Is There a Safer Way to Smoke Cannabis? How the Methods Stack Up
If you’re looking for the healthiest way to smoke cannabis, keep in mind that there’s no totally safe way to do so — even with the purest, most pesticide-free bud. Cannabis smoke contains most of the same toxins and carcinogens that make tobacco smoke harmful to your health.
There are, however, methods that may be slightly less harmful than others. Here’s a look at how different methods compare, plus some smoke-free alternatives to consider.
The dangers of smoke inhalation are well known, so it’s not surprising that a lot of folks assume vaping is the healthier alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
There’s mounting evidence that vaping can have serious health effects. Much of the concern comes from inhaling vitamin E acetate, a chemical additive found in many vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
However, this risk seems to apply only to vaping concentrates, not flower. A 2006 study suggests that vaping actual cannabis, not concentrate, is less harmful to your respiratory system than smoking. Still, research on vaping cannabis is pretty limited.
Lung health aside, there’s also a matter of potency. People who vape cannabis report experiencing stronger effects — regardless of the amount of THC in the product — than they do when smoking. This means a higher chance of overdoing it, or greening out, when vaping.
Maybe a teeny, tiny bit, but nowhere near enough to make a difference.
Bongs offer a smoother toke because you don’t get the dry heat from smoking cannabis rolled in paper. Though it feels less harsh when you inhale, your lungs don’t know the difference.
Well, both still involve inhaling smoke, so there’s that. But if you had to choose the lesser of two evils, joints are probably the better option. This is because blunts are made with hollowed-out cigars, and cigars and their wrappers are highly toxic.
Even after removing all the tobacco from a cigar, cancer-causing toxins, such as nitrosamines, can remain. Plus, cigar wrappers are more porous than rolling papers, so the burning is less complete. This results in smoke with high concentrations of toxins.
Then there’s the matter of size. Blunts are a lot bigger than joints, and they hold way more pot. Smoking an entire blunt is like smoking roughly six joints.
Dabbing is supposed to give you a “cleaner” high, but what does that actually mean? Not much.
Budder — another name for dabs or marijuana concentrate — delivers a lot more THC than other weed products, often as much as 80 percent more.
Dabbing is still pretty new, so experts still don’t know the full impact.
There’s evidence that exposure to high THC may lead to long-term mental health effects, like psychosis. The risk of misuse and addiction is also higher when using high-THC products, especially for young people.
Plus, unless you have high-tech lab equipment and are trained in extraction, your dabs may be far from pure. Research shows that dabs can contain contaminants and residual solvents that can to neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity.
Dabbing also has respiratory effects, even though you’re not technically “smoking.” There have been cases of people developing lung damage from dabbing.
The bad news? There’s no safe way to smoke cannabis. The good news? There are plenty of other ways to consume it.
Here are your main options:
- Edibles. Unlike smoking and vaping, ingesting cannabis won’t harm your lung health. The downside for some is that edibles take longer to kick in because they need to clear your digestive system before getting into your bloodstream. The upside is that the effects also hang around longer. You also have an endless variety to choose from, with everything from gummies to baked goods to cannabutter.
- Sublinguals. These are usually lumped together with edibles, but they’re not quite the same. Unlike edibles, you don’t actually swallow sublingual forms of cannabis, which include things like tinctures, films, and dissolvable tablets. Sublingual cannabis is placed under the tongue for absorption, and is absorbed through your mouth’s mucus membranes, so the effects are felt faster.
- Tinctures. Tinctures are made of alcohol-based cannabis extracts that come in bottles with droppers. You can add tinctures to drinks, but you can also get the effects faster by placing a few drops — depending on your desired dose — under your tongue.
- Topicals. Cannabis topicals are for people looking for the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the cerebral effects. Creams, balms, and patches can be applied to the skin to relieve inflammation and pain. There’s also cannabis lubricant made for, well, sexy time.
- Suppositories. The idea of shoving cannabis up your butt (or vagina, depending on the product) may make you clench, but it’s definitely a thing. Most of the suppositories on the market are CBD-infused and used for therapeutic reasons, like pain or nausea relief, but some brands have upped their THC content for added effects.
