By Holly J. Hager
If you’re new to cannabis, learning how to roll a joint can be intimidating. Many of us just avoid it for as long as we can find someone else to roll one for us. But it’s really not that hard. Here’s our step by step guide for beginners. Follow these instructions, and you’ll be rolling like a pro in no time.
What Is a Joint?
Before we even start in with how to roll a joint, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a joint? Depending on where you are in the world, terminology can differ. In the US, a joint is cannabis rolled into a cigarette shape using rolling papers or pre-rolled cones. That means a joint only contains cannabis. A joint can include a filter or be filter-less. In some regions, a spliff can mean the same thing as a joint. But in others, it means a hand roll filled with cannabis and tobacco. Then there are blunts. Blunts are made by filling a cigar wrap, made of tobacco leaf, with cannabis.
How Much Weed is in a Joint?
The simple answer to this question is: however much you want or will fit into your rolling papers. You can find several sizes of rolling papers. But the most common is king-sized. That’s big enough to hold up to 1.5 grams of cannabis flower. The most common size of joints sold as pre-rolls, though, are 1 gram. And smaller joints are becoming more and more popular. Half-gram joints are sometimes called “dog walkers” because they’re just enough to last for the length of a dog walk. And ⅓ gram joints, called minis, are surfacing for those of us who like to microdose.
Roll a Joint with Only the Finest Filler
Pre-rolls are sometimes produced with the bits of cannabis that have fallen off their buds called “shake”. But our philosophy of how to roll a joint is to use the finest filler. Sure, you might want to throw in any bits of flower that have collected in the bottom of your storage jar, too. Let’s not get crazy. But, for the best experience, definitely start with whole buds of high quality cannabis flower.
Selecting the Right Bud to Roll a Joint
Make sure you’re buying good cannabis flower. Here are the 8 qualities you should look for.
Good cannabis flower has THC percentages in the teens or 20s. We also like a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD.
This is the single best reason to buy your cannabis from licensed dispensaries or delivery services. They have to test their products for contaminants.
The stronger the aroma, the more potent the effect of your cannabis is likely to be.
You don’t want any stems or seeds. Your flower should consist of compact buds that look like beautifully manicured topiaries.
Your flower should be a healthy color—deep green with tinges of red, orange, purple, and even blue. Stay away from any flower that looks brown, gray, or that has blisters or spots.
When cannabis looks “frosty” that means it contains lots of cannabinoid-bearing resin.
Resin is sticky, and that’s where the good stuff is.
Go for the Goldilocks effect. You don’t want your flower too wet or too dry. You want it to be just a little spongy when you squeeze it.
What Do You Need to Roll a Joint?
In a perfect world, here’s what you need to roll a joint:
- Cannabis flower
- Rolling papers
- Filters (aka “tips” or “crutches”)
- Rolling tray
- Moist cotton swab
- Scissors—if you’re rolling the Amsterdam way
Prepping Your Cannabis Flower to Roll a Joint
What does it mean to grind cannabis? Grinding is just breaking down cannabis buds into smaller pieces. Grinding might seem like an extra step that’s just for cannabis connoisseurs. But it’s key to making the most of your smoking experience. First, we all want the best bang for our buck. Good cannabis flower is sticky with resin. Resin is where the cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, live. So breaking down cannabis with your fingers will waste some of the resin because it’ll stick to your fingers. Grinding helps keep the cannabinoids on your flower instead. Ground flower also promotes increased airflow in your joint. When you break your flower down by hand, you’ll end up with little kernels that are still dense and compact. If you roll them up in a joint, they’ll create air pockets. And those air pockets will make your joint burn unevenly.
How to Grind Cannabis When You Roll a Joint
A cannabis grinder is like a manual version of a coffee grinder. When you’re learning how to roll a joint, don’t give in to the temptation to use your electric coffee grinder or a food processor. An electric machine will grind your flower both too finely and too evenly. The best smoke stems from good, consistent airflow in your joint. If the flower is ground too finely or too evenly, it’ll pack together too tightly. That restricts airflow. So stick to a gentle hand grind.
How Fine Should My Ground Cannabis Be?
Gently grind your cannabis into particles. You want them to be a mix of plant matter that’s 2-5mm. For a good guide, just take a look in your pantry at the basil, marjoram, or lemon pepper. That’s the texture you’re going for.
How to Grind Cannabis Without a Grinder
If you don’t have a grinder yet, check out our tips in this video for grinding cannabis with simple kitchen tools.
Why Use a Rolling Tray to Roll a Joint?
When you’re first learning how to roll a joint, the right rolling tray is important. Rolling takes a bit of dexterity. If you try to do it on a flat surface, your flower can go all over the place in an instant. So we like to use the Nebula Rolling Tray. The M-shape of the tray keeps your flower in your rolling paper until you’re ready to roll it up. It also lets you smooth out your flower so it’s more evenly distributed down the length of your rolling paper.
What Size Rolling Papers Should You Use?
You can use any size or type of rolling papers. King-size papers are the most common. As we explained above, they can accommodate up to 1.5 grams of cannabis. But, if you’re new to cannabis, you probably don’t want to roll your joint that big. Instead, you can use the whole length of your paper to roll a skinny joint. Or you can just twist off the end lower down to make a shorter joint. It’s all about learning how to roll the perfect joint for you!
Do Rolling Papers Make a Difference in How You Roll a Joint?
There are a few types of rolling papers on the market. The most common are made from wood pulp (like most of the paper in our lives), rice, and hemp. The type of rolling papers you use certainly can make a difference in your experience. What are the best papers to use for rolling joints? The key factors are a clean smoke and ease of use. We also want our papers to be environmentally friendly.
Roll a Joint with Wood Pulp Papers
Wood pulp rolling papers are easily accessible and often the least expensive rolling papers. But we’re not big fans. First, they’re often treated with chemicals that we don’t want in our lungs. Second, they can burn too fast. Third, they’re not generally made from renewable sources.
Roll a Joint with Rice Papers
Rice rolling papers are much thinner than other kinds of rolling papers. That’s a blessing and a curse. For someone who knows how to roll a joint with their hands tied behind their back, rice paper is fantastic. Since they’re so thin, air passes through them more easily. So they burn more slowly, making for a smoother experience. They’re also so light that you won’t taste anything other than your cannabis. But they’re not a great choice for beginners. Because they’re so thin, they’re very delicate. So they tear easily and are much harder to roll with.
Roll a Joint with Hemp Papers
Our rolling papers of choice are made of hemp. We’re especially partial to unbleached hemp like House of Puff’s artist series rolling papers. They’re completely natural, without any nasty chemicals. They also don’t include anything that will interfere with the taste of your terpenes. Plus, their thickness and texture makes them an easier material for beginners to learn how to roll a joint with.
Difference Between Using a Filter Versus No Filter
We think filters are key to increasing the enjoyment of your smoking experience. And if you’ve been wondering, what on earth is a crutch? That’s just another word for a paper filter. In the cannabis community, filters are also commonly referred to as tips. But all 3 words mean the same thing. Filters make your smoke smoother. They also keep any herb from getting in your mouth. And, if you don’t use a joint holder, they keep your fingers away from any flames. But filters can trip up the best of us.
How to Roll a Joint in 4 Simple Steps
If you’re using House of Puff papers, most of them come with tips. Just tear the top one off and you’re ready to rock. If your papers didn’t come with tips, you can use any piece of thick, plain cardstock. You want it to be about the thickness of a business card. But you don’t want it to have any printing or coating on it. That’s because you don’t want to breathe in any contaminants that might be released when they’re heated.
Start with the Short End
Start with the short end of your tip/crutch. If your tip has perforations on one edge, start with that end. The perforations are there to guide you to roll the best filter possible.
Make Very Small Folds
Gently fold over the edge as small as you can. 1/16” is perfect—that’s the size of the first perforation on House of Puff tips.
Roll It Up Tight and Straight
Roll up the tip as tightly as possible. Keep the edges aligned so you have a nice, straight tube.
Remove Any Stiffness
When you get about ¼” from the end, unroll it a bit and reroll it again between your fingertips a couple of times to remove any stiffness. That way, it’ll be less likely to unroll. Before you roll up that final ¼”, fold over the other short edge and roll that side of the tip just like you did the first one. That’ll make your filter stay tight even when you let it go. Unroll the second end and finish rolling the first end all the way. Let go, and you should have a perfectly rolled tip!
Old School Method for How to Roll a Joint
Sometimes, tried and true is best. Here’s the old school method for how to roll a joint.
Position Your Rolling Paper Properly
Lay your paper lengthwise on your tray. If you’re using a Nebula Rolling Tray, lay the crease of the paper in the dip in the middle of the tray. You might not notice it at first, but one long side of the rolling paper will have adhesive on it. It’ll look shinier than the rest of the paper. For the old school method, make sure the adhesive side of your rolling paper is facing up and on the far side of the tray from you. When you lay the crease in your rolling paper in the crease of the tray, you’ll automatically position your rolling paper with the adhesive side up.
Add Your Filter
Now place your perfectly rolled filter tip in the crease of the paper at one end of the tray. Line up the edges of the filter with the edge of the paper. Hold them in place with your thumb.
Evenly Sprinkle in Your Cannabis Flower
Evenly sprinkle your ground mix into the crease until it fills up about half the width of the paper. The Nebula Tray will help keep your herb nicely in the middle. Leave about a fingernail length of room at the non-filter end (or more if you want a smaller joint).
Tuck in the Non-Adhesive Side
Carefully lift up the filter end, pinching the paper between your fingertips. Use your fingernail to tuck in the non-adhesive side of the paper first.
Roll Your Joint Into a Consistently Tight Cone
Roll the paper back and forth over the filter between your index and forefinger to get a consistently tight fit. Keep rolling to form the flower into a cone shape that’s fatter at the non-filter end of your joint.
