Cannabis industry is a fast-growing one; new and new methods of consumption emerge every year. Marijuana can now be smoked, vaped, dabbed, eaten or used in topicals. Despite this rapid development, cannabis smoking is still the most popular way to use marijuana.
Flower smoking: why is it so popular?
Smoking cannabis flower is the most traditional way of consumption. Progressive users often criticize it for being old-fashioned, inconvenient and hazardous to health. As any other method, smoking has both advantages and disadvantages.
+ Cannabis flower is the most organic full spectrum product. It was recently discovered that cannabis products, which preserve the uninterrupted harmony between cannabinoids and terpenes, provide best therapeutic outcomes and the strongest recreational effects. What other cannabis product can be more natural than a plant marijuana?
+ Flower can be smoked in a variety of ways. The most popular ones involve using joints, blunts, pipes and bowls.
+ Rapid onset. Smoking a cannabis flower allows cannabinoids to get to the bloodstream within minutes, so the effects are not long to come.
— Respiratory irritation. Smoking always involves combustion of the plant material. The frequent side effects of consuming combustion products are respiratory problems, lung diseases and increased risk of lung cancer.
— Time-consuming process. Smoking is not something that can be made in a hurry. However, modern pace of life make users look for fast and effective consumption methods.
— Weed smell. Though most smokers find it appealing, there are people who cannot stand the smell of marijuana. They usually make preference to odorless medication like capsules or edibles.
What plant parts can you smoke?
All marijuana parts that are rich on cannabinoids and terpenes, can be smoked. There are three of them: leaves, flowers and buds.
Leaves are the part where the cannabinoid content is the smallest. They can be used for smoking, but the effect is incomparable with that of bud smoking. That is why leaves are mostly used for edibles.
Flowers have tiny resins (trichomes), within which cannabinoids and terpenes are generated. The amount of valuable compounds is significant so they are recommended for achieving both recreational and medical goals.
Buds are located under sugar leaves of marijuana. They contain great number of cannabinoids and essential oils, so they are most frequently used for smoking. The potency of buds and flowers are almost equal. Buds can be of a different quality: low-, mid-, and top-shelf. They differ in potency, the smell, and certainly the price.
How to smoke a flower or bud?
There are four most common ways to smoke a cannabis flower. All of them are aimed at getting maximal cannabinoid intake and most of rich cannabis flavor.
Joint is made by putting grinded marijuana flower inside the rolling paper. The way of smoking a joint is the same as with cigars.
The difference of blunt from the joint is in the covering paper. To make a blunt, tobacco paper (cigar wrapping) is used. Blunts are considered less healthy because a smoker inhales small amounts of tobacco together with his marijuana. According to the statistics, blunts are mostly chosen by black and Hispanic users, while white consumers mostly gave preference to joints.
With both a joint and a blunt, it is necessary to draw the smoke to a mouth and then inhale it with a portion of oxygen (to catch fresh air together with a smoke).
- Pipe or bowl.
Marijuana pipes are produced of glass, metal, ceramic or wood. A pipe has a bowl piece for cannabis flower at one end and a mouthpiece at the other end. This way of consumption is well for discreet smokers who value freedom and traditions. Pipe smoking can also be performed in company. The packed pipe gets handed from one participant to another during the whole smoking cession.
Bong is the only way of marijuana smoking which involves filtering the smoke. A bong, or the water pipe, is the long glass or ceramic pipe, the base of which is filled with water. To reach the user, cannabis smoke passes through the base and the tube thus getting filtered. The only disadvantage of a bong is that the user`s cannabinoid intake is smaller than with joints or blunts.
Cannabis flowers and buds are not only intended for smoking. They can be consumed with the help of vaporizing devices. The ones that are suitable for plant marijuana are portable and desktop vaporizers.
Storing a flower or How to save dehydrated buds
Cannabis flowers and buds require special storing conditions. If you want to ensure a long shelf life to your marijuana, keep it in the airtight container in a cool dark and dry environment. Why is that necessary?
