Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Smoking weed for the first time may feel a bit daunting. If you’re unsure where to start, a few expert tips can help set you up for an enjoyable experience. Learn starter steps on how to smoke marijuana through a joint, pipe, and bong –– plus gain knowledge about weed etiquette and healthier alternatives to smoking.
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Preparing to Smoke
Before you smoke marijuana, check your mindset and mood. If you’re feeling good (mentally and physically) and are in a safe space, you’ve laid the foundation for a positive experience. If you feel sad, nervous, or scared, it may not be the best time to use a drug with psychoactive effects. In particular, THC-rich varieties of cannabis can amplify negative emotions.
That said, utilizing CBD or a lower dose of THC may help alleviate feelings of fear, sadness, or anxiety. Before you try smoking weed, it’s a good idea to note the chemical components that make up the particular plant, in particular, cannabinoids and terpenes. These compounds can provide insight into the effects specific strains (cultivars) have. For example, strains high in the terpene myrcene –– the most abundant terpene in cannabis plants –– may help with pain relief.
What You’ll Need
Supplies will vary depending on your smoking method of choice, but here are some of the most common types of cannabis equipment:
- Herb grinder
- Rolling papers or pre-rolled joints
- Lighter or matches
- Clean water
Next, let’s look at the different methods for smoking cannabis and break them down to the basics.
How to Smoke a Joint
A joint is basically a cannabis cigarette. It’s rolled in the same type of paper as cigarettes but contains no addictive nicotine. You can buy pre-rolled joints or try rolling one at home yourself. Rolling and smoking a joint involves the following steps:
- Break up the cannabis flower using a grinder or by hand.
- Take a small piece of stiff paper and roll it tightly to create a filter. This step isn’t necessary, but it prevents the joint from clogging.
- Pick your preferred rolling paper material (rice paper, wheat straw paper, etc.) and sprinkle in the ground cannabis.
- Hold the paper with one hand and arrange the cannabis evenly in the center. This can be tricky the first few times, but start rolling it up, then twist and seal the joint.
Now you’re ready to smoke. Light the joint and slowly inhale a puff. Hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly. Take a quick break after the first hit to see how the weed is affecting you so far.
How to Smoke a Blunt
A blunt is similar to a joint, except it’s rolled with cigar papers. To roll and smoke a blunt, follow the same steps for a joint. Keep in mind that blunt wraps and cigar papers are often made of tobacco leaves containing nicotine and other harmful chemicals. It’s wise to refrain from using cannabis in this manner as it’s not the safest alternative.
How to Smoke a Pipe
This is one of the most accessible routes for smoking marijuana. A pipe is a handheld smoking device with a bowl-shaped end where the cannabis gets packed. Pipes are often made from glass and come in various designs. Here’s how to pack and smoke a pipe:
- Grind the cannabis into small bits with a grinder or your fingers.
- Fill the pipe bowl with ground herb.
- Use a lighter or hemp wick to spark the bowl.
- Place your lips around the pipe mouthpiece and inhale slowly.
- Release the cannabis smoke and pause for a bit before inhaling again.
How to Smoke a Bong
The most intricate of the three, a bong is a smoking filtration device. It has a removable bowl that connects to a long, tube-shaped smoke chamber usually made of glass. Bongs come in all shapes and sizes but are much larger than pipes. If you want to start small, you can also find smaller water pipes called bubblers. Packing and smoking a bong involves the following steps:
- Fill the bong with clean water.
- Take some finely ground weed and pack the bowl tightly.
- Hold the bong and put your lips on the mouthpiece. Tilt your lighter and bring the flame to the bowl.
- Slowly inhale at the same time you’re lighting the bowl. Once you’re satisfied with the smoke produced, you can stop igniting it.
- Remove the bowl from its stem and breathe in the smoke inside the chamber.
- Hold for about three seconds and release. Replace the bowl in its stem and repeat until you reach the desired effects.
- Clean your bong thoroughly and swap it out with fresh water before each smoke session.
Smoking weed has a long history in social settings. For some people, this aspect of the experience is just as important as smoking itself. The rules of weed etiquette are pretty simple. For example, don’t share a joint with others when you’re sick, and don’t pressure anyone to partake if they don’t feel comfortable.
If you rolled the joint, marijuana etiquette suggests you also be the one who lights it. Take a puff or two, then pass the joint to your left. The following person then puffs and passes, continuing in a clockwise direction. When it’s your turn, refrain from blowing smoke in anyone’s face. Keep the mouthpiece clean of saliva and any accumulated ash.
Remember that there are no hard and fast rules for smoking; weed etiquette is not always followed and may differ between countries.
How to Smoke Weed Properly
One of the downsides of smoking cannabis is coughing. Cannabis novices may be surprised by how much they cough, but fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid this unwanted effect:
- Inhale slowly and take smaller hits.
- Exhale slowly and wait a minute before taking another hit. Breathe in deeply and give your lungs time to recuperate.
- Stay hydrated throughout the smoking experience and drink water between hits.
If your weed cough persists after the smoke session, try throat lozenges or drinking hot herbal tea. Speak with a doctor if your cough lasts longer than a day or two.
Alternatives to Smoking Cannabis
Some people should avoid smoking cannabis (and tobacco) altogether due to respiratory conditions like asthma or lung disease. There are lots of ways to experience marijuana that don’t involve inhaling any smoke. Here are some other common consumption methods:
Cannabis edibles are highly potent and generally not recommended for beginners. If you are venturing into edible territory, start with a high CBD-to-THC ratio and small portion size. If you’re not feeling the effects, wait at least two hours before taking more, as it’s easy to overdo it with edibles.
Cannabis is commonly used in sweet treats like brownies, cookies, and candy. You can also try savory recipes like edible salad dressing, sauces, and rubs.
Like edibles, a little can go a long way with sublingual tinctures. This liquid form of cannabis comes in small glass bottles with a dropper cap. To use, squeeze one or two drops under your tongue. Wait until you feel the effects before using any more.
Creams, oils, and bath products have become popular among CBD users and people who don’t want to consume cannabis. For example, topical cooling and heating gels are especially beneficial for people managing muscle and joint pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you smoke CBD?
Yes, you can smoke CBD in flower form, but CBD oils are not meant to be smoked. Some people find that smoking CBD or hemp flower is the most potent and effective way to experience the cannabinoid.
How do I get rid of the smell of weed?
Marijuana smoke leaves a distinctive smell in the air. You can reduce the weed smell by using aromatherapy candles, odor removers, or by burning incense. If you’re still concerned about the odor, do a load of laundry or take a long shower. Clean scents from detergents and shampoos help clear the air and leave spaces smelling fresh.
Are pre-rolled joints more expensive than rolling your own?
In general, pre-made joints are more pricey than those you roll on your own. Either way, prices vary depending on your smoking setup, what rolling materials you use, and the quality of the cannabis strain. A pre-rolled joint costs an average of $10 or more, while a joint you roll yourself costs half that ($5 or less), and the supplies last a lot longer.