July 27, 2022

Hotboxing: A Common Practice Used By Smokers - Is It Safe?

“Hotboxing” is a term you have no doubt probably heard before. And while it may not be as popular as delta 8 gummies, it’s definitely something with which every cannabis enthusiast is familiar. Heck, anyone who’s smoked some herb has attempted to fill a room with some smoke. At the very least, all of us have seen a stoner flick or two where someone has tried it, be it Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar. 

The point is, most of us know what "hotboxing" looks like. We can all picture two friends sharing a joint in a smoke-filled car with all the windows rolled up. But hotboxing your vehicle is one of many ways to enjoy this sweet rite of stoner passage. Sure, it’s a classic, but in the era of legal weed, where many (though not all) of us are free to smoke wherever and whenever we want, our options for hotboxing are greater than ever.

What Is Hotboxing With Cannabis?

So, hotboxing with cannabis — what is it, and why would anyone want to do it in the first place? Well, simply put, "hotboxing" is a term that describes smoking cannabis in a closed environment like a car or a closet, hence the term. Large groups of people (hopefully friends!) cram themselves together into a car, tent, or their mom’s basement — any space where they can block the airflow. 

Then what? Experienced hot boxers know that this is where the fun begins! You start passing around the ganja until the space becomes engulfed in smoke. Some of those who are really dedicated to the practice of hotboxing believe a person can alter their consciousness without touching a joint. 

Some even say that the perfect hotbox can achieve highly dense clouds, though others believe this is just a myth. 

And this is no modern-day invention either. Unlike the 420 holiday, which has its roots in 1970s California, hotboxing goes back thousands of years. Nomadic warriors known as the Scythians used hotboxing as part of their funeral rites — though back then, the mood was much more somber.

Hotboxing: A Common Practice Used By Smokers - Is It Safe?

Before you hop in your car, closet, or whatever small space you can secure, you probably want to know if your actions are on the level. Sure, hotboxing is epic — it’s a common practice used by smokers — but is it safe? 

Well, like cannabis itself, hotboxing is exceptionally safe, assuming you take the proper precautions. Following the right steps when hotboxing will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience (and really, that's why we're doing this in the first place!). The truth is, hotboxing is as safe as smoking a joint.

A few quick tips right up front for those of you hotboxing for the first time:

  • If you're in a moving car, DON'T HOTBOX! While this should go without saying, we want to be clear here.

  • Always hotbox in a safe location. 

  • If doing it in a car, never do such near children. 

  • If doing it in a room, be aware of any lingering smell (You want to be courteous to your neighbors).

  • Never hotbox unless everyone in the room or car says yes!

Why Do People Hotbox?

Like most things cannabis, people hotbox because they enjoy the specific high it gives them. Some say it offers a better high, while others say it gets them higher. What we do know for sure, it’s a way to get high, and that’s why people love it. Plus, it’s a way to get high with friends, and who doesn’t love that?

Hotboxing is like inhaling weed twice — once from your joint and once from the smoke in the room. And while secondhand smoke won’t get you too high, the combination of first- and secondhand smoke will get you blasted. It’s like dipping your Frosted Flakes in sugar.

People like doing fun things, and the truth is, hotboxing is just good old-fashioned fun. These days legal weed is a corporate, professional, boring thing. Hotboxing keeps it exciting.

Picture this — you’re in a room filled with your friends, smoking weed, and you’ve got a good buzz going. All of your troubles begin to melt away. 

That’s why people hotbox.

Does Hotboxing Get You Higher?

Okay, so people love hotboxing. Lots of people even believe hotboxing gets them higher. The faithful even say that hotboxing takes them to another plane of consciousness. 

But what does the evidence say about hotboxing?

Well, in 2015, researchers at Johns Hopkins University set out to answer that very question. They conducted a study in a small, enclosed, unventilated room — you guessed it, a hot box — with two groups of six people. The first group was smokers, and the second were nonsmokers. All those fancy degrees, and these folks are hotboxing it in the Ivy League!

Long story short, the nonsmokers felt high after sitting in the non-ventilated room. That’s what we call science!

But the results went further than that. “Exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke under unventilated conditions produced detectable cannabinoid levels in blood and urine, minor increases in heart rate, mild to moderate self-reported sedative drug effects, and impaired performance on the Digit Symbol Substitution Task (DSST),” the study noted in its results. 

The study continued: “One urine specimen tested positive at using a 50 ng/mL cut-off and several specimens were positive at 20 ng/mL. Exposure under ventilated conditions resulted in much lower blood cannabinoid levels, and did not produce sedative drug effects, impairments in performance, or positive urine screen results.”

But we don’t need science to tell you that hotboxing works. Even with the Johns Hopkins study, we have anecdotal evidence from hot boxers across the globe that prove hotboxing work. Heck, Cheech and Chong have made a living because this stuff works!

From Vice, "How to Hotbox an Outhouse With A Shop-Vac"

Safety Concerns

As we noted earlier, hotboxing is one of the safest activities you can partake in, provided you follow a few simple rules. After all, like cannabis itself, hotboxing has minimal dangers. However, is there anyone who shouldn’t hotbox?

Well, we’ll refer back to the Johns Hopkins study (and we’re all wondering how we can participate in such an excellent study!). Because the truth is, there are a few people who probably shouldn’t hotbox. They include:

  • Nonsmokers

  • People who need to pass a drug test

  • People who need to operate heavy machinery

  • People who need to be alert for work

  • People who need to drive a car

Why? The Johns Hopkins study noted that hotboxing could cause positive drug tests, even for those who don’t smoke a joint. "We found positive drug effects in the first few hours, a mild sense of intoxication and mild impairment on measures of cognitive performance," says senior author Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D. An associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins in a statement

"These were relatively slight effects, but even so, some participants did not pass the equivalent of a workplace drug test," Vandrey continued.

