How to pack a bowl
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- What is a bowl?
- What you need to pack a bowl
- Step-by-step instructions for packing a bowl
- Why people like smoking from glass bowls
- Why people hate smoking from glass bowls
- Bottom line
Smoking a bowl is a classic method for smoking marijuana. Bowls are mainstays in cannabis culture. Here’s everything you need to know about packing and smoking a bowl.
What is a bowl?
A bowl is one of the main components of a pipe or bong. Specifically, a bowl is the rounded-out part into which you pack your marijuana. The name of this component comes from an obvious source—a bowl is basically a small dish or basin designed for holding cannabis.
When you ignite the marijuana and give your pipe or bong a drag, the smoke travels through the bowl, down the hole, into the pipe, and from there, into your lungs. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The bowl is attached to the body of your pipe or bong. At the bottom of your bowl, there will be a hole leading to the body of the pipe. When you ignite the marijuana and give your pipe or bong a drag, the smoke travels through the bowl, down the hole, into the pipe, and from there, into your lungs.
Bowls look and function a little bit differently depending on if they’re used in a regular pipe or in a bong. Bowls on the end of a pipe typically have a hole on the side called a carb. The carb plays a key role in controlling airflow, so you can let the pipe fill with smoke and then clear it when you’re ready to take a hit. On the other hand, bowls used with a bong usually do not have a carb. Instead, you control airflow by sliding the bowl in and out of your bong’s downstem.
What you need to pack a bowl
To pack and smoke a bowl, you will need:
- A grinder
- A pipe with a bowl on the end. The simplest kind is called a “spoon pipe,” but there are also variations, such as bubblers which include a small water chamber in addition to the bowl and body.
- Depending on your smoking preferences, you may need a bong with a downstem and bowl.
- A lighter or hemp wick to combust your marijuana
- As an extra option, you can use a tamping tool to more evenly pack the marijuana into the bowl.
Step-by-step instructions for packing a bowl
Option 1: Packing a bowl on a regular pipe
1. Grind your weed. If you’re using a spoon pipe, or some variation of a spoon pipe, you will begin by grinding your marijuana. The goal is to get a consistent grind so that all the little pieces of marijuana are more or less the same size.
The best way to accomplish this is with a grinder. If you have a grinder, place a medium-sized nug into the chamber where the grinding teeth are located. Put the cap back on and twist it back and forth until the nug is completely ground. If you do not have a grinder, you can use a pair of clean, sharp scissors or your hands to break your nug into small, evenly-sized pieces.
Place a medium-sized nug into the chamber where the grinding teeth are located. Put the cap back on and twist it back and forth until the nug is completely ground. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
2. Pack your bowl. Once you’ve ground your marijuana, carefully pick up a pinch of weed between your fingertips. Place the weed into the bowl and gently tamp it down with your finger, the flat end of a lighter, or a tamping tool. Don’t pack it too tightly, otherwise you’ll have difficulty pulling the smoke through the bowl and into the pipe.
Tip: Place your pipe over a plate or tray while you’re packing it so you can easily gather up any pieces of weed that happen to fall out of the bowl during the process.
Once you’ve ground your marijuana, carefully pick up a pinch of weed between your fingertips and pack the weed into the bowl. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
3. Smoke your pipe. Hold the bowl in one hand with your thumb covering the carb hole. Place the pipe to your lips. With your other hand, use a lighter or hemp wick to light a corner of the bowl. Once the weed sparks, pull the flame away and begin dragging in with your lungs. When you’re ready to inhale, remove your thumb from the carb and give a big drag. All the smoke that has built up inside the pipe will now rush into your lungs.
Hold the bowl in one hand with your thumb covering the carb hole. Place the pipe to your lips. With your other hand, light a corner of the bowl. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
4. Ash your bowl. When the marijuana has all been burned, dump out the ash so your bowl is ready to be re-packed for your next session.
Option 2: Packing a bowl in a bong
1. Grind your weed. As with a regular spoon pipe, the goal here is to get a consistent grind so that all the little pieces of marijuana are more or less the same size.
