Gone are the days of shady deals behind a gas station and the criminal risk of being searched and caught with a dime bag outside a concert venue. Due to the explosion of the legal cannabis industry in recent years, especially with services like California weed delivery, it’s easier than ever to access a wide array of high-quality cannabis products.
The growth of the industry has also meant a greater selection of paraphernalia that can be used to enjoy cannabis. From next-generation glass to accessories for rolling, there is a dizzying array of tools a stoner can choose to round out their collection. That said, sometimes the best old-school hacks are every bit as effective as the new school devices and don’t bear the price tag.
The following seven hacks are some of the classics that every stoner should know — for use in a pinch or as a long-term solution.
Fashion a Makeshift Grinder from a Coin and a Pill Bottle
Anyone who enjoys flower understands the necessity for a good grinder. Once the flower is separated from the stem material, it must be ground into smaller pieces for an even roll and consistent smoke. Standard three-chamber grinders have a catcher for kief, the potent crystalline powder from dried flower, which is great for dusting the top of a bowl or as the active ingredient in cannabutter.
While metal grinders are virtually indestructible, it’s common to misplace them or forget them when on the move. Luckily, a pill bottle and a heavy coin can do the trick. Simply break off the cannabis flower from the stem, add it to the pill bottle, place a coin on top, and shake to reduce the flower to rollable form. This technique works best with flower that’s been properly dried and cured. While it leaves a film of kief on the bottle, it doesn’t allow for easy kief collection.
Use Honey to Keep Joints from Burning Quickly
Honey-rolled blunts are a timeless classic, but have you ever tried honey with your joints? Besides adding something sweet and delicious to the aroma of the smoke, a thin layer of honey (applied evenly with a finger) will help control the rate at which the J burns. If it hasn’t been fully cured, flower contains oils and moisture that prevent it from burning as quickly as rolling paper. When this happens, a lit cherry can fall out easily, wasting precious herbs.
The same technique applies to a “canoeing” joint — when one side of the joint burns faster than the other. Keeping a small pot or container of honey on hand, dip a pinky into the honey and apply a small amount on the faster-burning side to even out the burn.
Taking this to the next level, try replacing honey with tinctures or infused oils. Allow these to dry before lighting the joint, and be prepared for an added effect.
Make a DIY Bong
Many bongs are works of art, with glass details blown by craftspeople who are true masters of their trade. Sadly, glass bongs tend to break. Whether you’ve just witnessed the tragedy of your favorite bong shattered past repair or want something more portable (and less expensive) to have at the ready, consider making a DIY bong instead. Honestly, it’s not as hard as it sounds.
Start with a plastic bottle (a 2-L works fine, though smaller is also possible). Use a lighter to burn two holes at opposite sides of the bottle, one about a quarter of the way up the bottle (for the stem) and the other somewhere in the top half (to cover with your thumb and use as a carb). Next, choose something for a stem and bowl. The exterior casing of a pen works for a stem, and even something as simple as tin foil molded into a cone shape will work for a bowl.
Glass is much healthier. So, if you are able to recover the glass stem from the (shattered) bong, use that instead. Finally, seal the connection between the bottle and stem with putty or a wet paper towel, fill the bong with water just below the stem hole, and voila!
Unclog your Glass with Household Ingredients
Glass gets dirty, no matter how clean your flower is. The black tar that sticks to the inside of your pipes or bong stems is a combination of sticky resin (cannabis oils) and tar, or the organic compounds within both leaves and flower. Cleaning your piece with standard pipe cleaners can be frustrating, especially because these are meant for tobacco pipes, not glass. Bobby pins work well as a band-aid technique to unclog a pipe on the spot, but residue will continue to build up and affect the taste (and potency) of your next smoke.
Unless you plan to scrape together the resin buildup and use it as budget hash, the easiest way to return the glass to its virgin state is by giving it a bath. While there are numerous soak-and-wash cleaning solutions online for glass, you can achieve the same results with simple household ingredients and just a bit of elbow grease.
First, put your glass stem or pipe into a bag with 99% rubbing alcohol and let soak for about 30 minutes. Then, add coarse salt to the bag (the crystals help remove resin and tar) and shake for three minutes before running warm water through the pipe to remove the buildup. Use a Q-tip or pipe cleaner to remove any dangling bits.
Embrace the Natural with One-Hitter Leaf Pipes
This solution is great for those who love camping and the outdoors, but it takes a bit of trial and error to get it right. A leaf pipe is the ultimate stoner-survivor contraption and can be made with 100% natural materials, though having a rubber band or hair tie will help immensely, especially if it’s your first time.
Your two-hitter leaf pipe will consist of two leaves (something bigger than aspen, but you don’t need anything like maple), one to make the bowl and the other to serve as a pipe stem. To make the bowl, roll the leaf on itself along the leaf’s center, where the stem meets the leaf. Keeping the leaf’s stem intact, form a cone and carefully rip the wide part to form a bowl large enough to fit the top of your pinky. Pinch the leaf to keep its shape while forming the pipe stem.
Rather than forming a cone, roll another leaf into a cylinder shape, breaking off the oversized parts to yield a tube about two to three inches long. Insert the stem from the bowl into the tube, making an effort to keep the bowl’s shape. Finally, use the rubber band or hair tie to hold the two pieces together at their juncture without closing off the flow of air. A bit of clay can help as a seal if you can find some!
Go Crazy with Cannabutter
Anyone who’s made pot brownies knows two things: 1) that they can be surprisingly potent and 2) that the effects last a long time. One of the best ways to stretch your flower (or kief) is to convert the smokable compounds into edible form. Arguably, the easiest and most versatile way to do this is by making some cannabutter!
As the name implies, you’ll need two ingredients for cannabutter: cannabis and butter. Before simmering butter and cannabis together, you’ll need to decarboxylate the cannabis (if using flower) by baking it on a non-stick sheet at 220°F for up to an hour until brown. Decarboxylation converts inactive THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD. The chemical process is the same when smoking flower in a joint or pipe.
The longer you simmer butter and decarboxylated cannabis together, the more potent the butter will be. It’s common to let them simmer together for four to five hours. Keep the infusion at a low temperature to prevent the butter from burning, and stir often. Strain the cannabutter through a mesh. You can use the cannabutter with anything, from cookies to popcorn.
Invest in a Vaporizer
While it might not be possible to make one yourself, an herb vaporizer is a great long-term investment because it allows you to save on smoking materials while squeezing the most out of your cannabis with minimal waste. Some dry herb vaporizers are portable, meaning that all you need is a little bit of cannabis and a fully-charged battery to enjoy clean, on-the-go vapor all day.
For conduction vaporizers, no charge is required. A lighter is used to heat the metal container to vaporize the herbs inside.
Besides convenience, vaporizing is healthier than smoking. Because vaporizing cannabis doesn’t burn it, the process releases vaporized oils without emitting tar. Vaporizing produces less smell than smoking, making it less noticeable indoors or on the go.
Get the Most Out of Your Weed
A resourceful stoner knows how to save their funds for what really matters — better-quality cannabis products on their next purchase. These simple hacks are satisfying in and of themselves (who doesn’t like to play the part of MacGyver from time to time?), but ultimately work by conserving cash and resources. Making the most of what you have on hand is more than financial thrift — it’s a resource-smart way to practice waste reduction and save the planet.