How To Pack A Bowl: A Beginner’s Guide To Bong Smoking

How To Pack A Bowl

The bong: the age-old tool of stoners everywhere. In terms of allure and necessity, it’s just about as close to the smoker as the staff is to the wizard. Over years of smoking, stoners will usually learn a few things about how to keep the bong lit, get the most out of the product, and have a generally better time with a bong.

But what are these secrets? 

Now, if you’re from one of those stone-age states without legal weed, make absolutely sure you’re just using tobacco- just as the bong is meant to be used. For those of us in free states, however, here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your bong smoking experience.

Give the Bud Some Space

One mistake many smokers make when they move on from hastily-rolled joints to a beautiful new bong is to pack too tightly. With a joint, this isn’t such a problem, since the paper will generally keep the cannabis burning inside. With a bong, though, an over-packed bowl can seriously harsh the experience. 

Opinions differ on everything marijuana: to grind or not top grind, the efficiency of hippy-picking- even the best strains. Packing is not usually one of those places.

The key here is airflow. When you’re lighting up a bong, you’re trying to get flammable materials to light up and stay lit. In order for a fire to start and stay, you’re going to have to give it air. Don’t believe us? Try putting the lid on a Yankee Candle and see where that gets you.

When your cannabis is tightly packed, air can’t travel through it quite as easily. This will cause a situation where the cinders in your bowl can’t find enough oxygen to keep burning and will burn out the minute you take your lips from the glass.

Get a particularly sticky strain, pack it too tight, and you could end up with a completely impassable chunk of cannabis. You won’t be able to smoke it at all because you won’t be able to get air through.

Thus, the key to keeping a bong burning is partly wound up in how tightly your bowl is packed. The other half of this formula is how your breathing and how long your keeping the bowl down. So, why don’t we talk a little about those last two pieces?



Pipe-smoking is really a practice lost to time. Sure, you might meet a couple of annoying guys at parties who claim to have a ‘hobby’ doing it, but the average joe’s not going to know how to keep a pipe lit and smoke right. 

But in losing this practice, we might have lost the greatest preparation for smoking a bong there is. 

Part of bong-smoking is keeping the cannabis lit. No one likes to suck in a hot, butane-charges draft of cannabis smoke, so your best bet is just to keep things going as long as you can. To do this, you’re going to have to breathe right. 

Your first inhale should be a deep one- but don’t suck it in just yet. Keep the bowl down to keep that air circulating to the cinders- give them some time to grow and spread. You also might want to try giving it intermittent breaks before lifting up the bowl. This mimics the process of blowing air onto a fire from a bellows. 

If you follow these easy breathing steps, you’ll likely have no problem keeping your bowl lit once it is packed. The real trouble, though, may come when deciding how to prepare it for packing in the first place.

To Grind or Not to Grind

This is quite a contentious topic. The grinding question can be just as contentious among stoners as questions of who came first in the grocery line are to middle-aged and bored mothers. So, what’s the low-down? How do you decide whether or not to grind up your bud?

Well, let’s get one thing straight- you’re never going to get a straight answer. Some people will talk about more THC, less smoke, longer burn-times, and an assortment of other selling points, but if you really question them their evidence will likely be very flimsy. 

The first thing to do is to trust your gut. If you’ve smoked ground and un-ground cannabis before, you might have a preference. If not, you don’t really have to worry about it. 

What a cop-out!

We know, we know. You’ve got to understand, though- it’s hard to pick sides on this issue. If we had to make a recommendation, though, it would probably be to grind you cannabis.

You see, when you grind up your cannabis, you reduce it to small, easily packed pieces. Those big chunks don’t fit in the same bowl so well with one another, so you might be wise to take them out with the grinder. 

Plus, those little pieces burn more easily, charring through to the center instead of just singing the outsides. Like this, you’re likely to get- and we know this is a bold claim- a little more THC. We don’t have any evidence to support this, but the logic is there- more marijuana burned, more THC. Voila. 

Break Down Before Packing

Break Down Before Packing

This step is really non-negotiable. Try smoking a whole nug, and you’ll likely have a pretty bad time with it. 

Whether you grind or don’t grind, you’re going to have to find some way to break up your cannabis before you pack it into the bowl. You have a number of options for this, but the one you’re most likely to use will be hippy picking. 

Many of us have great teenage memories with hippy picking. No grinder, nor paraphernalia- less chance your parents will catch on. The process is simple, and the tools are dirt cheap. Just reach into your buds and pick them apart little by little. Eventually, you’ll have smokeable little chunks.

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