The Healthiest Way to Smoke Weed (and 4 Other Ways to Consume Cannabis)

Safest way to smoke weed
By Rachel Sims Updated March 8th

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

Smoking weed has a long history – there’s no doubt about that. Research suggests smoking cannabis has been around for at least 2,500 years. It was grown for grain and fiber but also for ritual, medical, and even recreational purposes.1

Smoking is also the most commonly associated consumption method for the plant. Of course, smoking any substance comes with its own potential health risks. If there’s a way to mitigate risk, though, what’s the healthiest way to smoke weed?

The most common way consumers smoke cannabis is with a rolling paper to form a joint. Alternatively, some may use cigar wraps to roll a larger amount of weed at once into what’s called a blunt.

Small glass pipes are another convenient option, and they’re simple for new consumers to use. Often considered a step up from standard pipes, many consumers will use a bong or water pipe when smoking. Bongs use water to filter cannabis smoke, leading some users to prefer them for a cleaner, less harsh (and potentially larger) inhale.

So, which way is the healthiest way to smoke weed? 

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Is Smoking Weed Less Healthy?

There are potentially several harmful effects that can come from smoking cannabis. However, research on the subject is mixed, and results are often inconclusive or inconsistent. That inconsistency is significant in part due to the fact that many cannabis smokers also smoke tobacco. It can then become challenging to disentangle the two for genuine results.

Some research suggests that regularly smoking cannabis may cause airway injury. That can lead to symptoms similar to chronic bronchitis in some smokers.2 On the contrary, cannabis also demonstrates an acute bronchodilator effect, which may relieve asthmatic symptoms.3

A significant factor in play is how frequent of a cannabis consumer the individual is. Regular, chronic, and long-term consumers may be more prone to negative symptoms. As with all things in life, it seems moderation may be the key.

Overall, regular cannabis use has a significantly lower risk of complications compared to tobacco smoking. So, if you’re looking to smoke weed in a healthier way, do ensure you’re not also smoking tobacco. This may be your sign to quit the habit!

Different Ways to Smoke Weed Compared

best Way to Smoke Weed

Are you new to cannabis or unfamiliar with all the methods out there? There are several common ways to smoke pot. 

Many consumers use pre-rolls, blunts, spliffs, or classic joints. Consumers also smoke out of pipes, bongs, and other pieces in various materials, including glass, wood, metal, and silicone.

There are even dry herb vapes one can use to consume cannabis. While it vaporizes the flower instead, it still leaves toasted bud at the end. It serves as a potentially safer alternative than combusting the flower, since vaping happens at a lower temperature.

If you have cannabis concentrate instead of flower, consumers might use a dab rig or other popular method.

The Safest Way to Smoke Weed

While anecdotal, there may be some science behind using bongs or other water pipes for a safer inhale. These water pieces may be the healthiest way to smoke weed before getting into vaping instead.

As water filtration devices, bongs can cool and filter smoke before inhalation. The process may reduce the inhaled smoke’s temperature, potentially making it less harsh on the lungs. Bongs do still involve cannabis combustion, but the water filtration aspect may reduce some of the harmful substances inhaled.

Dry herb vaping may be even safer than bongs. Vaping cannabis may reduce exposure to several toxins. In fact, it avoids the production of harmful combustion byproducts, such as tar and other toxic substances, altogether. 

Vaping flower may also reduce carbon dioxide output, as well as lessen various chronic respiratory symptoms.4 It does this while producing similar subjective intoxicating effects. As a result, dry herb vaping may reduce harm, especially among chronic cannabis smokers.

Cleanest Way to Smoke Weed: Do Strains Matter?

Cleanest Way to Smoke Weed

To learn the best ways to smoke marijuana, one must first understand what it takes to find a reliable product. When it comes to the health implications of smoking, does the strain you smoke matter? Does it impact your health if you choose indica vs sativa?

In short, the strain choice may matter, but not for your health. Whether the strain is labeled an indica or sativa does not affect whether the strain is healthier than another to smoke. These terms are often used in reference to potential effects. But even then, these terms are often inaccurate for describing effects, which are better explained by the various terpene and cannabinoid profiles present in different cannabis strains. The effects of a strain may also vary based on an individual's unique biochemistry and tolerance.

While strain classification may have some relevance in terms of effects and flavors, it’s not a significant cleanliness factor. Strain name does not determine how safe or clean the product is.

Instead, consumers should focus on an individual strain’s safety testing for impurities and pesticides. There are several reasons consumers should research a strain before smoking it.

The primary concern is product quality, which means understanding the rigorous safety testing it should undergo. 

Research indicates that some cannabis is contaminated with microorganisms, including molds, yeasts, and pathogenic bacteria. Likewise, cannabis products risk pesticide contamination. Contamination can occur at any production stage.5

It’s essential to source cannabis and cannabis products from reputable producers and licensed dispensaries. These sources should prioritize quality control and safety testing above all else.

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Tips For Healthier Cannabis Smoking

There are other ways to make your smoking sessions healthier. If safety is one of your priorities, it’s good to take these measures for a better smoking experience. These tips may also help you get the most out of your weed.

Don’t Hold In Hits

It’s an age-old tradition for some people to hold in a hit for as long as possible. Fun fact: it’s not doing anything extra – that’s just oxygen deprivation. The reality is, we absorb all of the THC we’re able to absorb within the first second of inhalation.

