If your preferred method of cycling THC through your bloodstream is smoking, options abound for inhaling the heady stuff. These paraphernalia pieces vary in price, depending on where they are purchased and how high-tech they are, but from a standard joint to elaborately artistic glass pieces, you’re sure to find the vessel that suits your needs.
Easily transportable and discreet, it’s no wonder that joints are still prevalent, despite all of the advancements in smoking technology. Most shops carry rolling papers, blunt wraps and even rolling devices to roll your own joints, or a few, such as the Breckenridge Cannabis Club, sell pre-rolled joints if your fingers just aren’t that nimble.
How they work: A joint is similar to a hand-rolled tobacco cigarette and can be rolled with or without a filter. Crumble or grind whole flowers into smaller pieces, remove any stems and seeds and roll into a rolling paper. Light one end, and take a drag, called a hit, from the other.
The next step up from a joint is a hitter or bat, an incredibly simple pipe. Hitters can be made of various materials, but one of the most common is glass.
“A bat is a small, straight piece of glass with a hole on each end, one for your material and one to smoke out of,” said Zach York, processing supervisor at Alpenglow Botanicals.
If you’re looking for something a bit larger, graduate to a bowl-style piece, a glass pipe with a relatively deep bowl fitted with a carb or choke on the side and four or five inches of glass between your face and the end of it. This is one of the most popular vessels for smoking marijuana, a less common style of which is the steamroller.
“Not as many people like those,” York said of the steamroller-style pipe. “It’s a straight tube with the carb at the very end and the bowl at the end of the piece. The only difference is the shape.”
How they work: To smoke out of a hitter, load one end of it, typically the end with the larger flare, by packing the marijuana tightly into it. Light the packed material, and take a hit from the other end. A bowl-style piece works in a similar fashion, with flowers packed into the bowl. If the pipe has a carb, inhale with your finger over the hole on the side of the bowl and release the carb while continuing to inhale to draw the smoke into your lungs.
Adding a water filter to a pipe allows for a cleaner, smoother intake and arguably a more flavorful experience when smoking. The cooling aspect of the water can help eliminate coughing and throat irritation from smoke, York said.
The universal title of water pipe applies to vessels in a range of sizes, from smaller bubblers, which have water filtration at the end of a bowl glass piece, on up to tabletop-sitting bongs.
How they work: Putting your mouth onto the mouthpiece of the pipe creates a vacuum, and inhaling draws the smoke into the chamber, where it bubbles through the water. Once the chamber fills with the desired amount of water-cooled smoke, the smoker can release the vacuum with a carb and continue inhaling to draw the smoke into their lungs.
The latest smoking technology, for marijuana and tobacco, comes in the form of the vaporizer. Vaporizers are used for smoking both flowers and hash, and the idea behind this pen-style apparatus is to surround the material with heat, rather than combusting it. Butane vaporizers use a metal heating element or wire around a wick, York said, and others use a ceramic heating element.
“The idea is to have as little combustion as possible or eliminate combustion totally,” York said. “The portable vaporizing pens do that as best they can because you’re still loading your material onto a heating coil that gets red hot. There are some heating elements with the vaporizers that come with a built-in metal screen over the heating elements.”
How they work: Marijuana flowers are packed into one end of the vaporizer pen, called the oven, similar to packing the bowl of a pipe. Heat surrounds the flowers and releases the active ingredients in the marijuana as a vapor, which is inhaled through the other end of the pen. Larger vaporizers are constructed differently, but the general idea of decreasing the amount of inhaled smoke is the same.