How to Smoke Weed Correctly

Andrew Ward
September 22, 2021

The information is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve readers of their obligation to obtain qualified medical, legal or other professional advice.

What you will learn in this post:
(Click any of the section titles below to jump right to it)

Smoking cannabis correctly.

As incredible as cannabis can be for medical relief and other personal benefits, it can also be daunting for a newcomer. A myriad of terms, consumption options and more nuanced insights await as the world of cannabis opens up to you. The basics, including how to smoke weed, can even serve as a high hurdle when beginning. 

The good news is that learning about cannabis is relatively easy. With just a bit of understanding and some hands-on experience, patients and adult consumers alike can learn just about every aspect of the consumption experience, from plant profiles and their effects to mastering the many ways to smoke weed, and how you can smoke said pot without coughing.

Consider this article your 101-overview on the many ways to smoke and how it's done correctly. 


Smoking cannabis: Preparation is key

Just about every aspect of life benefits from a degree of preparation. Cannabis is no different.

Cannabis newcomers or those not used to smoking the plant should do a bit more prepping before they light up for the first time. Going into things prepared will result in you having the best cannabis consumption experience possible. These tips will set you on the right path to a great time. 

Choose the right strain

Cannabis and alcohol share their similarities. One of the more prominent overlaps between the two is the ample options each present. Consumer preferences vary because each person has their unique reactions. In cannabis, those that need to feel uplifted may opt for a sativa-leaning cultivar. A person looking to take the edge off at the end of the day may instead choose an indica-dominant option. 

Examining the plant profile is essential to your optimal experience. Do your research, starting with indica, sativas and hybrids. From there, explore the entire plant profile, including terpenes, cannabinoids, and the plant's numerous other compounds. Each plays its part in making a strain unique, providing a different experience you should be aware of before smoking weed. 

For instance, CBG can increase drowsiness. CBD may help with migraines but it also interferes with your high. There are many ways that cannabinoids interact, often called the entourage effect, and everyone reacts differently. Trial and error while keeping track of your results is the best way to find the best cannabinoid profile for your individual body chemistry.

Store your cannabis correctly

Cannabis may be a miracle in the eyes of many consumers, but even the glorious plant can't fight off an expiration date. Learning the best way you store cannabis can vastly impact how long your buds can stay in the fight. When stored properly, your pot can maintain its cannabinoid content, potency, flavor and aroma. 

Keeping your products away from UV light and humidity is crucial to plant preservation. If you don't have the time to dive into the minutiae, at least keep your buds in a cool, dark place. 

Get settled in the right space, mentally and physically

Cannabis smoking is meant to be an enjoyable experience. Your setting is crucial to the pleasurable encounter. Sure, you can consume cannabis anywhere it's legal. That doesn't mean you should. Take steps to ensure you'll have the experience you desired. This is particularly true when consuming THC strains, as the psychoactive effects are best when experienced in a place that makes you feel comfortable. 

If you find yourself in an awkward spot, do your best to remove yourself. Or save the cannabis for another time if you can. It's best not to smoke in a place that heightens anxiety or stresses you out. Even cannabis' healing properties can sometimes lose out to those types of settings.


Use an herb grinder

From hand breaking to credit cards to graters, there are many methods to break up flower, but an herb grinder still reigns supreme. Grinders help avoid those sticky, clumpy, and inconsistent flower pieces that can diminish an otherwise quality smoke session. With nicely ground, consistent material, your smoke is much less likely to run into any clogs or hot spots. 

Just be sure to use a gentle touch when grinding. Remember, you want small broken-up pieces of herb--not a dust cloud left from aggressive grinding. Doing the latter will make the flower challenging to pack while stripping out much of the plant's trichomes. 


Cleanliness is vital

If you want to know how to smoke weed without coughing, start with clean pipes and pieces. Smoking without cleaning means you're consuming whatever's been leftover from previous smoke sessions. Before lighting up, give your pipe, bong or otherwise a quick clean. 

For starters, keep pipe cleaners on hand to clear out resin so it doesn't clog your pipe. This will ensure you always have a smooth, strong pull. If your pipe is dirtier than that, it can be helpful to use the salt/alcohol method:

1) Put the pipe in a baggie with a couple of tablespoons of salt, half a cup of alcohol, and half a cup of water.

