September 29, 2020

The Beginner’s Guide to Weed Paraphernalia

September 29, 2020
A collection of pot paraphernalia for beginners.

You’ve done it! After years of soul searching and self reflection, you’ve finally found your life’s calling. You were put on this Earth . . .  to smoke marijuana. The only issue is – now you’re standing in the middle of a headshop, crumbling under the weight of the choice ahead of you. Hundreds of pipes, bongs, vaporizers line the walls, and all of them are calling your name.

What should be your instrument: The standard bowl? The steamroller? A Volcano for the coffee table? Before answering that – here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  1. How often do you consume weed?
  2. Where do you consume weed?
  3. How do you like to consume weed?

While you ponder, we’ll help with some of the purchase anxiety.

Rolling Papers, Blunt Wraps and Happiness

Even though we’re living through a new age inhabited by 3-foot bongs and spaceship-shaped vaporizers, some prefer the timeless ritual of “puff, puff, pass”. And, if rolling really is your way of life (refer to question #3 above), you’ll certainly need your favorite papers or wraps handy. Raw, Juicy Jays, Swisher Sweets, Dutch Master – there are plenty of ways and plenty of reasons to enjoy a joint or blunt. 

What is a Joint?

A joint is simply a rolled marijuana cigarette. It’s like the Coca-Cola of the paraphernalia world – classic. Arguably, the most iconic way to smoke weed, joints provide a discreet, portable, social, and artistic flair to consuming cannabis. How so? Well – 

Discreet and Portable

 If you’re strolling through the park, planning a midday toke, are you carrying a bong in your pocket? Not a chance. You might be carrying a tightly-packed bowl, but even that can result in quite a mess. 

More likely, you have a joint resting behind your ear, and it’s waiting for you to find the perfect park bench so it can get plucked out and fulfill its destiny. And, when that time comes, the trusty joint masquerades as whatever you need it to be: a cigarette, a lollipop stick, a rolled up receipt that you’re smoking for some reason. The only thing you can’t cover up is the immediately identifiable smell of burning marijuana – that’s where the discretion ends! 

Social

If you’re stranded at a mutual friend’s mutual friend’s house party with few social skills and even less of a clue for who these people are, the key to fresh friendship is in your pocket . . . as long as a joint is also in that pocket. 

The moment you pull out that joint and put a flame to its tip, a crowd has already formed a circle. As you puff your first cloud of cannabis smoke and pass it to the left, conversations are starting and friends are being made. 

Artistic

A joint isn’t artistic in the way a Jackson Pollock is artistic. You’re not going to be haphazardly flinging paint at your bud and papers anytime soon – hopefully. However, rolling a joint is an art form, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  

Most people can construct a halfway decent joint after a few crinkled rolling papers and a YouTube tutorial. But only an artist can roll a tulip joint, a cross joint, and everything in between. The art isn’t in the product – it’s in the ability and freedom to make what you want out of it. Whether it’s a pinner for a solo sesh or a fatty for a smoke circle is up to you. 

What is a Blunt?

A blunt is a cigar that has had the tobacco removed and replaced with cannabis. And while joints are the most traditional and prominent smoking apparatus, blunts certainly have their place in the culture. Whether it’s Snoop Dogg’s personal roller producing 81 blunts a day or Miley Cyrus celebrating 4/20 by smoking a blunt the size of her forearm, blunts are often seen in the shadow of excess.

Perhaps justifiably so. While a blunt accomplishes everything a joint is going for – discreet, social, customizable – it also does so much more. Generally, blunts are larger than joints, contain more cannabis than joints, and last longer than joints. 

On average, joints hold about 0.32 grams of weed. Blunts can easily hold 2 grams, and that’s without an ounce of effort or ambition. So if your answer to “how often do you consume weed?” was “eh – not that much”, blunts probably aren’t the paraphernalia for you. However, if your answer was “about 2 grams per session”, maybe there’s a chance!

In addition to blunts containing more pot than joints, their wraps also bring a few key differences to the rolling tray. Cigar/cigarillo wraps are often made from tobacco. While that can add an additional buzz to your cannabis high, it also packs some unfortunate carcinogens and toxins.

What are the Best Rolling Papers and Blunt Wraps?

