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Growing Marijuana in Space: Microgravity’s Effect on Plants

Cannabis has been used for ritual, medicine, enjoyment, and industrial applications like paper, textiles, and ropes for literal millennia, and as more states allow for legal medicinal and adult-use markets, industry players have created ever more innov…

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Cannabis has been used for ritual, medicine, enjoyment, and industrial applications like paper, textiles, and ropes for literal millennia, and as more states allow for legal medicinal and adult-use markets, industry players have created ever more innovative technologies and products that propel a booming cannabis marketplace.

One company experimenting in cannabis growth technologies is Kentucky-based Space Tango, a “leader in the commercialization of space through R&D, bioengineering, and manufacturing in microgravity.” The company, in partnership with Atalo Holdings and Anavil Market, is conducting experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) to learn how cannabis grows in space

So far, the company has conducted eight missions and 88 experiments on hemp – cannabis’ non-intoxicating and legal cousin – aboard the ISS. The primary challenge of growing any plant is space is microgravity, which NASA describes as the “condition in which people or objects appear to be weightless.” Simple enough, but what exactly does that mean for growing cannabis in space, and how do those findings make their way back to Earth?

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Is it Possible for Marijuana to Grow in Space and Microgravity?

Cannabis is a plant that requires certain stresses – both positive and negative – to grow into robust and efficacious plants. Some stressors that are necessary to healthy growth are air circulation, plant training, and the appropriate humidity and temperature.

Space

Researchers are currently studying the effects of microgravity on hemp and cannabis. photo credit

But negative stressors play a role, too; if there are interruptions in the light cycle, or humidity and temperature are too high or low, cannabis crops could be ruined. But finding the necessary balance between the positive and negative is a delicate process.

Current Research into Growing Weed in Space

Space Tango founder Kris Kimel is a former NASA engineer, whose theory begins with the idea that growing hemp in microgravity could be less stressful for the plant. Thus far, the startup has set up two micro laboratories in microwave-sized clean labs to conduct experiments on the ISS, using microwave-sized clean labs to conduct experiments.

Kimel hopes that by eliminating stress from the hemp growing process in a microgravity environment that they will learn how to bring those lessons quite literally back to Earth. This could potentially provide a better, more predictable, and efficient method for growing cannabis.

Dr. Joe Chappell, who serves on the Space Tango Science Advisory team speaks from experience, having actually conducted microgravity research on plants aboard the ISS. “When plants are stressed, they pull from a genetic reservoir to produce compounds that allow them to adapt and survive,” he said in a press release. “Understanding how plants react in an environment where the traditional stress of gravity is removed can provide new insights into how adaptations come about and how researchers might take advantage of such changes for the discovery of new characteristics, traits, biomedical applications, and efficacy.”

Space and Plants

As research advances, we are closer every day to the possibility of marijuana grown in space. photo credit

Kimel said that the company is focused in particular on how microgravity may affect the growth of hemp-derived CBD, a market expected to be worth $1.8 billion by 2022. For the time being, the experiments are being conducted on hemp (made legal in the U.S. by the 2018 Farm Bill), but as more legal markets open up via legislation or voter initiatives, applying the lessons learned from growing in microgravity could be applied to expanding legal marijuana markets as well.

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What’s Next for Space Hemp and Growing Weed in Low Gravity?

Though Space Tango is the first to grow hemp in space, they’re not the first to send cannabis beyond Earth’s atmosphere. A 2017 publicity stunt from near space exploration company Sent Into Space launched the Thin Mint GSC strain up to 118,000 feet. Upon its fall back to Earth, the weed was sold to a dispensary in Arizona. Luckily, the lessons learned from the Space Tango experiments could eventually benefit cannabis consumers across the country or even the world, and not just one dispensary.


What do you think about growing cannabis in space? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: NASA (license)

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Education

Q-Tipping and Quartz Banger Care: Step-by-Step Guide

If you’ve spent a bunch of money on your quartz banger – or even if you haven’t – it’s important to keep it nice and clean. Not only does keeping your banger clean help it look nicer in the long run, they’ll stay in good shape longer and improve the fl…

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If you’ve spent a bunch of money on your quartz banger – or even if you haven’t – it’s important to keep it nice and clean. Not only does keeping your banger clean help it look nicer in the long run, they’ll stay in good shape longer and improve the flavor of your dab. To keep your banger looking shiny and new, you’ll need to get in the habit of Q-Tip tech, the process of cleaning your nail or banger with a Q-Tip (or any cotton swab) after every use to maintain the freshness of the nail. The real trick to keeping your banger clean is to Q-tip immediately after a dab is taken, while the nail is still warm.

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Banger Care Essentials: What You’ll Need

Before we dig in on the supplies you’ll need to keep your banger clean, there are some items out there that might seem like a good idea but nonetheless should not be used. That includes bleach, or products that contain sulfuric, acetic, and gluconic acid. Be sure to avoid abrasive cleaning tools. They won’t help and will ultimately end up scratching your banger. A cotton swab will more than suffice, especially if you clean your banger from the get-go.

