Just like there are many cannabis strains, there are hundreds of smoking tools to help you light up. Many Canadians prefer the familiarity of an expertly rolled joint, while others are more inclined to pack a bowl in their personalized pipes. There’s a certain style that comes with each and every way people smoke weed, but we’re here to advocate the benefits of pipes, bongs and vaporizers. When you don’t have any papers, there’s no reason to fret – just reach for your trusty pipe, your prized bong or your shiny-and-new vaporizer. There are many ways to smoke weed without papers, but which one you choose can depend on many factors, such as cost, convenience and style. What’s your favorite kind of cannabis to smoke? How do you prefer to smoke it?
Rolling a big ol’ blunt, toking on a fatty, or smoking a J have always been at the core of stoner cultures. Most people smoke joints because it’s one of the first ways they tried marijuana back in their younger days, others prefer rolling weed in papers and lighting up because it’s convenient. For most stoners, however, smoking joints is simply “the way”; stylistically, culturally, and ritualistically speaking, toking from a joint and passing it around is the most iconic way to experience the benefits of cannabis. Many of us have struggled to roll a joint outside in the cold weather, while some of us purchased those very handy “auto-roller” box contraptions. Many others still buy pre-rolled joints online because they’re just not coordinated enough to get it right. No matter how or why you light up a blunt, chances are you just enjoy the simplicity, the familiarity and the convenience of smoking a joint.
So, if most Canadians like to smoke weed in rolling papers, then why are talking about other kinds of smoking tools?! Joints, blunts, rollie-J’s, they’re great in their own rights, but we think there’s not enough people who have experienced the artistry of smoking weed without paper. Pipes, bongs, vapes, dab rigs, there’s so many other ways to consume cannabis without needing to spend time and money on rolling papers. Let’s grind up some Mary J and light up with a few of our favorite alternatives to smoking weed without rolling papers.
SMOKE A PIPE, BLITZ A BONG, HIT A VAPE: What Are the Alternatives to Rolling Papers?
If you’re looking for some new or alternative ways to smoke weed without needing rolling papers, look no further than the original of originals: the weed pipe. There’s nothing more historic than a pipe – many of us can conjure up the image of an old fisherman navigating the roiling waves of the sea, a weathered but sturdy pipe strongly affixed in the corner of his mouth. Pipes have been used for thousands of years throughout human history for smoking a variety of substances: tobacco, hashish, cannabis, peyote and many more. Your average pipe nowadays is made of glass or ceramics, but traditionally pipes were carved from wood. Pipes consist of a stem and bowl, with a cylindrical tube carved from the bowl and through the stem which creates a mouthpiece. The methodology is simple: pack what you want to smoke into the bowl, light it and draw through the stem. The airflow from drawing breath draws oxygen to the burning herb and increases the combustion, flaring up a nice red and glowing ember that releases smoke through the stem and into your lungs. Pipes are especially adept for smokers who like to hold the smoke in their mouth or nose before making smoke rings or giant plumes of smoke.
You can puff-puff pass a joint, but when you forego the rolling papers and smoke from a pipe there’s an added element of duration to your smoking experience. One downside of smoking with rolling papers is that they burn so quickly – there’s a reason people pass a blunt around, because the flame consumes the papers and buds at an accelerated rate so you have to smoke the joint down quick. People who prefer pipes probably already know that you can puff on it for a long time. Some cannabis connoisseurs have studied what makes a pipe last longer, and some of their research has suggested that the chemical reactions inherent in burning rolling papers combined with cannabis may speed up the combustion process. Others have found that smoking weed from a pipe can have more potent effects on a person; some stoners switch from smoking joints to pipes or bongs because smoking from these tools is more “straight to the head”. There’s limited, official research into these advantages for pipes, but the consensus among cannabis aficionados is that pipes are a more consistent, more potent way to get high.
Pipes come in millions of color combinations, designs, materials and the like, but they do have their downsides. Unlike smoking with rolling papers, there’s some cleaning required after you smoke from a pipe. Small cloths, tubular brushes like wire-cleaners or certain solutions are needed to remove any cannabis residues. This task isn’t usually time consuming, but it’s important to keep up on it. For a deeper dive into keeping your smoking rigs clean, check out our article on How to Clean Your Weed Pipe, Bong or Bubbler.
Next, everyone’s favorite piece of art – at least, if you’re a stoner – is likely that statuesque bong you keep in the closet. For many fans of smoking weed, a bong is like a fine bottle of wine – they’ll bring it out for social gatherings or celebrations and share with their friends & family. Bongs, like pipes, come in so many different shapes, sizes and colors that you can find a bong-version of almost anything these days. For this reason of customization, bongs have become a staple at many stoner households, and most people have one or have owned a bong at some point in their cannabis journey.
Bongs are a bit more elaborate than a pipe, but with the added variable of water. Water pipes, bubblers and bongs are essentially the same idea but they’re usually very different in terms of size/rig. Bongs and other water smoking tools are made up of the mouthpiece at the top, a tube for the smoke/vapor to travel to your lungs, a chamber where the water is held, and the stem and bowl that hold the cannabis. The idea is to pack the cannabis in the bowl and draw air and combust the cannabis – like a pipe – but the water in the chamber is meant to bubble and converge the smoke with water vapor. This added element of vapor makes for a truly smooth but extremely potent hit of cannabis. Anyone who says they remember their first bong hit is probably lying – for many stoners, bongs are the most powerful high they’ve ever felt after being used to joints or pipes. Some people only need a hit or two of the bong and they’re relaxed or wasted (depends on what kind of high they’re going for, and what they’re smoking).