After surveying the options and deciding what’s more important – the amount of weed consumed or the purity of paper smoked – you stand beside the rolling papers and wraps, puzzled. Even though you’ve narrowed the method, the choice of brand leaves you with pause. 

Again, rolling is an art, and it’s an art based upon personal preference. The current standard for rolling papers is arguably Raw. Raws have gained major popularity in recent years, and they’re lauded for their reliable roll and blend of unbleached fibers. Many major cannabis brands even use Raw for their pre-rolled joints, so if there’s a reputable brand to experiment with – it’s Raw. 

As for blunt wraps, the jury is still out. There are a few old-school favorites like Swisher Sweets and Dutch Masters – brands that solidified their presence in the blunt space with smooth flavors and easy rolls. Then there are brands like Juicy Jays, notorious for their bombastic, fruity flavor – and without the presence of tobacco. Where someone lands is often up to what they started rolling with in the first place. But no matter the brand, one tried and true saying still stands – a roller keeps on rollin’.

Bowls, Bongs, and Everything in Between

Then again, maybe rolling isn’t your thing. Maybe blunt wraps make your throat hurt and a joint burning reminds you of your own mortality. Maybe you’d prefer a more permanent solution for your smoke sessions. 

Pipes provide that permanence, along with elements of beauty and personality. You walk into a head shop, and pipes outnumber you 5,000 to 1 – there has to be one that’s right for you. It’s your piece, your muse, your smoking soulmate. Whether it’s a traditional pipe, a one hitter, a bong or a steamroller, one of these is yours. But where to start?

What is a hand pipe?

The pipe has been commonplace in cannabis history as far back as 2000 B.C. The process is straightforward: You pack the bowl, light the bud, and inhale through the mouthpiece. Simple, effective, and enduring.

Though pipes were initially built across many cultures with accessible materials like wood, stone and clay, the use of glass to produce cannabis paraphernalia wasn’t popularized until the 1960s. Now, with the social acceptance weed has gained over the past decade, the abundance of glass pipes can be overwhelming. Not only are their numbers daunting, but the variety of shapes, sizes and designs can leave a newbie breathless. 

But that’s one of the most exciting aspects of buying a new bowl  – one of those shapes, sizes and designs is just right for you. In addition to looking beautiful, it carries a lot of the same functions as a joint or blunt. It can be portable, it’s definitely a great conversation starter, and the variety adds an artistic flair to the session. However, if you plan on smoking on the go, you are losing a good deal of subtlety. And glass isn’t the most durable material either. 

You could invest in a ceramic, silicone or wooden pipe, but glass is the new standard for a reason. Not only is it often the cleanest, cheapest and safest material, but the visual artistry accomplished with glass is indisputable. And that beauty and design work is extended to other genres of pipes too.

What is a bong?

A bong is a water pipe used to smoke cannabis. Though it’s been used in cultures throughout Asia and Africa for centuries, the first mention of it in the West wasn’t until the 1940’s, and its use didn’t gain prominence until the 60s and 70s. Then it gained even more prominence with the release of 2006’s slasher-comedy Evil Bong.

Though they span many shapes, designs and sizes – all bongs consist of a few key parts:

  • Bowl: Often removable part of the bong that is used to hold the cannabis. 
  • Stem: Tube that holds the bowl. Attached to the bong’s body and has an attached downstem that leads to the water source.
  • Water Chamber: Stores the water that the cannabis smoke is filtered through.
  • Neck and Mouthpiece: Tube leading from the water chamber to the opening at the mouthpiece.

In addition to those standard elements, you can of course add other components. You can get a percolator for more efficient smoke filtration, an ice catcher to add more of a cooling effect, or even a double bowl if you’re feeling really adventurous. No matter how elaborate, the main advantages of the bong are simple and alluring. 

The bong is designed to filter and cool cannabis smoke. This allows for smoother hits and a more forgiving smoke session for your throat and lungs. However, what you gain with the comfortable inhales and more artistic display, you lose with the lack of portability. 

You can offset that negative a bit depending on your choice of water pipe. There are acrylic and silicone bongs that travel pretty well and are virtually indestructible. Even then, those are generally marketed toward the chronically clumsy smoker more than the traveling smoker. Silicone or not, if traveled with – bongs can be messy and cumbersome. And though it may seem like a good idea at first, you’ll regret it once your backpack is wet and your car smells like bong water.

