does weed expire

Why Does a Vape Pen Take Longer To Expire Than Marijuana Flower?

by Kasey Donovan

We’ve all been there: The dispensary had a great deal on flower, so you bought more than you actually needed. That was months ago and it’s still sitting in your drawer, dried out and harsh on the throat. On the other hand, vape pens are shelf-stable and can often last for up to a year. What makes them so different? 

Cannabis connoisseurs are increasingly turning to vape technology for its long-term dependability and convenience. In this article, we’ll explore the science of why flower degrades so quickly in comparison to vape pens.

Does Weed Expire? What Causes Moldy Weed?

Flower has an average shelf life of six months, with proper storage playing a major role in the aging process. Weed degrades over time and with exposure to oxygen, light, heat and humidity. Here’s what can happen to old weed:

  • Potency: Cannabis flower loses about 16% THC content after one year. 
  • Dryness: Oxygen, light and dry weather will cause flower to dry out. 
  • Mold on weed: High humidity and moist environments may cause mold growth.

So does marijuana expire? While weed doesn’t necessarily “go bad” like a food product does, it does lose its effectiveness and quality quite quickly. Even keeping it in an airtight container out of the sunlight only slows its inevitable decline. Your bud gradually loses potency and terpenes with each passing day. 

Is It Safe To Smoke Old Flower?

You can tell if flower is past its prime by looking at a few characteristics: smell, taste and texture. Old weed can either lose its aroma completely or develop a musty smell. It can also taste bad and have a harsh effect on the throat. Dry weed crumbles easily, while moist weed feels spongy. Moist weed may also have mold on it, which usually looks like white fuzz. 

Smoking moldy weed can make you sick, resulting in symptoms like coughing, nausea and vomiting. If no mold is present, old weed is generally not a serious health risk to smoke. Just know that it might be unpleasant in terms of taste or harshness.

Do Vapes Expire?

If you use vapes, the good news is that they will last longer than flower. This is because the oil is made of THC concentrate instead of raw plant material. Cannabis oil is made of molecules and lipids that bind together, making it more durable than plant matter. While vape oil does degrade over time, it’s a much slower process compared to flower. Vape oil retains most of its potency and flavor for up to a year. 

How Do I Know if My Vape Is Bad?

Despite its longer shelf life, vape oil still degrades over time. Old vape oil may have a darker color, sludgy consistency and harsh aroma. Smoking an old vape is unlikely to result in serious health issues, although it will likely have a worse taste, less potency and cause a harsher cough.

How To Store Your Vape Pen

The rate at which your vape oil ages depends largely on exposure to heat and light. If you store your vape pen in a hot place like your pocket or the interior of a car, it will degrade faster. Keep your vape in top shape by storing it in a cool and dry place, such as a protective travel case or drawer. 

Is it a bad idea to ever smoke flower? Of course not! But next time you’re at the dispensary to stock up, it’s worth remembering that vapes have double the shelf life. Your future self will thank you.

Kasey Donovan is a copywriting and SEO specialist, music lover and cannabis enthusiast. In his free time he’s having fun with his son Atticus, wife Jesse and two corgi-mixes Zira and Ellie.

References:

TechCrunch – Cannabis Vape Companies Are Experiencing a Sales Boom During the Pandemic

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – CBN and D9-THC Concentration Ratio as an Indicator of the Age of Stored Marijuana Samples

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