A pack of rolling papers lasts forever. It’s never at the top of your shopping list. Since you need to buy them so infrequently, you may be surprised to find the bottom of the package. This usually happens at the most inconvenient time, like when you’ve got a whole gram of freshly ground weed in your grinder and a friend who was excited to smoke and binge-watch the next season of your favorite show together.
Before you rip your high school diploma off the wall and use that to roll a joint, stop and think critically. You probably have plenty of better rolling paper alternatives in your house or garden. If you don’t, there’s always the alternative option of creating a DIY pipe.
What you shouldn’t use as rolling papers
You probably don’t want to use something covered in ink, dye, metals, plastic, wax, or other additives. If you’re a connoisseur, you know what’s in the weed you’re smoking. The last thing you want to do is combine that weed with unnecessary chemicals and inhale them both simultaneously.
You shouldn’t use junk mail, magazine pages, bleached printer paper or notebook paper, a paper that’s been dyed a different color, paper meant for cooking, pieces of a paper grocery bag, or book pages.
You may have heard that bible pages make the best rolling papers. It’s definitely true that bible paper is thin, pliable, and burns evenly. If you don’t have any moral objections (or if you aren’t thinking about how upset your grandma would be), you can technically use something like a bible page. Just keep in mind that you’ll be inhaling the ink on that page. If possible, choose a page with a large blank portion to roll with.
1. Plain tissue paper
Plain tissue paper is similar enough to rolling paper. If you’re the kind of person who saves your old gift bags or boxes to reuse them when the holidays roll around, you might have some plain white tissue paper hanging out in the back of a closet.
The tissue paper will burn faster than rolling papers. It’s also a little thinner. You’ll need to be patient when you’re rolling a tissue paper joint, and you’ll want to avoid allowing anyone to bogart it. It definitely won’t go at a leisurely pace, but it’ll get the job done when there is no better option.
2. An empty cigarette
Remember that pack of American Spirits you keep in the freezer for the occasional night out? It may be time to thaw one or two. You can empty out a whole cigarette and pack the body like you would pack a hemp cone, or you can partially empty the body and turn it into a spliff. It all depends on if the person you’re sharing with is comfortable using tobacco or if you’re in the mood to use tobacco.
Mixing your weed with tobacco will change the way it tastes and burns. If you’re getting close to the bottom of your stash jar, it might help your weed last a little longer to stretch it with tobacco. What you choose to do is a matter of personal preference.
3. Paper gum wrappers
All gum wrappers have a paper side. Some have aluminum on one side and paper on the other. You can technically separate the aluminum from the paper and toss the aluminum layer out, but this is labor-intensive and time-consuming. You need to be really patient and committed to it in order to make it work.
Alternatively, there are gum wrappers made solely of paper. These are much easier from the jump. All-paper wraps are typically used for smaller pieces of gum, and the end result will be a joint that’s a little shorter than usual.
If you’re looking to roll up a lot, you might want to roll two. Use something small as the crutch. If you’re rolling a fusilli doink, cut a single piece of pasta into thirds to avoid allowing the pasta to monopolize your valuable weed real estate.
4. Corn husks
It’s time to make weed tamales! If you cook a lot of traditional Mexican dishes at home or if you buy your corn fresh, you’re in luck. Corn husks are nature’s paper. They have the right texture and pliability to allow you to roll a joint or even a blunt.
Native American tribes used to use corn husks to make many things, including cigarettes. The hit is a little harsher than it would be from a plain rolling paper, but corn husks are completely natural. If your husks aren’t pre-dried, putting them in the oven on low heat for about half an hour should help a substantial amount of moisture evaporate before you roll-up.
5. Organic flower petals
Rose petal joints are kind of bougie, but you might be feeling it. If you have food-grade flowers or organic flowers in your garden, you can use some of their bright and floral goodness to make your smoking experience a little more special.
Rose petals are generally smaller than rolling papers. The end result will be similar to a baby joint. If you love floral flavors, it’s worth the effort to roll a couple. You might like flower petal joints enough to roll them up even when you have papers.
Rose petals are naturally very wet. You can gently toast them under your broiler for five to ten seconds to encourage the moisture to evaporate without toasting the petals. Roll up your rose petal joint with a natural crutch and put it back under the broiler for just a couple seconds to help dry it into its final shape. It’s a little more efficient on time if you roll up a few at once.
Smoking out of fruits and vegetables
Any dense fruit or vegetable can be used to make an improvised pipe. Apples, pears, cucumbers, zucchini, and pineapples make excellent smoking devices. All you need to do is carve out a bowl, cut in a carb, and hollow out a pipe. You can use a screwdriver or a skewer to make the pipe tunnel and the carb hole. A melon baller or a small knife will help to make the bowl.
Start at the top or the end of your fruit or vegetable to carve out the bowl. Use a safety pin to poke a bunch of very tiny holes to allow for airflow.
If you have an extra pipe screen handy, use it. Use a poking object to create a small tunnel to connect the side of your fruit or vegetable to the bowl. This is your carb. Poke a hole on the other side to use as a mouthpiece.
Repurposing other smoking devices
If you went through a hookah phase and you still have one in the back of your closet, take it out. A hookah might burn through your weed much faster than a pipe would, but it functions similarly to a bong. It’s also more convenient if you’re sharing your weed with at least one other person. With hookah, everyone can smoke at the same time.
If you have a dab rig, you can remove the nail and put in a regular bowl attachment to use it as a bong. If you only have a dab setup, you can turn your weed into rosin and vaporize it through the rig. Wrap a nug up in parchment paper like a burrito, taking care to tuck the edges. Heat up a hair straightener and press the weed between the hot plates for 15 to 20 minutes, continuously applying pressure. The resin should leak out of the bud.
Allow your parchment parcel to cool for a few minutes and open it up. Use a dab tool or a spoon to scrape the resin off of the paper. You can load it into your dab rig and vaporize it the same way you’d vaporize any other cannabis extract.
Smokers are among the most resourceful people. When they really want to smoke a joint and chill out, they’ll figure out a way to do it. Choosing natural or minimally processed rolling paper alternatives will always be the best bet. Converting fruit or vegetables into a pipe is also a better idea than using plastic or aluminum.
If you’re in a bind without papers, why not let us help? Emjay delivers cannabis and accessories to the Los Angeles area. If you can wait half an hour, we can bring you papers, a hand pipe, weed, or pre-rolls. We’re always here when you’re running low.