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How to Hide the Smell of Cannabis

Smoking a blunt indoors

Pine trees and grapefruit juice, skunk, and diesel fumes, fresh soil and ground pepper — the broad range of aromas given off by cannabis flowers and weed smoke is part of what makes consuming marijuana such an enjoyable, immersive experience. But there are many times in life when you may not want the unmistakable aroma of marijuana rising off your clothes, or wafting through your living room when you have unexpected house guests. 

If you’re looking to be more discreet with your cannabis, and you don’t want to turn heads with an acrid cloud of eau de cannabis trailing you like Pigpen in Peanuts, then there are basically two main things to focus on: how to prevent the smell, and how to mask it when it gets out of control.

Hold your breath, we’re going in.  

How to prevent the smell of weed 

Ventilation is your friend 

When smoking cannabis, especially a potent, pungent strain, the aroma can carry a long way and fill up an enclosed space in no time. 

If you’re somewhere that you don’t want to reek of cannabis, say, a hotel room or your home office, make sure that the space is well ventilated. Open a window and if you can, a door to help the air circulate. Try to smoke as close as possible to the open window, exhaling outside as much as possible. If you have a small fan, prop it up facing out the window as an exhaust fan of sorts, and try to blow through the blades from behind. 

When you’re finished smoking, leave the window open and turn on a ceiling fan if possible, allowing the room to ventilate for at least half an hour. 

For cannabis flowers, the same principle applies — the aroma of pungent flowers can hang in the air in a closed space, so make sure to keep a window cracked when you open your stash. 

Cover your tracks 

The smell of marijuana smoke doesn’t always dissipate the moment the smoke has cleared. Paraphernalia like pipes, bongs, or ashtrays can give off a powerful aroma for some time, so make sure to clear them and store them away after you’re done smoking. Also, the singed joint filter or roach left over after you smoke can reek as well, so make sure to toss it out along with any ashes that may have fallen around the room.  

If you’re smoking inside your house, make sure to close any closet doors, otherwise the smoke can get in and leave an aroma on your clothes. 

Find a low key spot 

smoking medical marijuana
One way to stop your room from smelling like cannabis is to find a quiet spot to smoke outdoors. (Shutterstock)

A tried and true trick for people wanting to keep their weed smoke discreet is to seek out an underused spot for a smoke break. 

At home, this could mean stepping out to the back porch instead of fogging up the living room, or if you’re at work or a social function, heading out to the parking lot or for a quick “run to the store.” Your sudden absence may cause suspicion, but in the absence of any nearby weed smoke, you could be in the clear. 

Smoking next to the bathroom window with the exhaust fan on and the shower running to create steam can also help mask the scent, though you may also have to actually take a shower to pull off the ruse. 

Does vaping weed smell?

Because vaporization heats up cannabis without combusting it, it doesn’t produce any smoke — only vapor. Not only can this make it much easier on your lung and throat, but it also means you don’t need to contend with plumes of acrid weed smoke. That said, vaping does produce a distinctive odor, though it’s not nearly as strong as cannabis smoke and it dissipates quite quickly. 

How to get rid of the smell of weed 

The other main form of weed odor management is masking the smell after it’s already in the air. 

Incense

Nothing says “headshop” like the aroma of nag champa incense. Incense fragrances like nag champa, sandalwood, or lavender, can be strong, even overpowering, but help rid a room of the smell of weed. On the other hand, because the smell of incense is often associated with head shops and stoner or hippie culture, it could send the not so subtle message that “weed was just smoked here.”

incense stick burning
When all else fails, light some incense. (Ekaterina Lutokhina/123rf)

Essential oils

Essential oils like patchouli, peppermint, or rosemary can also help mask cannabis and can be easily applied to the hands and behind the ears. You can also use a diffuser to help spread the aroma around the room. One word of warning, like nag champa, patchouli also tends to scream “this guy has a van and just came from a drum circle,” so keep that in mind. 

Sploofs — a DIY solution for weed smell 

A homemade sploof is a time-honored tool of countless teenage pot smokers trying to get high in their bedroom without leaving a trace. The standard sploof is made of a toilet paper roll (sans toilet paper), with a sheet of fabric softener covering one end and affixed with a rubber band. You can also add multiple sheets inside the chamber of the roll, and use more than one on the end. When smoking, you exhale through the sploof, filtering the smoke. While they can be quite effective, a sploof is by no means a fool-proof solution, and can leave the room smelling like a mix of weed and laundry.  

