Joints are perhaps the most iconic way to smoke your cannabis. They are extremely convenient: easy to smoke, easy to pass, easy to transport.
Take a look at our guide on rolling the perfect joints!
However, many find rolling a joint to be anything but easy. Truth be told, it’s not too complicated to roll a simple joint. But rolling the perfect joint is a true skill. Veteran smokers know that rolling can be a true artform, which takes a lot of time and practice to get right.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps needed to roll great joints.
Materials for Rolling a Joint
Rolling a great joint starts with having the right materials to work with. Every great joint requires three essential tools:
- A rolling paper
- The marijuana flowers (buds) of your choice
- Something to grind or chop up the buds (ideally a quality grinder or a pair of scissors, but in a pinch this can be done by hand)
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Choosing the right Rolling Papers
Selecting the right rolling paper is a step that might seem dead simple, but it’s something that should not be taken for granted! Remember, when you smoke a joint, you’re not only smoking weed, you’re also smoking the paper!
The wrong choice of paper can leave your joint with an undesirable taste. Papers used for rolling cigarettes, for example, tend to have chemicals intended to keep the cigarette burning and make for foul tasting joints.
The best papers are those with the fewest additives. Papers made from organic hemp or rice are the best options.
It’s also worth picking up a quality brand, such as RAW, ZigZag, or Elements. While you could just grab whatever is cheapest, rolling papers are cheap enough to begin with that its worth selecting the better brands.
A low quality paper can create a frustrating rolling experience. They can easily rip, don’t stick together properly, and are generally a hassle to work with.
You’ll also find rolling papers available in various sizes. While there are some fancy tricks for rolling joints from multiple papers, the size of the paper determines the size of the joint. If you’re hoping to roll a big old monster, you’ll want to opt for some King Sized papers. If you just want to make a few pinners, you can grab some smaller papers which will do the trick without wasting any paper.
Preparing Your Cannabis for Rolling
Once you’ve got some papers and some weed, it’s time to prepare your flowers for rolling into a joint.
First, use scissors or your hands to remove any stems, large leaves, or seeds from your marijuana flowers.
Now it’s time to grind or chop your marijuana up. The most effective way to do this is with a quality weed grinder. Break up the flowers into manageable chunks and place them into the grinder. Spend a minute or two twisting the grinder until everything is broken down nicely.
If you don’t have a clean weed grinder handy, you can also chop your buds up with a good pair of scissors. Or, if you’re lacking scissors as well, you can pick the buds apart by hand, but this is the least effective (not to mention the stickiest!) method of preparing your bud.
The goal here is to create a loose, airy bundle. You want the weed to be ground up finely enough that air can readily flow throughout the bundle, but not so finely that it begins to turn to powder.
If it’s not ground up well enough, it will be hard for air to make its way through the bundle, leading to it burning less efficiently and making it hard to smoke. But if ground too finely, it will be a loose and powdery mess which doesn’t stick together properly when you try to roll it, and burns too quickly, creating a harsh and unpleasant joint.
You need to want to find the happy medium. Not too dense, not too fine. Just light and airy enough to promote good airflow and quality combustion while still sticking together well enough to create a structurally sound joint.
Use a Filter or a Crutch (Optional)
If you want to, you can add a filter or a “crutch” to your joint. This can make it easier to roll and improve the smoking experience.
You can purchase filter tips and purpose made crutches from most smoke shops. A crutch can be made from a piece of cardboard, such as the small box your rolling papers come in.
To create a crutch, just tear off a small piece of cardboard and roll it into a small cylinder — maybe about a quarter- or half-inch long and slightly smaller than the diameter of the joint you’re planning to roll.
This will perform two functions:
- Makes your joint easier to roll: A cylindrical crutch provides a sort of “foundation” for your joint. It helps add structural stability to the finished product. It also makes it easier to roll, giving your rolling paper something to easily wrap around and immediately forming the shape of a good joint.
- Lets you smoke your entire joint: Without a crutch, your joint will almost always have some wasted weed at the end. When smoking a crutch-less joint, the last bit of joint is nearly impossible to smoke without burning your fingers. It also tends to be a wet, sticky mess. But with a crutch, you can smoke right down to the last bit of cannabis and keep your fingers clean and unburnt. Just be careful not to smoke the cardboard!
A filter tip performs both of these functions and has the added benefit of capturing some of the tar and resin which would otherwise end up in your mouth and lungs. This can make your joint smoking experience a bit cleaner and tastier, but it will require you to keep some filter tips on hand, as these can’t be assembled as easily as an improvised crutch.
Preparing Your Joint
Okay, so you’ve got some quality papers, some choice flowers, and you’ve ground it all up into a nice loose bundle free of stems, leaves, and seeds. Now what?
Take your rolling paper and hold it between your thumb and index finger (usually in the right hand.) Use the index finger from your opposite hand to push the paper down, creating an indented “U” shape along the length of the paper.
At the top of the paper should be a small strip of adhesive which you’ll use to seal your joint later. Place the weed beneath this with enough paper at the bottom to tuck it into the paper, which we’ll do in the next step.
If using a crutch or a filter tip, place it at the end of your joint (usually the right hand side.) Now take your ground up flower and sprinkle it throughout the length of the paper.
At this stage, you can decide what you want your joint to look (and smoke) like. The easiest joints to roll are medium sized, evenly spaced ones. For this, sprinkle an even amount of weed throughout the joint.
