By Vanessa Matthews
When it comes to weed, the way one chooses to consume it is up to that person’s tastes and needs, and the options are truly endless! This means you can have a lot of fun trying out different methods, however, this can also make it tricky to navigate which method is best for you. There are three general types of consumption: Inhalants, ingestants, and topicals. This article will serve as a general guide to the basics of each THC consumption method, going over the main points of each.
Smoking is unsurprisingly the primary method most folks partake in when they want a nice cannabis buzz. Even someone who knows zilch about weed knows you smoke it! It’s the quickest way for THC to take effect in your body, because once the cannabinoids enter your lungs, it’s directed immediately into the bloodstream. In fact, a study conducted by the Journey of Chemistry and Biodiversity found that participants who inhaled marijuana smoke experienced effects within minutes! There are multiple vessels in which you can smoke for your bud, but here are some of the basics.
Water pipes are insanely popular, and for great reason! Water serves several purposes that can elevate your smoking experience, depending on what you enjoy. Water filters out extra particulates that may not be the best to inhale, as demonstrated in a study conducted by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Their research shows that filtering smoking with water does, in fact, reduce the number of particulates, and amount of toxins in the smoke. On top of that, water cools smoke down to a lower temperature, making it smoother and gentler on the lungs. Water filtration can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be: A modest bubbler is perfect if you just need a light touch of cooling to your smoke. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a multi-percolator bong will have several openings for smoke to pass through water in its process up to the mouthpiece, cooling and conditioning your smoke with even more power and efficiency. For most people, you can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true smoking method of water pipes.
Arguably the most quick and convenient smoking method is with hand pipes! Not only that, it’s what most of us started with when we first started smoking (or, let’s be real, an aluminum can or an apple was the real first). A super-simple device with a bowl for your weed, a tube for smoke to travel through, a mouthpiece hole, and a carb hole. It really can't be simpler. Dry hand pipes, while you don’t get the cooling and conditioning that water pipes offer, provide a quick, portable, and affordable way to smoke. Even if you have a different preferred method, they’re always reliable and great to have on-hand in a pinch.
BLUNTS & JOINTS (ROLLED WEED)
Weed rolled up in a wrap. Wraps can include hemp papers, tobacco leaf, rice paper, and much, much more. Rolled weed has on-the-go convenience due to its small size, as well as nixing the need to re-light every time you puff. Joints provide the purest cannabis taste, while blunts include the flavor and effects of tobacco.
Dabbing is the process of heating a bainger/dab nail, directly applying concentrates to it, causing it to turn into vapor to be inhaled. Dabbing is known to be generally stronger, and more suited for high-tolerance cannabis users, as the wax is literally a concentrated form of thc. In fact, cannabis concentrates can contain anywhere from 50 to 90 percent THC, which is much higher than dry herb, which usually lies between 15 and 25 percent. Because of this, we recommend this to experienced users of cannabis.
There are two main methods/products used to dab: Dab rigs and nectar collectors. Rigs are the same as bongs and water pipes, but with a dab nail. These can be made from quartz, titanium, and other materials. Using a dab rig allows you to get the cooling and filtration from percolation with water, which is why this is generally the most popular dabbing method. Nectar collectors, on the other hand, are a straw-like pipe with an attached tip to directly vaporize concentrates. It’s as simple as heating the quartz or titanium tip, aiming in your wax dish, and inhaling. These are perfect for a dab-lover in need of a convenient option! However, if you’re a beginner or are sensitive to high-heat hits, this is a method to be cautious of. Dabbing requires much higher temperatures than smoking dry herb, so inhaling one without water filtration can take some people off guard.
With vaping, we enter the technological side of cannabis consumption. Vaping (or vaporizing) is the process of converting cannabis concentrates, oil, or dry herb to a vapor. This vapor consists of the mind and body-affecting components of cannabis including cannabinoids and terpenes.
