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How to Roll a Better Crutch for Your Joint or Spliff

A crutch—also called a filter or a tip—is one of the easiest improvements to make to the standard joint. It’s effectively a mouthpiece, and it serves a number of purposes: It keeps the end of your joint open (even when sharing with your wet-lipped friends), blocks bits of plant matter from getting in your mouth, and ensures you don’t burn your kisser as you puff your way down to the roach.

Some people, including a few of my best friends, insist on rolling joints without crutches. I think those people are silly. Others include a crutch but treat it as an afterthought. While I respect that everyone has their own methods, I thought I’d share my preferred way of building a crutch. It’s quick, easy, and has earned the seal of approval from co-workers here at Leafly.

What are Crutches Made From?

Unless you opt for a reusable glass tip, the best material for a crutch is stiff paper. You’re looking for something thicker than printer paper (which is too flimsy) but thinner than a cereal box (too bulky). Some of my favorite options include:

  • An index card
  • A manila file folder
  • The back flap of a checkbook
  • A magazine subscription card
  • Some business cards (not the thick ones)

There is also a bunch of pre-cut crutches on the market these days. My favorites are RAW’s standard tips, which use long-fiber paper made on a special mill. They’re designed specifically to roll up smoothly and have enough rigidity to hold their shape in your mouth. (I initially thought these were dubious marketing claims, but after two years of using ‘em, I’m convinced.)

I’m partial to use these RAW tips, which is what I’ll be using to demonstrate. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

The Easy (but Flawed) Way

Most people I’ve smoked with tend to roll a crutch by literally rolling it into a cylinder. When viewed head-on, it looks like a spiral.

One of the most common methods to make a crutch or filter tip is to roll it into a cylinder. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

This is an easy technique, but it has some drawbacks. The main weakness is that the opening in the center of the crutch is big enough to let through small pieces of plant matter, which can end up getting in your mouth. Another problem is that it’s not particularly sturdy and can sometimes pinch closed. Does it work? Sure. But there’s a better way.

The Better Way

You can make a much better crutch simply by adding a few accordion-style folds before rolling it up. It takes a tiny bit of practice to master, but the end product will keep those pesky flecks of cannabis out of your mouth and ensure a smooth draw.

To start, make a few folds at the end of your crutch material. Make the folds about as wide as you want the final crutch to be. Be sure not to crease the paper when you’re folding it; otherwise the final crutch will be too tight.

Start by putting a few accordion-style folds in your crutch material. Keep in mind, the space between your folds will determine the crutch’s width. Don’t crease! (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

How many folds to use is up to you. Some people talk about making an M shape inside the crutch, while others opt for a simple V. I tend to toss in a few more. Experiment to find out what you like best.

Once you’ve made those first few folds, roll the remaining crutch material around the folded part. Make sure you have enough unfolded paper to wrap completely around the crutch—you want the final product to roll easily between your fingers.

After a few folds, start to wind the remaining paper around the folded part. Make sure to leave enough left over to wrap all the way around the crutch. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Wrap up all the excess paper—you can rip some off if you have too much—and roll the finished crutch between your fingers. You might find that it wants to unroll or expand on its own. That’s OK. Once you roll the crutch into your joint, that springiness will help keep the crutch from falling out of the end of your joint.

Your finished crutch should look something like this. Just keep winding that excess paper. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Put the crutch at the end of your rolling paper and roll it into your joint. I like to leave a little of the crutch exposed, then push it flush with the edge of the rolling paper once I’m finished rolling.

Here’s what it looks like when I’m done:

The accordion-style crutch helps keep bits of plant material out of your mouth while still allowing for a smooth draw. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

The More Expensive Way

Can’t be bothered to practice tiny origami? That’s fine. Either buy a reusable tip, skip the crutch altogether, or opt for a pre-rolled crutch. There are all sorts of pre-rolled options these days, including choices by RAW, Elements, and a handful of others.

The tips work just fine, but they’ll cost you a bit more. RAW’s standard tips, which I used above, cost around $0.75 for 50. The company’s pre-rolled tips go for about $1.75 for 20—or more than twice as much.

What are your tips and tricks for rolling the perfect joint? Share them in the comments below or give me a shout on Twitter.

Want to make a filter for your joint? It's known as a crutch and here's how to roll one for your joint or spliff.

Why You Should Use A Filter When Smoking

Rolling an impressive joint is an art form. That said, the basis of most good joints is using a cardboard filter. Not only does this help form a better joint, it also elevates the experience when smoking it.

There are many reasons you should use a filter when smoking a joint, starting with those concerning your health. However, there are also other reasons to consider this strategy. These include correcting poor rolling techniques and maximising joint smokability. Filters can also help increase airflow to make your joint burn more efficiently. Not to mention, using a filter eliminates the hassle of a roach clip. How ‘80s to begin with!

Advantages Of Using A Tip/filter

There are many, many advantages to using a filter to smoke a joint.

With that said, there is absolutely no “best” kind of filter or filter rolling technique. Do what works for you. However, there are multiple ways to construct filters. Of course, being good at origami also helps. Newbies often start with the most basic and easiest-to-perfect option. They simply roll small cardboard filters into a compact cylinder. There are many variations on this theme. Step-by-step instructions are also easy to find online.

Despite what you might have heard, you can still get high from using regular tips designed for self-rolling cigarette smokers. The filters are designed to catch particles that are a lot larger than THC. This means that while you might believe you are missing out on something, don’t sweat it. It is way better to use a filter like this than to not use one at all.

Here are the top advantages to using a filter:

You Can Smoke The Whole Joint

The filter tip creates a much needed space between your lips and the burning material. This means you can smoke the whole contents of a joint much easier, without burning your fingers. It won’t crumble or dissolve so quickly. As a result, it will also help you conserve precious cannabis. Ultimately, joint filters make the whole experience, particularly in groups, not only more enjoyable, but more hygienic.

Using a cardboard filter to roll a joint is often the basis for prime joint construction. Beyond that, filters help to improve airflow and maintain hygiene. ]]>