Q-tips and isopropyl alcohol

isopropyl alcohol and standard Q-tips are the most effective for keeping your banger clean.

You’ll need a few simple supplies to keep your banger in top shape: clean cotton swabs and ISO (isopropyl alcohol). Of course, there are more advanced products and accessories (such as ISO pumps and cleaning stations) but for now we’ll stick to the basics. Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, here’s a step-by-step look at how to Q-Tip your banger. 

Steps for Q-tipping your Banger

  • Take a dab. Remember that low temp dabs do not burn off as many cannabinoids as high temp dabs and make for a smoother and more flavorful hit. Low temp dabs also help extend the life of your banger
  • Let your banger cool long enough so that the puddle is solid but can still be lifted away, which takes about 30 seconds to a minute
  • Take a cotton swab and use it to absorb/remove the residue. Don’t forget to pay attention to the corners and the creases
  • Dip the other side of the cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol (ISO) and use it to wipe away any extra residue and clean the banger
  • Using a dry cotton swab, wipe off any extra alcohol (you can also wait for the ISO to evaporate)
  • Repeat after each dab

Cotton swabs can be found pretty much anywhere, but isopropyl alcohol has become a little trickier to find given some supply chain constraints due to COVID-19. However, players in the cannabis industry have repeatedly proven themselves to be innovative in meeting consumer demand, and at least one company has created ISO-Snaps. These cotton swabs are preloaded with ISO in the swab’s shaft. By snapping the swab, ISO is released into the shaft for one-step Q-Tip tech, making it uber convenient, especially when on the go.

Alternatives to Q-tips and Cotton Swabs

As simple as it is to clean your banger with a cotton swab, they do carry some negative environmental ramifications. Our oceans are full of more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic from human waste which can kill marine life and carry pollutants to humans through ocean currents. Cotton swabs are among the tiniest of those pieces but they still have an impact because many brands use plastic for the rods instead of something biodegradable, like paper or wood.

The Humble Co.'s cotton swaps

The Humble Co. offers a great sustainable option for cotton swabs. photo credit

When picking a cotton swab to clean your banger, actual Q-Tips are among the better choices for the environment because they are made of sustainably sourced bonded paper that can be composted and eventually biodegrade. Another sustainable cotton swab option comes from the Humble Co. Featuring organic cotton tips and a rod made from bamboo, they are fair trade, biodegradable, and are packaged in recyclable paper. 

Dab nails do wear out over time. but by keeping your banger consistently clean, you’ll be able to prolong its life and have more flavorful experiences. And remember that it is possible to keep your bangers clean and make thoughtful choices that lessen your environmental impact. Just don’t put that cotton swab in your ear! It says not to right on the package.


Do you have any additional tips for Q-tipping your banger and keeping your quartz fresh? Share them in the comments below!

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2020: A Record Year For Cannabis Studies

The cannabis plant is arguably the most dynamic plant on earth. It can be used for medical purposes, it can be converted into fuel, and it can be made into countless types of textiles. In many ways it would be easier to come up with a list of things th…

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The cannabis plant is arguably the most dynamic plant on earth. It can be used for medical purposes, it can be converted into fuel, and it can be made into countless types of textiles. In many ways it would be easier to come up with a list of things that the cannabis plant cannot do versus compiling a list of everything that it can do. The cannabis plant’s versatility has been on display for many…

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Education

How to Rehydrate Dry Weed

Air tight and out of sight. This classic maxim should tell you all that you need to know about storing marijuana and keeping your weed at its pristine, smokeable best. As long as your pot is stored correctly, in the dark and in a sealed jar, you should…

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Air tight and out of sight. This classic maxim should tell you all that you need to know about storing marijuana and keeping your weed at its pristine, smokeable best. As long as your pot is stored correctly, in the dark and in a sealed jar, you should have access to dank, sticky buds for as long as your stash holds out. However, here in the real world, we know that keeping your cannabis at its maximum flavor and potency over time can be much harder than it seems. Every consumer has encountered dried out weed in their cannabis consuming lifetime. Sometimes it was left out too long, sometimes it got too old, and sometimes it’s not the fault of the cannabis fan at all.

For the weed loving residents of high and dry states like Colorado, Arizona, or Utah, desiccated buds can be unavoidable thanks to the local climate.

Whatever the reason, if you’re left with dry weed the last thing you want to do is smoke it. That brittle bud can turn to powder on its way from your fingers to your bowl. When you smoke it, not only are you inhaling a harsher smoke that’s burning way too hot, but the THC percentage has dropped as the terpenes have dried up and the trichomes have likely broken off. However, you may have spent good money on that top shelf bud and don’t want it to go to waste. So what can you do? PotGuide is here to give you the best ways to rehydrate your dry bud, from store-bought products to DIY techniques. 

