When Seth Rogan said “coughing makes you ten times higher” the world’s population of stoners let out an uproarious laughter, but mostly not because of how ridiculous it was - but how we all thought “yeah, that sounds right.” While some people dismiss the cannabis cough as a myth, many others swear by its ability to take you higher.
Whether it’s the inane ramblings of an OG stoner or a carefully thought out, effective method brainstormed by a physics student, everyone, and I mean everyone has their own opinion when it comes to the best way to take your leaf to the brain. The debate over toking methods rages on to this day but there are a few tried and true methods that all stoners alike will have encountered throughout our hazey careers, from bongs to vapes, rollies to hash, I’m going to have a look at the different methods available and help you make an educated decision on which method is right for you - and cost effective!
A lot of toker’s like to keep it simple and minimise the risk of a mid sesh by making sure they’ve got a high THC content strain. Understanding how much THC you’re actually receiving will help you better understand if you should upgrade your bud or your smoking method. Importantly, understanding how much THC you enjoy will allow you to open the door to new intake methods, such as concentrates and edibles, and you can then begin using weed in a variety of creative and fun ways.
Now, with that being said it isn’t an easy task finding out the THC content of your bud, especially in countries where it’s still illegal, although testing kits can be purchased online.
Possibly the most common practice when it comes to burning the bush has to be traditional rollies - there’s nothing sweeter than grinding your bud with a high quality grinder and filling a rollie to pass around between you and some pals. But how effective is smoking a rollie?
Now, obviously this can depend on what you’re filling your zoot with - is it 70% herb and 30% tobacco? Pure bud? Or maybe it’s 50/50? Either way it’s clear that the more bud you smoke the higher you will get - that’s not what we’re here to discuss, It’s the effectiveness of the method that interests me. - Luckily some stoner scientists have done the calculations and research for me and we have some hard stats and numbers to go from: “A study found that when smoking a joint, you only receive 20-37% of the flower’s THC, with 23-30% loss to pyrolytic destruction (i.e. the bud getting too hot and destroying the THC), and another 40-50% loss to sidestream smoke, or the smoke you see when no one’s actively taking a pull.”
I don’t know about you but to me these are some daunting facts, you could have bought the dankest Cali you ever did see and by smoking it through a rollie you run the potential of losing up to 80% of your take-home THC - Not good enough during a cost of living crisis.
The difference is in the fine details, like which papers you might be using, for the best THC retention you’ll want to use thin papers that burn slowly and with minimal ash as possible, check out Rolling Refills for the best selection of rolling papers on the net.
Smoking A Bowl
With those terrifying truths about smoking traditional rollies out of the way, you’d hope that when it comes to packing a bowl, all that THC is safely kept inside the bowl - but sadly, you’d be wrong.
It’s said that overheating alone has a loss of around 60% of your precious THC, only intaking 40% of the THC since you’d be holding an open flame or torch directly to the bud the entire time. The idea is that you would smoke all, or most of the buds in one or two pulls and avoid letting it overheat. If you were to take a bowl and allow the weed to sit hot, you can expect another 5-10% to sidestream depending how long you wait.
So yep, another 60-70% of your take-home THC thrown out the window when smoking through a bowl - And I thought this was the safe option.
You might think that you’ll be able to circumvent the loss of THC by going for the concentrated product - Hashish. Hash is made of the pressed and dried trichomes of the flower. These trichomes hold a mass of the THC in the plant, and create a product 2x as potent as your usual bud in most cases.
Hash can be smoked using either of the methods above but unfortunately, you can expect the same THC loss overall from either the open flame or the sidestream. Hash often comes with a much larger price tag as well considering that it is concentrated. so the lost THC is even more expensive.
Hitting The Bong
As you can imagine you get nearly the same loss with a bong or water pipe as you do with a bowl, due to the source of heat. Bongs are used worldwide to give a smooth, cooler inhale on the user's end, but the loss through pyrolytic destruction happens as you’re lighting the bud.
THC is released at almost 200 degrees celsius, and temperatures above this begin to release and damage the THC, temperatures that you’ll find in the flame of your standard lighter at almost 2000 degrees celsius. You can avoid these hot temperatures by using a hemp wick that burns at a much lower temperature.
So with all these old school, tried and tested methods it seems you’re inevitably incurring a loss of a great deal of that sweet, sweet THC. - And if that’s just unacceptable to you - vaping might be the way to go. Considered the most precise form of smoking weed, vaping utilises a highly controllable heating source to bring your weed to the exact temperature needed to release optimal THC without causing too much loss. There’s still some loss but it’s mitigated some-what.
Typically vaporizers can have a total loss of around 30-45% THC, while still not 100% effective at giving you all of your THC, this is a much more acceptable loss, and a healthier alternative too, if you’re smoking with tobacco otherwise.
While vaping your bud might be the most cost effective and THC-loss preventing method - it doesn’t quite hit the mark of nostalgia that smoking a rollie or hitting a bong does. Is it about your THC intake or the overall experience of a session? Vaporizers are precise, pricey machines, while bongs, joints, blunts, and bowls are cost effective and fantastic for sharing with your pals.