What is cannabis flower and how do you consume it?

Flower, as well as bud or nug, refers to the smokable part of the cannabis plant, especially after it's been dried and cured. Though there are newer cannabis consumption methods, smoking flower continues to be a popular choice for its versatility, detailed below.

In this guide, we'll cover how to smoke weed and some frequently asked questions related to smoking flower.

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Flower, or bud, is the smokable part of the cannabis plant.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

How to smoke cannabis flower

Smoking weed is the most common way to consume cannabis. Effects kick in almost instantaneously and can last anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the dose and person. Most weed smokers consume cannabis flower using one or more of the following methods:

  • Joint: the joint, sometimes called a cannabis cigarette, consists of ground flower rolled in smokable rolling paper.
  • Blunt: similar to joints, blunts involve rolling ground flower in a blunt wrap or emptied cigar.
  • Pipe: one of the most common stoner tools, the pipe allows weed smokers to smoke on the go without additional materials beyond their flower, pipe, and lighter or match. 
  • Bong: the bong, or water pipe, allows cannabis consumers to filter weed smoke through water. 

How to smoke a joint

Joints are the most common method of smoking weed. The only tools you need to roll a joint are rolling papers, a paper filter, and flower. A grinder, while helpful, is optional. Rolling papers are inexpensive and available in most convenience stores. Once you've rolled the joint, just light the non-filter end, inhale through the filter, and enjoy. 

Most common rolling papers are made from wood pulp material, but there are a variety of different rolling papers specifically tailored for stoners, including longer-sized papers, hemp-based papers, and even packages that provide the joint roller with extra paper to make filters.  

Related: How to light a joint

How to smoke a blunt

Photo by: Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

While less common, a blunt is the same basic idea as a joint, only bigger. A blunt is an emptied-out cigar wrapper that's been filled with flower and resealed. Like a joint, the benefit of rolling a blunt is that all you need is the blunt wrap (or tobacco leaves) and ground flower (again, the grinder is optional). Once you've rolled the blunt, light one end and puff from the other end.

Most convenience stores sell cigars, allowing blunt making to be possible virtually anywhere. The only potential downside to a blunt is that you're also consuming the tobacco in the cigar wrap, though that's precisely the point for fans.

How to smoke weed with a pipe

Possibly the easiest, most straightforward way to smoke weed is through the use of a pipe. Small, compact, and easy to use, pipes are handheld devices used to smoke flower. To use a pipe, simply break apart your flower, fill the bowl with the flower, touch a flame to the flower while drawing air gently through the mouthpiece, and inhale the smoke. Ideal for traveling or discreet use, pipes are practical and reliable tools for cannabis smokers.

smoking with a hemp wick
Pipes are handheld devices used to smoke flower.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Related: How to clean a pipe

How to smoke weed with a bong

Bongs are smoking devices consisting of a chamber partially filled with water, a downstem, a mouthpiece, and a bowl. Bongs are ideal for those who want to tone down the heat and harshness while inhaling smoke. 

smoking a bong
Bongs are ideal for calming the heat and harshness of inhaling smoke.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

To use a bong, fill the chamber with just enough water to cover the end of the downstem. Pack the bowl with ground flower. Position your mouth over the mouthpiece and light the flower in the bowl. Inhale through your mouth to pull the smoke through the water and into your mouth. Once you're done smoking, empty the flower from the bowl and clean your bong for later use. 

Related: How to clean a bong

How to dose cannabis flower

Cannabis strains vary widely in potency, cannabinoid content, and terpene content — all of which can affect your cannabis experience. Flower potency is measured by the total concentration of cannabinoids—chemical compounds that act on our endocannabinoid system to stimulate psychoactive and physical effects—and is expressed in a percentage. For example, the label on a jar of OG Kush flower might read 18% THC, which indicates there are 180 milligrams (mg) of THC per gram of flower.

cannabis flower containers
Cannabis strains vary widely in potency, cannabinoid content, and terpene content — all of which can affect your cannabis experience.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Remember, smoking weed results in a very different high than eating edibles. Smoking a full-gram joint with 180 mg of THC will get the average person high for a few hours, whereas eating a 180-mg edible can result in side effects like paranoia, panic attacks, and an increased heart rate for six hours or more. 

Luckily, lab-tested products purchased from licensed, legal dispensaries come with certificates of analysis that make the dosing process accurate and easy. Look for the THC percentage on a package of cannabis flower to determine how much of an effect you can expect to get from one puff of a joint or bong rip. 

  • 10% THC or less: flower in this range is considered mild 
  • 10% - 20% THC: strong for beginners and often just right for casual consumers
  • 20% THC and above: some of the strongest weed you'll find 

Bottom line: make note of the THC percentage before you consume, take one puff, and wait 15 minutes before consuming more to get a sense of how that potency affects you. 

Frequently asked questions

What kind of paper can you use when you're out of rolling paper?

These materials are fine to use in a pinch:

  • Emptied cigarettes or cigarette papers
  • Corn husks tied with string
  • Specially prepared rose petals baked together to form a longer wrap
  • Hair curler papers

These may be fine but you'll be smoking more chemicals, including those found in ink:

  • Receipts
  • Phone book pages

Don't do it:

  • Tissue paper: too fragile and coated with chemicals

Can you smoke in a steamy room to smoke without the smell?

Smoking in a steamy room, with a towel stuffed under the door, tends to contain the smell within the room better than without the steam or towel. But it doesn't eliminate the odor while smoking. The weed smell should dissipate about half an hour after smoking stops. 

Can you smoke when you get your wisdom tooth pulled out?