The best way to accomplish this is with a grinder. If you have a grinder, place a medium-sized nug into the chamber where the grinding teeth are located. Put the cap on and twist it back and forth until the nug is completely ground. If you do not have a grinder, you can use a pair of clean, sharp scissors or your hands to break your nug into small, evenly-sized pieces.
2. Pack your bowl. Once you’ve ground your marijuana, carefully pick up a pinch of weed between your fingertips. Place the weed into the bowl and gently tamp it down with your finger, the flat end of a lighter, or a tamping tool. Don’t pack it down too tightly, otherwise you’ll have difficulty pulling the smoke through the bowl and into the bong.
Tip: Set your bong on top of a plate or tray while you’re packing the bowl so you can easily gather up any pieces of weed that happen to fall out of the bowl during the process.
3. Smoke your bong. Slide your weed-packed bowl into the downstem of your bong. When it’s in place, use a lighter or hemp wick to ignite the weed. As you do this, put your mouth to the mouthpiece and start pulling in with your lungs. You will see the smoke travel from the bowl, flow through the downstem, and begin bubbling up through the water in the base of your bong. When you’re ready to take a hit, continue pulling in with your lungs and slide the bowl out of the downstem. This will create an open flow of air, allowing you to clear the chamber and inhale all the smoke.
Slide your weed-packed bowl into the downstem of your bong. When it’s in place, use a lighter or hemp wick to ignite the weed. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
4. Ash your bowl. When you’re finished and you’ve fully combusted all the marijuana in your bowl, dump out the ash so your bowl is ready to re-pack for your next session.
Why people like smoking from glass bowls
If you’re packing and smoking a bowl, odds are that you’re using a glass smoking device. Glass is known for providing a simple, straightforward, and clean way to smoke cannabis. Specifically, because glass is an inert substance, it can be heated without leaching residual odors, flavors, or contaminants into the smoke. As such, many smokers enjoy glass pieces because they can be used over and over again without detracting from marijuana’s natural tastes and smells. Additionally, when a glass bowl or pipe becomes dirty or gunked up with sticky resin, the material can easily be cleaned and returned to like-new condition.
Why people hate smoking from glass bowls
There are a few reasons some cannabis smokers don’t like smoking from glass. Glass can shatter, chip, and break, especially if you drop your piece or ash in too aggressively.
In rare cases, poorly-made glass can shatter under intense heat, which could be dangerous.
Glass pieces are not as mobile or discreet as other methods of smoking. Even small glass pipes like chillums get dirty and smelly after a few uses, thanks to the sticky resin that coats the bowl or pipe after smoking. This makes glass hard to carry with you or use for on-the-go smoking.
Some smokers simply prefer the experience of rolling and smoking a joint, spliff, or blunt, as opposed to packing and smoking a bowl.
With a few basic cannabis supplies, such as a grinder, packing and smoking a bowl is easy to achieve, especially if you’re using one made of glass.
How to pack a bowl Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is a bowl? What you need to pack a bowl Step-by-step instructions for packing a
How to put weed in a bowl
Packing a bowl of weed into a pipe is an elementary skill picked up by practically every cannabis lover out there. If this is your first time packing a bowl on your own, or if you’re just wondering about other ways to do it, well, you came to the right place.
Before we light up, let’s quickly review what a bowl is. The term bowl may or may not predate cannabis culture (and when does that begin, exactly?), and its use began at least two centuries ago. A bowl refers to the part of a pipe or bong that holds the smokable material, typically tobacco, but if you’re at MERRY JANE, we’ll be sticking to weed, thank you very much.
Not all bowls are created equally. Some massive bowls, sometimes called “party bowls,” can fit an entire eighth-ounce of buds. Some teeny tiny bowls, affixed to “sneak-a-toke” one-hitter-type pipes, may not have much room for any additional finagling. You’ll need to assess your bowl’s size and shape to optimize how it should be packed.
Ideally, you should fit as much weed into your bowl as possible while still maintaining proper air flow, and not spilling good herb all over your lap every time you pass the pipe.
