How cannabis retailers can avoid problems storing concentrates

Just Released! Get realistic market forecasts, state-by-state insights and benchmarks with the new 2024 MJBiz Factbook member program, now with quarterly updates. Make informed decisions.

Image of a cannabis extract

(Photo courtesy of Essential Extracts)

Improper storage of cannabis concentrates can lead to major losses for store owners who are already competing in a cutthroat marijuana market with razor-thin margins.

Properly storing concentrates is especially important when retailers are often forced to sell merchandise at cost or cheaper to keep moving products moving out before they expire.

Cannabis concentrates are more sensitive to degradation than flower or edibles. If exposed to heat or light, they begin to degrade very quickly.

When concentrates degrade, they lose their taste, turn brown or black and lose potency.

“Once (cannabis products) hit that expiration date, or you see that you’re within a few weeks to a month of the expiration date, you’ve got to make a decision on what you’re going to do: Either contact the company to get a refund, or you try to sell it at cost,” said Duke Barclay, owner of The Fireplace marijuana store in Arcata, California.

Protecting revenue

Cannabis retailers and concentrate makers have reported losses from the improper storage of concentrates.

Barclay told MJBizDaily he keeps all his concentrates, regardless of type, in a freezer until they are moved to a smaller refrigerator on the sales floor.

“It would be best if you could keep all of your concentrate that you would consider any sort of high end in the freezer until you are going to sell it and/or smoke it,” Barclay said.

Retailers who neglect to splurge on cold storage might find themselves taking revenue losses down the line, according to Brennan Burke-Martin, sales manager for 710 Labs, a multistate cultivator and concentrate producer.

“We’ve definitely taken losses with retailers on storage stuff,” he added.

Burke-Martin added his company has been forced to heavily discount product – up to 40% – in the past after, for example, a freezer malfunction caused the consistency of rosin to change.

The learning curve for entering the cannabis industry is steep. Start with the fundamentals.

MJBiz Cannabis 101 Email Course

A 10-part email course designed to educate new hires and aspiring professionals on the key fundamental areas of the legal cannabis industry, including:

  • History of legal cannabis in America
  • Overview of plant-touching + ancillary business sectors
  • Cannabis finance and investing
  • Cannabis marketing and brand building
  • Employment + hiring opportunities
  • And much more!

Gain a comprehensive understanding of this complex industry with this free resource.

According to Barclay, as the owner of a lower volume store, he has often been forced to discount older product just to get it out before it expires.

Protecting product from any further degradation is crucial to his bottom line.

“Once it hits the front retail in any store is when the stopwatch starts,” Barclay said.

Cold storage

Simple steps can be taken to ensure concentrates retain maximum quality until the time of sale.

Concentrates should be stored according to type and can be broken down into the categories of solventless extraction and ethanol and butane-hash oil extraction.

Solventless concentrates largely start from water hash, also called bubble hash.

Water hash and flower can also be processed into rosin – or live rosin if the plants used were fresh-frozen at the time of harvest.

Most solventless products should be stored in a freezer, ideally at less than -10 degrees, Burke-Martin said.

He added that 710 Labs requires all retailers who carry the company’s products do so in a freezer.

“I tell people if you wouldn’t keep ice cream in it, don’t keep our stuff in it,” Burke-Martin said.

Here is a list of storage recommendations for solventless products provided to MJBizDaily by 710 Labs:

  • Live rosin (first and second press): freezer, ideally less than -10 degrees.
  • Persy rosin: freezer, ideally less than -10 degrees.
  • Water hash: freezer, ideally less than -10 degrees.
  • Persy rosin sauce: ideally a refrigerator or an air-conditioned room no more than 68 degrees.

Persy rosin is a shelf-stable rosin proprietary to 710 labs.

Another notable form of extraction is ethanol extraction, which is used to make Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), among other concentrates.

Ethanol extracts should also be stored in a refrigerator or air-conditioned room, according to Burke-Martin.

Butane hash oil extraction storage

Products made through butane extraction include shatter, crumble, live resin and badder, to name a few.

In general, Burke-Martin, said BHO products should be stored in an air-conditioned room no warmer than 68 degrees, though some choose to freeze them regardless.

“Anything that’s a living extract you want to keep it at cool temperatures so that it remains stable throughout its lifetime,” said Harry Ballance, an owner of Humboldt County, California-based Errl Hill Extracts.

According to Ballance, BHO products such as shatter or crumble that were not made from fresh-frozen “living” plants are more stable than living or solventless extracts, but they should still be kept in an air-conditioned room no warmer than 68 degrees.

Live resin should be frozen or refrigerated until sold, Ballance said.

Patrick Maravelias can be reached at