First of all, terpenes are highly volatile so they might evaporate under the presence of heat of direct sunlight. Secondly, cannabinoids should not be exposed to oxygen, otherwise they lose their potency. For example, THC that is well-known for its intoxicative properties transforms to non-psychoactive CBN (cannabinol) when the container is kept open to the air.
The improper storing of marijuana might result in excessive drying. That does not mean that your buds are destroyed, there is still the chance to save them. What your weed needs is rehydration.
To rehydrate cannabis, you can use one of the following methods:
- Paper rehydration. You need a wet paper towel and the airtight container. Just add the towel together with your overdried marijuana flower and close the container tightly. Check the condition of your flower every few hours until it gets moistened enough.
- Lettuce leaf or wet bread method. The same procedure can be applied to lettuce leaf or wet bread rehydration. Be careful with the rehydration time if you are using a wet bread; you do not want it to go bad and ruin your marijuana flavor.
- Fruit peel rehydration. Using this method, you do not only rehydrate but also add a scent to your marijuana. Place orange, banana or lime peels to the container and wait for a few days, checking the weed condition regularly. At the end, you will get a restored flower or buds with the unique aroma.
In cannabis flower composition, there are three important elements: pistils (or stigma), calyxes and trichomes. The other parts of a marijuana refer rather to the whole plant than to its flower part.
Pistils are the small hairs of different length and density that are the sex organs of a female plant. They change their color according to the flowering phase and can be white, green, brown or orange. The quantity of pistils does not determine the potency of the flower.
Calyxes look like green drops and they constitute the main part of the flower. When the plant gets pollinated, calyxes store the seeds. Calyxes perform the protective functions and hold the majority of flower trichomes.
Trichomes are the smallest parts of cannabis flower, being at the same time the most important ones. All cannabinoids and trichomes get generated within the trichomes, so this part is the one responsible for flower potency and flavor. Trichomes can be of three types with differences in size and connection to the stalk. The most appealing are glandular trichomes — the ones, which are the biggest and which can be easily separated.
Cultivation, harvesting, drying and curing
The process of growing a cannabis plant includes four phases: cultivation, harvesting, drying and curing. The last two ones are optional and can be missed if a flower gets frozen instead.
The main purpose of marijuana cultivation is getting a significant amount of cannabinoid- and terpene- rich buds and flowers. To perform this aim, growers complete the following steps:
- Seeds germination (up to a week). Germination of Sativa strains takes more time than it is with Indica.
- Seedling phase (10-14 days). It is usually performed indoors since a plant is no strong enough to fight environmental changes.
- Vegetative period (1-2 months). During this period, the plant is growing outside, getting stronger if the conditions are suitable.
- Flowering stage (1-3 months). To help the plant produce buds, growers pay attention to temperature, humidity and amount of light marijuana receives.
There is a lot of available information about the most suitable growing conditions on each phase, so beginners can use the experience of previous generations.
This stage is very important because the improperly chosen time of harvest can either save the flowers or totally ruin them. If you harvest too early, the buds will not be fully developed so the flower potency will be lower. If you harvest too late, marijuana flower might degrade, which again results in a reduced potency. To recognize the correct time, it is necessary to analyze the color of a flower resin and health condition of the pistils.
Drying and curing
The main goal of any marijuana grower is nurturing healthy and aromatic cannabis. Drying and curing are stages that are crucially important for fulfilling this aim. They can either improve the taste, smell and potency of the flower or, just the opposite, influence it negatively. Drying supposes decreasing the marijuana water ratio by 10-15%.
How is drying performed? Harvested cannabis gets kept in a dark room with controlled temperature and humidity. This process is time-consuming and takes from 5 to 14 days. Overdrying can result in loss of psychoactive effects since THC degrades into CBN or other non-intoxicating cannabinoids.
Next stage is curing. Growers separate buds from the branches and place them into the containers. Containers are stored in dry and dark environment, and the curing starts. The moisture that is left within the bud rehydrates its outer parts and gets escaped when container is opened. The curing phase takes from 2 weeks to 6 months depending on the strain and desirable outcome.
Drying and curing are not obligatory for marijuana. Sometimes, these stages get missed, and the buds are frozen instead. One of the popular products on the basis of frozen marijuana is live resin.