If you’d still rather smoke your weed despite the risks, consider these harm-reduction tips to help make it a little safer:
- Don’t hold the inhale. Inhaling deeply and holding it in exposes your lungs to more tar per breath. Don’t be greedy; exhaling faster is better for you.
- Use rolling papers approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rolling papers may seem like NBD, but some contain chemicals and flavorings that can be toxic.
- Stick to glass bongs and pipes. Plastic bongs can contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which have been linked to serious health effects, including cancer.
- Keep your stuff clean. Keep your bongs and pipes clean, and don’t roll your weed on dirty surfaces.
- Don’t share mouthpieces or pass joints. Sharing your stash is fine, but not your pipes, bongs, or joints. When you share these, you’re basically swapping spit with that person and putting yourself at risk for infections.
No matter how you dice it, there’s really no safe way to smoke cannabis, whether you prefer to roll one up or are partial to bongs. As cannabis becomes more popular, so do products that allow you to indulge without the smoke.
That said, if you’re partial to puffing and passing, a vaporizer that allows you to use flower, not concentrates, may be a less harmful option.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddleboard.
You can smoke cannabis in a variety of ways, but is one safer or healthier than others?
What’s The Best Way To Smoke Weed: 20 Ways To Burn Down
Weed is a truly magnificent plant. It has so many wonderful powers. It helps anxiety, it increases athletic performance and it is the glorious green glue that holds relationships together. You just can’t go wrong when weed is involved.
Where there is weed, there is a way.
There are so many ways to smoke weed. The options are nearly limitless. Damn, you can even eat weed. Jeez, don’t even get me started on edibles. That is too overwhelming for me right now.
Weed is great and there are a lot of ways, in a multitude of different settings, with a plethora of different devices in which to smoke your sticky icky.
Sometimes you need a helping hand to find the best ways to consume your weed. I got you!
Go forth, smoke and prosper.
The Best Way To Smoke Weed
I have the vaporizer (a.k.a. vape pen or just vape) as #1 because it is easily the healthiest way to get high. Vapes are the pro sh*t. They smell like nothing, all while giving you your most true high. You are simply inhaling the pure vapor of your weed. You’re not putting any of the tar debris into your body.
Vape pens were first produced as a healthier alternative to cigarettes and were intended to help tobacco smokers in the seemingly-neverending quest to quit. It wasn’t long before canny cannabis consumers started experimenting and applying the vape pen’s science to their own strain of weed. These intrepid pioneers quickly discovered that using a vape is better than smoking because vaporizing reduces the temperature at which cannabinoids change from solid or liquid to gas.
This lower temperature preserves many of the active ingredients that would otherwise be destroyed when the cannabis is set alight. Vaping literally keeps the good stuff that makes you feel great and gets you high from going up in smoke.
Want a more technical explanation? We’ve got your back. The flame produced by a butane lighter burns at a pretty high temperature—around 3500℉. That’s really hot! Especially when you consider that your bud turns to smoke at around 450℉.
If you think that’s bad, hang on to your seats, there’s more. Cannabinoids can actually be changed into a gas (this is different than smoke) at a much lower temperature (around 284℉). So when you light up with a regular butane flame, you’ve got basically 3200℉ more than you actually need. And all that extra heat is just destroying a large percentage of the cannabinoids you’re trying to inhale.
Enter the vape pen. They operate at a temperature much closer to the vaporization point of marijuana so they don’t destroy the valuable THC, CBD, CBG and other cannabinoids contained therein.
The issue is that vapes are hella expensive. Sure, prices have dropped significantly recently, so if you’re a regular marijuana indulger, a vape is a great investment for long-term gains. But if you’re a casual marijuana dabbler, there are easier and less-expensive methods for getting stoned.
An apple is the thing you smoked out of in high school when you didn’t have a bong or a pipe but had an excess of school supplies. What were you going to use those multi-colored pencils from Office Depot for, writing notes?
