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How to pack and smoke a bowl of cannabis

grinding weed

How to pack and smoke a bowl of cannabis

There are many ways to smoke marijuana, but perhaps none is as well known as smoking a bowl from a glass pipe. Learning how to pack and smoke marijuana is an essential lesson that those new to cannabis and more experienced enthusiasts can benefit from.

Whether you want to pack a bowl for a personal session or a party of friends, understanding the following fundamentals will help optimize your smoking experience.

glass pipe smoking
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Choose the right marijuana pipe.

Cannabis smoking devices come in all shapes and sizes, and while the simple weed pipe is the most popular, a smoother hit will be had with a water bong

Adapted from traditional bongs used for tobacco, cannabis water pipes share all the same fundamental characteristics. A bowl to pack the herb in, a down stem to carry the smoke to the water filtration, and a mouthpiece.   

Some of these pipes contain a second air passage, called a carburetor or carb, to regulate the flow of air through the bong.  

Traditionally, pipes used for smoking are made of wood, bamboo, or even ceramic. But, borosilicate glass is now widely used in cannabis water pipes because of the versatility of the medium offering plenty of variety. 

Although bongs are still widely sold as tobacco smoking accessories in most states, they can be found in collectibles stores, gift shops, and general stores. You can also find them online at marijuana events, dispensaries, and headshops.

The shape and size of the pipes, as well as their complexity, functionality, and availability, can vary greatly. Bongs and bubblers filter marijuana smoke with water and cool it before inhaling.

A typical basic type of bong is called a "beaker bong" because of its shape. If you're new to marijuana, these tubes are perhaps the best choice because they're easy to use, clean, and often cheaper than more complex water pipes. 

How to get started packing a bowl

In order to smoke from a bong, you will need some necessary items to get started. In addition to a bowl or water pipe, some form of heating element such as a lighter will be required.

Traditional butane lighters work well, although there are an infinite number of non-butane heating elements to choose from if you want to avoid having a butane smell in your bowl. The most efficient lighters and heaters will allow optimal heating control when burning the bowl. 

Some consumers prefer to ignite bowls with a hemp wick, a waxy twine that is easy to ignite and burns evenly without creating a bad aftertaste.

One other popular heating element is a glass bar that can be heated until it comes into contact with your herbs, completely eliminating the burning smoke, as well as by tapping cannabinoids and flavors.

An important factor to consider is whether to use a screen for the water pipe. Screens can help avoid small plant fragments dropping into the pipe, but if you don't have any pipe screens, you can improvise by twisting wire or a paper clip into a coil or try the screen from the head of a faucet. 

We do not recommend using aluminum foil, soda cans, or window screens as DIY pipe screens, as these screens are often coated with materials that are hazardous if inhaled.

Once your pipe is ready with water, bowl, and screen, you need to prepare the cannabis. Breaking down the herb is a crucial step as it allows for a uniform airflow through the bowl, and the smoke can pass through evenly.

How to pack and smoke a bowl or water pipe: A step-by-step guide

l Get your bong, some weed, and a herb grinder if you have one. 

l Grind up your weed -- make sure it's evenly shredded but not too finely ground. If you don't have a weed grinder, you can use your hands to pull the weed apart the old school way or use some scissors to save some time and effort. 

l Add some water to your bong, enough to cover the slits at the bottom of the downstem

l Put the screen in the bowl of your pipe and then add the shredded cannabis in the bowl. 

Some expert tips to help maximize airflow:

l Pack the bowl lightly at the bottom and a little heavier at the top of the bowl. This lets the draw be smoother and keeps the burn or cherry steady at the top while opening the airflow, making it easier to inhale without clogging.

lIf the pipe has a carb hole, it will generally be within easy reach of where you hold the pipe usually around the lower part of the neck. Place your thumb over this and the light up the bowl and inhale steadily.  

l When your lungs are almost full, lift the bowl or remove your thumb from the carb hole so you can draw the remaining smoke through. 

Grinding weed
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The etiquette of smoking a bong in a group

We all start somewhere; when first learning how to smoke a bong, there is some etiquette to follow to make sure you have the best possible experience. When you smoke with others, make sure you bring a bowl that's in proportion to the number of people in your smoking circle. 

If you are with one or two friends, then you can pack a smaller bowl or a "snap" for each person. In this way, you can take turns lighting individual miniature bowls, which you take in a single hit.

For larger groups, the larger well packed "party bowl" means that everyone can have a fresh hit of green herbs. 

Traditionally, whoever provides the marijuana gets to decide who gets to light the first hit. To make sure everyone gets the same experience, make sure to light only a small portion of visible marijuana and place the flame at the edge of the bowl. This allows everyone to get the same taste without leaving and pre-burned ashy hit for someone at the end. 

If the bowl is cherried (the nug inside the bowl is still lit), pass it around, but be sure to let the receiver know. 

And remember, never pocket someone lighter. Everyone hates lighter thieves!

With these tips in mind, partaking of a bong hit by yourself or with friends should be a piece of cake. Remember to maintain good smoking etiquette when filling a bowl for a friend, and make sure you smoke marijuana in a safe and legal place.