Mask weed smell with air fresheners 

Air fresheners such as potpourri sprays can be used liberally in a room that has a powerful or lingering smell of marijuana. You can also buy car air fresheners — for instance the little tree-shaped ones people hang off their rearview mirror — and hang them in an area that reeks of weed. This could be an especially effective method in a small area like a closet, where your clothes share space with your stash. 

Air purifiers to cover up weed smoke 

Air purifiers use a variety of methods to clear pollutants from the air, including carbon filters, ionizers, and HEPA filters, that can trap and remove the airborne particles that help create the odor of weed. Though they can be on the pricey side, air purifiers can be effective at reducing the smell of marijuana, and regardless, can help rid the air inside your home of pollutants and common allergens. 

Covering up the smell of cannabis flower 

While many of the tricks for masking weed smoke also work very well for hiding the smell of cannabis flower, there are some specific steps you can take and products on the market to keep your stash from stinking up the place. 

Keep your weed in airtight glass jars 

There is no better way to store your weed than in airtight glass jars. Not only is there no risk of static charge removing trichomes (like with plastic bags), they also keep your herb safe from air and moisture and lock the odor in. Get a sturdy mason jar with an airtight lid, and make sure not to open and close it more than necessary. This will help the buds stay fresh longer, and a closed mason jar of weed produces no smell. 

A jar of cannabis in a dispensary
Make sure not to open and close your jar more than necessary. (Anthony Travagliante/The Cannigma)

Smell-proof weed storage bags

Odor-proof bags are a great solution for hiding the smell of your stash at home or on the road. For the outdoors types, there are also many waterproof storage bags on the market. These bags typically range in size from small pouches to larger smell-proof cases about the size of a camera bag or a small laptop bag. The larger ones also often come with locks and compartments to stash pipes and other stinky weed paraphernalia, so they can actually serve as an all-in-one odor-proof home storage case for your weed and your accessories together. 

Smell-proof home storage boxes for weed 

A classy and very effective solution for weed odor prevention could be an odor-proof wooden box, which like the larger storage bags, can also be used to store accessories and paraphernalia. Typically these are similar in size and appearance to small cigar humidors, and are airtight to keep weed fresh and prevent odors. You could also invest in a “cannador,” a small, sealed cannabis humidor that locks in the odors of your stash and also manages the humidity inside. 

A container inside a container

If you’re especially concerned about weed odor and aren’t convinced that your glass jar or smell-proof pouch will do the trick on its own, you may consider “double-bagging” it. For instance, you could keep your weed in a small mason jar inside of a larger tupperware container, providing two layers of smell protection. 

Odor absorbing gels 

A popular method used by home cannabis growers for dispensaries is odor absorbing gels. While it may be more than you need to cover up the smell of an eighth or so of fresh herb, they aren’t expensive and it could be worth a shot. Odor neutralizing gels typically come in a container about the size of a scented candle, and are made of a mix of essential oils suspended in gel. Simply place a container of gel in the area in question, and it should do the trick on its own. One important note, though: Make sure not to keep the container open next to your buds or inside a grow room — it can get in contact with the buds through the air, potentially changing the taste and smell permanently. 

Covering up weed body odor 

Much of the smell of marijuana smoke and flowers can also be carried on your body. After smoking, this can stick to your clothing, your hair, your skin, and your fingernails, even if you are no longer anywhere near any weed. 

Assuming that smoking while completely naked is not an option, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly once you’ve stopped smoking and consider changing your shirt or throwing on a hat to cover up some of the smell. Your breath could still give you up, so you may want to brush your teeth and/or chew some gum if you’d like to keep things incognito.  

Splashing on a little cologne or perfume can also hide some of the weed scent, though you are arguably just replacing it with a strong smell of cologne, which may turn heads, especially if it’s out of character for you. 

De-weed your clothes with febreze

Changing clothes may not always be an option after a smoke session or a walk-through at an indoor grow operation, but a few spritzes from a clothing odor eliminator like febreze can have you smelling like freshly-folded laundry in no time. 

