We've all been there. You've packed a bowl with weed, go to inhale, and it's a struggle. Why can't you get a big rip from your carefully packed bowl of weed? As it turns out, there is a big difference between how to pack a bowl andhow to properly pack a bowl.
Bowls are an integral part of pipes and bongs, some of the most beloved ways to smoke weed. Bongs and pipes and their associated bowls have become pieces of art, not just a practical smoking device. While each piece is as unique as the person smoking from it, they all work using the same basic anatomy: bowl, carb, and mouthpiece.
For weed smokers, this is a no brainer — Pipes and Bongs 101.
But even if this is all self-explanatory, don't you want to perfect your next session? It's not just about jamming a bowl full to the brim on lighting up. For everyone who needs a lesson in how to pack a bowl of weed, listen up! Welcome to class!
The Basics: What's a Bowl?
If you've been smoking weed for decades, feel free to jump ahead. But if you've just picked up a pipe for the first time, you'll need to understand the makeup of the smoking device.
Every pipe, bong and bubbler has three essential components. First is the mouthpiece, which is where you place your mouth to inhale the smoke. Pipes and smaller smoking devices usually require you to places your lips around the opening.
Larger bongs and bubblers need you to place your mouth inside the opening. But whatever mouth placement focus on creating an airtight seal.
The second component is the carb or choke hole. This is located on the side of the bowl, or sometimes on the neck of a bong. The purpose of the carb hole is all about airflow.
When you first put flame to a bowl covering the hole keeps the smoke inside the pipe or bong, even if you are inhaling. Once you release the hole, the seal breaks, and you get a big hit of weed smoke.
Finally, we get to the bowl. The bowl is arguably the most critical component of a pipe. It's the carved out receptacle for the flower, hash, or concentrate you want to smoke. A bowl holds the flower but has a small opening that connects to the chamber and facilitates air movement from one end to another.
The Many Different Types of Bowls
On a rare occasion, bongs and bubblers will have a bowl attached. But, typically, the bowl is a separate piece. While you'll likely get a standard bowl when you purchase the bong, you also might want to upgrade or replace it.
Bowls come with either a male or female end. A male end fits into a wider female opening on the bong. A female bowl sits over the top of a smaller opening.
Beyond connection type, there is also connection size. There is not a one-size-fits all bowl size. Instead, there are three standard sizes, which indicate the size of the connection:
- 10 mm bowl
- 14 mm bowl
- 18 mm bowl
How to pack a bowl starts with knowing the proper bowl size. So, how do you know what size you'll need? Grab a US penny and insert it into the opening destined to hold the bowl. Use the following guide:
- Penny doesn't fit — 10 mm
- Penny fits halfway — 14 mm
- Penny fits all the way — 18 mm
Once you've determined the connection type (male or female) and the connection size (10 mm, 14 mm, or 18 mm), the rest of the decision making is a personal preference. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different combinations, from big monster bowls to tiny one-hitter options. You'll also find a variety of materials, from metal to glass to ceramic. The world is your oyster!
What Do You Need Before You Get Started?
With the pipe anatomy out of the way, now it's time to prep the necessary tools. To properly pack a bowl of weed, you will need:
- Grinder (optional)
Of course, you'll always need weed to smoke. The better the flower, the better the session. Aim for well-cured cannabis that is sticky with resin. If the flower is too wet, it may become a host for bacteria, mould, and mildew. If it's too dry, you'll find it tasteless and harsh to smoke. A perfectly cured bud is dry but not brittle. As you handle it, you'll notice it still springy to the touch.
A grinder is an optional but preferred second piece of equipment. A grinder quickly and precisely grinds flowers into an even consistency. There are many other ways to grind flower (scissors, knife, or even fingers) — but a grinder is best.
Next up, a lighter. Because terpenes and cannabinoids burn up quickly when exposed to high heat, choose your flame wisely. Butane torches might work best for dab rigs, but steer clear for smoking delicate bud. A simple lighter purchased at a corner store or bodega works best. If you prefer to avoid the use of petrochemicals, matches and hemp wicks are eco-friendly alternatives.
