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Silica Gel Drying Experiments
Posted 06 May 2008 - 09:40 PM
I expect a little more than a quarter of an ounce of material from my single surviving plant, which I will divide into three even groups for the three methods described above. When finished, they will be cured in mason jars and the taste, effects and appearance will be compared.
Harvest is still 3 days away, so in the meantime I have been conducting some experiments using silica gel.
The first step in the process is to ensure that the silica is dry to begin with - which involves baking it in the oven for 2-3 hours. The silica crystals are small - bigger than trichs, but not by much so it is important that the silica is kept separate from the plant material. Smoking it probably wont hurt because it will not burn at temperatures achievable from a conventional lighter - but it just seems wrong to adulterate the plant.
The set up uses half mason jars - in the bottom is a paper towel wrapped around a few grams of gel. The plant is placed carefully on top of the paper towel. A second paper towel is placed over the rim of the jar and filled with more silica gel. The top is then screwed tightly on over the paper towel, leaving the rest of the towel in tact outside the jar.
I have tried to dry various flowers with various moisture levels using this set up. Some moisture rich weeds from the back yard, a few mums and some carnations. Each was about 80% dry after three days, so this will be the base line that I use for the real experiments.
I have not seen any results of a desiccant drying process, so this should be useful information to those looking for a different way to dry plants if hanging and slow drying is not an option.
I will report back at harvest, and then a few days later with the results of the drying process. Wish me luck
Posted 11 May 2008 - 03:37 PM
I decided to abandon the method of putting a silica gel filled paper towel on the bottom so that and leaks wouldn't mix with nay crystals that fall off the buds, however - I doubled the amount of gel in the top "pouch."
I need to reiterate that this method is not a quick drying method (though silica can be used to quick dry in the microwave) but rather a solution for those who cannot deal with the smell or doesn't have the space to hang dry their buds. It has been about 36 hours since the buds were placed in the jar and so far they look gorgeous. There are trichs everywhere and even touching the stem results in sticky fingers. I predict that the buds will take a total of 5 days to properly dry this way, and I think I will need to change the silica gel at least once.
overall I think this is turning into a very promising prospect.
Posted 13 May 2008 - 03:56 AM
The jars were opened once a day after the first two days to check them, and to allow them to breathe a bit. The silica was changed yesterday.
The main cola was broken in half to fit it into the jar, and probably needs another day with the silica. The few buds that were in the shoe box do not look as nice and have a much stronger chlorophyll smell to them. I placed these buds in a jar with an orange peel to reconstitute them a bit before curing. Tomorrow is the first day I will be able to smoke since I tried the ISO hash, so I will try a few hits of some of the dry buds and let you know how they taste pre-cure.
I will be sure to cure the rest for at least a week for optimal taste. Judging by the look it seems that this process speeds up drying by a few days without a significant loss of quality, and allows an easily concealable, low scent alternative to hanging. I encourage others to try this - as any science that cannot be reproduced is junk.
Posted 14 May 2008 - 05:28 PM
As far the buds that are being cured, they are finally starting to develop a scent close to what they should have. It is (like the taste) a very sweet, resiny smell. The high is very much a head high and lingers for a good 4 hours - I think these buds have a pretty good amount of THC in them, and I think curing will bring up the potency even a bit more.
The curing bud will probably be good to smoke in a week or two, so I will update then. However I would say this was very a successful experiment (not just because the free bud) but also because using silica gel to dry is highly effective and imparts an exact level of control over how dry you allow the buds to get. And they taste like candy!
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