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Humidity Packs Work Wonders on Cannabis

After it’s been snipped from the stalk and cured, the ideal level of moisture you want to keep your bud at is around 55%-62% RH (Relative Humidity). Of course, maintaining this can get difficult unless you’ve got a keen eye for hydration levels, a fine spray bottle of distilled water, and a lot of time on your hands. The easiest way to keep your weed at its ideal relative humidity is to throw a humidity pack in the jar. There are several companies to choose from, but we’ll focus on the big three.

Integra Boost Pack

Humidity packs can help restore moisture to your marijuana.

Humidity packs like those made by Boveda contain a salt solution that adds or subtracts moisture from the surrounding air based on the temperature. The relative humidity percentage that the pack maintains is printed on the package in an easy to read number (such as “62”) and there are several options to choose from. Once the pack loses its softness, throw in another fresh one and you’re good to go.  

If you’re looking for a chemical-free, all-natural route, humidity packs made by Integra Boost use a non-salt, biodegradable type of mixture that still produces or absorbs moisture in order to keep your weed at its dankest. If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly option, Integra Boost is the one. 

Finally, a newcomer to the market (and a small business to support if you don’t want to give money to bigger brands, Evergreen Pods are capsules instead of packs that stick to the underside of your jar’s lid. They still maintain the exact relative humidity of your weed and like the other packs will even rehydrate your dry marijuana in order to salvage it.

Evergreen Pod

Evergreen Pods are reusable for up to 5 years.

These pods are reusable for up to five years and while they are a little pricier, for $20 you get the Evergreen Pod, a jar with an opaque silicone sleeve to block out light, and a specially designed jar lid and wet-erase marker so that you can write the strain on top and any notes. 

Cannabis Humidors are Worth Considering for Connoisseurs

If you’ve got money to burn and especially hate smoking anything but the dankest, freshest bud, a cannabis humidor is a fine investment. A lower end humidifier will maintain your weed’s RH using distilled water and sponges that you’ll have to monitor and refill every now and then. A high tech one will use a propylene glycol mixture that is much easier to maintain and may even send Bluetooth updates to your phone on how your weed is doing.

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DIY Techniques for Rehydrating Dry Marijuana

Humidity packs and cannabis humidors are the best options available for rehydrating your weed. However, if you need to bring moisture back into some dry weed in a pinch, there are several household items you might have lying around that can do the trick.

**Please note, PotGuide strongly recommends using humidity packs or a cannabis humidor to rehydrate dry weed. The techniques listed below are anecdotal claims and are not backed by science, research and testing such as the methods listed above. Always proceed with caution when introducing moisture to cannabis via homemade methods.**

Lettuce

When it comes to rehydrating weed the old fashioned way, there are a couple options. Lettuce, specifically iceberg, works wonders for rehydrating weed due to its high water content. Leave a couple narrow strips in your jar for a couple of hours and voila.

Lettuce

Lettuce can provide needed moisture for dry flower in a pinch. photo credit

Just be sure the lettuce strips aren’t touching your weed, and remove them once your bud has rehydrated. This way neither the lettuce or your weed will start molding. You’ll know how hydrated your buds have become based on how dry the lettuce has become. As an added bonus, lettuce doesn’t add any flavor to the weed.

Bread

A slice of bread is another option for rehydrating without adding any extra flavor to your bud. Splash a bit of water on the bread to moisten it, then follow the same method as the lettuce. As long as it’s not touching the weed you’re good to go. 

Fresh Paper Towel/Q-Tip/Cotton Swab

Whichever absorbent fabric option you choose, make sure that you use distilled or filtered water. Otherwise, the minerals and chemicals in your water will get into your bud, making it taste weird. Get your paper towel or cotton moist but not soaked, and put it in a plastic bag with a couple of holes poked in it. This will keep your weed from getting too wet, which can make mold grow. Then put that bag in your jar for a couple of hours. 

Citrus Peel

This is the age-old trick for rehydrating bud, done by our parent’s generation and the ones that came before. Since citrus peels are naturally moist with essential oils, that thin skin of orange, lemon, satsuma, or whatever other scurvy-preventing option you choose works perfectly to danken your nug back up.

Citrus Peel

Using citrus peels is one of the oldest anecdotal methods for rehydrating weed. photo credit

Just place the peel in the jar along with your weed (but not touching it) and seal it tight until your weed freshens up. As an added bonus, you’ll get some citrus terpenes added into your nug, enhancing the flavor. 

Final Thoughts on Adding Moisture to Dry Weed

If you find yourself opening your stash jar only to find that your nug is more desert than forest, don’t feel like you’re stuck smoking inferior bud. If you’ve planned ahead and made some smart purchases, just throw a humidity pack in there and you’ll be good to go. However, if you need to rehydrate your weed today without modern technology, just head to your kitchen for some supplies. In a couple of hours you’ll be back to smoking bud that’s almost as moist and kind as when it was cured.


What’s your favorite method for restoring moisture to your favorite cannabis strains? Share tips, tricks and experiences in the comments below.

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