Wet the Adhesive
Then wet the adhesive at the filter end with the moistened cotton swab (or lick it) and press it down into place.
Seal Your Joint
Continue to pinch and fold the paper over itself. You can use the dip in the tray to help you roll the paper into a cylinder as you work your way to the other end. Go slowly, wetting the glue on the paper before pressing it into place to make it stick tight.
Get Rid of Air Pockets
Use a tamping stick (or a bobby pin will do) to lightly tamp down your mix through the open end to get rid of any air pockets.
Close Up Your Joint
If you have room, add any leftover fill. Then twist or pinch the paper to close the lighting end. Admire your fabulous work, and enjoy!
How to Roll a Cannabis Joint with Less Paper
If you’re consuming cannabis specifically to improve your health, it’s especially important to be careful about what you’re ingesting. That’s what the Dutch style of joint rolling is all about. It’s also called the inside-out method. The Amsterdam method minimizes the amount of paper smoke you’re breathing in with your cannabis smoke. This method is also great for beginners who want to roll skinny joints. When you roll skinny, of course, you want to make sure you’re smoking more cannabis than paper.
How to Roll a Joint the Amsterdam Way
Normally, the paper is creased so that the sticky edge faces up when you lay the dip of the paper on your tray. To roll joints the Amsterdam way, we want it the opposite way—that’s why it’s also called the inside-out method.
Position Your Rolling Paper
Turn the paper over in your tray so that the point of the crease is sticking up. It’ll look like a little tent. Also make sure that the adhesive edge is closest to you.
Flatten the Rolling Paper
Draw your thumb down the crease to flatten the rolling paper into the dip of the tray.
Hold Your Filter in Place
If you’re using a filter, align it with the edge of your rolling paper and hold both in place.
Add Your Cannabis Flower
Then pour your cannabis flower into your paper.
Roll Your Joint Into a Consistent Cone
Continue to hold the filter in place and start rolling the sides of the paper together. Keep rolling to form the flower into a consistent cone shape.
Seal Your Joint
Now, roll the sticky edge of the paper down toward your flower. Start at the filter end, and use your fingernail to tuck the sticky edge in against the other side of the paper. Smooth the other side of the paper down onto the sticky edge, pressing it together as you go. If you want, lightly wet the paper that’s now on top of the sticky edge to completely seal it. You’ll end up with a long, slim triangle of excess paper.
Tamp Down Your Cannabis Flower
Once the seal is tight, lightly tamp down your flower to get rid of any air pockets.
Cut Off the Extra Rolling Paper
Then cut off the excess diagonal edge of the paper, getting as close as you can to the glued edge without cutting into it.
How to Close Your Joint
Twist or pinch the paper closed. And, voilá, that's how to roll a joint!
How to Minimize the Paper in Your Filter
When you roll joints the Amsterdam way, you might even want to minimize the paper in your filter. This is especially desirable when you’re rolling really skinny joints.
Trim Your Joint Filter
Tear off a tip. On the end of your tip with the perforations, start cutting diagonally across the long end of the tip. Leave about a sixteenth of an inch of the full length of the filter, until you have a long, thin triangle.
How to Roll Your Trimmed Joint Filter
Then start rolling it by folding over the filter at the first perforation. That’s the end that’s still full size. Continue to roll the paper tightly around itself until you have a nice tight filter.
Are You Supposed to Lick a Joint?
Licking a joint to seal the adhesive used to be the norm for how to roll a joint. It was just like licking a stamp or an envelope. We thought nothing of it. But in our post-pandemic world, you might be thinking, “Do you have to lick rolling paper?” Of course, if you’re rolling solely for your own enjoyment, you can lick away if you want. But cannabis is very social. So, you might very well still want to puff, puff, pass your joint to others. That’s why we recommend using a moist cotton swab to activate the adhesive on your papers instead of giving them a lick. It’ll minimize any viral spread.
How Do You Properly Spark a Cannabis Joint?
Take sparking up seriously. Make sure the tip of your joint is lighting properly. Rotate the joint as you’re firing it up. Don’t start with deep puffs right away. An initial hard drag can make one side start burning faster than the other. Instead, keep rotating and puffing it lightly. That will help you get a symmetrical burn. You’re looking for the tip of your joint to start glowing red in a nice, concentric circle. When you see that, you’re good to go.
Tips for Perfecting Your Cannabis Joint
When a joint “canoes”, that means that it’s burning unevenly. The key to avoiding a canoeing joint is not to pack it too tightly. Use your tamping stick very lightly. You want to get rid of any big air pockets. But you still want to leave enough air flow throughout your joint so you can inhale through its entire length. Same goes for your overall joint. Shoot for consistency. You don't want an overly tight or loose, floppy joint. Quality rolling papers also make a world of difference. So whenever possible, use papers that are specifically made for cannabis.
For more information on House of Puff, visit houseofpuff.com.