big bowl of weed

Big bowl of weed

Packing a bowl of weed into a pipe is an elementary skill picked up by practically every cannabis lover out there. If this is your first time packing a bowl on your own, or if you’re just wondering about other ways to do it, well, you came to the right place.

Before we light up, let’s quickly review what a bowl is. The term bowl may or may not predate cannabis culture (and when does that begin, exactly?), and its use began at least two centuries ago. A bowl refers to the part of a pipe or bong that holds the smokable material, typically tobacco, but if you’re at MERRY JANE, we’ll be sticking to weed, thank you very much.

Not all bowls are created equally. Some massive bowls, sometimes called “party bowls,” can fit an entire eighth-ounce of buds. Some teeny tiny bowls, affixed to “sneak-a-toke” one-hitter-type pipes, may not have much room for any additional finagling. You’ll need to assess your bowl’s size and shape to optimize how it should be packed.

Ideally, you should fit as much weed into your bowl as possible while still maintaining proper air flow, and not spilling good herb all over your lap every time you pass the pipe.

A well-packed bowl should stay cherried after it’s first lit, allowing everyone in the sesh circle to draw smoke from the pipe without having to flick a lighter every time. (Admittedly, tokers love to talk, too, and tangential conversations during the sesh may require lighting the bowl between each and every hit. And that’s perfectly normal.)

But, before you can even pack your bowl, you’ll need to break up that weed first.

With a Grinder

If you’ve got a grinder, grinding up the weed into a fine, fluffy powder is probably the easiest way to break up the buds. If you’ve got a grinder with a kief catch, a.k.a. a kief screen, you’ll have some ground-up trichomes you could add to the bowl after packing it, too.

The advantage of using grinder to pack a bowl is uniformity and efficiency. It’s efficient because grinding weed is a fairly quick and straightforward process. And it’s uniform because all the weed has been ground up to equally sized pieces, so there are no little lumps or chunky bud-bits to deal with. It will ultimately lead to a more even burn, too.

The disadvantage of using a grinder when packing your bowl is also an advantage for some people: It’ll hit extremely hard with hot, harsh smoke. That’s because grinding up weed makes it more compact, so you’re literally packing more weed into the bowl than you would if you broke up the flower by hand. But some folks dig that kind of harsh smoke because it’s guaranteed to get you, your friends, the dog, and possibly even the neighbors walking by your front window blitzed as shit.

By Hand

Breaking up buds by hand can be a time-consuming and painful task, especially if you’ve got larger hands or bigger-than-average fingers. Crushing a gram-sized nug is usually easy, but as it breaks down into smaller pieces, or as you begin breaking up smaller nugs closer to the bottom of the bottle (or plastic bag, for those of you in outlaw states), your fingers may get sore. However, if you prefer breaking up weed by hand, you’ll never need to worry about carrying a grinder around, or having to clean a grinder once it gets gunked up with resin.

Ideally, for the smoothest smoking sesh, don’t break up any weed, by hand or grinder. Simply hand-select the smallest nugs that will fit in your bowl, press them in, and voila!, you’ve got gentle, lightly flavored smoke rolling across your taste buds.

Whole Hog

Some cannabis connoisseurs would take the by-hand approach one step further: Just drop a bowl-sized nug right into the bowl. Obviously, this won’t work with super-dense nugs, but airy or fluffier buds should permit enough airflow through the flower to facilitate smoking.

Why go with a whole nug right off the bat? According to the aficionados, breaking up, grinding, or otherwise crushing a bud destroys the trichomes, the glandular sacs (the “crystals”) that grow along the flowers. Trichomes contain most of the bud’s cannabinoid and terpenoid contents, and, as the wisdom goes, wrecking the trichomes means losing the terpenes to evaporation and perhaps some of the cannabinoids, too. (Perhaps….)

