There is no more traditional way to take your cannabis than by ‘smoking a bowl’. We’ve been using pipes for centuries and most people who get serious about cannabis will at some point have bought one for themselves.
There are some great products on the market nowadays and if you’re looking for style and to impress your friends there’s plenty to choose from.
While on the surface it seems pretty simple to pack a bowl, there are some useful tips and tricks that can help make your experience much better. Cannabis culture has developed a lot since the 60s so it’s always worth leaning on the experience of our elders.
If you are just learning how to pack a bowl, then the following advice is important if you want to optimize your experience.
What Makes a Good Pipe?
The pipe as a general smoking device has largely gone out of fashion in many parts of the world. Back in the 50s and 60s, most towns and cities had a tobacco store and even specialist pipe sellers. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of pipes being smoked stretching back some 5,000 years. But pipe smoking as a pastime has largely dwindled away in recent times.
There’s only one culture where learning how to pack a bowl and smoking a pipe is prevalent still and that’s for cannabis. It’s practically the first thing you discover how to do when you start smoking with friends.
The design of the humble pipe is eminently simple, which was why it has lasted so long over millennia. All you need is a bowl to hold your smoking material and a pipe to draw the smoke through. It’s basically that easy.
You can make a pipe out of virtually anything – you’d be surprised how popular it is to use fruit and vegetables to create a device in cannabis culture. All you need to do is drill a hole in an apple, create an adjoining pipe and you’re good to go.
Most old-fashioned pipes were made from wood, ceramic or bamboo. Today’s borosilicate pipes, however, not only look really attractive, they give a great clean smoke and are relatively easy to clean and maintain at the same time. There’s something about glass where you can see everything going on that makes for a great cannabis pipe.
You can buy these in many parts of the USA, even areas where recreational cannabis is still not legal. Our advice is to invest in a quality product. There are, of course, different types of pipe. You may want a simple design that is meant to be smoked like tobacco. You can also find pipes that are filtered through water.
The more complex your pipe, you should remember, the more difficult it is to clean. If you don’t want to be bothered with that sort of thing, go for something simple and basic.
Whichever you choose, the first step is going to be learning how to pack a bowl properly. For that, you will need to get a few things together.
Apart from your pipe, you will need to have some good quality dry herb to pack your bowl with. If you have grown, harvested and dried and cured your own plants from seeds, you will want to make sure that you end up with a quality product to put in your pipe and smoke.
The heating source is going to be important. Now, many people will use a butane lighter and this is fine. For most connoisseurs, however, other methods deliver a cleaner and better smoke and flavour. What you are looking to do is optimize your heating and get the best out of the packed cannabis in your pipe.
Some aficionados will use a simple hemp wick to keep their pipe alight. This is basically a string made of hemp which has a waxy consistency over the surface. You can light it up and it will keep an even burn while also not creating the nasty aftertaste that you often get with a butane lighter.
Another option is a glass wand that can be heated up and then applied to the packed dry herb to vaporize it. This is a method that takes a little practice but once you get the hang of it is a really good way to heat up your herb. Many people also believe this is a healthier option than producing smoke through burning.
You can also get pipe screens which basically fit in the bowl and prevent you inhaling bits of burned herb, something that can be problem, especially if you have a cheap pipe. If you don’t have a proper screen, you can make one quite easily.
A small rock in the bowl can work just as well or a piece of wire twisted into a coil. Another solution is to pick out a calyx from your dry herb and place that at the opening of the pipe bowl. All you’re looking to do really is filter the smoke so that it doesn’t have nasty bits in it.
How to Pack a Bowl
Once you have all these accessories, you’re ready to go. The first step is going to be preparing your dry herb. What you want to do is break this down so that it can be evenly packed into your bowl. You don’t want it too fine but you don’t want it too coarse either.
The simplest way to do this is through hand pulling. If you have dried and cured your cannabis harvest properly, this should be relatively easy to do. You can, of course, use a grinder if you don’t like getting your hands dirty and want to be precise.
If you don’t have a screen for the bottom of your pipe bowl, take a stem from your dry herb or a reasonable sized calyx and place it in the hole. The reason for this is to prevent particulates from being drawn up the pipe when you inhale. It makes for a much cleaner smoke also.
The key to how to pack a bowl is to put a light, slightly aerated layer at the bottom of the bowl and then pack it more tightly at the top. What this should do is create an area that glows or burns at the top and then filters a little down through a less dense section at the bottom of the bowl. It also means your pipe won’t get clogged up.
Pipe Smoking Etiquette
Now you are just about ready to go and can apply your heat source to the pipe. There are a few ‘rules and regulations’ that it’s best to follow so you don’t offend your fellow cannabis users.
If you are in a small group then you should pack a reasonably small bowl. For larger groups, you want something packed more tightly so there is enough to go round.
The person who provides the cannabis usually has the honor of lighting the first hit. As the pipe is handed around, you need to make sure that you only light a small corner of the pipe so that everyone gets a chance of lighting up some fresh green bud.
One thing people really hate is someone who lights up, takes a draw and starts talking while the dry herb is burning and going to waste. One big tip is, once you’ve had your go, pass the pipe on as quickly as possible.
The one other thing most cannabis smokers hate is the person who pockets the lighter and runs off with it.
Ashing Your Pipe
Once you have finished the cannabis and everyone has had a go, you should always ash your pipe. That means getting rid of the residue. Leaving it in the pipe can often mean you get a nasty taste when you come to pack it again, even with glass pipes. Simply tip it over and tap out the burned or vaped herb and give your pipe a clean.
Residue can often accumulate in the stem of the pipe and it’s always best to give this a clean out at regular intervals. There’s nothing worse than sucking on a pipe where the residue has built up. You can do this with old-fashioned pipe cleaners or by simply washing the pipe and stem in the sink.
How to pack a bowl is probably the first thing you learn when you start to become serious about using cannabis. It’s worth investing in a quality, borosilicate glass pipe and you can buy these either in-store or online. Pipe size is going to depend on whether you are smoking in company or on your own. But also keep a close watch on your pipe etiquette when you are smoking with others.