No. Dentists recommend not smoking anything (tobacco or cannabis) for at least a week after extractions. Smoking decreases saliva production and causes the blood vessels in your gums to contract (decreasing oxygen to your wounds) and risks infection, dry socket, and incomplete recovery. Chemicals present in non-organic cannabis could also cause irritation, further risking injury or dry socket. Instead of smoking, try some soft edibles or a tincture. 

What is an easy and cheap homemade pipe screen?

While pipe screens are typically very inexpensive at head shops or tobacco shops, you may find yourself in need of a homemade option. Try these:

  • The small, nickel-sized screen found on sink faucets. Simply unscrew the metal cylinder from under the faucet head and pop out the screen, shaping it to fit inside your pipe. 
  • Earbud screens. Carefully remove the casing around the in-ear part and shape the screen as needed in your pipe. 
  • A small, irregularly shaped pebble, as long as there is room around the stone for cannabis smoke to flow into the mouthpiece 

How do you remove the smell from a hotbox?

Open the windows, turn on fans, and get the air flowing to remove hotboxing odors. Open boxes of baking soda placed around the space and left to absorb the odors help. Air fresheners, candles, and incense can also reduce weed smells. Ultimately, washing any clothes, carpets, and other textiles may be needed to truly get rid of any lingering wafts of weed.

Will smoking out of the window prevent the room from smelling?

Blowing smoke out of an open window or into an air conditioner vent may help circulate the cannabis smell out of a room. A room may or may not still smell while doing this, but it ensures most of the smoke moves outside of the enclosed space. Using a tool such as a sploof will further filter the cannabis smell as you blow out the window. Just make sure the wind is moving away from your window and not blowing the weed smoke back into your room.

smoking sploof out window
Using a tool such as a sploof will further filter the cannabis smell as you blow out the window.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Will smoking in the shower prevent the smell of marijuana?

Smoking weed in the shower won't prevent the smell of marijuana, but the steam of a shower will help capture the odor and keep it contained in the bathroom, especially if you stuff a towel under the door. However, it might be difficult to spark up a pipe or keep a joint lit while in the shower with the water running.  

How far does cannabis smoke travel?

If you're smoking outside, how fast and in what direction the wind is blowing, humidity levels, other aromas in the air, and other factors all affect the distance cannabis smoke travels.

Your consumption method also affects the reach of cannabis smoke. A vape, for example, produces much less smoke and odor than a joint or blunt. Online sources report being able to smell smoked cannabis anywhere from ten to 50 yards from the source.

How long does it take for you to start feeling high?

How long it takes for a weed high to kick in depends on many different factors, such as biochemistry, weight, the amount consumed, the cannabinoid and terpene profile of the strain, and how the cannabis is consumed. Smoking and vaping typically take about five minutes to reach the peak of psychoactivity, according to Dr. Robert Mann of the University of Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, though some consumers report feeling effects within seconds of a first hit. Edibles, on the other hand, take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to start kicking in.

Will the smell of marijuana be reduced if I smoke out of a bong?

Yes, smoking out of a bong can slightly reduce the smell of marijuana, thanks to the water's extra filtration of the cannabis smoke and the fact you're not also burning tobacco leaf or smoking paper. Using a bong doesn't entirely remove the smell, however, and consistent use can accumulate a smell that some users claim reeks worse than weed alone. To minimize bong odor during and after smoking, make sure to clean your piece regularly

Does weed smell stick to clothing?

Weed smell sticks to clothes at varying levels, depending on what strain you're smoking and how you're consuming your weed. A blunt's stronger smell is more likely to stick to clothing, while a bong session's smell typically dissipates with a quick step outside. Regular clothes washing, body sprays, and air fresheners are useful ways to reduce or remove the smell after a smoking session. 

What's the best way of smoking weed without papers, pipes, or bongs?

Vaporizers are the easiest method of smoking weed without papers or pipes, and vaporizing flower is potentially one of the healthiest consumption methods. Consumers also have plenty of DIY options when it comes to smoking weed. DIY pipes, made with apples or other fruit; DIY bongs made out of water bottles or soda cans; and DIY joints using materials such as empty cigarettes, gum wrappers, corn husks, or even rose petals are all possible options when you can't get your hands on papers or a pipe.

apple pipe bong
Consumers have plenty of DIY options when it comes to smoking weed, such as apple pipes.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Can you boil weed and drink the water to get high?

No, you need to decarboxylate cannabis to change THCA into THC to get high. THC doesn't dissolve into the water when heated. However, you can boil cannabis leaves to create a weed-tasting tea with other nutritious properties the cannabis plant provides.

How do you know when your bowl is finished?

You can usually tell when your bowl is finished (cashed) when you taste ash rather than cannabis when you take a hit. You also should see white-to-black ash in the bowl, and not see any green flower material left over. 

Can you smoke marijuana seeds to get high?

No, seeds contain very little to zero THC and will not make you high when smoked.

What happens when you swallow smoke?

You essentially waste the weed. As the lungs introduce cannabinoids to your bloodstream much faster than the stomach, swallowing smoke typically wastes the psychoactivity inhaling would provide. Swallowing cannabis smoke can also irritate the lining of the stomach and cause minor stomach pain, heartburn, or even vomiting.

What is flower at a dispensary?

Flower is the smokable, trichome-covered bud of the cannabis plant. At a dispensary, it's the actual plant material as opposed to concentrates, tinctures, edibles, or oils made from it.

What is premium flower?

Premium flower is high quality, top-shelf, private reserve flower. Cultivators set aside small batches of cannabis flower with premium qualities, such as vibrant color, pungent aroma, and unique bud structure. They come with a premium price.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on March 20, 2023.