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A Beginner's Guide to Properly Packing a Bowl

| Madison Gillespie

Whether you're a new smoker or a seasoned cannabis user, there's one purchase guaranteed to make your bud more memorable: a bong or pipe.

Bongs are great because they give you a smooth toke that isn't as dry as a blunt. But even if you've used one before, how it works might seem almost mystical. And one of the first questions on your mind is how to pack a bowl.

Bongs go a long way back, with the earliest bongs appearing as far back as 2,400 years ago. Pipes go back even further. Both were easy to use for your ancestors, and they'll be easy for you, too.

Keep reading as we teach you everything you need to know about packing a bowl.

How Does a Pipe or Bong Work?

The technology for the two has been around for most of human history. In principle, you have a few key parts:

  • The bowl: the place where you put your bud
  • The water chamber (bong only): a reservoir for water that percolates to smooth out your toke
  • The carb: a small hole that you place a thumb over to regulate the vacuum
  • The downstem: the tube the smoke passes through--and gets cooled if using a bong

When you combust the weed, the embers create smoke. This smoke travels into the downstem and through to the pipe where you inhale it at the mouthpiece. The carb serves as a "regulator" to control the vacuum and drive the smoke in one direction.

With a bong, you have the added feature of the water chamber. This water begins to bubble as you inhale, cooling the smoke via percolation before it arrives in your lungs.

What Kinds of Pipes Have a Bowl?

Pipes come in all shapes and sizes, but not all of them use bowl technology. Here is a list of the most common pipes that use some sort of bowl:

  • Hand pipes (spoon pipes): as the name spoon implies, the bowl is at the end of the stem
  • One-hitters: a short pipe with a small container for flower at one end, usually containing a small amount--i.e., one hit
  • Bong: as mentioned above, a pipe with a water chamber for a smoother (and sometimes more potent) hit

How to Pack a Bowl and Smoke it

Now that we know how it works and which pipes to use, let's get into the nitty-gritty. You'll need a few things:

  • Your pipe/bong
  • A grinder for the weed
  • A lighter
  • Water (if using a bong)

Step 1: Grind Down the Bud

Use a grinder to get your bud down to the optimal grind. Most grinders will have two to three levels. You load the herb into the device's first level, then grind until it sinks to the second level--or third level.

You want that medium grind that accumulates in the second chamber. This is ideal for smoking. The third chamber creates extra-fine dust called kief, which serves other purposes.

Kief is more potent than the medium grind, so we recommend that you do your research before using it!

For your first time, just grind down one or two nugs. Grind by twisting left and right in full rotations until there's no more herb left in the top chamber. You'll know you're ready when there's no more resistance to the grind.

Step 2: Pack a Bowl

Before you transfer the bud, you'll want to fill the water chamber. Fill it up no more than an inch and a half over the stem (the part that sticks diagonally down into the water chamber.)

Remove the resulting grind from the reservoir in your grinder. Transfer this to the bowl of your pipe. Load enough so that it sits comfortably below the rim.

The key is to tamp it down, but not too tight. You want the ground herb to sit firmly, but not restrict airflow. There needs to be space among the particulate matter for air to travel.

Step 3: Light It

This will prove to be the trickiest part and may require some trial and error. Don't hesitate to look up a YouTube video if you need visuals for this process.

Ignite the lighter upside down at a diagonal angle so the flame reaches the herb. Move the lighter around in circles so that it evenly toasts the bowl's contents. While you're doing this, you'll need to inhale through the mouthpiece to get some airflow.

Last but not least, seal off the carb--that little hole on the side. Using the carb takes some practice as you learn to control that airflow. You'll hear and see some bubbles if you're using a bong.

Step 4: Enjoy It

Repeat step 3 every time you toke. Keep smoking until you're satisfied, or until the contents of the bowl are "cashed." You can tell this is the case when all you have left is gray ash and no green plant matter.

If you don't finish your bowl, then save it for later. Otherwise, dump the ash. Take the time to clean your pipe when you're finished!

Extra Tips for Using Cannabis in a Pipe Bowl

The key to a successful sesh is all about that inhale. You'll get the most effective hit without ending up in a coughing fit.

Make sure to inhale fully so the smoke fills your lungs. It's a rookie mistake to fill only your mouth and throat, resulting in a less potent hit.

Don't freak out if you do start coughing, though. Every cannabis user knows that dryness is a normal, expected part of the experience. But with practice, you can avoid these coughing fits.

As a rule of thumb, don't take too much. Too much THC can and will give you a headache and may make you feel nauseous. Stop long before these symptoms manifest.

Last but not least, take your time. Inhale slowly, using a gentle toke to get the smoke into your lungs. This will prevent things from going down the wrong hole.

Get a Pipe from Giggle Glass

Packing a bowl of cannabis is a rite of passage for every cannabis user. It allows you to enjoy the weed the way your ancestors did, and look cool doing it. Make sure you keep the above steps in mind before you try to do it on your own.

Giggle Glass makes some of the best pipes in the industry. Visit our site today and check out our selection of pipes.