Shall I Roll?
May 12, 2008 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Is it safe to roll a joint with paper that isn't intended for rolling, such as a receipt or just regular printer paper? Are there any health concerns I should be aware of?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Rolling papers are typically made from wood pulp, hemp, flax or rice. Receipt/printer paper are not, and are typically bleached. This seems to be a terrible thing to light on fire and inhale into your body. Don't be a lazy stoner, buy papers.
posted by pedmands at 9:09 AM on May 12, 2008

Most normal, non-art papers are wood-pulp-based. Additionally, they are chemically treated with all sorts of brighteners, whiteners and whatnot. So, there's the health problem of inhaling bleach, or something.

Rolling papers are specially made/treated to burn slowly. Normal paper will burn like, well, cheap paper.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:11 AM on May 12, 2008

I've heard of people using tampon wrappers as rolling papers, which seems like it would be safer since the inside needs to remain sterile. But unless you have them lying around, it's probably going to be more embarrassing for you to go buy a box of tampons than a pack of papers.
posted by phunniemee at 9:15 AM on May 12, 2008

I won't even use wood based rolling papers, so I'm gonna say no, make a throw away apple pipe and pick up papers later :)
posted by utsutsu at 9:17 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I suppose if you don't mind smoking fillers like CaCo, clay, or or talc, or sizing like alum-rosin. I don't know what the ramifications are of smoking such things, and I don't know that they aren't in smoking papers. But they are the kind of ingredients you find in white paper.

I don't see how wrapper that is designed to keep something clean or sterile means that the wrapper is made of more inert ingredients. I'd say it was less likely, actually.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:18 AM on May 12, 2008

(regarding tampon wrappers, that is. Some are made of plastic!)
posted by oneirodynia at 9:19 AM on May 12, 2008

It probably won't kill you, but it also won't burn as well or taste as pleasant. (Note: I said 'probably.' If you're rolling a jay with flash paper or Polaroid film or a goddamn bumper sticker or something, I can't be responsible.) I'd advise against it.
posted by box at 9:28 AM on May 12, 2008

I'm going to have to join the chorus here with a resounding "NO!" Especially receipts or anything that have cheap ink printed on them. If you like the idea of inhaling ink fumes, then go nuts but if you can afford pot you can afford rolling papers. Or just get a cheap bowl which is the more economical solution in the long term.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:29 AM on May 12, 2008

If you don't have papers, just use a hot knife and a narrow juice glass to catch the smoke and then "pour" it and inhale. Or use an apple pipe. No sense inhaling who knows what when you have plenty of options for making pot-only smoke sitting around.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:30 AM on May 12, 2008


I've done it and it tastes like shit.

That's all I got.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 9:33 AM on May 12, 2008

This sounds like a job for knife hits!
posted by tatiana wishbone at 9:33 AM on May 12, 2008

Just walk down to the local 7-Eleven and buy the papers for 2 bucks. If you're really paranoid, buy a pouch of tobacco too.

Some receipts are made of a special paper that is heat-sensitive and lets them print receipts without ink. Those kind can't be anywhere near safe to inhale. The other kind is possibly safer, but still contains all sorts of bleach and ink.

Alternately, just go down to the local head shop and buy a bong or a little pipe. Embrace your vice fully and happily.
posted by explosion at 9:36 AM on May 12, 2008

Not to mention most paper isn't going to burn properly. All your weed will go up in smoke before you get to take a puff.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 9:39 AM on May 12, 2008

explosion - you are assuming, I imagine, that anonymous resides in the US and is over the age of 18, and thus is legally able to purchase rolling papers and other smoking implements in stores. This may not be the case.

Anonymous, if you are under age, just try an apple bong like all my high school friends did. Or ask an older person to buy papers for you.
posted by muddgirl at 9:41 AM on May 12, 2008

I have a Bible that loses a page about every three or four months.

I'm not dead yet, but the lack of gum kinda irritates me.

The gold leaf on the edge of the pages can't be good.
posted by Netzapper at 9:45 AM on May 12, 2008 [8 favorites]

What my friends and I used to do is take the filter out of a cigarette, stuff the weed in the open space, and smoke the cigarette backwards. That worked okay. You know, if you can buy cigarettes and you're not against tobacco.

Even the idea of smoking something wrapped in a receipt makes my lungs cower. That has to be a painful experience, and I wouldn't try it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:54 AM on May 12, 2008

Nthing: do not smoke receipts. You have absolutely no idea what chemicals went into manufacturing them, but I can assure you that no one has certified that the end product, when combusted, is safe for human inhalation. Also, they'll burn really fast. I can't imagine that they make a practical substitute for a real rolling paper. Rizla Blue Kingsize, that's what you want.