What is a bubbler?

A bubbler is a hand-held water piper – the perfect crossover between a bong and a hand pipe. In other terms, bubblers are the Jimmy Timmy Power Hour of the paraphernalia world. 

Carrying most of the functionality of a bong, a bubbler too consists of a bowl, a stem, a water chamber and a mouthpiece as well. Like a bong, a bubbler can filter and aerate the cannabis smoke you inhale. The key difference is clear: size. Being handheld, bubblers retain the portability, ease and unobtrusive nature of hand pipes. The only detractors are that it still requires water, needs more cleaning, and doesn’t work great in large groups. 

However, if you’re looking for the portability of a joint with the clean draw of more sophisticated paraphernalia, you’re living in the right era. 

Cannabis Vaporizers: A New World Awaits

What is a Weed Vaporizer?

A vaporizer is a piece of paraphernalia that uses heat to vaporize the active molecules in cannabis. Unlike other options we’ve discussed, vaporizers can open up the world of cannabis concentrates, oils, and extracts to users who have strictly combusted their weed in the past.

Vaporizing vs. Combustion

In this context, combustion can be pared down to simple terms: burning your cannabis in order to smoke it. The open flame used to make the marijuana combust reaches more than 600 degrees F, while vaporizers will heat the cannabis to just below its combustion point of 360 degrees F. Not only are the lower temperatures less harsh on the smoker’s throat and lungs, but there is also scientific reasoning as to why vaping results in a crisper high. 

While consuming via combustion, the temperature from the lighter’s open flame is hot enough to burn away a good amount of precious cannabinoids within the bud. Those wasted cannabinoids can result in a high that lacks some of the health benefits or intensity that vaporizing it would’ve brought to the table. 

It’s a cleaner high, a less harmful hit, and you can try out concentrates, so . . . 

What vaporizer is right for you?

Portable Flower Vapes

These vaporizers are the modern weed enthusiast’s answer to puff, puff, pass.  If you’re seeking a sesh option that packs the portability of a joint without the chore of rolling, a portable flower vape might be the choice to make. 

They come in a variety of builds and specifications, but the main draw is it being an inconspicuous, portable way to vaporize flower. And while many of these portable options don’t have temperature control, they still provide a tastier and cleaner experience than burning the cannabis would.

Portable Oil Vapes

Portable oil vapes are by and large the most discreet option in the world of weed paraphernalia. If you enjoy cannabis concentrate and are even the least bit mobile, this is most likely your daily carry choice. Due to the small battery and simple design, a lot of these devices are indistinguishable from a pen or stylus. 

On top of their low key presentation, they are also very user friendly. Rather than having to pack bud or scoop oil, most designs allow you to simply switch out pre-loaded concentrate cartridges. However, if you would also like a vaporizer that gives you the option of switching back and forth to flower, there are several hybrid portable vapes out there.

Table-Top Vaporizers

The homebody’s dream machine. Table-top vapes not only offer a wonderful cannabis consumption experience, but they do so with the most advanced technology among all paraphernalia. The precise temperature control that these things pack ensures that you get the most out of the cannabinoids you’ve paid for. 

The obvious detractor here is the overall lack of portability, though if you’re looking for a pricey investment for your domestic cannabis experience, you can’t go wrong with a table-top vaporizer. It’ll all be worth it when you take your first hit from your mouthpiece hose or your bagful of weed vapor. 

What Weed Paraphernalia is Right for You?

As all of the variables have suggested, it’s not that simple. Joints, blunts, bowls, bongs, vapes – each option has a valid argument as to why they’re the one. So, we return to the three questions.

  1. How often do you consume weed?
  2. Where do you consume weed?
  3. How do you like to consume weed?

If your answer to number one is “⅛ of a gram, once a month,” then neither a bong nor table-top vape probably aren’t your best options. If your answer to number two is “my parents’ kitchen,” then maybe you want something a little less loud than a blunt. And, if you know your answer to number three, then you’re good to go!

The only piece of paraphernalia that I can suggest without a shadow of a doubt . . . is a good grinder. I promise it will come in handy at some point, if not your everyday use!

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