Covid-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of daily life – including smoke sessions, from preparation to smoking and cleanup. What was once a close-quarters social event has become a socially distanced (or solitary) activity, enjoyed with extreme caution. Depending on your local laws, bylaws, or mandates, your smoking may look different from others. Be sure to check your area’s current rules before gathering to smoke or socialize.
Covid-Adapted Preparation Practices
Before sitting down to your smoke session, be sure to work within your local gathering limit. Check with your co-smokers to make sure that nobody is waiting on test results, showing symptoms, or living with anyone who is currently positive. Wash your hands, sanitize, and do not touch your mouth or face unless you plan to wash and sanitize again.
Only touch the herb that you are going to be smoking – all parties should grind their own herb and smoke from their own devices.
Try to touch your herb as little as possible. If you are still using a manual grinder, consider upgrading to an herb grinder with a touchless dispensing system to limit the amount of herb handling that you have to do.
Covid-Conscious Smoking Methods
If possible, smoke outside with at least 6 feet (2 meters) between you and others. Do not blow smoke toward your co-smokers and try to avoid windy days where other’s smoke might be blown toward you. Definitely no hotboxing with others outside of your household. Each smoker should use their own grinder and piece (or even better, roll your herb to decrease the need to clean an additional item), which should be cleaned thoroughly between uses.
Make sure you know how to properly clean your grinder.
If you are using a plastic, wood, or stone grinder, follow your grinder’s specific instructions for cleaning. If you aren't sure exactly what type of grinder you have, check out the definitive guide to herb grinders to find out.
Disinfecting Techniques in the Covid Era
Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) is a great solvent for cleaning grinders. It is a disinfectant and prevents bacterial/viral growth, but also dissolves herbal residues such as oils and physical material and takes a lot of work out of straight scrubbing. After your grinder has been cooled off in the freezer and the biggest pieces of herbs removed, you can use isopropyl alcohol to clean it out. However, if you don’t need the deepest of cleans, you can just start with the isopropyl alcohol since it is a great cleaner.
If you are doing a deep clean, you can place metal pieces of your grinder in a container with isopropyl alcohol (such as the grinding head, not an entire electric grinder) and let it sit for 30 minutes before carrying on with the process. If you’re doing a quicker clean, then simply spraying some isopropyl alcohol into the grinder or putting it on the brush is enough to get the grinder reasonably clean. Once the alcohol has been applied to the grinder and has had the time to soak into the plant material, use a brush to gently remove the debris from the grinder. Once you’ve cleaned out debris, run the grinder under hot water and blot dry with a paper towel or a rag and allow the grinder to air dry.
Covid-19 Specific Smoking Precautions
If you are smoking with others, be sure you have their contact information for future tracing, in case someone in your group gets sick. Be sure to be honest about any symptoms you may have – it would be much better to smoke alone than to inadvertently make your friends or their families sick!
The biggest thing you can do while smoking to prevent the spread of diseases and germs is to not share your herb, grinders, tools, or pieces. Not sharing is caring in the era of Covid!
For more facts about smoking cannabis and the corona virus check out this talk with Dr. Rebecca Siegel: