Does Hotboxing Actually Get You Higher?
Published on 8/26/19
Updated: Feb 18, 2022
Unless you're very, very new to the legal weed industry, you've likely heard the term "hotboxing" before. We'd argue that the term is as recognizable as other cannabis industry staples that have bled into the mainstream like calling a joint a "J," calling cannabis smoke stuff like "clouds," and common hip-hop terms like "OG," "kush," and, for the old-school stoners reading, "mary jane." But, with the legal cannabis industry rapidly growing in popularity all over the U.S. and approval for legal weed at an all-time high, it's only natural for newbies to be standing in dispensaries alongside cannabis aficionados. So, for all you legal cannabis newbies out there or for you O.G. stoners who need a refresh, we here at Where's Weed want to give a comprehensive breakdown of what exactly hotboxing is, how and why it's been done by stoners for decades now, and figure out once and for all if it actually works in the first place!
Does Hotboxing Actually Work?
The underlying logic is all about efficiency. Why waste all those breaths in between hits off the joint? What if those inhalations could be made more productive, namely by adding some THC into those breaths between hits? In theory, you'll get more THC into your lungs with smoke in the air and in turn, you'll get higher during the smoke session. Or at the very least, that's the basic idea behind the practice. But that still raises the question. Does it actually work and get you higher than you would be outside of the hot box? According to science, the answer is seemingly yes.
In 2015, researchers studied whether or not secondhand cannabis smoke could get you high. What those researchers were unknowingly testing, however, was the idea of hotboxing. They replicated "extreme conditions" of secondhand smoke by putting people in small ventilated or unventilated rooms. Turns out, there was some effect. That study found that "all six nonsmokers who spent an hour exposed to secondhand smoke in the unventilated room under extreme conditions had detectable amounts of THC in their urine and blood," which told researchers that just the act of sitting in the same A poorly ventilated space as someone else can actually work to get you a little buzzed. One of the six smokers even had enough trace THC to fail a Federal Workplace drug test! The test didn't find the same results when people were put into ventilated rooms with fans which, when applied to the hotbox, is further confirmation that it is an act best performed in a confined and closed-off space.
However, the results should be taken with a grain of salt. While it shows that hotboxing works (at least to some degree), it also shows that everyone in the hotbox has to be committed. A hotbox is no place for ride-alongs, so you're going to get a bit of THC if you're inside even if you never take a hit off the bong, joint, vape, or blunt being passed around. That passive consumption could, according to the study's results, cause you to fail a drug test. Be sure to go into any hotbox knowing what you're fully signing up for.
Pros and Cons of Hotboxing
The biggest pro of hotboxing beyond the cool, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" aesthetics of a smoked-out room is probably the efficiency. As mentioned before, you're getting a bit of THC in every breath during a hotbox, even after the joint has been passed far beyond you. There are none of those pesky normal breaths going in, and if your goal is maximum THC consumption with as little effort as possible, hotboxing will get the job done.
It's also a great communal way to smoke. Ideally, you're hanging out with friends, while getting the munchies in a confined space. Smoking in a dingy basement or a car parked in a grocery store parking lot can be just plain fun. Seasoned stoners tend to pick smoke spots that are discrete and create natural hotboxes anyways, so it only makes sense to extend the idea on purpose, right?
Although hotboxing is great, be careful how long you do it! In a true hotbox situation, where you're hermetically sealed into a tight space, you will eventually start to run out of oxygen if the season runs too long.
How to Hotbox Anywhere
Theoretically, any smoking device where there's a lighter involved works for hotboxing. Trying to hotbox with a vaporizer might be healthier but it also has some clear downsides. For starters, it just doesn't work very well. That vapor is thinner and fades away quicker than actual smoke does, which lessen the effect of the hotbox as a whole. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, it is just kind of dorky. Bongs and pipes could work, so long as you're constantly feeding the bowl with fresh kindling. Dabbing can work too and will provide a more misty, concentrated smoke that's likely to be stronger than the smoke from a standard joint or blunt full of dried cannabis flower.
If you're asking us here at Where's Weed, we think there's only one true way to hotbox: smoking joints and/or blunts that typically produce the most ambient, auxiliary smoke. A room filled with people's exhalations and fresh, THC-rich smoke will get you the highest, plain and simple. Go in with a handful of joints rolled and smoke them either one after the other or all at the same time.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, hotboxing is a deeply communal experience that's meant to be shared with friends. While it's of course possible to hotbox yourself, it's just not as fun as with buddies. If you've never done it before, we highly recommend trying it out at least once. Just make sure that you have a safe spot, your munchies are already secured, and you and your buddies are ready to have a great time before you do so!
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