Hell naw. You used those mechanical pencils to poke holes in the apple mom packed you for lunch so that you could make a homemade pipe. The apple made for a fun, festive, and disposable pipe that also had the power to add a bit of flavor to otherwise skunky weed. It wasn’t the ideal ganja delivery device, but it would do in a pinch. Bonus: you can even eat the apple after when you’re ravaged by the munchies.
There is really nothing bad to say about a bong. Your bong is a lot like your best friend, always available when you need him and never lets you down.
A bong is one of the best ways to smoke weed because it can get you really high, REALLY fast. The highest I can ever remember being was after a night of a bong rips with my friends.
Bongs can be made out of glass, plastic, ceramic, metal, and even bamboo. They can also take on many different forms ranging from the simple to the complex. Some of the more common designs are:
- Carburetor bong
- Straight-tube bong
- Beaker-shaped bong
- Round-base bong
- Multi-chamber bong
- Percolator bong
- Bucket gravity bong
- Waterfall gravity bong (we’ll talk about these last two below)
The key feature of a bong is that the smoke comes in contact with water (or passes through it) at some point during its travels from the bowl to your lungs.
So that apple we mentioned above, it’s a pipe, not a bong. You could conceivably make the apple into a bong, but it would take some considerable engineering.
G-pens are all the rage right now. Basically, they’re just a vape pen, but they bring together the best of all worlds.
They are healthy like a vaporizer, easy like a blunt and compact like a one-hitter. You can bring your g-pen everywhere with you and people will just assume you’re smoking one of those weird electronic cigs.
Like the bong, the joint will always be the marijuana MVP. Why? Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A joint was one the first ways that weed was ever smoked. It’s not going anywhere and we’re grateful for that to be sure.
On the inside, joints are exclusively marijuana. It can be whatever strain you like, but it is always and only marijuana. If you mix your Mary Jane with anything else, it’s not a joint and should be referred to by a different name.
For example, mixing your ganja with tobacco (as is common) makes the end product a spliff, not a joint. Calling a spliff a joint, or vice versa, just makes you look silly. Don’t do it.
To illustrate, it’s like the difference between a car and a truck. Yes, they both have four wheels and an engine, but you’re going to get some pretty strange looks if you point at a Mazda Miata and call it a Chevy Silverado. The terms just don’t mix. The same is true for a spliff and a joint.
On the outside, a joint is rolled in some form of paper. But you wouldn’t want to just tear out a piece of notebook paper and start toking. Smoking papers are usually made out of wood pulp, rice, or even hemp.
They are often glossy or waxed to some degree to keep them from burning quickly like regular paper. If you’ve never rolled a joint because you’ve been living under a rock for your entire life, here is how you choose the right rolling papers for you.
And here’s another video, because sometimes you just need a damn video. Amiright?!
As you can see from this list, there are a lot of ways to smoke weed. Almost too many to choose from. So what’s the benefit of smoking a joint instead of all the other methods on this list?
For one thing, size is a major factor. A large number of joints can be stored and transported in nothing more than a plastic bag. Then, all you need is a lighter to get your ganja on. Ease of rolling is another important factor to consider. Joint papers are relatively easy to handle and can be purchased without hassle at any number of convenient locations.
6. Soda Can
Smoking out of a soda can is as juvenile, if not MORE juvenile, than the old apple pipe trick. At least with the apple you had a tasty, healthy treat when all was said and done.
As silly as the soda can is, it will always be an option because it’s just so damn easy. You literally bend the can, poke some little holes in the top of the crease, poke a hole in the side of the can to be the carb, and BAM, you have a pipe.
Soda can proponents even claim that you can get residual sugar and caffeine molecules from the wall of the can to make your smoking experience even better. We don’t know about the science of all that, but it sounds like it could be possible. Give it a try and see what you think.
7. Gravity Bong
A gravity bong is every poor stoner’s go-to. It’s a dank way to get high AF without actually using the majority of your special stash.