A well-packed bowl should stay cherried after it’s first lit, allowing everyone in the sesh circle to draw smoke from the pipe without having to flick a lighter every time. (Admittedly, tokers love to talk, too, and tangential conversations during the sesh may require lighting the bowl between each and every hit. And that’s perfectly normal.)
But, before you can even pack your bowl, you’ll need to break up that weed first.
With a Grinder
If you’ve got a grinder, grinding up the weed into a fine, fluffy powder is probably the easiest way to break up the buds. If you’ve got a grinder with a kief catch, a.k.a. a kief screen, you’ll have some ground-up trichomes you could add to the bowl after packing it, too.
The advantage of using grinder to pack a bowl is uniformity and efficiency. It’s efficient because grinding weed is a fairly quick and straightforward process. And it’s uniform because all the weed has been ground up to equally sized pieces, so there are no little lumps or chunky bud-bits to deal with. It will ultimately lead to a more even burn, too.
The disadvantage of using a grinder when packing your bowl is also an advantage for some people: It’ll hit extremely hard with hot, harsh smoke. That’s because grinding up weed makes it more compact, so you’re literally packing more weed into the bowl than you would if you broke up the flower by hand. But some folks dig that kind of harsh smoke because it’s guaranteed to get you, your friends, the dog, and possibly even the neighbors walking by your front window blitzed as shit.
Breaking up buds by hand can be a time-consuming and painful task, especially if you’ve got larger hands or bigger-than-average fingers. Crushing a gram-sized nug is usually easy, but as it breaks down into smaller pieces, or as you begin breaking up smaller nugs closer to the bottom of the bottle (or plastic bag, for those of you in outlaw states), your fingers may get sore. However, if you prefer breaking up weed by hand, you’ll never need to worry about carrying a grinder around, or having to clean a grinder once it gets gunked up with resin.
Ideally, for the smoothest smoking sesh, don’t break up any weed, by hand or grinder. Simply hand-select the smallest nugs that will fit in your bowl, press them in, and voila!, you’ve got gentle, lightly flavored smoke rolling across your taste buds.
Some cannabis connoisseurs would take the by-hand approach one step further: Just drop a bowl-sized nug right into the bowl. Obviously, this won’t work with super-dense nugs, but airy or fluffier buds should permit enough airflow through the flower to facilitate smoking.
Why go with a whole nug right off the bat? According to the aficionados, breaking up, grinding, or otherwise crushing a bud destroys the trichomes, the glandular sacs (the “crystals”) that grow along the flowers. Trichomes contain most of the bud’s cannabinoid and terpenoid contents, and, as the wisdom goes, wrecking the trichomes means losing the terpenes to evaporation and perhaps some of the cannabinoids, too. (Perhaps….)
How to Actually Pack the Bowl
Once you’ve got your weed in the bowl, gently press it down with your fingertip, though thumb tips work best. Try to keep the top level of the bowl as level as possible. Furthermore, don’t pack it so hard that no air can pull through, but don’t pack it so lightly that even a single puff singes up and can’t stay lit.
You can test how well you’ve packed your bowl before setting it aflame. After packing the bowl with weed, simply inhale some air through the pipe or bong, as if you were smoking (but without actually lighting the bowl). If air is coming through, your pack is good. If it feels stuck, or the bong is sucking on your face harder than you’re inhaling, then it’s packed too tightly.
Gallery — Behold! The World’s Biggest Bowls
To remedy a bowl packed too tight, poke the bowl with a straight, thin poker-ma-bob (a paper clip, a hair pin, hanger, a dab wand). Or, if you’re able to cover the bowl with your thumb or palm, cover it, then blow out of the pipe (don’t do this with a water bong, or you’ll just shoot water up into your weed, which will then either land on you or the ground. And then you or your surrounding will smell like bong water. Blah!). You should blow the hole at the bottom of the bowl clear while still retaining the contents in the bowl (because you covered it, remember?).
If you’re smoking with people, pass the pipe to your right. After that, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Believe it or not, there’s more than one way to pack a bowl of bud in your favorite pipe.