High frequency radio waves could be used to remove mold, yeast, and other harmful substances from cannabis buds. These radio waves will blast cannabis buds, eliminating impurities like mites, dust, and mold .
Like any other consumable good, cannabis must fend off invisible microbial threats like mold and yeast. These tiny living organisms plague foodstuffs and cannabis alike.
Ready to strike at a moments notice, mold spores can be found virtually everywhere, including the air we breathe. Mold growth can lead to cannabis bud rot, which can occur at any stage in cultivation. Typically, mold spreads from cannabis’ stems into the core, it’s smokeable flower buds, or sensimilla. Once there, the mold effectively renders the buds unsafe to consume.
Inside cannabis bud, mold has plenty of time and room to grow, especially if placed in a moist environment like the jars used to dry and cure cannabis flower, which can take up to 8 weeks. Things like grow room humidity level, mild temperatures, and poor ventilation can provide a good environment for mold to take root.
Even once they hit the dispensary floor, shelved cannabis buds are still susceptible to mold, so it’s important cannabis businesses take steps toward clean, mold free cannabis.
You can estimate how much mold cannabis contains by placing cannabis into an environment best suited for mold growth.
Legal cannabis states and locales map out their own regulations concerning purity, and oftentimes they address things like mold detection in different ways. A unified system of detection and mold elimination is needed.
Product deterioration is a number one concern for cannabis cultivators and retailers alike. Legal dispensaries and licensed cultivators must adhere to their state issued guidelines regarding cannabis flower’s mold and yeast levels. However, even state run regulators get things wrong.
Despite being one of the country’s oldest and most reputable cannabis marketplaces, 20% of cannabis flower sold in California following June 2018 failed state run purification tests. The regulators even approved a number of samples with undetected levels of mold and yeast, which went on to be sold in California dispensaries.
If left unchecked, microbial impurities like mold and yeast could account for a 6th of cannabis’ plant material.
Certain legal cannabis states require that approved cannabis must be below a certain threshold of mold levels.
The problem is not every state tests for mold the same way. Some states, like Colorado and Nevada, limit the amount of overall mold colony forming units, or CFUs, that can be present in purchasable cannabis. These are called TYMC requirements, In Colorado the TYMC requirement is less than 10,000 cfu.
To determine if their cannabis meets CFU requirements, Colorado regulators spread cannabis samples evenly across a petri dish, and then incubate them in a setting conducive to mold and yeast growth. Each live mold cell found after incubation is assumed to eventually become an individual colony. If these living colonies number 10,000 or more, the cannabis fails the test.
TYMC requirements posit that the most clean, mold resistant cannabis strains will produce the least amount of mold growth in conditions most suitable for mold growth. These microbial limits with pass fail designations are not uncommon throughout other industries, like botanical supplements
TYMC allows us to estimate levels of microbial impurities with a pass fail based on all mold content found
In contrast, California tests for specific mold types, rather than full mold content alone. To do this, they use polymerase chain reaction, or PCR testing. They take strands of a cannabis DNA and assess them for variations indicative of targeted mold species. While accurate and specific, the PCR tests leave much to be desired.
PCR tests selectively, based on the DNA of certain mold types. Therefore, other harmful mold species present may not actually be detected. This may explain why some cannabis samples with mold were approved by California regulators. Moreover, the technology needed is expensive, and doesn’t actually kill the unwanted mold.
Product quality and safety will be paramount as the U.S. looks to end its nearly century long experiment with cannabis prohibition. Mold and poor quality cannabis could deter first timers, curious to try the new legal substance, as well as impair the overall reputability of cannabis products as an alternative to socially accepted drugs, like alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
So how can we better detect and eliminate mold in cannabis? In short, with radio waves.
Radio waves have been used in the past to remove mold build up from consumable products, like almonds
Cannabis can be blasted with radio waves to remove any unwanted impurities, like mold, yeast, and mildew. Ziel’s APEX system can be integrated into existing cannabis markets as a regulatory tool.
Using radio waves to remove mold and other unwanted materials from foodstuffs is nothing new.
Famously, almonds and other nuts are pasteurized via radio waves, which find and eliminate harmful contaminants from entering the packaging of nut and dried fruit snacks. With the legal cannabis market set to grow even bigger in the 2020s, this technology could see large applications.
Taking this cue, Ziel, a food industry solution company known for providing processing systems, began Ziel Cannabis, an endeavor to remove mold and contaminants from legal cannabis without losing terpene quality.
Made up of microbiologists, food scientists, engineers, and food safety professionals, Ziel’s staff partnered with Colorado dispensary The Green Solution, to test their APEX system. This APEX system acts as regulator and janitor for cannabis buds, spotting and incinerating mold growth through the use of high frequency radio waves.
So how does this work?
To begin the process, Ziel team members place 20 lbs of cannabis flower into the APEX system. Next, they apply high frequency radio waves of 27.12 MHz to the plant material. These radio waves create an electromagnetic field. This field will oscillate, causing polar molecules inside cannabis, like water, to oscillate as well.
Moisture in the jar during the curing process provides fuel for mold to begin forming,
Water is key to a proper environment for mold growth. When water oscillates, however, the environment it’s inside heats up and becomes less moist. When this happens, the cannabis material becomes very hot, and this heat kills yeast and mold before it can take root and cause bud rot.
Moreover, Ziel’s APEX system can be configured so that it removes concentrations of mold growth at a certain threshold, like 10,000 or less CFU, in accordance with Colorado state regulator’s requirements. This means you can troubleshoot Ziel’s APEX system for your individual needs, based on what state your cannabis business is in.
Any nationwide legal cannabis market must ensure its products don’t contain harmful contaminants, like mold. If we want cannabis to be brought into a future of unhindered acceptance and legality, than we must convince the doubters that we can produce quality, safe cannabis products. Ziel’s APEX system may do just that.
Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin, Twitter