CARTRIDGES & CONCENTRATES
The most popular form of vaping is with cartridges. These cartridges contain a clearish viscous cannabis oil, and can be screwed into a vape battery. This is undeniably the most effortless and discrete form of vaping or using concentrates in general: They fit in the pocket, you generate hits within seconds, and the smell dissipates almost immediately. Cartridge vaporizers are ideal for the on-the-go person who enjoys concentrates. The one caveat… is cost. Because of the convenience, cartridges are priced much higher than similar amounts of pure cannabis concentrate. However, if you’re a person who values the portable and quick nature of dab carts, they can be well worth it. On the other hand, an option for concentrate vaping is with pure cannabis wax. While it can come in many forms, it is typically but thicker in texture than the oil found in cartridges, ranging from a honey texture to a crystallized texture. Some vaporizers offer the option to load a coil with weed concentrates, subsequently heating it, converting it into vapor. Wax vaporizers are a fantastic on-the-go solution for dab-lovers. In comparison to cartridges, this is a slightly less convenient option, as it doesn't come in a handy pre-loaded format, but it is still far more portable and convenient than carrying around a rig or nectar collector.
While vaporizing in general is still somewhat new and exciting, dry herb vaping is even newer. Vaporizing dry herb is an intriguing process of heating it in an enclosed conduction oven which heats it to the proper temperature to release cannabinoids and terpenes. Rather than burning the herb and turning it into ash, the herb slowly dehydrates as it is vaporized, resulting in brown herb once it's dead. Dry herb vaping is arguably the best method for enjoying herb on-the-go, due to the highly portable and compact nature of vapes, and eliminating the need of lighting it up as you would with a pipe. Dry herb vaping also differs from oil vaping in regards to temperature: Dry herb requires a lower temperature than oil to extract the active components. So if you enjoy gentle hits that still pack a punch, herb vaping could be a fantastic option.
EDIBLES & TICTURES
Edibles are THC-infused ingestants such as beverages, baked goods, candy, and much, much more. Even weed-infused spices exist! This method of consumption processes THC through your digestive tract. Because of the time food takes to digest in general, it is a delayed effect, in contrast to the more immediate effects of smoking and vaping. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours to take effect! While edibles can be great for anyone, they’re particularly fantastic for those who don’t want to inhale anything, whether it be for health concerns, or simply comfort and convenience. Not only are edibles extremely discrete, they also completely eliminate the need for inhalation, making it as simple as eating a piece of candy. While edibles can be a good option for beginners and veteran cannabis-users alike, it is crucial to start very slow at the beginning while you feel out your tolerance, and the effects they have on you. Because there’s a very delayed onset of effects, you have no idea how you’re going to feel after that time passes, making it extremely easy to overestimate your dose. Even if it means starting at 3mg and working your way up, it’s well worth avoiding an overwhelming high or anxiety. In general, the high one experiences from ingested cannabis may be stronger, and much longer-lasting than if you had smoked.
Tinctures are another form of injestant. Basically, they’re somewhat of an extract: Cannabis is steeped in alcohol to create these THC-infused liquids. There are two main methods of consuming tinctures, which are sublingually, and ingested. Sublingually, meaning under the tongue, is the preferred method of tincture consumption, because it is most rapidly absorbed through the sublingual artery. This method creates a nearly-immediate effect, being 15-30 minutes, with peak effects at 90 minutes. Tinctures can also be ingested just like an edible by adding to food or drinks, which generally causes slow effects, at around two hours. A benefit of using tinctures, on top of the general benefits of edibles, is easy dosage control. Because they typically are in the form of a dropper bottle, each drop has an exact THC (or CBD) amount that is easily-controllable. You also may prefer tinctures over traditional edibles if you don’t necessarily want your weed in the form of food and drinks, but rather a tiny drop that dissipates quickly.
Topical cannabis is a delivery method that involves applying a product to your body externally, such as lotions, balms, and creams. Rather than using cannabis for mental or full-body effects, this method is aimed at localized treatment of areas of the body. So basically, this method is medicinal, and not psychoactive. Many users of topicals enjoy them for the applications of pain, soreness, and inflammation-relief. Some studies, including one published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, demonstrate topical weed's potential to reduce inflammation and pain. This purpose is highly differentiated from inhaling or injecting, as the purpose is strictly therapeutic. Because of this, if you are looking to cannabis for physical relief/relaxation rather than the high, topical products may be the most fitting choice.
As you can see from this varied list of cannabis consumption methods, it’s clear that weed is never one-size-fits-all. While one may think of smoking, or possibly vaping as their only option to experience the effects and possible benefits of weed, there are so many ways to experience it in the way that fits you best. Consider your desired effects, prefered level of convenience, and type of effect you want to acheive in your weed experience. We want to know: What method of enjoying cannabis is your favorite, and why?