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Stoned Science: How to Take the Smoothest Hit

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The laws of physics govern the universe, and everything in it—including weed.

Though the properties of physics often evade the thoughts of many cannabis users,  the people who design and create the paraphernalia that we all use must keep physical laws and properties in mind.

Let us discuss the ways that physics penetrate our everyday lives as stoners.

Since physics, at its core, is the most fundamental science, there is not enough time to go into detail on all of the minute complexities. So let’s talk about an important concept that every stoner should keep in their back pocket: heat transfer.

Despite the fact that physics can be a daunting subject, it is surprisingly intuitive.

As my favorite high school teacher, Mr. Science, always said, “Feel the physics!” We will do just that.

One of the more displeasing parts of the smoking experience is the heat of the smoke.

There are many ways to remedy this, such as having a larger distance between the bowl and the mouthpiece, but we all know this; the shorter the piece, the harsher the hit! This is because there is a larger surface area of smoke in contact with the cool glass, transferring heat from the smoke to the glass.

But it doesn’t end there! A substance that is more fluid than glass is desirable. Lucky for us, our planet has a gross abundance of water, which has a high capacity to not only store heat but also conducts heat!

Thus, the reason for bubblers and bongs, but that’s obvious, we have all felt that before.

So it might seem straightforward, add more water and have cooler smoke. Unfortunately, THC is ever so slightly water soluble, so don’t go drinking bong water!

This is where glass designers have really made an impact, with the development of percolators, or “percs.” You see, the goal is to maximize heat loss, while minimizing THC loss.

By increasing the available contact area between smoke and water, we can minimize the amount of water needed—which is why shower-heads, honey-combs and perforated down-stems are so heavily sought after. They create thousands of smoke bubbles, increasing the contact area by many orders of magnitude. Pretty cool, right?

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Cannabis users often carry the label of laziness, which is quite unfortunate. But it is the ingenuity and pure curiosity of potheads that have created a self-sustaining and thriving business of glass design—both scientifically and artistically!

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