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Moisture Testing in Cannabis: Compliance in California

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Nobody wishes their products gets rejected due to failure in compliance, especially when you’ve invested so much money into production.

However, every year, cannabis growers and product manufacturers lose millions due to poor-quality of their products. One of the main factors checked in California compliance testing is moisture content as it contributes to quality and helps in determining the optimum curing period for flower buds.

That being said, do you know that many pathogens and contaminants in cannabis can be traced back to an environment that is too humid. 

When there is enough water present, microorganisms like bacteria and fungi like mold  can flourish. Because of this, many states, including California, have begun checking cannabis and hemp flowers for moisture in addition to mold. 

Cannabis moisture testing is mandatory in California, and the results must be recorded on the cannabis sample’s official certificate of analysis. 

Based on the speculations of the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) in California, this blog investigates all aspects of moisture testing in cannabis. To begin, let’s define moisture content.

So, What Exactly Is Moisture Content?

The moisture content of a cannabis flower is the amount of water it has retained. Growers and regulators are interested in this metric because it provides a quantitative indicator of product quality and can be used to pinpoint the ideal curing time for cannabis flowers. 

Testing a Cannabis Sample for Moisture Content 

Measuring and recording the weight of a cannabis sample before and after drying out, followed by taking the difference between the two recorded weights is the most common and simplest method used to determine cannabis moisture content.

A low temperature oven can be used by cannabis processors for a low-tech version of this method. A precise balance would be used to record the weight of a sample of cannabis. The sample would then be reweighed after being slowly dried in the oven at a low temperature, with “slowly dried” being understood to mean dried until the flower becomes visually crisp.

The percentage of moisture in a plant can be calculated by taking the weight of the oven-dried sample and dividing it by the weight of the fresh sample. 

The use of calibrated moisture analyser is a strategy that is popularly employed to determine weed moisture and has shown to have the greatest success. Cannabis moisture content can be measured in a variety of ways, but calibrated moisture analyzers are particularly popular because of how reliable and consistent their results are. Since percentages are provided in this method, Belcostalabs confidently uses it. 

Similar to basic oven drying, calibrated moisture analyzers use heat to remove moisture from a cannabis sample. However, unlike basic oven drying, calibrated moisture analyzers typically include an in-built heat source and balance that can take weight and temperature measurements throughout the drying process and automatically calculate the moisture content of a given sample. Fast and accurate moisture analyzers like these are already in widespread use in the food and beverage industry for tasks like determining the moisture content of products with extended shelf lives. 

Calibrated Moisture Analyzer: Why and How to Use It? 

Loss of terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavor from rapid drying reduces the overall quality of the product. If you don’t dry the flowers thoroughly or if drying takes too long, your cannabis won’t pass state inspection. So, a moisture analyzer is what you need. 

Aim for a daily moisture drop of 1 percent when drying. Expect faster moisture loss in the first couple of days after the plants are taken down if the relative humidity (RH) and temperature (F) in the room are maintained at 40% and 60 respectively. Once three weeks have passed, your crop should be at the ideal 9-11%. 

If you use a moisture analyzer before sending samples to the lab, you can save a lot of money and perhaps even avoid losing your crop to pathogens. Your success in meeting cannabis “aw” regulations in California can be predicted with greater certainty if you know your moisture content before beginning the curing process. 

California Compliance Testing Requirements for Weed Moisture

It’s not surprising that California requires “aw” testing due to the state’s notoriously strict regulatory environment. The state requires a flower’s “aw” to be less than 0.65, and they also check the moisture level. There should be no more than 13% moisture, with a maximum of 5% outside that range (e.g., 9.5%). 

If the flower fails the test, it can be dried some more and retested. Or, if mold has already infected the crop, the growers can try to eliminate it with an ozone treatment and salvage what they can.

Why Choose Belcostalabs?

If you are a cannabis or hemp grower or product manufacturer, you may be looking for licensed Cannabis testing labs in California to test for your weed moisture content. Look no further than Belcostalabs.Accredited by A2LA, our laboratory excels in conducting various tests on weed strains including cannabis moisture testing. So, you’re assured of getting the best laboratory testing for your weed. Partner with us now.

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