How to consume cannabis – Is smoking it the best way?
The first thing that comes to mind when smoking weed is a joint. Pipes, joints, bongs, blunts, vaporizers, there are many different ways to consume cannabis and it can be intimidating as a consumer to know what the best way is to consume your cannabis. You have either spent your hard earned money on a valuable product, or spent your own blood sweat and labour into growing a beautiful plant. The last thing you want to do is to waste any of it smoking it in an inefficient manner. We all want the best bang for our buck. We will address all of the many different ways people consume cannabis, the pros and cons of each, and what the best way may be for you, to take some of the complexity out of your choice. Once you have made your decision browse our cannabis shop for everything you need!
Combustion / Smoking
No doubt smoking is the first thing that you think of when you think about smoking cannabis. It’s almost always how people get introduced to cannabis, and it is by far the easiest method of consumption. When you combust cannabis, the flaming part (known commonly as the cherry) is vaporizing the cannabis nearby rapidly. This cannabis vapor travels with the smoke through the smoking apparatus to reach your lungs. From there, your lungs are able to extract the vapor. But is combustion the most effective way to get the most out of your cannabis? There are strong arguments on both sides of that debate, and they will be addressed below. But first, let’s look at how most people go about smoking.
Joints vs Pipes and Bongs
Your first experience with smoking has probably been when someone handed you a joint, or a pipe to smoke. Joints are far and away the most commonly used method for consuming cannabis, and for good reason. Thousands of years of tradition, the social aspect of passing the joint, and the ease of rolling a joint all contribute to it’s status now in the cannabis world.
But what is a joint? In short, a joint is very similar to a cigarette, but with cannabis inside of it instead of tobacco. You also don’t use a cotton filter when rolling a joint. To roll a joint, you take a wrapping paper, carefully fill it with cannabis, and perform a rolling motion to form it into a tightly packed tube or cone. Usually a crutch or filter is inserted into the mouth end of the joint, typically consisting of folded or rolled card stock. Once rolled, the other end of the joint is lit to form a cherry, and the cherry vaporizes the cannabis behind it, forming smoke and vapor to pass out the mouthpiece and into your lungs. It’s a calming and some say therapeutic practice, and is a big part of what many people enjoy about the cannabis experience. But, the downside is that while you aren’t inhaling from your joint, it continues to burn off cannabinoids. For that reason many people decide to use pipes or bongs instead.
Pipes and Bongs
Pipes and bongs on the other hand operate on a similar, but different principal. Rather than wrapping your cannabis in paper, you place it in a pipe bowl, whether it be a dry pipe or a water pipe (bong), apply heat to form a cherry, which will vaporize the surrounding cannabinoids and bring smoke filled with THC into your lungs. The difference though is that you can choose when and how you want to apply the heat. You may choose to very lightly burn your bowl with a soft flame lighter and put it out after, to preserve as many cannabinoids as possible. Or you may want to use a torch lighter to light the full bowl up, to finish it in one go. The option is there when using pipes or bongs, and many people prefer to have that option. It also is generally considered to be more efficient, as you don’t lose any smoke to the environment like you do smoking a joint.
Vaporization is a method of consumption that is very quickly increasing in popularity. The principle behind vaporization is very simple: rather than use fire or excessive heat to vaporize your cannabinoids and terpenes, lower, more gradual heat is used. New technology in the last few years has made it possible for people to enjoy good quality dry herb vaporization, without shelling out a thousand dollars for a product to do so with. There are two main types of vaporizers out there and both have their own use cases. Conduction and convection. The vast, vast majority of vaporizers fall into one of these two categories, with most (if not arguably all) of them being a hybrid of the two. Here we will break down the two main types, so you know what will work best for you.
Conduction vaporization is the simplest form of vaporization, and it’s the method that dominates the market. The mechanism of action is very simple, you insert your cannabis into a chamber, and the chamber heats up to the desired vaporization temperature (typically between 350 Fahrenheit [176.6 Celsius] and 430 Fahrenheit [221.1 Celsius]). From there, the cannabinoids and terpenes evaporate and you can inhale them into your lungs. The problem with conduction vaping is that it’s not as efficient as convection vaporization, because the material not immediately touching the chamber walls, or oven, is not being heated to the same temperature. These vaporizers function fine and are certainly much more efficient than combustion. But conduction isn’t perfect and is a bit outdated, and the pricing of conduction units generally reflects this. If you truly want the most efficient possible vaporizer, you’re better off saving for a nearly one hundred percent convection vaporizer. But, if efficiency isn’t a concern, very few convection vaporizers have a bowl the size of a typical conduction vaporizer. So for longer sessions, conduction can be preferable.
Convection vaporization is a more complicated form of vaporization that only picked up in popularity recently. Instead of conduction vaporization where the chamber or oven is the heat source, convection vaporizers work by pulling hot air through the material. The hot air vaporizes the cannabinoids and terpenes in a much more thorough and efficient manner. This tends to produce a better user experience, with better flavour. These vaporizers tend to cost more due to the more complicated method of action, but the money is well spent if efficiency is a concern.
As seen in our previous article, concentrates are taking over the cannabis market in a huge way. Many people are looking for a quick way to consume their cannabinoids and concentrates fit the bill. Nothing will get THC, CBD and the other accompanying cannabinoids into your system faster than a dab. Dab’s are sort of an in between of smoking and vaporizing. The temperatures are higher than what you would find in a vaporizer, but it vaporizes nonetheless. Lack of plant matter and other contaminants making combustion nearly impossible is the reason for this. To dab you need a dab rig, which consists of a water pipe (bong) and a dab nail. You heat the dab nail to an appropriate temperature, place your dabbable concentrate on/in the nail, then inhale. There are many different types of concentrates people like to enjoy, and each behaves differently when dabbing, but the basic idea is always the same. Apply the material to a heated dab nail, and inhale.
Another traditional method of consumption of cannabis, and one many people will be familiar with, is ingesting it. When cannabis is properly decarboxylated your stomach is able to process it and extract the psychoactive materials from said cannabis. This in a lot of ways can be a much more intense feeling for cannabis consumers, because of a chemical change that happens to THC in the liver. In the liver, Delta-9 THC (the molecule responsible for the psychoactive effects) is converted into 11-Hydroxy-THC, a much more potent compound. Many heavy cannabis users find that even a moderately “low” dose of edibles hit them entirely different from smoking. Because of this, it’s recommended to always start low (10-20 milligrams of thc) when trying edibles. Keep an eye on the blog for an article about how you can easily and quickly make your own home made, safe edibles.
There are many different ways to consume cannabis, certainly one for everyone. A moderate once a month user may love the ritual and process of rolling and smoking a joint, while a heavier user may find it more convenient to use a bong, or even to dab. With all of the information in this article, you as a consumer will be able to make an informed decision about what method you want to use, and what fits your use case best. We’re all unique and so are our needs, so take the time to research and find something that works wonderfully for you.