Gravity bongs come in two basic designs:
- The bucket gravity bong
- The waterfall gravity bong
Here’s a simple description of the way you can make a bucket gravity bong. The above link contains much more detailed instruction. You need a 2-liter bottle and a bottle or container that’s much bigger—your kitchen sink or a bucket will do. Cut a little less than half of the bottle off the bottom and insert it into the larger reservoir of water. Make a bowl from the cap of the 2-liter bottle.
Pack and light the bowl while at the same time slowly lifting up on the bottle trapping all of the smoke inside. Be sure not to pull the bottle all the way out of the water or you’ll lose all your smoke. Remove the cap and suck the weed smoke out the top. Simple and effective.
If the bucket gravity bong isn’t your thing, you might enjoy the waterfall gravity bong. As with the bucket gravity bong, the instructions here are abbreviated. Check out the link above for more details.
First, poke a hole in the bottom of your 2-liter bottle. Then poke or drill a hole through the bottle cap. Insert the stem of your bowl through the hole you just drilled. That’s it for the assembly. Easy, right? Here’s how to use the waterfall gravity bong.
Plug the bottom hole with your finger and fill the bottle with water. Put the cap on the bottle and light the weed (we assume you already put the weed in the bowl). Holding the bottle over a sink or bucket, remove your finger from the bottom hole. The water will drain out the hole and pull the smoke into the bottle.
When the bottle is completely empty of water, move your finger back over the hole so you don’t lose any of that delicious smoke. Finally, remove the bowl cap from the bottle, take your finger off the bottom hole, and inhale to your heart’s content.
Trust me, with either of these gravity bongs you will be f*cked up. Like seeing people’s conversations in literal word bubbles f*cked up.
Smoking out of tinfoil reminds me of hanging out with the “bad kids” in high school and somehow having weed but never having anything to smoke it with…not even a damned apple. If we managed to get the weed, how hard could it be to get access to a pipe?
Anyway, this is fine if you like burning up brain cells. There is no reason to be smoking your weed by lighting metal on fire.
Bubblers are the sh*t. Great mix between a classic bong and a glass pipe. The thing that rocks about a bub it that you get all the hard action of the bong without having to drag around a clunky, awkward object everywhere with you.
Bubblers are easy, portable and they get you sky high. But it’s a mellow high.
Blunts are the easy way to go when you’re in a spur of the moment smoking situation. They are one of the best ways to smoke weed because they’re super simple to do. For pretty easy, blunt rolling directions, check out this instructional video.
Blunts are similar to joints in many ways, the chief way being that they contain only marijuana. The thing that sets blunts and joints apart as different is that blunts are rolled with cigar papers instead of cigarette or rolling paper.
Because cigar papers are often larger than regular rolling papers, they can hold more marijuana when rolled. This means that blunts are almost always longer and thicker than your typical joint.
Some like their blunts packed so that they look like a commercial cigar, while others like their blunts packed so that they look like a drinking straw. It’s all in what you prefer. Regardless of the size, it’s what’s on the outside—tobacco paper or a cigar wrap—that makes a blunt a blunt.
So what’s the benefit of a blunt over a joint? Good question. Burn time is one consideration. The thickness of the cigar wrap makes a blunt burn slower than the ephemeral joint.
This cigar wrap also adds material (tobacco) to the smoking experience. The tobacco can provide a unique buzz all its own and can contribute any early euphoria before the cannabis high kicks in.
One-hitters, amiright? They don’t look like anything. They look like cigarettes most of the time…which don’t even get me started why something so f*cking toxic is legal and yet weed is only legal in 23 states…really gets me fired up…anyway, one hitters are a good way to smoke in-between classes or on your lunch break. You only get one solid hit and that’s enough to take the edge off when you’re stressing and crunched for time.
I will never truly know how the actual f*ck you make a chalice. Who has time to carve out some coconut concoction in the name of getting high? Hand me a bong any day. If you’re feeling ambitious, here’s an instructional video. God speed.
I love my bowl. Gimme a bowl any day of the week. You get a really nice chest burn from this old classic. You can’t really go wrong with a bowl.