2) Shake/rub your pipe in the solution for a couple of minutes to work the solution into the resin.

3) Then let it soak in the solution for half an hour. 

4) Use your pipe cleaner to clear out the chamber.

5) Rinse very thoroughly with warm water to remove all signs of resin, salt and alcohol. Be very thorough because you don't want to breathe that in.

6) Repeat if necessary.

Regular cleaning will help keep smoke sessions smooth, and they'll also keep your prized pieces looking nice and shiny rather than dank and dingy. 

And while it may seem obvious to most, be sure to replace the water in your water pipes. Change it every single time you smoke. 


Learn how to smoke cannabis without coughing

Before we go over the other fundamentals on how you can smoke weed without coughing, remember that it is normal to cough--we're inhaling smoke into our lungs after all. That said, consider the following to avoid regularly going into coughing fits when smoking:

  1. Take it easy until you know your limit. A massive hit is a surefire way to a coughing fit (and being way too high).
  2. Pull the smoke into your mouth first, then your lungs. Give yourself additional control over the amount inhaled. This method also allows the smoke to cool to a degree inside of your mouth before reaching the lungs.
  3. Choose your ideal consumption method. Smoking may not be best if you have a lung condition, and there are other inhalation methods such as dry herb vaporizers if edibles aren't your thing. More on that below

Learn how to light a joint

Remember that practice makes perfect when learning how to light a joint properly. You'll want to keep a few key points in mind. Above all else, know that lighting a joint is not quite the same as a cigarette. Inhaling while lighting is not encouraged

Instead, place your flame at the tip of the joint. Then, slowly rotate the paper to ensure an even burn around the tip. A red glowing "cherry" will soon appear, giving you an indication that it's time to take your first pull. 

As you pull, remember to hold it in your mouth, not your lungs. You may want to puff a few times to get the cherry going, especially if your weed is on the wet or sticky side.

If it goes out, repeat these steps till you've got a good pull. 


Understand and respect cannabis dosage

Your ideal dosage and tolerance aren't just developed through regular use. Several additional factors play a part, ranging from the plant's cannabinoid profile to the consumption method chosen. 

Choose a low THC concentration to start. Approximately 10% should do for most new consumers. Some may opt for a 20% dose instead, but newcomers may find themselves overwhelmed with such potency. The potency should be listed on the label as a percentage of THC and CBD. Sometimes other cannabinoids are listed as well. 

Look beyond CBD and THC when assessing your ideal dosage. The entire plant profile creates your unique experience. A .5g dose of one strain won't produce the same outcome when using an equivalent dose of another cultivar. Avoid unwanted effects by starting slowly with a low dose like one puff and wait 30 to 60 minutes before trying more. You'll get a feel for your sweet spot before long. 

Remember that you still may overdo it along the way, and that's okay. Here are some tips to help you sober up from cannabis if your dose was too strong.


Cannabis smoking etiquette

Remember that not everyone enjoys the plant. For whatever reason, some people don't like cannabis--and that's perfectly fine. 

The same can be said about cannabis consumer tolerances. What might be the ideal dose for you isn't for someone else. Again, this is perfectly fine. 

Respecting everyone's choices is just one of several easy-to-follow social etiquette rules when consuming cannabis


Be respectful of those around you

Cannabis aromas are hard to miss. Be mindful that those around you might not like the smell or its second-hand effects like you and your group. If you live with others, or are in an area with other people, consider smoking when the space is clear. The smell of cannabis can linger, and it might not be what everyone wants to take in. Respect their space as you would like them to do for you. 

Whoever rolled the joint will light it

Allow the roller to be the lighter. Unless the roller defers, the person who makes the joint should light it, ensuring that their creation burns as they wish. Don't muck up someone's work of art--even if you can light better than them. 

Ash before passing it to the next person

Don't forget that a key to learning how to smoke a blunt, joint, etc. is proper trash disposal. It's not the most fun aspect, but ash removal is essential all the same. Hand your friends a joint free of ashy longtails that'll fall into their lap. A quick flick of the wrist into the ash tray should do the trick. 