Water pipes and bubblers accomplish the same system of delivering cannabinoids to the body through a combination of smoke and water vapor, but for this article we’ll focus on the bong as the king of the benefits of bubbly buds. One of the unique things about bongs is the sheer size of them; some bongs are literally life-size, 4-5 feet tall! Others can be small and handheld or convenient enough to fit in a purse, but the average bong is about the size of a nightstand lamp, and also requires a table to rest upon. As an alternative to rolling papers, bongs are very popular but they do have their drawbacks. Just like with pipes, bongs need to be cleaned consistently or you risk building up nasty residues or even molds. Adding water to the equation means you need access to clean water, and you need to keep recycling it in your chamber. Stagnant bong water is one of the nastiest substances on Earth, so don’t fall victim to swamp-water mucking up your work-of-art, and make sure you clean your bong often.
Last, but certainly not least in terms of potency, are vaporizers. Considered by some to be a lot more smooth and easier on the lungs than smoking, vaporizers have become one of the most popular ways to consume cannabis in the past couple years. When you’re wondering how to smoke weed without rolling papers, why not just take out the “smoke” altogether? Vaporizers use super-heated, concentrates and extracts and deliver potent cannabinoids and terpenes to your lungs in the easily-absorbable form of water vapor. There’s many different styles and systems of vaporizing, but some stoners like vaping because a good vape pen can give you the high of more than a couple handfuls of joints! Now that’s one heck of a potent way to smoke weed without rolling papers!
Vaporizers come in many different forms, like vape pens, handheld vaporizers, or tabletop vaporizers powerful enough to get the whole room stoned. As we mentioned, vaporizers use cartridges of distillates, isolates, concentrates, resins or extracts to deliver a very potent high. One downside to vaping instead of smoking? You can’t vaporize cannabis flowers as easily as oil-based concentrates and extracts, so the costs and convenience aren’t as favorable for this kind of “smoking”. However, when you want to smoke weed without rolling papers, there’s no stronger high or longer lasting effects than vaporizing.
THIS IS THE WAY: What Smoking Method Suits You Best?
How you choose to smoke marijuana is essentially a personal decision based on your lifestyle, financial situation, and your level of medical needs (if any) for cannabis. If you’re an occasional recreational user of cannabis, a joint here and there might suit your casual lifestyle. On the other hand, frequent medical consumers require a consistent dose and a convenient way to meet their weed needs. So, the first question you need to ask yourself before you decide how to smoke weed is “Why do I want to smoke weed?”. How often you plan on consuming cannabis, in addition to how much your tolerance permits will definitely determine what kind of smoking method suits you. Need to light up on the go? Bongs won’t do, but pipes and vape pens are discrete and mobile, just make sure you bring your grinder and lighter along as well. Maybe you only like to smoke at home? A bong or tabletop vaporizer are great ways to feel the high in the comforts of your own home – you can even share with others if you’re a social stoner. Alternatives to rolling papers also don’t have any added chemicals or alter the flavors and aromas of the buds you’re smoking. It might seem inconsequential, but rolling papers do have certain chemicals in them during processing, and they’ve been known to change the taste or smell when you smoke marijuana in a joint. One of the benefits of pipes and bongs is that they’re usually made of glass – one of the most neutral substances on the planet.
The next important factor to consider: What is your experience with smoking? Are you a current or former cigarette smoker? Do you have a tolerance for smoking weed? What other kinds of cannabis products do you use? Canadians love to light up and smoke weed, but many more are now switching to cannabis oils, edibles and topicals to get their fix of cannabinoids. Whether you prefer THC or CBD, or a combination of the two, there are thousands of new products hitting the market every week, so you’re no longer limited to just smoking your weed. If you know your tolerance levels, and you enjoy the inhale-exhale of a tasty strain of cannabis, pipes and bongs can be more potent than rolling papers but they’re also more user friendly.
You can pack a bowl with as much or as little marijuana as you like, and unlike a joint you can stop smoking part way through lighting up. Some people will put their blunts out and keep the roaches for later, but this is not the ideal way to store cannabis (wrapped in rolling papers, burnt or moist from your mouth). Not to mention, a half-finished joint can stink up a room faster than a burnt lasagna in the oven. So if you’re not the type who can handle an entire joint to yourself, try smoking weed without rolling papers and pack a bowl in your pipe or bong instead.
Finally, a little-known fact about rolling papers is that they are an added cost – albeit a small one – that you can avoid simply by investing in some smoking tools instead. Rolling papers are often mere pennies per rollie, but they do have an environmental cost in addition to their purchase price. Consider buying a pipe and smoking from it to be the same argument for using your own travel coffee mug. When you order a Double-Double at Timmy’s, you can pay the 25 cents extra and get a paper cup, or you can save that quarter and the environment too, one cup at a time, by bringing your own reusable mug. This is a small difference, but it can lead to some big changes if everyone gets on board with you. When it comes to smoking weed without rolling papers, be a leader in the cannabis community and smoke from a pipe, bong or vaporizer instead.