Can You Smoke Weed With Regular Paper? Rolling Paper Alternatives

Sophia Delphi May 14, 2022 - 7 min read
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It’s late at night, a few friends are visiting – and you realize you’ve run out of rolling papers.

Or maybe you normally use a vaporizer, but it just broke – and you don’t have a pipe or rolling papers on hand.

Or maybe you’ve finally decided to try smoking for the first time, you’ve bought pot – but realize too late that you forgot to buy rolling papers.

What can you do next? Well, you could give up until the next day, or spend several hours decarbing the bud and baking it into brownies. Neither choice is particularly attractive when you’re ready to smoke.

There are several alternatives, and we’ll get to those shortly.

But the one thing you shouldn’t do is grab a piece of regular paper and roll a joint with it.

Let’s find out why.

What Is Rolling Paper Made From?

Just about anyone who’s ever smoked a joint knows that the paper feels different in their hand than a “normal” piece of paper does. Anyone who’s ever rolled a joint certainly realizes that there’s a big difference.

That’s because most of the regular paper is created from wood pulp, which is processed cellulose fiber sourced from trees. By contrast, the papers you’d use to roll a joint usually aren’t made from wood pulp. They’re produced with lightweight natural plant fibers sourced from hemp, flax, rice, or sisal. (Some papers do use a blend of plant fiber and wood pulp.)

Rolling papers are generally much thinner and lighter than a piece of paper from your printer or a notebook. Rolling paper averages between 18 and 28 grams per square meter, while a typical piece of office paper weighs around 80 grams per square meter.

Paper made from plant fiber, particularly hemp, isn’t just easier to roll because it’s thin, but because it’s sturdy at the same time. There’s one other reason that rolling papers are made from plant fiber: it burns much more slowly than regular paper does.

But Can You Smoke Weed With Regular Paper?

Image of Weed in a Paper Roll

You can certainly try, but it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll enjoy the experience.

We’ve already mentioned the physical drawbacks of trying to roll weed on a piece of paper. We’ve also alluded to a big drawback of trying to smoke something wrapped in regular paper: that type of paper burns very, very fast. Even if it doesn’t actually catch fire, you still might burn your fingers or lips, and it will certainly be gone long before the pot you’ve rolled inside of it. (Chances are that a lot of the weed will fall out as the paper burns past it, too.)

We’re not done yet.

Let’s talk about what regular paper looks like white. That’s because it’s usually “bleached” before it’s sold. Paper made from wood pulp contains a substance called lignin, which is largely responsible for wood’s brown color. Bleaching paper creates the white color we expect to see, and it prevents the paper from turning brown over time. Manufacturers don’t use household bleach for the bleaching process; they use chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and chlorine.

Would you want to inhale those chemicals, or the potentially toxic byproducts they can produce when burned, along with your cannabis smoke? We didn’t think so. There might be ink on the paper as well, and it could add to the toxic chemical mix when it’s ignited.

There’s one more problem you’ll have to deal with. The burning paper doesn’t just smell harsh; it tastes harsh, too. If you’re a cougher when you smoke, get ready to cough a lot more. Also, be prepared for the pot to taste nasty.

You should be convinced by now: you can smoke weed with regular paper, but it’s really not a good idea to try it.

Don’t lose hope, though.

Inexpensive Alternatives To Rolling Papers

Obviously, you can go out and buy a cool pipe, a bong, or a vaporizer to avoid the “I’ve run out of papers!” dilemma. However, that might not fit into your budget, you might simply prefer joints – or you may be reading this article because you just realized you’re out of rolling papers and need to find an immediate alternative.

Try these.

Tracing Paper

We can already hear what you’re thinking: “Who in the world has tracing paper lying around their house?”

True. But if you’re artistically inclined, or if you have kids in the house, you may have some sitting in a desk drawer. High-end, thin tracing paper is a decent substitute for rolling paper because it’s about the same thickness and usually doesn’t contain any chemical additives.

That last part is important. It would be easy to grab the parchment paper you have in your kitchen for baking (or decarbing weed) as a substitute for rolling papers, but that would be a mistake. Parchment paper is treated with chemicals like silicone to keep it from burning, and you definitely do not want to inhale those chemical fumes. (Don’t worry about using parchment for decarbing; the chemicals won’t permeate the bud.)

Gum Wrappers

These are almost as satisfactory as tracing paper for rolling joints, and you’re a lot more likely to have them available. If you remove the foil from a chewing gum wrapper, you’re left with a thin piece of paper that hasn’t been chemically treated. It may not be Zig-Zag or OCB but it will do the job, and it may even leave a slightly sweet taste on your lips after a toke.

Empty Cigarettes

Who smokes anymore? Lots of people, even if they don’t admit it or do it in public. If you’re with a group of people, there’s an awfully good chance someone has a pack in their pocket or purse. Just empty out the tobacco from a cigarette, fill the tube with weed, and rip off the filter to make it seem more like a joint. Tell the truth – you did this at least once in high school, didn’t you?

Corn Husks Or Rose Petals

Not only do people really smoke weed with corn husks, but it’s also an extremely common method used in Jamaica. And who knows more about ganja than Jamaicans?

Rose petals are a less-obvious choice, but they’ve become a cool alternative for rolling blunts. You have to briefly heat a few fresh petals in the oven, lay them out and “attach” them, fill the blunt with weed and then heat it once more. It works, though, and not only will you notice a slight floral scent as you smoke, you’ll have a party trick to show off.

Can You Smoke Weed With Regular Paper FAQ

Q: Is it really bad for you to use regular paper if you’re in a pinch?
A: It will definitely be an unpleasant experience. Whether it’s actually bad for you depends on how the paper was bleached to give it its white color. The chlorine that’s often used will release fumes that can cause nausea, vomiting, chest pain, stomach aches, and breathing difficulties – none of which are conducive to a mellow buzz. Sure, the piece of paper you use may not have chlorine in it, but it probably has some other chemicals that could cause similar problems.

Q: What about using wax paper or toilet paper?
A: Wax paper can’t withstand high heat. It starts to smoke, which means you’ll be inhaling wax fumes along with weed smoke. Toilet paper will be difficult to maneuver when you’re rolling, and once your joint is lit, the TP will burn up in a flash. If you’re desperate to try smoking weed with toilet paper, do the smart thing and remove the paper from its cardboard roll. You can then make an improvised pipe by placing an aluminum foil “bowl” at one end of the roll, and inhaling from the other.