Packing a bowl for two can be a kind gesture in any kind of relationship, especially if that bowl is filled with tasty dry herb. However, a badly packed bowl can backfire quickly, but not literally. Learning how to pack a pipe, bong, bubbler, or steam roller is essential an essential skill if you prefer to smoke dry herb. Luckily for those who don’t know how already, there are just three easy steps to follow to pack the perfect bowl.
You’ll first want to take the piece you are smoking from into consideration. Look at the hole in the bottom of the bowl and see what kind of consistency your dry herb can be ground to. If the hole is very large, then you will want to avoid a fine grind of your dry herb since it can fall through the hole before it has the chance to be burned. It’s kind of like loading fine-ground coffee into a French press when you should have used a medium-ground coffee. It will work, it just won’t be the best for the tool you’re working with.
Once you’ve determined the grind, then it is time to load up your herb grinder and give it few twists. I find that a medium grind works best for bowls that are meant to be shared, while a fine grind is better for a one-hit snapper. No matter which grinding methodology you land on though, a four-piece herb grinder is essential for the last step of loading the perfect bowl. A four-piece grinder has a bottom compartment designed to catch all the kief that shakes off your herb while grinding. Although having this extra kief stash is not essential, it is a nice everyday luxury and a great way to get the most out of your dry herb.
A grinder is also not completely necessary for loading a bowl, but it is a necessary tool for loading the perfect bowl. It allows you to achieve consistency, which is key for an even burn. When breaking dry herb down by hand, it can leave uneven bits and little bits of stems if you aren’t careful. An herb grinder will also help cut down on the time it takes to prep for loading your bowl.
The next step is to load your bowl carefully. Although you could pinch up your ground herb and simply toss it in, a bowl will burn smoother if there is a bit of finesse involved. You’ll want to load in just enough ground herb to fill the bowl loosely at first. You’ll then want to gently tamp it down. If you pack down the bowl too tight, then there won’t be enough air involved to make it burn easily. However, if the bowl compacted too much for your liking, then you can add a fluffy layer of the ground-up herb on top. It’s similar to the process of adding dirt when planting in a pot. You’ll want to sprinkle it in, tamp it down, and then sprinkle a bit more on top.
If you ground your herb a bit too fine for the bowl hole, then there’s an easy remedy for that. You’ll need to break off a piece of dry herb that is not ground, just large enough to cover the hole in the bottom of your piece’s bowl. Place this bit of herb in the bottom of the bowl first, and then pack the ground herb on top of it. The bit of herb will stop the rest from falling through. It will also eventually burn as the rest of the bowl catches fire, so that you aren’t wasting any bit of dry herb.
As mentioned above, this final step is optional but also preferred. If you have a kief stash or a four-piece grinder with a kief catcher, then I highly recommend not skipping it. You’ll want to use your grinder’s scraper tool or a handy dab tool to scoop up a bit of kief. Then you can sprinkle the kief over the top of your perfectly packed herb as the icing on top. It will burn evenly with the rest of the bowl and pack a punch at the beginning for you to enjoy. It also doesn’t hurt to metaphorically sprinkle love and gratitude over the bowl too. Because who doesn’t appreciate something that’s packed with a bit of love and devoted attention?
All that’s left to do is to light up. Some smokers prefer to kick it old school and use a butane lighter or match to set flame to their perfected bowl. But I prefer to use a hemp line or beeswax line instead. This allows more of the taste of your herb to make it through on the inhale, without the hint of butane. It also seems to work better for lighting a smaller portion of the greens, so that you do not torch the entire bowl with one flame.
So next time you are packing a bowl for you and your circle, be sure to follow these simple steps. With a little patience and TLC, you can pack a bowl that will burn perfectly every time.