Finally, the bowl. If you already have a favourite pipe laying around — luck you! Pipes generally all come with the bowl built-in. But, if you plan to smoke from a bong or bubbler, you may need to source a separate piece. These are glass, ceramic, or metal pieces widely available online, glass shops, or cannabis retailers. Choose an appropriate size for the type of session you want to have, and that fits the size of your bong.
How to Properly Pack A Bowl
With the anatomy and tools out of the way, you are ready to begin. Ultimately, no matter how you pack a bowl, you will get something out of it. The goal here is to perfect the experience. The perfectly packed bowl is a pleasure to smoke and delivers a smooth, tasty and powerful experience.
Step 1: Grind It
Add a gram or more into your grinder. Twist until you achieve the desired grind. Generally speaking, you'll want to break it down until it's loose and fluffy, with no noticeable buds remaining. Strive for the consistency of ground herbs in your spice cabinet. Check a bottle of oregano to make sure.
The finer the grind, the more surface area you'll have to burn. So, you can keep the grinding into a fine powder — but depending on your set up and finger dexterity, this isn't always ideal.
If you do not have a screen, much of the flower will fall into the chamber. This may clog the device. Powders also require gentle packing to avoid compressing the airways between all the fine particles. A densely packed bowl is more challenging to smoke.
Step 2: Pack it
Presuming you've reached oregano-consistency, grab a pinch of flower and gently insert it into the bowl. Add flower until it's full, and use your finger to spread it evenly.
Now, how do you properly pack a bowl? Use a soft touch. You want to preserve the air space between each piece of ground flower, which allows you to pull air (and fire) through the bowl. The firmer you pack the bowl, the harder the draw. You want the bud to stay in place but still have some fluff and loft.
If you have ground the flower into a fine powder, use a screen. You will also want to avoid any excess force. Spread it even in the bowl, tamp it gently with your finger, but don't put too much pressure to ensure it smokes smoothly.
Step 3: Light it
Place your finger over the choke or carb before lighting. Place the flame to the side of the bowl, and inhale through the mouthpiece. Move the lighter or hemp wick over the bowl to cover as much flower as possible. Once you've reached your lung capacity, release the choke and inhale again. Now the smoke discharges, and you get the hit you've been looking for.
Watch the bowl as you release. If a cherry is still burning, you can keep taking hit after hit until the bowl burns up.
Step 4: Ash it
Depending on bowl size, you may get one or more rips out of a single pack. As the fresh flower incinerates, take note of the changes in flavour and smoke. When the bowl is entirely toasted, it's ready to ash.
Remove the bowl from the bong and gently tap into an ashtray. It should be ash at this point. If any lingering unburnt bud remains, it indicates the grind was too coarse, the pack uneven, or the pack too firm.
Step 5: Clean it
You will need to clean your bowl regularly. A clean bowl is a happy one. Over time resin, ash, and even more dangerous compounds build-up to clog both the bowl and bong. The more regularly you clean your pipe or bong, the easier the job.
There are many different ways to clean resinous grime from your smoking device, like with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), salt, baking soda and vinegar, or specialty bong-cleaners. Use pipe cleaners and toothbrushes to get as much built-up grime as possible out of your device.
How to Pack a Bowl Properly is All About a Gentle Touch
Although packing a bowl seems self-explanatory, you might be one of those people that take it too literally. If you have been firmly packing a bowl full of weed for years, you've really been doing it wrong.
A perfectly packed bowl delivers a smooth, easy smoke and leaves no nugs behind. If you take nothing else away from this article on how to pack a bowl, take these two thoughts.
- First, aim for a fine, consistent grind on your flower.
- Second, instead of pressing firmly down on a bowl of flower, use a gentle touch.
With these tips, your next session should be a smooth one.