last 2 to 3 years. Regardless of its shelf life, there are ways to lengthen it when compared to flower and it comes down to how it is stored.

How do I store my concentrates?

As with all cannabis products, keeping them away from moisture, heat and light is key for maintaining a healthier and longer shelf life. When cannabis products are exposed to moisture and humidity in the air, it could cause mold and mildew to grow, while exposure to heat and light can dry out the product and break down the cannabinoids and terpenes in the product, making it less fragrant and flavorful. Other environmental factors that could affect the shelf life include dust, bugs and pet hair. Concentrates in particular have the most elaborate storage method of all cannabis products. To get the most out of your concentrates, the best storage method should be in a cool, dark space away from moisture and humidity such as a refrigerator, inside of the smallest, air-tight container you can find, preferably made of silicone if available. In addition to maintaining its aroma and potency, storing your concentrates this way will also help keep its terpenes fresh. Some believe that this method can expand a concentrate’s shelf life by 3 to 6 months.

Nucleation: How does it affect concentrates?

Have you ever heard of concentrates ``sugaring up” or “Buttering out”? Well, that’s a cannabis conesouir’s term for Nucleation. Nucleation is a process that occurs as fats and contaminants that were left in the concentrate during the extraction process begin to separate from the cannabinoids in the product. As this process continues, terpenes are forced outside of the solution, affecting its flavor and aroma. Unfortunately, regardless of how you store your concentrates, there’s no stopping it from occurring over time. Nucleation can be triggered by many things including changes in temperature or humidity in the environment in which the concentrate is stored or over exposure to oxygen. Some also argue that it can be caused by exposure to condensation. Nucleation is more common in rosin and shatter.

Which concentrates last the longest?

There are many types of concentrates on the market but do any of them last longer than another? Yes. Concentrates extracted with hydrocarbons including BHO-based shatter and wax last longer than concentrates like resin or rosin. However, when compared to wax, shatter will last longer due to its chemical structure. Wax also has more surface area than shatter which allows it to lose potency and degrade faster when exposed to air. Winterized products also known as dewaxed concentrates such as cannabis oils or distillates, also last longer if stored correctly. In the weatherization process compounds in the hemp or cannabis plant such as plant waxes, fats, lipids and chlorophyll are removed before the product is distilled. If these compounds are not removed, the transparency, cannabinoid percentages in the product, and the purity of those cannabinoids will decrease. Additionally, if these compounds are present, it could cause the product to burn, creating a harsher hit as potential damage to a person's lungs. The compounds can also affect the chemical makeup of the cannabinoids in the product which can cause them to become cloudy in appearance as time goes by.

What happens to my concentrates over time? Is it safe to consume them if they expire?

Concentrates don’t expire like food or drinks but the most obvious signs you will see when concentrates start to go bad is that they will start to lose their color or appear darker in color. They will also start to lose their initial aroma, flavor and potency. Consistency is also a factor in age. If certain concentrates are crumbly to the touch when they weren’t the last time you used them, it is a clear sign that they are not going to be as potent as they once were. Additionally, as nucleation occurs, lipids will form in yellow-ish white clumps, which can be harmful if inhaled in high amounts.

Something people may overlook however, is which cannabinoids are more present in the concentrate over time. In a study published in PubMed Central from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, THC decomposes and starts to turn to CBN when concentrates are stored in an environment that ranges in temperature between 200 –250°C (392°– 482° F). At these temperatures, the study found that 29.1% of the concentrate is turned to CBN. However, THC can start to decompose at 120°C (248°F). When stored at 120°C, it was found that 9% of the cannabinoids in the concentrate started to transform from THC to CBN. This information can be seen in more detail in Table 1 of the study. Simply put, if you feel sleepier than you did the last time you tried your favorite concentrate, it may be a sign that the THC in it is changing to CBN. You may feel sleepy and more relaxed because CBN is widely known to be a better treatment for insomnia than THC. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the concentrates have gone bad if this happens but if you want more of the benefits that THC can provide over CBN, temperature control is something you may want to think about when storing your concentrates.

In general, concentrates are decently safe to use in small amounts after six months or so if not stored properly but you will be able to enjoy them longer if you take precautionary steps. Just keep these things in mind the next time you think about saving your favorite concentrates for months on end.

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