Covering up weed smell in your car 

“Hotboxing” a car is a classic stoner experience, albeit one that should practice in a parking lot or driveway — with the car in park. 

The best way to handle weed odors in a car is to not let them become a problem to begin with. If you’re smoking in your car, make sure to do so with the windows rolled down. And if you and your friends have piled into the car after just smoking, make sure to roll down the windows and let the air circulate for a couple minutes while you head down the road. 

If you nonetheless have a strong odor of marijuana in the car, buy the most potent car air fresheners you can think of, such as black ice or a strong pine-scented one. It might not smell great, but it’s a lot better to be pulled over by the police with a car that reeks of christmas trees. 

Also, just like with your home office or living room, make sure to discard any roaches or joint filters clogging up the ashtray. 

Does growing weed smell?

Growing weed can produce a strong odor, even if you just have a single plant inside your house. 

Home cultivation requires careful thought towards odor control, especially as the number of plants increases. Your first step should be ventilation methods like fans, carbon filters, and ozone generators. 

Most grow boxes sold today will come with such ventilation measures included, but if not, you should be able to set up your own system through the use of fans and by making sure to keep windows and doors open to boost circulation. The extent to which you can do this may be limited to how close (and/or how cool) your neighbors are, as well as the number of plants and the strain in question (some strains are much more odiferous than others).  

Store-bought grow boxes tend to have the ability to be sealed completely, and if you make sure not to open the box and check on your plants more than absolutely necessary, you can limit how much of the scent escapes.  

Does decarbing weed smell?

The good news first: You’ve decided to splurge and pour an entire half-ounce of weed onto a cookie sheet to decarboxylate it and make cannabutter. The bad news? That much weed baking at a low temperature in the oven for 45 minutes or so can create a powerful aroma. 

It’s not as strong as three blunts circulating in a recording booth, but the scent of decarboxylating weed can be rather strong, especially if you live in a small apartment and/or have poor ventilation in your kitchen. 

Luckily, the smell of decarboxylation doesn’t linger very long, and within a half hour of turning off the oven it should be long gone. 

Also, for the most part prepared edibles should not smell like weed. Cannabis oil can have a toasty, nutty aroma, and weed brownies may have a hint of a plant or earthy aroma, but neither compare to the smell of an open jar of cannabis flower or a plume of weed smoke. And THC gummies, mints, and chocolates? You shouldn’t expect any scent whatsoever. 

Regardless, you should be keeping edibles sealed and stashed away from children and other house guests, which will further eliminate any potential odors.  

How long does the smell of weed last?

All good things must come to end, but so must the lingering smell of weed that you didn’t take into consideration. 

How long the smell of weed lasts has a lot to do with where you smoke it and the steps you take to minimize the odor. 

If you smoke in a moist room with wall-to-wall shag carpets and no windows or ventilation to speak of, then the smell should linger even well after the joints are extinguished. If you hotbox your car with the windows rolled up, you can expect to smell it next time you head to the store. 

But if you keep the smoking area well ventilated, and you make sure to exhale out the window, or use a sploof and a strong ceiling fan, there will be less odor to contend with. And if the smell lingers a bit, generous use of air fresheners can make a big difference. 

When it comes to your body, if you’re really concerned about the odor your only safe bet is to change your clothes and take a shower. That should take care of the smell, though you may still need some eye drops for the redness. 

The bottom line? Even if your room really reeks in that first hour or so after a marathon smoke session, if you leave the door or the window open, by the morning it should all be fine. 

Err on the safe side

For many cannabis smokers, the smell of marijuana is a pleasant, comforting feature of the plant, and one which over the years they may have gotten much less sensitive to. Keep in mind that people who don’t smoke tend to be much more sensitive to the smell: They can notice it on clothes, hair, or furniture, even if your nostrils have become somewhat desensitized by an accumulated layer of trichomes. 

Be mindful that other people may be more sensitive to the aroma and a bit less forgiving than you. Act accordingly. Make sure to ventilate common areas of your home or office if you’re smoking, and also consider adopting the approach that if you’re smoking weed, chances are the smell is stronger than you think, so take steps to counteract this — and then cover your tracks.

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