This post was originally written on January 7, 2018
As with much of my work, it’s not any fun being “prophetic” about dangers in certain things (mentioned in light of the current [October 2019] “epidemic” of vaping related injuries and deaths.)
Now that cannabis is legal in several states (is the count currently up to 18?), many people are experimenting with different ways of enjoying it – with smoking still being the most popular. People exploring this often search for the perfect vape, water pipe, bong or other “tools of the trade”. Some folks like sticking with a more traditional “smoking pipe”, and if that’s the case for you, here are some tips for making your smoking experience less toxic.
Tip #1.) Avoid metal screens in your pipes!
Metal screens (including the faucet aerators often used in decades past) can have plating or other coatings (and/or substrates) which can be toxic. These may contain Cadmium, Zinc and Lead – which when heated could be inhaled! I haven’t yet tested the glass daisy screens (pictured below), but they are very functional (in my experience) as well as inexpensive and a great alternative to metal screens. I will be posting the test results for these shortly. [100% Titanium screens might be a good alternative too!]
Tip #2.) Avoid metal pipes!
They can also be made of toxicant-containing alloys, have toxic platings or coatings, and are therefore less likely to be inert when heated (compared to glass).
#SaferChoices for pipes include: blown borosilicate glass pipes (choose pipes with fewer colors – and more clear glass (mixed in with just a bit of color), to have fewer potential toxicants); these are generally among the safest choices.
- Glass pipes may also have traces of cadmium or other metals in the colorants, but given the colors are contained in the glass – and usually present at very low levels, nowhere near the levels found in metal pipes – they are not likely to leach or cause issues with the amount of heat used in normal use.
- Some natural, unfinished wood pipes (not made with glues or metal or painted/dyed components) can be a good choice- though these can burn (and frankly wood pipes are really hard to find without plastic, glues, dyes or metal components), and burning wood smoke is not something you generally want to inhale either.
Tip #3.) Don’t use a lighter…
Smoking Safety Tip: Don’t draw from a pipe while using a lighter — if you do that you will be inhaling butane fumes – which is probably one of the most toxic methods of THC and/or CBD delivery! Instead, consider lighting an organic beeswax candle or (even better) a piece of organic unbleached hemp wick (yes, that is something you can buy…see links below!). If you use a small natural candle, you have to be careful not to drip wax into your pipe (it’s not a good idea to inhale burning beeswax either!) but a beeswax candle can be a good second choice if you can’t find some natural bare hemp wick (there are several options for sale on Amazon!) For the bare wick method, you just keep a foot or so of it with your pipe (or wrapped around your lighter as shown in this pic!), and use the lighter to light the wick (instead of your pipe directly), and then use the wick (which will stay burning much longer than a match) to light your pipe!
Tip #4.) Find a really good vape..
Finally, a really good vape – which provides controlled heat sufficient to vaporize the volatile elements (THC/CBD/terpenes) in the cannabis, rather than burning the weed – can be a great (safer) alternative to smoking (but that’s another post!) When looking for a vape try to make sure (via conversations with [and documentation from] the manufacturer OR sending a sample to me for testing and reporting on this blog) that the vape itself does not contain heavy metals. I have tested several that I have found to be positive for Lead, Cadmium and/or Arsenic in one or more components. [To see vapes I have tested, click here.]
Tip #5.) Buy organic!
…a very important P.S. … always buy organic weed if you have the option! Non-organic and/ or illegally farmed weed can be grown with leaded pesticides that contaminate our forests and rivers, as well as contaminating the plants themselves! I wrote about that years ago.. link here.
Amazon Affiliate Links:
- Lighter – to light your hemp wick! for this purpose, almost any lighter is fine, but we like refillable ones – and metal refillable ones if possible – given of the environmental impacts of plastics. Most recently we have fallen in love with USB rechargeable electric ones: https://amzn.to/3Larn5H
- Natural (Organic?) Beeswax Candles: http://amzn.to/2CBj93p
- Natural (Organic ?) Hemp Wick (one example): https://amzn.to/32o4tld
- Glass Daisy Screens (image below): https://amzn.to/3xMhWWv
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
Links on this post are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something after clicking on one of Lead Safe Mama, LLC’s links – Amazon sends us a referral fee at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Most cannabis flower has heavy metals like Cadmium, Arsenic, et al. The plant is notorious for soaking up heavy metals in the soil. Even a lot of “top shelf” “top quality” bud has significant heavy metals. I highly recommend using quality co2 or (purged) butane hash oil, as it should have almost no contaminate.
If you told me this when i first started smoking i would not have cared. Well, 10 years later i have very high cadmium and other metals. It slowly adds up and will make a difference. Your high wont feel as nice if you’re physically ill!
what about the pricey Grasshopper vaporizer? it’s a supposed to be a healthier device, but how safe are the materials in it? https://www.grasshoppervape.com
I’m not familiar with that product. I think since the industry is fairly new, a full survey of vaping products really should be done.
I just read an article today about vape lens and the reace try occurring lung disease that comes from using them. The article has linked it to the heating elements and the use of cheap spidering metals, Cadmium!
David Pidal says
Would a blue glass pipe most likely contain lead and if so how unhealthy is it 2 smoke out of
Hi David, – with the testing I have done on glass pipes so far I would guesstimate that the levels is a blue glass pipe would likely be negligible. There could be anomalies, but so far these pipes have either been negative for toxicants or positive at very low levels (levels that are likely bound in the glass – especially given the intended function of the item.)
Here’s an example: https://tamararubin.com/2020/07/horns-bee-green-blown-glass-pipe-with-white-stripes-lead-free-cadmium-free-arsenic-free-mercury-free/
i can speak to this. blue glass is going to be cobolt based or if it is a fumed style its going to be pure silver.the clear glass used by pipemakers is chemistry grade borosilicate glass.once metals are in the glass matrix they are very difficult to get to leach out. now surface colors not sealed in clear and the same colors on the inside of a piece are going to be much more available to the environment. if you check some frit based pipes on the inside or bright red,yellow, and orange pipes that are unencased thats where youll probably find the highest levels of cadmium. most us manufactures of boro color do not use lead last i checked and as far as i know no clear borosilicate manufacturers use lead either.
Thank you so much for commenting!
When using a butane torch, how much of the butane doesn’t get burnt off and is freely off gas and available to be inhaled?