Another option (slightly more difficult to roll for beginners,) is the “bat” shape. This makes use of more weed at the far end (the end which you light) and gradually tapers down to a thinner joint near the end. For this effect, just pack more weed into the far end and use less and less as you go down.
Be careful not to use too much, or too little weed! If your joint is packed too densely, it will be too “tight,” restricting the airflow and making it difficult or nearly impossible to smoke. Too loosely packed and it will be thin and floppy, lacking structural stability and likely to fall apart while burning.
Twisting Up Your Joint
Once the weed is in the paper, it’s time to twist it into a proper joint.
Take the paper and weed contained inside between your thumbs and index fingers. Using both hands, gradually roll the bundle upwards until you’ve achieved the shape you desire for your joint.
Now you need to tuck the end of the paper closest to your body under the bundle of weed. This can be a bit tricky. It’s made easier by using a filter or crutch. The goal here is to create a layer of paper above and below the weed bundle, which can then be rolled up inside the remaining paper.
For the best tuck, use your thumb to gently wrap the paper around the bundle starting at one end of the joint, then gradually move the tuck along the length of the paper.
This can take some practice, but it is the key to getting a properly rolled joint!
If you don’t get the tuck right, don’t worry. Just try it again until you’ve got it right.
Once everything is nicely tucked in, lick the adhesive at the top of the paper. Then gently and gradually roll the tucked portion upwards until the entire paper has wrapped around your bundle.
Voila! You’ve just rolled a joint.
To finish off your roll, use a small object to gently press down on the open end of your joint. You want to compress the bundle a little bit and leave a little empty space at the end of the joint.
Optionally, you can twist this open end up, which can help with lighting up the joint, or create a nice enclosed joint which you can save for later.
Now your joint is ready to smoke! When lighting it, introduce the joint to the flame of your lighter gradually and twist the joint around. You want the flame to burn the end of the joint evenly, which will help ensure a smooth burn all the way down.
Simplified Rolling Methods
As we mentioned above, rolling a joint by hand is something of an artform which requires practice and patience to get right. If you find rolling a quality joint by hand a bit too tricky, there are still some easy ways to get a great joint.
Using Pre-Rolled Cones
Most cannabis dispensaries offer pre-rolled cones, which can be used to easily make a “bat”-style joint. These cones are just a paper which has been wrapped around a filter at one end and have a wide, open mouth at the other.
To use them, just prepare your weed like we discussed above. Then all you need to do is pack the weed into a loose bundle in the cone.
And just like that, you’re off to the races.
Using a Rolling Machine
Rolling machines do the heavy lifting for the most complex part of the rolling process: tucking and twisting your joint.
Prepare your weed into a loose bundle as discussed above. Place it within the chamber of the rolling machine and roll it up a bit (without a paper) to make sure everything is in place. Be sure not to use too much bud or your joint will be too tight and difficult to smoke.
Once the weed is in place, insert a paper with the adhesive strip sticking out of the top of the machine. Gradually work the roller upwards until only the adhesive strip is left. Give the strip a lick and finish rolling upwards to create a nice, even joint.
Every rolling machine can be a little different, so it’s best to consult the instruction manual for your roller (if available) for the best practices to employ when using your specific rolling machine.
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Advanced Joint Rolling
We’ve covered the basics of how to get a decent joint rolled, but if you’re looking to step up your joint rolling skills, there are plenty of ways you can take things to the next level.
Rolling a Cross Joint
A cross joint utilizes two joints rolling into a cross shape. This gives you not one but three (or more, if you make multiple “crosses”) ends from which to light the joint.
Cross joints are a great party trick. They can also be a neat way to smoke multiple strains of weed at the same time.
Rolling a cross joint is actually pretty much the same process as rolling a normal joint. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Step 1: Roll a large joint.
- Step 2: Roll a smaller joint.
- Step 3: Take a sharp object like a nail or a knitting needle and pierce a hole about mid-way through the larger joint. Ideally, your nail or needle will be roughly the same diameter as your smaller joint.
- Step 4: Insert the smaller joint into the hole you made in the larger joint.
- Step 5: Tear off a few strips of rolling paper and use them to create a seal around the holes where the larger and smaller joints are joined.
Now you can spark up all three ends of your cross joint and start smoking.
If you want to get really crazy, you can repeat this process multiple times to create multi-cross joint!
You now need everything you need to in order to get started rolling up some quality joints!
We recommend taking some time to practice. Get some marijuana, chop it up, pickup your favorite papers, have a seat and twist up some practice joints until you get comfortable.
This is the quickest way to learn what a good joint looks (and smokes) like. You might find your first joints to be too thin and loose, or too tight and dense. Working out how to get to the happy medium is the key to creating a successful joint that provides a great hit and burns evenly throughout its entire length.
Good luck! With a little effort, you’ll be rolling joints with the best of them in no time flat.
FAQ About Rolling Joints
Get some quality filter papers and try rolling them to the right length, thickness and tightness. Make sure to distribute your product evenly. You can practice rolling with any substances that resemble weed’s consistency, such as Tobacco or cooking herbs.
The best papers are those with the fewest additives. Papers made from organic hemp or rice are the best options.
A cross joint uses two joints that roll into a cross shape. This gives you not one but three or more ends from which to light the joint.