How to Pack and Smoke a Bowl

Scott Jones

Cereal, soup, poke, it is a fact of life that some of the most wonderful things come in bowls. With the increasingly easy access to cannabinoid flower, you’ve got one more thing you can add to that list. Packing up and smoking a bowl is one of the most quick and convenient ways to enjoy fresh flower, but if you’ve never done it before, the mechanics may seem a little intimidating. Not to worry, the process is simpler than it first appears, and with this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to pack and smoke a bowl properly.  We’ll also walk through some of the different kinds of equipment you can use, as well as picking out the perfect flower for you. Let’s get started.

The Essentials

When you want to enjoy a fresh bowl, there are a few things you absolutely need and a couple you might like to consider. We’ll look closer at each of these elements later, but for now let’s just get the lay of the land. Once you have everything on this list, you’ll be ready to smoke. 

  • A pipe – One of the wide variety of tools used to smoke the herb of your choice. 
  • A screen (optional) – a piece of brass mesh or glass to keep flower from being pulled through the pipe. 
  • Flower – While weed may be the first thing that comes to mind, there are also many other cannabinoid flowers you can choose from.
  • Grinder (optional) – A grinder can quickly and cleanly break your flower down evenly so that you get an even smoke.
  • Flame – The last essential element is the flame that you’ll use to light your bowl. This can be a lighter, match, or wick. 

Anatomy of a Pipe

While there are many kinds of pipes, they mostly all break down into the same simple components. Understanding what they are and what they do will make understanding how to pack and smoke a bowl much simpler.

  • The bowl – The hollow basin set into the pipe where the flower is packed so it can be lit and smoked
  • The chamber – The body of the pipe that is filled smoke from the bowl when the flower is lit
  • The mouthpiece – The hole at the tip of the pipe where you draw smoke through the pipe into your lungs
  • The carb (optional) – Not every pipe has a carb, but they are common and it’s important to understand how they work. The carb is a hole in the side of the pipe, usually on one side of the bowl, that regulates airflow. Covering the carb allows the chamber to filled with smoke and uncovering it allows the chamber to be cleared of smoke as you inhale.

The Steps

Once you’ve gathered the essentials, you’re ready to get started. This is a step-by-step break down of how to pack and smoke your bowl. 

  • Break up the flower – You can do this using a grinder, a grinder card, small scissors, or your hands. You want the flower broken up into an even consistency, but without being too fine. This will help you achieve a smooth, consistent smoke.
  • Pack the flower in the pipe – If you are using a screen, it should be laid at the bottom of the bowl. If not, use a slightly larger chunk of flower at the bottom of the bowl before packing the broken-down flower on top. Pack the herb lightly at the bottom and progressively tighter near the top. This promotes even airflow and helps the bowl to stay lit or develop a “cherry”. 
  • Light the bowl and inhale – If the pipe has a carb, make sure to cover it with your finger, then apply the flame to the flower and inhale. Release your finger from the carb to clear the chamber (if the pipe has one) and enjoy!

Type of Pipe

There are a range of different pipes you can choose from when deciding to smoke a bowl. You can read a more in depth breakdown of pipes here, but we’ll go over the most popular below. Each one has a slightly different build and the way you smoke it may vary to a small degree. By understand how the different kinds of pipe work, you can decide which pipe is best for you, and you’ll never get caught off guard if a friend brings out a pipe you’re unfamiliar with.


These are the most popular type of pipe you’ll see. Their name is easy to figure out because the shape resembles a spoon, and they have a lot of advantages. They’re shape and size makes them easy to hold with one hand and light with the other, but the bowl size can vary enough to accommodate both large and small amounts of flower. They are commonly made with carbs so you can modify the density of the smoke as it fills the chamber. They’re also relatively easy to store and clean due to their size and the fact that they do not tip over easily.


Chillums are simple pipes that generally resemble a glass tube, with one end having the bowl and the other having the mouthpiece. Once flower is loaded into the bowl, it is lit like a cigar or cigarette. These pipes tend to have smaller bowl heads but they are discreet and easy to carry.


Bubblers are like a hybrid version of a spoon pipe and a bong. The bowl is connected to a down stem that allows the smoke to pass through water before being inhaled. Water can filter out any pieces of flower that may get pulled through and cool the smoke before it reaches your throat. However, these pipes are not very portable and are more difficult to store and clean. 


Bongs are water pipes with a bowl head on a slide that can removed. After the bowl is lit, you inhale smoke into the chamber and then remove the slide to clear the chamber. You might be thinking that bowls and bongs aren’t the same, and that’s true, but the act of packing and smoking a bong is very similar to that of a bowl.

Type of Flower

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, there has never been more variety when it comes to picking out flower. To make sure you pick the product that is ideal for you, it’s important that you understand the types of cannabinoids available, what different strains mean, and how to check the flower’s potency.

  • Cannabinoids – The first thing you’ll want to consider is what kind of cannabinoid you’re looking for. Weed is great if you’re in a state where it’s legal, but you can also find flower for other cannabinoids. The Green Dragon not only has a variety of flower to choose from, but our blog is also a great place to learn about the different cannabinoids and which experience is best for you.
  • Strain – The specific strain you choose can impact the type of high you experience from flower. You can take an in depth look at the different types of strains here, but generally you have indica, sativa, and hybrid strains. Indica is known for its relaxing, body high, sativa is known for an invigorating, head high, and hybrids for a balanced experience.
  • Potency – Different kinds of flower are going to have different potency. Purchasing a product that has been tested in a lab by a third party will make sure that you know exactly how much of each cannabinoid is in your flower. You can read about how cannabinoid content is tested here.

Type of Flame

The last essential is the flame. You might not think this decision has much of an impact, but the flame you pick can affect the taste of the hit and how hot the bowl burns. There are three main options when it comes to flames for lighting your bowl.


The first option is the most common, the butane lighter. You can find simple lighters at any gas station, smoke shop, grocery story, and probably in your junk drawer. They are simple, convenient, and easy to use. This is, for many, the best option. The downside is they may give your bowl the slight residual taste of butane and they can burn hotter than other options. 


The second option is matches. Matches will do in a pinch, but they are difficult to use in the wind and aren’t convenient for relighting the bowl multiple times. They are also likely to give the bowl the taste of sulfur from the match head.

Hemp Wick

This is an advanced move, but if you’re looking to avoid any off flavors, the hemp wick is going to be your best option. A hemp wick is a spool of twine made from hemp that is dipped in beeswax. Once lit, these wicks burn slowly and at a low temperature, making them ideal for lighting a bowl. Also, because they are made from hemp, they do not pass on any off flavors. 

Ready to Fire it Up

Bowls are simple, convenient, and easy to use. They can be a perfect option for enjoying some flower on your own or sharing a sesh with some friends. While the type of pipe can lead to a little bit of variation, the process is almost always the same. Break down, pack up, light and inhale. It’s as easy as one-two-three. Now that you know how to pack and light a bowl, why not explore some of the types of flower we sell here at The Green Dragon. If you have any questions about what product would be best for you, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below or through our contact page.

How to Pack and Smoke a Bowl
If you've never packed or smoked a bowl before, don't worry, the process is simpler than it first appears. This guide will help you learn what you need to know.
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How to Pack and Smoke a Bowl
February 9, 2024
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