Packing That Perfect Bowl
One of the easiest and most popular methods of consuming cannabis is to pack a bowl. For the uninitiated (if those still exist), this is the act of loading cannabis into a pipe for your smoking pleasure. Deemed simpler than rolling a joint, this method of consumption is relatively efficient, easy, and takes only minutes to learn. People have been packing bowls around the world from India to America for centuries, and now we want to take an opportunity to go through our checklist of packing that perfect bowl for yourself.
Pipes, One-Hitters, Bongs, Oh My!
Bowls, like stoners, come in all different sizes and styles. Let’s go over the most popular ones you’ll likely encounter in your quest for the perfect bowl.
Glass Hand Pipe - Sold by the hundreds at smoke shops around the world, these are colorful glass pipes that can be held in one hand. They consist of a bowl, a carb (which is a hole that allows the user to control oxygen intake), and the stem that you smoke through. A stoner staple and the best place for newbies to begin their journey.
One-Hitter - Also known as Chillums, these are small pipes that are usually around the length of a cigarette. Unlike traditional hand pipes, chillums are cylinders that you pack cannabis into one end of. Think of it like a straw, same concept. These are perfect for those who only need a quick hit or want to discreetly consume cannabis.
Bong - Also referred to as a water pipe, bongs are an iconic tool in the stoner’s arsenal. They’re typically made of a beaker, bowl, and occasionally a carb. Think of these are a plant vase that you can smoke from. The smoke is pulled through a small amount of water in the beaker portion. This cools the smoke, allowing a gentler experience for the user. While everyone loves a good bong, they can become a sizeable investment and you should probably wait until you’re more comfortable smoking before making the move to a bong.
Ultimately, all of these bowls will be packed in the same manner, just different amounts. So, choose whichever fits your wants and needs the best. If you’re purchasing in person, don’t be afraid to ask the store employee for their advice.
Choose Your Cannabis Wisely
As with any and every time you consume cannabis, you want to make sure it is clean, tested, and appropriate for your personal needs. If you want a nice calming session, look for lower THC content with a robust terpene profile. This can help curb anxiety from overdoing it. If you’re a seasoned cannabis user, then go for that high-THC strain to get super lifted.
Grinding Your Bud
Unlike rolling a joint, when you pack a bowl, you can leave your cannabis a little more course. Using a single level or single stage grinder can help achieve this. Some fancier grinders even cut the weed differently depending on the direction you spin it. Although you don’t have to spend a week’s salary on a top-of-the-line grinder, we do recommend at least finding a stainless-steel option. You’ll likely have better luck with stainless compared to plastic or aluminum grinders.
Packing it up
The key to getting a great bowl is for it to burn correctly. For this to happen you need to have an even distribution of oxygen meaning the cannabis must be evenly distributed. To make it less complex, you want your bowls to be level, lightly tamped down, but not so tightly they’re hard to pull oxygen through. Most people recommend packing it lighter at the bottom and a little denser at the top. This is a great method, but you don’t need to master it right away. Practice makes perfect and the perfect bowl takes practice! Just start with a pinch and stop when you get almost to the top of your bowl. Then give a gentle press with your finger and presto! A nice, yummy bowl to devour.
Inhaling the Good
Here’s where patience pays off. Once you’ve lit your bowl, inhale slowly and deeply, using the carb to control how hot and fast it burns in a hand pipe. With a bong you should be even more cautious on the inhale. Not only is there water now available to accidentally slurp up, but you have to “clear the chamber” (this means smoking anything left in the bong before another hit or passing it on). The most careful you’ll need to be is with a one-hitter or chillum. Since these are straight cylinders it becomes very easy to inhale the burnt crumbs of your cannabis as you smoke it. So, enjoy the slow burn.
When your bowl is completely roasted, you will notice a lack of any substantial weed crumbs and a light ash to the whole thing. The taste will also turn from cannabis to just charred and smokey. Some people smoke until the very ash is gone, known as “cashing/caching the bowl”, but most smokers opt to risk missing that final hit in favor of good flavor. This is a completely personal decision but be prepared for a coughing potential as the bowl empties.
Keeping it Clean
Now that you’re burning down bowls, you’ll need to clean your piece. With glass hand pipes, a soak in 90% isopropyl alcohol with added coarse salt followed by a gentle shake should do the trick. This will remove that extra resin buildup. This method also works on chillums. Depending on how often you use your piece and your personal preference, you can be cleaning once a month or once a week. If you’re a neat freak, then there’s nothing holding you back from cleaning daily! Just make sure you completely rinse out the alcohol and salt solution and let your piece dry completely before using it again.
For bongs, there’s a little more upkeep involved. Since you’re smoking out of water there’s more potential for bacteria growth. Gross! So, clean your water every session, and use the same method mentioned above as often as you can to maintain a clean smoking environment. It’s a minor time investment that keeps each session bacteria-free and delicious.
Rules of the Circle
Now that you’re a pro-bowl-packer, perhaps you want to show off to some of your friends. So, you’re going to need to know some basic rules of the smoking circle, right? These rules can vary from place to place, and some people have so-called “house rules” which they’ll request you follow. But if you’re flying free here are three standard rules of weed etiquette:
- Pass to the right, get in a fight - This just means the circle goes in a counterclockwise direction. This little saying saves you from the awkward question of who gets the next hit.
- Corner your bowl - This means keeping the flame on the edge of the bowl instead of directly on top. This method allows others in the group to have a go at getting “greens” (unsmoked bud) during their turn. Using hemp wick instead of a traditional lighter will make this significantly easier.
- Contribute to the smoke out - If you’re there, be fair and share. Not everyone is bud-rich, and you don’t want to be the reason your friends go dankrupt!
Go Pack That Bowl!
With bowl packing down, you might want to spruce up your cannabis routine. There are all sorts of smoke shop accessories you can purchase to do this. Like the hemp wick, a long hemp rope that you light and then use to burn your cannabis. Or screens for the bottom of your bowl to catch crumbs. You are now on your way to being a bowl packing master! Just keep burning and practicing and soon it’ll be second nature.