The joint is an iconic cannabis delivery method, and one of the first things most people think of when they think of weed.
Rolling and smoking a joint is one of the first tests for a new smoker. But when you inevitably roll a joint that’s too big for one sitting, what should you do? Don’t toss it away; you can smoke half the joint and save the rest for later!
Putting out a joint (to relight later) is an important skill for any stoner. Too rough and you could ruin what’s left of the joint beyond saving. Too little and the fire inside keeps burning away all of your precious cannabinoids and terpenes.
So what exactly is the best way to put out a joint or blunt to save it for later?
Can I save a joint if I don’t finish it?
Yes, you can save a joint if you don’t want to smoke it all at once (if you stub it out properly.) But know that it won’t taste the same when you light up for round two.
When you light up, the crushed bud interacts with oxygen at high heat to burn and produce smoke. This is a process known as combustion, which is important for both the activation and delivery of your weed, but combustion also produces smoke byproducts. Many of these compounds are known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are small, stinky particles of gas. 1 2
PAHs are commonly produced in the process of burning things, from cigarettes to gasoline – and smoking cannabis is no exception. The amount of PAHs produced can vary a lot depending on the consumption method chosen; dry herb vaping produces fewer PAHs than smoking a joint. These small molecules are also harmful to our health, known to be carcinogenic and pro-inflammatory. 3 4 5
The smell of these PAHs is absorbed and held in by the joint paper and the remaining herb. Since smell and taste are heavily linked senses, the new aroma will affect the taste of the joint. PAHs have no known effects at low levels, and you encounter them in other places like grills and wood fires. 6
What happens to the cannabis in the half-smoked joint?
During the combustion process, there’s a lot is happening in your weed! The cannabinoids undergo decarboxylation, where THCa and CBDa are transformed into THC and CBD. The terpenes and flavonoids are being transformed or destroyed, and all of the chemical compounds are being vaporized – all at once.
These changes are happening quickly, so by putting out your joint properly, you can halt the process and save some of these compounds for later. But it’s not just heat that causes chemical changes in your weed- time can also cause degradation. Letting any joint, let alone a half-smoked joint, sit out for any period of time can cause it to lose some potency. Even more so, any half-smoked joint has already lost a lot of its moisture. So when you relight it, expect it to be a harsher, dried, less tasty smoke.
Changes in your joint:
- Terpenes and cannabinoids will exist in different concentrations when you relight the joint. Each compound within cannabis has a different boiling point, and only certain parts of the joint are burning at one time. Behind the ember (or “cherry”) of the joint, the heat will vaporize some of the lighter terpenes faster than the heavier ones and cannabinoids. These varying concentrations will affect the smell, taste, and effects of the weed.
- Cannabinoids like THC will still be present, but some may have converted to CBN.
- Tars can form during the combustion process, and as it rapidly cools it gets “stuck” on the paper and cannabis further down the joint. This accumulation of resins can majorly affect a joint, making the second half of the joint taste much different than the first half. 7
- PAHs form during combustion and have a distinct aroma, also changing the taste of your weed for any future smoking.
How to put out a joint or a blunt without destroying it
When putting a joint out carefully, the most important part is the cherry. The cherry of the joint is the section where it’s lit before it turns to ash and falls off.
There are several routes you can take to put out your joint without destroying it. The easiest method is by suffocating the joint, cutting off the air supply to the cherry. This method works best with a glass doob tube, but you can also use sand. Avoid using plastic doob tubes, because a still-warm joint can melt the plastic.
Other ways to put your joint/blunt out for later:
- Stub it. Press the lit tip of the joint against a flat, hard, (and fireproof) surface to extinguish the fire. Be gentle with the joint so you don’t bend or break it.
- Knock it. Dislodge the cherry by knocking the joint against the side of an ashtray. Take care not to smush the joint.
- Graze it. Gently graze the cherry against the side of an ashtray until it falls out.
- Flick it. Hold the joint between your fingers and flick the bottom (or the tip) to knock the cherry out.
- Drown it. If you want to put the cherry out rather than remove it, use a small amount of water to extinguish the cherry. Take care not to get the rest of the joint wet or it won’t be able to light again.
- Cut it. Using scissors, a cigar cutter, or any sharp blade, slice the cherry off and place the rest of the joint in an airtight container.
Once the joint is out, you can save the rest of it in a glass doob tube.
How long will a joint or a blunt stay fresh once lit?
The sooner you light up a joint (or blunt) after putting it out, the better it will taste. When put out and stored properly, you can relight a dry joint from up to several days ago.
Relighting a joint is not an area of scientific interest, and as such there are no specific studies to guide the degradation of a half-smoked joint. So common sense prevails and in general, the longer you let a half-smoked joint sit out, the drier and less potent it will be.
The best way to keep your half-smoked joints fresh as long as possible is with a glass doob tube. These portable containers can get stinky, but most do a great job of keeping the scent contained.
In the cannabis industry, some believe intensely in the integrity of cannabis flavors and disparage relighting joints. While it’s true that the flavor won’t be the same as it was when you first lit it, if all you’re looking to do is refresh your high or extend your stash, the flavor of the weed is probably a secondary consideration.
- Graves, Brian & Johnson, Tyler & Nishida, Robert & Dias, Ryan & Savareear, Benjamin & Harynuk, James & Kazemimanesh, Mohsen & Olfert, Jason & Boies, Adam. (2020). Comprehensive characterization of mainstream marijuana and tobacco smoke. Scientific Reports. 10. 7160. 10.1038/s41598-020-63120-6.
- Choi H, Harrison R, Komulainen H, et al. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In: WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Selected Pollutants. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010. 6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK138709/
- Shen G, Preston W, Ebersviller SM, et al. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Fine Particulate Matter Emitted from Burning Kerosene, Liquid Petroleum Gas, and Wood Fuels in Household Cookstoves. Energy Fuels. 2017;31(3):3081-3090. doi:10.1021/acs.energyfuels.6b02641
- Vu AT, Taylor KM, Holman MR, Ding YS, Hearn B, Watson CH. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the Mainstream Smoke of Popular U.S. Cigarettes. Chem Res Toxicol. 2015;28(8):1616-1626. doi:10.1021/acs.chemrestox.5b00190
- Mallah MA, Mallah MA, Liu Y, et al. Relationship Between Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Cardiovascular Diseases: A Systematic Review. Front Public Health. 2021;9:763706. Published 2021 Dec 7. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2021.763706
- Spence, Charles. (2015). Just how much of what we taste derives from the sense of smell?. Flavour. 4. 10.1186/s13411-015-0040-2.
- Moir D, Rickert WS, Levasseur G, et al. A comparison of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco cigarette smoke produced under two machine smoking conditions. Chem Res Toxicol. 2008;21(2):494-502. doi:10.1021/tx700275p
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