September 26, 2021

by Sage Vasquez

the science of a joint: materials

Blackbird Automated Pre-Roll Machine

Smoking a joint is perhaps the most recognizable way to enjoy cannabis. Joints are extremely convenient: easy to smoke, easy to pass, and easy to transport. Rolling a joint isn’t difficult in theory either, but rolling a perfect one takes both practice and skill. 

Armchair experts have long debated the science behind what makes a perfect joint; there are the crutch theorists, packing and density experts, to those who have strong opinions on grind size. Out of all these long-debated theories, which, if any, are correct? 

To help solve this age-old question, let's first consider how a joint is constructed. Joints are made up of the following parts: 

Rolling/Wrapping Paper. The rolling or wrapping paper holds the cannabis flower together and gives the joint its shape. The paper acts as a form to direct the smoke and air from the burn tip to the mouth. Papers are made from materials like hemp, flax, rice straw, or wood pulp and are typically somewhere between 2.75 (69mm)–4.33 (110mm) inches long. The size, length, thickness, and type of glue (used on the paper) all affect how the joint burns.

The Crutch. A joint’s crutch (also called the filter, tip, or mouthpiece), keeps unwanted ash or particulates out of the mouth, provides structural rigidity to the joint, and reduces cannabis waste by allowing users to smoke a joint to its end without burning their fingers or mouth while having a cooling effect on the smoke as it passes through the crutch. Crutches are commonly made at home with paper. Ceramic, glass, and terpene-infused corn husk crutches have become increasingly popular and are sold at various retailers. 

Cannabis Flower. Cannabis flower is not only the active ingredient for the smoking vapor—its interlocking flower pieces support the structure of a joint and fuel its ember at the tip. Cannabis flower is typically sold in bud form—the variety, quality, freshness, and grind size will ultimately affect how the joint burns as well.