A good bowl is a collector’s item. It’ll see you through the darkest and lightest of times. No matter the mood, it is always a good time to pack a fat bowl and smoke up the sticky icky.
14. A Wooden Pipe
Other than the obvious reason to smoke from a wooden pipe (to look like Abraham Lincoln) it’s just f*cking classy. At least, until the hipsters of Brooklyn RUINED it by trying to make it ironic.
If you’re using a wooden pipe in the pure mindset of only replicating the badassery of Honest Abe and not in an attempt to be a douche lord who listens to The Smiths and wears flannels, it’s a great option and I encourage you.
15. Gas Mask
Basically, you just attach the gas mask to the top of your bong and BAM, you’re golden. None of that juicy smoke will escape. Your face will just be engulfed in the thick clouds of your poor decisions. You’re killing it.
This is the ideal method for when you’re in a social setting where the group is larger than where you pass an actual joint. The only problem is that a lot of the weed gets burned up with the tobacco, making your high milder while still using the same amount of weed.
This method should only be used on special occasions. The best part: Your parents will never know you’re getting rocked when the scent of marijuana is cleverly masked by the jasmine tropical fruit berry flavored tobacco you picked up from Rajen at the bodega.
Dabbing makes use of dabs, also known as butane hash oil (BHO), which are an extremely potent extract of the cannabis plant. This solidified hash oil (the dab) is meant to be smoked with a rig, much like a bong bowl, except that, instead of a lighter, you use a blowtorch. Yes, that’s right, a blowtorch.
Because of the high heat, dabbing is essentially a flash-vaporization method of cannabis delivery. And because the dab is concentrated extract, inhaling the vapors can get you super high in no time flat.
Though it might look quite dangerous, dabbing is actually healthier than inhaling smoke from joints or bongs. Because of the high heat to which the BHO is exposed, the resultant vapor is free of any foreign plant material.
This makes the vapor much more “pure” than burning your weed with a regular old flame. However, this potent option is certainly not for beginners. Dabbing has been nicknamed the “crack” of pot. Use at your own risk…
You’re going to have to use your imagination on this one (which shouldn’t be too hard if you’ve taken a toke or two). The marijuana steamroller got its name from the monstrous paving machines of old.
Follow me on this: Start at the top of the smokestack and work your way down to the main body of the vehicle. Now let your eyes travel right to the butt end of the machine. Close your eyes and visualize that shape in your head. Now open your eyes!
19. Hot Knives
The hot-knives method for smoking weed is probably best reserved for when you’re sober. As you’ll see, it requires a fair bit of coordination, something that is severely lacking when you’re high.
First, cut the bottom off a plastic bottle, remove the top, and set it aside for future use. Next, heat two butter knives (the wider the better) on the stove. Better yet, abscond with a blow torch—it’s much faster. Whatever source you use, heat the knives until they’re red hot.
Pick up the topless and bottomless (yeah, baby!) plastic bottle and position it over your knives. Squish a nug of weed between the two hot knives, and inhale the smoke through the bottle.
20. Straight To The Dome
Straight to the dome is probably the easiest way to smoke weed, but it’s by no means the smartest. Let’s say you find yourself without a bong, without rolling papers, without any type of container to hold your ganja. What’s a jonesing stoner to do?
Stick a nug of bud in your left nostril, light the bud on fire, plug your right nostril, and inhale. Straight to the dome!
As we mentioned, this isn’t the smartest way to burn down, but it will do if you have absolutely nothing else from which to smoke. Honestly, you’d be better off scrounging through the garbage for an old piece of fruit or a pop can.
But if you find yourself lost in the wilderness with nothing but a bag of Blue Dream and a lighter, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
Bonus: Organic Marijuana
Now that you know the best way to smoke weed, make sure you’re only consuming organic marijuana, as this is the best way to ensure a high-quality smoking experience.
Wanna know the best way to smoke weed? The experts at Honest Marijuana show you 20 of the most novel, most exciting ways to burn down.