Remember, "puff, puff, pass"

It's a classic rule you always hear. Some groups take the rule literally, mandating a person takes two pulls and then passes. For others, the rules are more focused on taking as many hits as the host and keeping the pace moving. In either case, don't hold onto the joint for too long, letting it waste away in between your fingers. 

Be mindful of where you exhale

The phrase may be that people don't like smoke being blown up their rear ends. But in reality, most people don't want smoke blown at them at all. So, unless someone specifically asks for your smoke, blow it in another direction. 

Keep your saliva to yourself

Smoking weed correctly means not leaving your wet saliva all over the piece for the next person. Nobody likes an off-putting damp joint. It's gross in their mouth and often diminishes the ability to pull from the joint. 

Keep a dry lip, or better yet, hover around the base of the joint and inhale lightly. Doing so should minimize any wetness.


4 common ways to smoke cannabis

The next step in learning how to smoke weed correctly is choosing the ideal consumption method. Each method has its pros and cons, depending on your preference. Consider the following four primary methods to get started. 

Joints

Joints are the most cost-efficient choice and are as accessible as you can get, with various options found at convenience stores, gas stations, groceries and many other retailers. Stored in small packages, joint papers are ideal for any consumer looking to smoke just about anywhere. Learning how to roll and smoke a joint may take some practice but should come soon enough with relative ease. Just be wary of any potential harsh hits that may happen. To avoid any harsh lung hits, follow the methods mentioned above. 

Blunts

Blunts are similar to a joint in their popularity and portability. The added smells and flavors, coupled with the tobacco buzz, make blunts many consumers' preferred choice. 

Learning how to roll a blunt isn't as easy as joints, but it isn't difficult either. Keep in mind that a more significant amount of flower is needed to fill a blunt, typically calling for one to two grams. Additional health concerns have been reported as well, with the tobacco leaf a concern due to chemical exposure and a harsher smoke overall. 

Pipes

Pipes are great for reusability, making them the cheaper option over time. Starting at just a few dollars, entry-level pipes provide smooth hits and cooler smokes, especially when using a water pipe that cools the smoke. 

There are drawbacks beyond the breakability factor. Some pieces can become intricate, making cleaning difficult. Though, basic pieces are simple enough to clean with some rubbing alcohol and pipe cleaners. And unless working with a specialty pipe, the portability of a pre-packed piece isn't as easy as bringing along your papers or blunt wrap. 

Bongs

Think pipes but more prominent and less portable. Bongs are ideal for smokers looking for a strong hit that stays cool and smooth. While excellent at delivering enjoyable, substantial hits, bongs do cost a bit more than the other options and can break if mishandled. Like pipes, more intricate pieces can make cleaning a hassle--leaving you with a sometimes resin-filled home smoking option. 

Dry Herb Vaporizers

Dry herb vaporizers are a relatively new "smoking" option. Technically, you're not smoking cannabis at all. Instead, you're heating the flower up to a point just below combustion, but high enough to convert the THCA to THC. Because you're heating up the cannabis below the combustion point, significantly less tar is produced. The end result is a smoother hit, less coughing, and your hit tastes cleaner.

Dry herb vaporizers come in tabletop or hand-held models. Dry herb vapers prefer this method over vaping cannabis oil in a vape pen because they get to experience the entire cannabinoid profile of the plant, whereas the oil in typical vape pens has been substantially altered from the original profile. 

There isn't enough research about this method to say whether it's safer than traditional smoking, although it's hard to see how reducing tar could be a bad thing. Still, you should talk to your doctor first about using this method if you have a condition that requires faster dosing than edibles, but smoking isn't advised. 

That should get you started on how to smoke weed correctly without coughing too much along the way. Be sure to refer back to this guide as you develop from a cannabis-smoking newcomer to a well-versed pot veteran. 


Andrew Ward
Andrew is a Brooklyn, New York-based writer with a degree in Creative Writing from Montclair State University in New Jersey. After years of working in freelance and offices, he embraced the future of work and re-entered the independent workforce. Today, he provides creative solutions to Nugg and other respected cannabis companies.

Accessing Cannabis Has Never Been Easier

Get your medical marijuana card today!

Learn More