How to Actually Pack the Bowl

Once you’ve got your weed in the bowl, gently press it down with your fingertip, though thumb tips work best. Try to keep the top level of the bowl as level as possible. Furthermore, don’t pack it so hard that no air can pull through, but don’t pack it so lightly that even a single puff singes up and can’t stay lit.

You can test how well you’ve packed your bowl before setting it aflame. After packing the bowl with weed, simply inhale some air through the pipe or bong, as if you were smoking (but without actually lighting the bowl). If air is coming through, your pack is good. If it feels stuck, or the bong is sucking on your face harder than you’re inhaling, then it’s packed too tightly.

Gallery — Behold! The World’s Biggest Bowls

To remedy a bowl packed too tight, poke the bowl with a straight, thin poker-ma-bob (a paper clip, a hair pin, hanger, a dab wand). Or, if you’re able to cover the bowl with your thumb or palm, cover it, then blow out of the pipe (don’t do this with a water bong, or you’ll just shoot water up into your weed, which will then either land on you or the ground. And then you or your surrounding will smell like bong water. Blah!). You should blow the hole at the bottom of the bowl clear while still retaining the contents in the bowl (because you covered it, remember?).

If you’re smoking with people, pass the pipe to your right. After that, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Believe it or not, there’s more than one way to pack a bowl of bud in your favorite pipe.

How To Pack A Bowl: A Beginners Guide To Bong Smoking

Back in the day, becoming a cannabis connoisseur was all about who you knew. Chances are, your first marijuana experience occurred because you knew someone who could get their hands on the ganja.

Then you learned how to roll a joint or how to pack a bowl by watching your friend’s older brother do it. You continued learning the whys-and-wherefores of the Mary Jane culture by watching those around you.

It was very much a master-and-apprentice-type of learning process. We learned everything we needed to know — how to score a bag, how to smoke a nug, how to pack a bowl — from someone who had done it before.

Once we were comfortable with the process (or just really enthusiastic about the scene), we would graduate to doing it all ourselves. It was at that point, then, that we became the master and could pass on our knowledge to any apprentice who cared to watch.

As the legalization of recreational marijuana continues to spread across the country, getting high has gone from being about who you know to being about where you live.

Now, first-time users can walk into a head shop and buy their first bag without knowing much, if anything, about the smoking experience. We’re not saying this is a bad thing — we couldn’t be happier that cannabis is finally legal.

What we are saying is that the knowledge many newbie weed smokers gain from their friends has been replaced by internet searches and trial and error.

That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll take the place of your cousin’s friend and become your go-to source for all things chronic.

For those of you wanna-be weed smokers wondering how to get started on the road to nirvana (the transcendent state, not the band), think of us as your canna-master. Come sit quietly at our feet, take in our knowledge, and get started on the road to enlightenment.

Our lesson today is a basic one: How to pack a bowl.

What You’ll Need To Pack A Bowl

This one’s pretty obvious, so we won’t stay here long.

For beginners, lightweights, and those of a low-tolerance threshold, choose a strain that is:

  1. High in CBD

Harlequin (sativa) or Pennywise (indica) are good starting points for the high-CBD variety, while Maui Waui (sativa), Plushberry (indica), and Chernobyl (hybrid) are good starting points for the low-THC variety.

Other tasty strains include:

If you choose one of the names from the list above, keep in mind that you’re jumping in the deep end without a life jacket. High-THC strains like these will get you well and truly messed up in the blink of an eye.

Honestly, you won’t even see it coming until it’s too late .

Whatever strain you choose to start with, take it slow and proceed cautiously lest you find yourself clinging to the floor convinced the earth is trying to spin you loose. A puff or two from some of these strains is enough to send you soaring.

So don’t get cocky and try to inhale the whole bowl. You’ve been warned.

For more information about the best and strongest weed strains, check out our article The 50 Best Weed Strains .

The bowl we refer to in the title of this article isn’t something from which you eat cereal (although there’s a Fruity Pebbles pun in there somewhere). Rather, it’s a smaller piece of a much larger smoking apparatus: the bong .

