You’ve seen it in every stoner movie. Stoners are piled into a car or a closet, smoking until they can’t see their hands in front of their face. It’s like an all-encompassing weed chamber, and the idea behind it is that it’s going to get you much higher than simply smoking your weed. There’s also that satisfying moment of opening a door or a window and watching all the clouds dissipate as new air circulates within the space.
Hotboxing is a stoner’s love letter to smoking. It’s alleged to elevate the experience and help weed go further. If you subscribe to the theory of hotboxing, you probably won’t like us very much by the time we’re through here.
The theory of hotboxing
When you inhale your weed, you’re taking in cannabinoids and terpenes that work to create the perfect high. They’re activated by the heat and turned into smoke that delivers them to your body. A few minutes after your first inhale, you’re feeling pretty good. But what about the rest of the smoke?
Theoretically, the smoke you exhale and the smoke that naturally wafts off of the end of your joint or blunt should also contain cannabinoids. Hotboxing is a way to avoid wasting it. If you fill a small space with the smoke, making your own version of a weed sauna, the theory is that you should get even higher. The cannabinoids can’t go anywhere, and you’re constantly breathing them in.
This theory makes plenty of sense. It’s a reasonable and logical assumption. It’s similar to the assumption that eating all the food on your plate will make you fuller and provide you with greater satiety. When you hotbox, you’re eliminating the chance that any part of your weed will go to waste.
If only it actually worked that way.
What the studies say
Most of what we scientifically understand about hotboxing is the result of a series of studies conducted on cannabis smoking in a small, non-ventilated area. The group was split into two: non-cannabis users, and cannabis smokers. Six smokers were given a few joints and placed in specially designed scientific hotbox chambers with non-smokers and told to light up.
After an hour, everyone was released from the chamber and cannabinoid levels in blood and urine were measured.
The study was then repeated in a room with better ventilation to prevent the hotboxing effect. This was used as the control measure. If hotboxing had any effect on people, detectable THC levels in the body should be different in a ventilated space versus a non-ventilated space.
Hotboxing only works for non-smokers, and even still, it’s mild.
The non-smokers did inhale enough weed in the hotbox scenario to produce detectable levels of THC in their blood and urine. Many of them reported feeling slightly impaired and mildly sedated. They caught a light buzz and were slightly sleepy.
The non-smokers in a ventilated room resulted in barely detectable levels of THC and no detectable impairment.
What about the people who smoked?
The people who smoked didn’t get any more or less high depending on the environment. The differences in cannabinoid levels were insignificant, with no meaningful difference between smoking in a ventilated room or smoking in a hotbox.
The simplest explanation? If you’re already smoking weed, it doesn’t necessarily matter to your body if you’re baking in the clouds or not.
Hotboxing pros and cons
Smoking weed in a car isn’t a smart idea. If your car reeks of weed and if you’re clearly behind the wheel under the influence, you’re almost begging for problems. You may not be able to notice the smell, but everyone else will.
Even if recreational weed is legal, driving under the influence is not. There is currently no reliable or accurate way to determine how high a driver is, and this adds to the level of complication.
It’s better to avoid filing a car with weed at all costs. You don’t want to find yourself in a complicated situation with potentially serious legal consequences, especially since hotboxing doesn’t even work. It’s all risk and no reward.
In addition to the issues surrounding the legality of hotboxing, you’re going to be dealing with a really dank smell for a really long time. Your whole car will smell like weed. Every part of your body and every article of clothing you’re wearing is going to smell like weed. After you hotbox, it’s almost impossible to tone down the loud.
Just smoke a blunt on the back porch and change your hoodie when you’re done. You’ll get to enjoy your high, you won’t be in a claustrophobic space where you can’t breathe, and you won’t have a laundry list of issues to sort out when you’re done.
How to (actually) get higher
If you’re hotboxing because you want to get higher or get high without smoking, there are undoubtedly better ways to go about it. These methods won’t turn your car into a permanent dank-mobile or stink up everything in your closet. Better still, they’ll produce more effective results than hotboxing, especially if you’re a smoker.
Getting high as a non-smoker
If you prefer to sit in a hotboxed area because you don’t like smoking weed but you want to experience its effects, here’s great news. You can eat your weed, drink your weed, or use it as a tincture. A very low dose edible or a modest dose of a tincture will produce a noticeable mild high. If you’re looking to get slightly elevated without soaring, break a 5 mg edible in half. A 2.5 mg edible will produce an effect similar to the effect you get from hotboxing.
You can also use a tiny amount of a cannabis tincture that’s balanced with CBD. Just a few drops will give you a mellow ride that lasts for hours.
If you’re looking to get higher than you ordinarily do in a hotbox situation, take a whole 5mg edible or use a full dose of cannabis tincture. You might want to try a very low dose for your first time to see how it makes you feel. Remember — you can always add, but you can’t take away. It’s better to have an underwhelming experience and go all in next time than it is to be committed to a high that’s too intense. Be patient to dial it in.
Getting higher as a smoker
The key to getting higher is to increase the amount of THC you’re consuming. When you’re smoking weed, you’re somewhat limited. The most potent flowers just scrape the bottom of 30% THC by weight. If you’ve been smoking for a long time and you’ve developed a solid tolerance, 30% probably isn’t going to do much for you.
Switching to vape concentrates, extracts, and distillates can get you higher without much effort. Vaping a distillate that’s above 90% will kick you directly in the pants, very hard, even if you’ve been smoking flower daily for a decade.
Don’t go all-in with extremely potent concentrates. You should take a puff or do a dab, take a few minutes to see how you feel, and then decide whether or not you need more. Vape products, concentrates, and distillates are a completely different world. Low and slow is your best approach until you understand exactly how they’re going to affect you.
We’re not here to tell you that you can’t hotbox anymore. We’re only here to tell you to consider the implications of hotboxing and shed light on some of the consequences that you’ll have to deal with later.
It’s gonna take a while for that smell to come out. In addition to the baked-in weed smell, hotboxing doesn’t do much to provide a better experience for smokers or for people who want a contact high. There’s always a better way.
Emjay can help improve your experience. We offer a wide selection of highly concentrated cannabis products, including distillates and edibles. If you want to get higher, even without smoking, there’s no reason to make your upholstery suffer. Best of all, you don’t even need to be patient. Place your order and we’ll be at your doorstep with what you need in about half an hour.