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How-To Smoke and Hot Box Safely During Covid-19
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 02/02/2021 in How-To
Updated on February 4, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
After a year of social distancing, you’ve probably thought of every angle to reduce your risks of catching Covid-19. Like Dr. Fauci says, wearing a mask and avoiding crowded places is the first line of defense. Also, we’ve become obsessed with hand sanitizer. Even the Uber drivers have dispensers in their back seats now. Not that you can ever hot box in an Uber.
Mental health experts say that the stress from the pandemic is affecting everyone. Many people who have never experienced prolonged anxiety or depression are now talking to doctors. Some are concerned about their mental health and experiencing symptoms like insomnia, migraines, or chronic fatigue. Did you gain a couple of pandemic pounds already? You aren’t alone.
As we all do our best to navigate the Covid-19 health emergency, we should evaluate where we can reduce risk factors. Even if you aren’t afraid of catching the disease yourself, you feel you are healthy and fit; others may not be.
One of the hard parts for the cannabis community is the isolation. A lot of people enjoy smoking cannabis with their friends. And we can’t do that right now unless everyone gets on Facetime or Zoom. And even then, it’s not the same, is it?
What happens if you are socially distancing but in the same room as other smoking weed people? Can Covid-19 be transmitted in a closed environment? It sure can. And that means thinking about how, and where you smoke, and who’s with you.
What is a ‘Hot Box’ and Why People Do It?
Even if you have never heard of hot boxing, we guarantee you’ve watched about a dozen movies that show how it’s done. If you have a small apartment and you invite a bunch of friends over to ‘bong appetite,’ you already know what happens before the smoke clears.
According to the Urban Dictionary, the official definition of ‘hot boxing’ is: “The practice of smoking marijuana in an enclosed space (e.g., a car or a small room) to maximize the narcotic effect.”
In the movies, we usually see the protagonists hot boxing in a vehicle on the way to White Castle for a burger or something. Do people do it? Of course, they do. Is it a good idea? Not particularly. The worst thing that could happen (aside from getting into an accident while impaired) is pulling up beside a police car when you can barely see out the window.
Hot boxing in the car is the least safe place to try it. Safer alternatives can be your bathroom. Some people use their closets, but then, your clothes will smell like you work at a dispensary. That could be a problem. Other people use one of those popup spray tanning booths. They are cheap, they fold down to nothing, and you can slide it under your bed when you are done.
Can You Hot Box Alone?
Well, that’s an awkward question. You can, but you may not want to mention it to your friends. Hot boxing can be an efficient way to make the most out of your weed. But culturally? It might be a little weird to hot box alone. So, maybe keep it on the down-low.
You need that enclosed (but safe) environment. But you don’t always need to have guests to enjoy hot boxing. As you are smoking your pipe or pre-roll, you will get high. If you hot box solo, you’ll be immersed in more psychoactive smoke. Technically, you may conserve more weed by hot boxing.
You could also buy a gas-mask and get comfortable on your couch. Same difference, and it takes up less space. Just make sure you clean it after every smoke sesh; if you aren’t sure why, maybe stick with a pre-roll or pipe. A cloth with hand sanitizer is a great way to keep your gas-mask free of bacteria.
Until we get the ‘all clear’ to stop social distancing, you might not want to share your Stormtrooper bong mask for the time being. Or maybe… everyone can arrive with a bong mask on instead of the standard cloth mask? May the Force be with you.
Can The Covid-19 Virus Live in Your Bong?
By the time you are done reading this paragraph, you will probably want to soak all your glass in a bowl with a lot of rubbing alcohol. It will get rid of the resin deposits and unclog your bong(s). But one of the other things it will do is sanitize your glass against bacteria and viruses.
Some people are meticulous about the way they clean their pipes. And some people buy a new chillum every week. But if you use a water or ice bong and sit in the open air, you should disinfect it before using it. Every. Single. Time.
We know what you are thinking: “that’s a lot of work.” But the moisture in your bong or water reservoir is the perfect place for a virus to chill out. Not to be too gross, but you are also putting bacteria from mouth to glass when you inhale. Remember, most of the time, the debris that builds up in a bong or pipe isn’t resin. The darker bits are mold and bacteria that have attached to the resin deposits in your pipe.
Rubbing alcohol is also toxic. But it is the most effective way to disinfect your paraphernalia. Just make sure that you are rinsing your glassware really well to get any residual ethyl alcohol. If you don’t rinse and repeat, you could be inhaling toxic chemicals the next time you pack your bowl.
Reduce Your Risk of Contracting the Virus at Home
Remember, Covid-19 can travel into your home with you, on surfaces that you don’t think about. Your smartphone, on your jacket, and even on your dog. Any surface that can hold moisture can be an express lane for the coronavirus.
Healthcare professionals keep a bottle of Lysol by the front door, and they spray their shoes when they get home. And put their clothes straight into the washing machine, and then disinfect their hands with sanitizer. They treat patients with the virus every day and take extreme measures to keep themselves and their families safe.
Keep a bottle of antibacterial and antiviral wipes in your car. If you don’t work from home, make sure your desk drawer has hand sanitizer, wipes, and a couple of extra masks. Put a few masks in your car too, or in your bag. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you forgot your mask when you are heading into a store or your local Starbucks.
Can You Still Smoke Weed if You Get Covid-19?
Some people contract Covid-19 and don’t feel much more than the symptoms of a small cold. Other people develop acute bilateral pneumonia. It’s a life-threatening condition where the lungs fill with fluid. In severe cases, the body can become starved for oxygen.
Cerebral hypoxia is when the brain does not get enough oxygen. It can cause rapid or severe brain damage and sometimes death. People who have more severe symptoms from Covid-19 may not be able to stay awake. They can experience chronic fatigue and loss of energy. Even small levels of activity can make a patient who is Covid-19 positive breathless.
Every individual has to make the best decision for their own health and wellness. However, smoking anything (weed, cigarettes, etc.) can irritate the lungs. And increase inflammation. One of the reasons smokers have a statistically higher rate of complications with Covid-19 is pre-existing conditions like respiratory inflammation.
If you use cannabis for medicinal purposes, there are other options to consider. You may have access to edibles in your state. Edibles provide a smoke -free (and frankly tasty) alternative. And the psychoactive effects of edibles last far longer—up to eight (8) hours in some cases, which is great for pain relief.
Tinctures are also another safe alternative to consider for symptom management. If the idea of putting foul-tasting drops under your tongue offends, consider adding drops to your tea, coffee, or hot chocolate instead.