Holding smoke in your lungs doesn’t increase your body’s cannabinoid absorption. In reality, it’s just harsh on the lungs. Instead, inhale slowly and exhale naturally. 

Take small, controlled puffs rather than deep inhalations. That may also reduce the risk of coughing and irritation.

Dosage Control & Moderation

Start with a low dose and gradually increase as you need. Start with one inhale and then wait about 15 minutes before taking another, with 15-30 minute increments between subsequent hits. However, overdoing it can lead to adverse effects, like paranoia and anxiety, so it is best to start with one to two hits.6 Take note of the strain’s potency you’re smoking. Different strains have varying levels of THC and other cannabinoids.

Smoking a bowl is a great way to moderate your hits. If you’re smoking by yourself, try to take one puff and set the piece down for a few minutes. Make sure to corner your bowl, so you’re not wasting precious flower. Smoking via a bong may subjectively produce more intoxicating effects from a single hit compared to a bowl, so take caution if using a water pipe.

Clean Your Rig

While there are different ways to smoke weed, you should always do so with a clean piece. Regularly clean and maintain your smoking devices, such as pipes and bongs. Residue buildup can affect the taste and purity of the smoke. Be sure you know a reliable cleaning method for your bong, pipe, or other piece.

If you’re a regular cannabis consumer, you should ideally clean your piece at least once a week. Some consumers clean after every use to eliminate any time-consuming cleaning process. It all comes down to preference.

Stay Hydrated

Smoking cannabis can lead to a dry mouth, so having a glass of water nearby is essential. Proper hydration is important for overall health!

Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand

Help curb the munchies in style. Opt for nutritious options like fruits, nuts, or vegetables to satisfy cravings without consuming excessive sugar or processed foods.

Ventilate Your Smoking Space

Proper ventilation can help disperse lingering odors and minimize the impact on others in your vicinity. Choose a well-ventilated area for smoking to reduce concentrated exposure to smoke and avoid smoking near people who wish not to smoke.

Understand Your Limits & Consume Mindfully

Recognize your personal tolerance levels and be mindful of the potential for cannabis to impair coordination and cognitive function. Avoid activities like driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence. 

Likewise, be mindful of your reasons for using cannabis. Avoid using it as a coping mechanism for emotional issues or stress. Consume cannabis responsibly for medical or recreational purposes.

The Healthiest Way to Consume Cannabis (It's Not Smoking)

Healthiest Way to take weed

The healthiest way to consume cannabis isn’t smoking. There are alternatives to smoking that may prove much safer in the long term for health.


Edibles are a popular and smoke-free way to consume cannabis. They are typically made by infusing cannabis into various food products, such as brownies, gummies, or beverages. 

The body processes cannabis differently when it's ingested, and the effects are usually longer-lasting. Edibles can provide a more controlled and predictable experience. 

However, it's important to be cautious with dosing, as effects can take longer to kick in. That may potentially lead to overconsumption if you’re not patient!


Cannabis tinctures are liquid extracts of cannabis or its cannabinoids. They’re typically administered sublingually (under the tongue). 

From there, tinctures are absorbed through the bloodstream, offering a more rapid onset of effects. Tinctures provide precise dosing control and are discreet and smoke-free. They’re an excellent option for those who prefer a more controlled and measured experience.


While vaping is often considered a less harmful method compared to smoking, it's not entirely risk-free. Vapes heat cannabis to release cannabinoids and terpenes without combustion, reducing the inhalation of toxic byproducts. 

However, there are still safety concerns about certain vaping products due to the risk of additives and contaminants. It's crucial to choose high-quality vaping products from reputable sources.


Cannabis-infused topicals are products like lotions, balms, or salves that are applied directly to the skin. These products are non-psychoactive, as they don’t enter the bloodstream unless they're a transdermal topical. Consumers may opt for cannabis topicals for localized relief, such as for pain, inflammation, or skin conditions.

In Conclusion

In short, the safest way to smoke weed may be with a bong or a dry herb vaporizer. However, the "healthiest" way to consume cannabis largely depends on individual preferences and needs. Experts may recommend edibles or tinctures for consumers wanting to avoid potential health risks associated with smoking or vaping.

However, it’s important to remember the key to safe, healthy cannabis consumption is responsible, informed use. Always start with a low dose and give it time to take effect before considering additional consumption. Keep your rigs clean, and keep supplies on hand to make your smoking experience safer, cleaner, and more fun.

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  1.  Ren M, Tang Z, Wu X, et al. The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs. Sci Adv. 2019;5(6):eaaw1391. Published 2019 Jun 12. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaw1391
  2.  Tashkin DP. Effects of Marijuana Smoking on the Lung. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2013;10(3):239-247. doi:
  3.  Ribeiro L, Ind PW. Effect of cannabis smoking on lung function and respiratory symptoms: a structured literature review. npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine. 2016;26(1). doi:
  4.  Chaiton M, Kundu A, Rueda S, Di Ciano P. Are vaporizers a lower-risk alternative to smoking cannabis?. Can J Public Health. 2022;113(2):293-296. doi:10.17269/s41997-021-00565-w
  5.  MacCallum CA, Lo LA, Pistawka CA, Boivin M. A Clinical Framework for Evaluating Cannabis Product Quality and Safety. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2022;8(3). doi:
  6.  MacCallum CA, Russo EB. Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing. European Journal of Internal Medicine. 2018;49(49):12-19. doi:

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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