So, if for any reason you know you’re going to have to pass a drug screen or be alert at work, save the hotbox for another day.

What About Hotboxing and COVID-19?

The one thing that seems to put a dent in all of our fun, whether it’s hotboxing or just giving out hugs, is the coronavirus. Smoking a joint with friends is something we all love to do. Heck, hotboxing is a social activity by nature. Still, while the pandemic is still going strong, it’s best to keep the hotboxing to those who are close — and those you know are vaccinated. The good news? You can hotbox alone, even if it’s not as fun

Hotboxing, much like delta 8, is a legal grey area. The law doesn't specifically say no, but if a cop pulls up to your car while you're doing it, don't expect them to walk away with just giving you a warning.

And if you drive your car while hotboxing it, expect a DWI, so please don't do that. Heck, you don't even have to be driving the car in most places. You can just be sitting in an idle car hotboxing and get a DWI. And then there's the issue of drug possession because don't forget cannabis isn't legal in many places yet.

Hotboxing in your own house is different unless you live in an apartment (or have very nosy neighbors). As long as you keep things quiet, you should be fine. Never hotbox on a property that you don't own.

How To Hotbox: A Step-By-Step Guide

So you now you want to hotbox (safely, of course). Check out our step-by-step guide on how to hotbox like the pros, and before you know it, you’ll go from getting high to reaching a new plane of consciousness. 

Step 1: Choose a Space

Choosing the right space is the most important part of the hotboxing process. Do you want to do this in your car, tent, or house? Where you decide to hold the hotbox can affect the entire experience, so make sure you choose wisely!

Step 2: Find Some Friends

You only want the best of the best for your hotboxing experience. Gather a group of your closest and chillest friends — the people you know will make the experience relaxing and fun. Forget those who will cause drama because this is a drama-free space. And don’t forget, you need lots of people too. After all, you must create enough smoke to make the box hot! And, always throw an invite out to anyone with some really good weed (it’s always a courtesy to do so!).

Step 3: Hydrate

Listen, you’re about to enter a claustrophobic space filled with smoke. Sure, it will be grade-A cannabis smoke, but smoke nonetheless. You’ll be talking and laughing and having a great time. Make sure you hydrate ahead of time because the last thing you want to do is pass out in the middle of this sesh!

Step 4: Prepare a Stress-Free Environment

A hotbox is a cool place. There’s no room for drama or stress in here. Make sure your phone is off. Also, keep everyone informed. Invite the neighbors, so you don’t risk an angry knock on the door halfway through the event. You should take care of anything you need to do to keep the party relaxed ahead of time.

Step 5: Prepare Your Hotbox Space

Once you’re in the right headspace and you’ve taken care of all the pre-hotbox necessities, it’s time to prep the hotbox. First things first, get all of your bud ready. That means you should roll all of your joints and blunts, pack your bowls and pipes beforehand. No one wants to step into a hotbox and have to do work. Assign your guests different things to bring so there’s a diversity of party favors — different strains and whatnot! 

Most importantly, make sure you have plenty of lighters! This thing doesn’t work without a little fire.

Step 6: Set the Mood

A hotbox shouldn’t feel like the smoking section at an airport. You want to set a mood and an atmosphere here. Get some music going, set up some blankets, and make sure the temperature is just right (especially if you're outdoors in a tent).

Step 7: Enter and Seal

Once you and your buds (and your bud) enter the hotbox, it’s time to seal things up. Use towels to block gaps, close vents, and shut windows. It’s about to get fun!

Step 8: Buzz

This is where you feel the buzz in your box. Spend the next three to five hours enjoying the peace, calm, and relaxation with your friends. Talk about the universe and your life. Tune out the rest of the world.

Step 9: Clean Up

A polite stoner always cleans up after themselves.

Where To Hotbox (and the Benefits of Each)

Now that you know how to hotbox and set the right mood, you probably want to know the best place to set one up. There is no “best” place, but there are great options. Here are a few of the top places you can set up your next hotbox and the benefits of each.

Where To Hotbox

Why It's Awesome

Car

A hotbox on wheels, you can park anywhere, turn on the radio, and chill. Beware, though, always watch out for the men in blue.

Bathroom

A natural box, this tight space creates the perfect hotbox that makes for easy cleanup. However, the atmosphere is lacking, and there’s always a chance the smell leaves something to be desired.

Tent

Ah, the great outdoors. Hotboxing in nature the way our ancestors did. It’s a great way to get back to one with the world. Just watch out for squirrels and critters, and other bugs.

Closet

Another nice, tight space perfect for close friends. It makes a great hotbox, but on the downside, your best Sunday dress might smell like skunk weed for a month.

Under the Blankets

Go old school! Pull the blankets over your head like the parachute at gym class. On the downside, it leaves very little room for much else.

Backyard She’d

Just don’t let Dad catch you!

Final Thoughts: Hotboxing Is Safe and Fun!

Everyone loves a hotboxing sesh. It’s a great way to get together with friends, and it’s a fun way to enjoy cannabis too. Not only does it help you get higher (which is scientifically proven), but it helps you explore new planes of consciousness.

So the next time you’re looking for a fun, safe way to enjoy weed with your buds, try hotboxing.