By Sean Z
Science is a natural friend of cannabis. It investigates the alleged risks and possible health benefits through its objective, neutral microscope. Thanks to it, we’ve learnt that cannabis really isn’t that dangerous, and that it has “enormous” clinical potential. There is a need however, for some more light-hearted cannabis research. Nobody is going to task a team of graduates to find out the answers to debates that crop up within the community. We should start to apply the scientific method ourselves. If somebody tells you that a certain set of rolling papers burns more slowly than others, you just have to take their word for it. You make a subjective, stoned analysis and maybe decide to switch your brand. I think we should put these claims to the test like bleary-eyed, giggling scientists!
I’ve decided to test whether or not “baptizing” your joints really makes a difference. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s the idea that if you moisten your joints before smoking them, it will burn more slowly and you’ll get higher as a result. Some people swear by it, but many smokers don’t do it. It’s not exactly suitable for when you’re smoking with others (unless they don’t mind your saliva) but on your own, is it really the best way to go? It could be argued that the paper isn’t moist enough after a baptism to make it burn much slower or that paper doesn’t make a vast amount of difference anyway. The only way to answer this persistent question is to smoke cannabis in the name of science.
Scientific experiments are all about removing variables. If I was to just time myself smoking some normal joints and then smoking some baptized ones I might not get an accurate result. There is a chance that one time I would be smoking more quickly or taking more in with each drag. To eliminate this, I set some ground rules. After a “test” smoke, I decided one three-second toke every 40 seconds was about right. Then any variations in the time it takes can’t be attributed to how green-hungry I happened to be. There’s still the possibility that I inhaled more sometimes (by toking more sharply), but I couldn’t devise a solution to that which didn’t involve robotic smoking machines. I just tried to inhale normally every time.
The experiment was simple. I smoke a few “heathen” joints (un-baptized) and some baptized ones, time myself while taking regular drags, and see what happened. So I did. In retrospect, my 40 second period between drags was a little too long for me, and controlling yourself while getting high isn’t easy. I’d bring the joint to my lips then catch my stopwatch running out of the corner of my eye and have to wait. If I accidently inhaled — which happened a couple of times — I classed it as an “early” drag for the upcoming slot and skipped it.
I classed joints as “out” when they could no longer be smoked, which meant I burnt my lips a couple of times. If it was near to the end and burnt out, I checked to see if it was empty, and if it was I stopped the timer. I also tried to standardize my baptizing, so I’d wet my lips and pull the joint through them once, and slowly. There are some uncontrolled variables in my experiment, such as how well packed the joints were (and I smoke weed with tobacco, so the ratio is also an issue) and the small sample (three joints of each), but overall, I think it was a pretty solid test. Plus, it’s good science-form to point out the potential issues with any experiment.
I found that baptizing joints does actually make a difference. The average smoking time for the control (heathen) group was 10 minutes and 30 seconds. In the baptized group, it was 11 minutes 38 seconds, over one minute more. A minute might not seem like a lot, but a ten percent increase in smoking time for a little saliva isn’t bad.
The science behind this increase in smoking time is pretty simple. Things combust when they combine with oxygen, so water, which is made of both hydrogen and oxygen, is just burnt hydrogen. You can’t burn it again. When water is heated sufficiently, it becomes water vapour and flies off into the atmosphere. So when you smoke a baptized joint, the saliva (which is mainly water) absorbs the heat energy and eventually turns into a gas. The water is basically stealing the energy away from your joint, so there isn’t as much there to burn it. The temperature is lower, and it burns slower.
So when you’re on your own, according to my research, you might as well baptize your joints. With others it’s a different matter. Personally, I see no problem with smoking a saliva-covered joint — it evaporates anyway — but some people might not share my opinion. Plus, sometimes you can go too far with baptizing joints and have to dry them before you smoke. In researching this article, I learnt that some people baptize more heavily than I did, so I did a final timed test. I baptized it so much the rolling paper was pretty transparent and got 11 minutes 25 seconds, which is in line with the other baptized joint results.
At the end of experiment write-ups, you’re supposed to suggest areas for further research. My main suggestion is just to test anything you’re not sure about. The next time somebody tells you a “tip” that you don’t know whether to believe, take a leaf out of science’s book and test it. It’s likely to involve smoking marijuana, so why not? We can add to our collective knowledge productively and help everybody in their quest to get high.
Sean Z – Spice Incense | Legal Herb