Absent going to the nearest convenience store, generations of stoners, when faced with your predicament, dug around in their cabinets and junk drawers and went on to invent new and innovative types of bongs. Where is your sense of pride? Pour out that old plastic bottle of flat tonic water and get crafty.
posted by mumkin at 10:01 AM on May 12, 2008

I have often rolled them out of tampax wrappers - not the plastic kind. I learned this invaluable trick in high school. I am still alive but I've also had many more pleasant experiences. Although the look on male faces as you whip out the tampon, unwrap it and start rolling can often be priceless and worth the coughing. I wouldn't, however, try it with anything thicker than a tampax wrapper or, as noted above, a bible page.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:05 AM on May 12, 2008

go buy a 65¢ can of coke. drink it. then use that.

receipts, printer paper, tracing paper and tissue paper do not work well. according to my friend.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:08 AM on May 12, 2008

Use a can of coke, or an apple or a pear.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:20 AM on May 12, 2008

I've read that the coating on thermal paper is nasty enough you shouldn't recycle or compost it, so I'm guessing that burning it and inhaling the smoke is also a nono. Receipts printed using other technologies would be another matter. (Ah, it contains bisphenol A).
posted by hattifattener at 10:30 AM on May 12, 2008

but I can assure you that no one has certified that the end product, when combusted, is safe for human inhalation.

Combusting anything and drawing it in to your lungs is generally considered poor for your health, including the weed which you intend to smoke.
Even infrequent use can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, often accompanied by a heavy cough. Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, a heightened risk of lung infections, and a greater tendency to obstructed airways. - link
I can't imagine the paper is going to add a significant amount of extra risk. That said, you could always eat it or atomize it.
posted by Roger Dodger at 10:32 AM on May 12, 2008

You know they sell papers at your nearest convenience store. They work great.
posted by trbrts at 11:01 AM on May 12, 2008

Don't use an aluminum can. They've got a chemical coating on the inside, and the aluminum itself has been circumstantially linked to Alzheimer's. If there's not an apple growing on a tree near your home, you can probably purchase one at the nearest gas station or convenience store.
posted by contraption at 11:15 AM on May 12, 2008

And if you need a screen, there are generally ones that work fine located in the ends of faucets.

You then use a ballpoint pen to quickly cut your holes (bowl, mouth and carb) in the apple.

Just sayin'.
posted by klangklangston at 11:30 AM on May 12, 2008

Yes there are real health issues here. Inks are toxic and breathing them in cant be good for you. Many receipts are on thermal paper (turn black when heated) which is a mash of toxic chemicals. Unless youre looking to bring cancer into your life I suggest going with normal papers or moving to a vaporizer, or quitting.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:31 AM on May 12, 2008

You'll be fine. Whatever is on the paper is not present in significant enough quantities to make any real difference.
posted by electroboy at 11:32 AM on May 12, 2008

As mumkin mentioned above, this is not a problem -- this is an opportunity.

You should find a screen inside your faucet. Unscrew the end, and the screen (which should be made of copper) will fall into your hand. Sweet. Pipe, part one.

Now, look around your apartment. Do you have any two-liter soft drink bottles? And a bucket? And some aluminum foil? You, my friend, have the makings of a gravity bong. At least, that's what we used to call them. I've heard kids refer to them these days as "doing buckets".

Cut the plastic bottle in half, discard the bottom. Use aluminum foil to create a bowl. The point is to use enough foil so that the plastic won't melt and kill you with toxic fumes. Don't seat the bowl inside the opening -- build up a few inches of foil as a heat sink/radiator. Insert screen. With the bowl off the bottle, sink the bottle in the bucket of water until only the top protrudes. Put the (filled) bowl back on the bottle, apply flame, slowly lift the bottle up. Suction will draw smoke down into the chamber.

Take the bowl off, apply lips to bottle, inhale as you plunge the bottle down into the water-filled bucket, filling your lungs with fragrant smoke.

Repeat as necessary.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:42 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Supposedly, the Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin burned through all the pages of the only copy of a now-lost book manuscript while he was exiled by Stalin in some godforsaken gulag in Kazakhstan or thereabouts. One page at a time, he used his book to roll cigarettes until it was gone. Very romantic.

But he didn't have a deli on the corner selling Bambus for 75 cents, dude.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:24 PM on May 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

Two or three of the smallest pebbles you can find can also function as a screen in a pinch.
posted by danOstuporStar at 1:00 PM on May 12, 2008

All you ned is tinfoil and a pin to make a few holes.
posted by fixedgear at 1:47 PM on May 12, 2008

The aluminum foil has the same problem as aluminum cans.
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on May 12, 2008

You could also dig up a gravesite and make yourself a nice skull bong -- apparently it works!
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:46 AM on May 13, 2008

I know this couple that claims rolling with a page out of the Lonely Planet (glossy color pictures) gave them both a really bad high. Bleached paper, gloss, colors -- all of that has bad chemicals, I think. I vote against the idea.
posted by salvia at 1:30 AM on May 14, 2008

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