Bongs come in all shapes and sizes and can be made out of some pretty unique materials .

Regardless of their appearance, they all pretty much have the same components (see above).

The bowl is a funnel-shaped piece that holds the cannabis and makes it easier to light. As you might have guessed (because of the presence of this article), there’s more to the process than just jamming some bud into the bowl and applying a flame.

Packing the bowl correctly can mean the difference between a good smoke and a bad smoke.


Smoking is all about burning. And burning requires a flame. Matches are good. A lighter is better. A blow torch is overkill.

You’ll be applying the flame multiple times and you don’t want the hassle of striking a match every 30 seconds. Get a cheap, disposable lighter and get ready to feel groovy.


This one is optional, but it makes the experience all the more enjoyable (they don’t call it couch-lock for nothing). Actually, any comfy spot will do. The couch is just the most ubiquitous.

Something To Do

Honestly, sometimes just sitting still, staring off into space and enjoying the sounds of the colors on your wall is enough for a fabulous trip.

Other times, you’ll want (nay, need ) something to occupy your time. If you’ve chosen to partake of a sativa variety, it may feel like you can’t sit still. Having something to occupy your mind will feel like a godsend.

Watching a favorite movie is always a good idea. As is gathering a group of friends and playing weed games while you toke.

  • Dance
  • Practice Tai Chi
  • Hula hoop
  • Go to the circus
  • Tour an art museum
  • Read a book
  • Surf the web
  • Yoga
  • Clean
  • Go to a playground and swing
  • See what all the fuss over cannabis lube is all about
  • Take a walk
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Play video games
  • Type on an old-school keyboard
  • Make some art
  • Try new food
  • Take a shower
  • Get a massage

The list of fun things to do while high is literally endless. Experiment with activities to see which one fits your mood the best.

Sploof (Optional)

Weed smoke is like burnt popcorn — it permeates everything and will not go away. If you’re concerned about the smell from your smoke sesh going everywhere, neutralize the odor with a sploof .

Think of a sploof as a muffler for your marijuana. Feel free to buy a fancy (read: “expensive”) sploof online or at your local dispensary, but we’d rather channel MacGyver and make our own. All you need is a box of dryer sheets, a used toilet paper tube, and a rubber band.

Loosely pack several dryer sheets in the toilet paper tube, secure a dryer sheet over one end with the rubber band, and you’re good to go.

After you’ve inhaled the smoke from your bong, blow it out into the open end of the sploof. The dryer sheets will filter the tell-tale odor and keep your room smelling fresh and clean (assuming it smelled that way in the first place).

Your sploof will last for several smoke sessions, but keep an eye on the dryer sheets. They’ll turn dark when they’ve run out of filtering power. When that happens, just toss the sploof in the trash and start again. Easy peasy.

Now that we’ve got the basic necessities (and a couple of extras) out of the way, let’s get to the how-to of packing a bowl.

How To Pack A Bowl

Step #1

If possible, remove the bowl from the bong. This is done so that you don’t accidentally knock over the bong. It’s also done so that stray bud doesn’t fall into the water chamber.

Should a rogue bit of ganja find its way into the downstem, it can be removed and repacked in the bowl where it will have the most benefit.

Step #2

Break off (or find) one or two nuggets that are slightly larger than the hole at the bottom of the bowl (leading to the downstem). After removing any seeds and stems, place these pieces at the bottom of the bowl.

These pieces will act as support for the smaller bits of weed you’ll place on top and prevent you from sucking everything into the water chamber (known as “snapping the bowl”).

You don’t want to block the hole completely as that will prevent air flow. That’s why two smallish pieces are often better than one large piece — they allow air to flow around and through the hole into the downstem.

Step #3

Gather another nugget of marijuana from your stash, remove any seeds and stems and, while holding it over the bowl, rip it into small pieces with your fingers. The finer you make it the easier it is to pack in the bowl and the better it will burn.

