How to Pack a Bowl the Easy Way

9 minute read

Smoking cannabis is all about maximizing the flavor and potency of your material, so knowing how to pack a bowl is essential. A poorly packed bowl can lead to tasting ash on a hit or even losing some of your dry herb through the downstem. Stick with Dank Riot for an easy 5-step process to pack your bowl perfectly every time. These tips work whether you're packing a bong bowl or planning to smoke with a pipe.

how to pack a bowl photo

What is a bowl?

A bowl, as the name suggests, is the part of your bong or pipe that’s rounded out to hold your marijuana. It works as a small container to place your dry cannabis herbs in. 

When preparing to smoke, the base of your bowl attaches to the hole in your bong or pipe’s body. When you light the dry herbs inside of the bowl and take a hit from the bong or pipe, the smoke is pulled from the bowl through the bong or pipe and into your lungs. 

The way your bowl works will vary depending on whether you’re smoking with a bong or a standard pipe. If you’re smoking a pipe, the bowl attached to it will usually have a small hole called a carb that helps control the flow of air while you take a hit. Cover the carb as smoke fills your pipe, then uncover when you’re taking a hit to clear it out.

You won’t typically find a carb in bowls that are attached to a bong. Instead, you just slide your blow in and out of the bong’s body using the downstem. 

Selecting the right pipe

how to pack a bowl spoon

There are many different ways to consume cannabis, but the most popular way by far is with a smoking pipe. Inspired by tobacco pipes, smoking pipes carry many of the same features smokers love.

Back in the day, pipes were made using only wood, bamboo, or ceramics. Luckily many more options are available today, like borosilicate glass - which is extremely popular today for its durability. 

Glass pipes are often grouped together with other tobacco smoking accessories, but you can find them pretty easily in gift shops, head shops, and even online. You may even come across glass pipes at glass art galleries. 

For beginners, we recommend starting with a spoon pipe. You can probably guess why it’s called a spoon pipe, but these pipes are great for anyone inexperienced with cannabis because they’re affordable and pretty easy to use. 

Pipes come in an almost endless array of sizes and shapes. More experienced users might find the filtration offered by water bongs and bubblers to be better for their smoking experience.

Items needed to pack a bowl

Here's the best part:

Not much is needed to smoke weed out of your pipe. Aside from the pipe and your bowl itself, the first item you’ll need is a heat source.

We recommend a traditional butane lighter, but know that other heating options are available. A popular alternative is a hemp wick - a string made of hemp that lights easily, doesn’t leave a nasty aftertaste, and burns evenly. 

Glass wands are also popular among smokers. These tools can be used to vaporize your weed rather than combusting it like a traditional lighter would. The hit is a bit lighter, but you don’t deal with many of the contaminants found in smoke when using this method.

The next item on your list should be a screen. While these aren’t necessary to smoke from a pipe or bong, they prevent you from smoking any burnt pieces of weed during the sesh. When you don’t have any pipe screens available, you can simply create a coil out of a paperclip or piece of wire. 

Using the screen from a faucet head works as well, but be sure to avoid any aluminum foil, window screens, or soda cans as DIY screens. These materials are harmful when inhaled.

With your essential items ready, you can begin preparing your dry herb to be packed in the bowl. The goal here is to maximize airflow for an even smoke.

How to pack a bowl in 5 easy steps

how to pack a bowl tool

Step 1 - Grab your pipe, a grinder, and some weed. (The grinder is optional, but the process is a lot easier when you have one.)

Step 2 - Grind your weed until it’s evenly broken down. Don’t break it down too much or the herb will fall through your bowl. If you’re without a grinder, simply pull apart your weed using your hands. 

Step 3 - Place your screen at the bottom of your bowl to keep your weed from falling through. A stem works as well if a screen isn’t available.

Step 4 - Begin packing your grounded herb into the bowl. It’s important to understand how tight to pack a bowl. Keep the bottom of your bowl packed lightly and pack it a little more densely towards the top of the bowl. This helps the weed on top burn consistently without clogging the bowl.

Step 5 - Place your lighter or another heat source to the bowl and take a hit!

In case you might be asking yourself how to hit a bowl:

Just hold the bowl in your hand with your thumb over the carb and place your lips on the pipe. Light the corner of your packed bowl and begin taking a draw as the weed lights. Move the flame away and continue your draw until you’re ready to clear the smoke. Once ready, uncover the carb and inhale the built up smoke inside. 

Packing debate: hands vs. grinder

The best way to pack a bow is highly debated amongst stoners. Some prefer breaking down bud by hand to pack their bowl, while others swear by the sharp teeth of their favorite grinder. No method is clearly superior, but it’s worth mentioning the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Way before grinders, stoners broke down bud through hand-picking. To do this, just break apart your weed with two fingers against a clean rolling tray or another hard surface. The main benefit of hand-picking is that it saves more trichomes than a grinder would. This is why most quality grinders have a kief catcher attached to them. Since grinders are rough with the herb, a lot of the trichomes are lost during the grinding process. Trichomes are what allow you to experience the full flavor and potency of your cannabis flower.

On the other hand:

The reasons for using a grinder when packing your bowl are just as valid as the ones mentioned above. As you grind your weed, the surface area increases - meaning you can fit more weed into your bowl. This is essential for bigger pipes or sessions with multiple people taking a hit. More weed equals bigger hits - it’s as simple as that. Test out both methods to find out which you prefer.

Are glass bowls the best?

Most people enjoy smoking out a glass bowl.

Here's why:

The main reason for this is that glass simply provides the cleanest smoking experience compared to other materials. Due to its chemical makeup, glass doesn’t produce any odors, aftertaste, or contaminants when smoking. You’ll be able to smoke out of a glass bowl over and over again without losing any of the flavor or smell of your bud. Glass bowls and pipes are extremely easy to clean as well.

Take note that glass bowls are by no means perfect, and there are a few reasons some smokers avoid them altogether. The first reason being that glass can be fragile and break or shatter if you aren’t careful. Low-quality glass can even shatter when heated, which is obviously dangerous. 

Beyond breaking, glass pieces are usually not that discreet. Even smaller glass pipes get visibly dirty with an odor after a few uses. Carrying a glass piece around with you is not a good idea if you need to keep things on the down low.

Bonus: Proper etiquette for smoking with others

When you are smoking a bowl for the first time, it’s important to know some of the unwritten rules - especially if you’re smoking with other people. The first rule is simple. Pack proportional bowls. Proportional to the number of people smoking that is.

Smoking by yourself requires less weed than a session with multiple people would, so pack a micro bowl that you can quickly finish in one or two hits. For a smoke sesh with you and one other person, pack a bowl for 2 or simply take turns packing your own personal, one-hit bowls.

You’ll get a variety of answers if you ask stoners you know how to light a bowl, but everyone agrees that anytime you’re smoking with other people you should  light the corner of your bowl so only a portion of the herb is lit. Nobody wants an ashy hit, so cornering the bowl let’s everyone enjoy the full flavor of their hit.

Most important of all:

Don’t be a lighter thief! You might find yourself getting invited to fewer sessions if you’re walking off with the lighter each time.

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