You want to rip enough so that the marijuana mounds above the rim of the bowl but doesn’t fall out.

Some may suggest that you use a grinder to get the weed as fine as possible but we feel this is an unnecessary step for bong smoking. If you were rolling a joint, putting your cannabis through a grinder would be a great idea.

But we’re not rolling a joint, so we don’t need to use a grinder. Keeping it simple makes the ride all that more enjoyable.

Step #4

Using your thumb, press down gently on the mound created in step three. Press the mound until it is even with, or just below, the rim of the bowl.

If you don’t pack the bud sufficiently, it won’t burn all that well and can seriously harsh your buzz. That said, you don’t want to pack it too much because that can hinder airflow and result in dead spots.

Your goal when packing a bowl should be a nice even burn with very few (if any) leftovers.

Step #5

Put the packed bowl back in the bong being careful not to spill your schwag and ruin your hard work. Don’t skip this step or all will be for naught.

Step #6

Apply a flame to the contents of the bowl, set the weed alight, and draw the resultant smoke through the bong using a strong inhale. That’s it! You’ve smoked your first bowl .

Nice job. Take a moment to savor the triumph of a job well done.

Step #7

At this point, you’ll probably lose all track of time, so it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce you to the seven stages of being high . That way, you’ll know what to expect when your tokes start to take effect.

Enjoy the ride, grasshopper.

What The Eff Just Happened?

This is the moment where the THC supercharges your neurons and you go from saying to yourself, “Why do people enjoy this so much?” to, “Whoa! Yeah, I get it.” It happens in the blink of an eye, so be ready.


Euphoria is the next stop on the ganja express. Be prepared to melt into whatever furniture you’re occupying.

Deep Contemplation

In the deep contemplation stage, you’ll find yourself engaging with your friends in deep discussions about the infinite fabric of the universe, the very nature of reality, and why cats are so much better than dogs.


At this point in your trip, you’ll feel like Big Brother is everywhere — in your TV, in your iPhone, in the tracking chip embedded in your skull (wait, what?) — and everyone is either a CIA agent, Mossad assassin, or alien from Sirius.


The strangest food combinations are suddenly beyond delicious. You can’t get enough sugar and salt. Everything tastes so good you wonder why the whole world isn’t obese. Oh, wait. It is. Bummer.


Yep, you’re not done yet. Your life is on repeat.


At this seventh and final stage, you’re suddenly more tired than you’ve ever been in your life. You could literally fall asleep on your feet (don’t laugh, we’ve seen it happen).

All you want to do is find somewhere comfy to curl up and sleep for the next 12, 18, or 24 hours.

Step #8

After all is said and done, you’re going to want to pack another bowl and date Mary Jane again. But before you can do that, you need to clean your bong . It’s kind of like the price you pay for the hours upon hours you spent doing absolutely nothing the night before.

But, really, if that’s all it costs for a ripping good time, we don’t mind.

It’s best to clean your bong soon after you’re finished smoking for the evening (before you reach the fading stage). We like to rinse out our bong after the munchie stage because we’re usually washing pizza plates anyway.

If you do it soon after your blaze is spent, it’s super easy — just rinse it with hot water. But if you leave it for another time, you’ll have to really work to get rid of all the sticky sludge. We’re all about easy and have much better things to do with our time than scrub resin build-up.

That’s why we clean after every use. It only takes a minute or two. The choice is yours.

Master The Process

Chances are, you won’t get this right the first time — unless you’re some kind of cannabis savant, in which case, bully for you — but all it takes is a little practice.

Until you’ve mastered the process, use the above steps as a guide, but feel free to try new things. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, and soon you’ll be extolling your mastery of bowl packing to another generation of weed enthusiasts.

Learning how to pack a bowl is an art and a science. For best results, pack your bowl the Honest Marijuana way. In this article, we’ll show you how.