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How to Roll a Better Crutch for Your Joint or Spliff

A crutch—also called a filter or a tip—is one of the easiest improvements to make to the standard joint. It’s effectively a mouthpiece, and it serves a number of purposes: It keeps the end of your joint open (even when sharing with your wet-lipped friends), blocks bits of plant matter from getting in your mouth, and ensures you don’t burn your kisser as you puff your way down to the roach.

Some people, including a few of my best friends, insist on rolling joints without crutches. I think those people are silly. Others include a crutch but treat it as an afterthought. While I respect that everyone has their own methods, I thought I’d share my preferred way of building a crutch. It’s quick, easy, and has earned the seal of approval from co-workers here at Leafly.

What are Crutches Made From?

Unless you opt for a reusable glass tip, the best material for a crutch is stiff paper. You’re looking for something thicker than printer paper (which is too flimsy) but thinner than a cereal box (too bulky). Some of my favorite options include:

  • An index card
  • A manila file folder
  • The back flap of a checkbook
  • A magazine subscription card
  • Some business cards (not the thick ones)

There is also a bunch of pre-cut crutches on the market these days. My favorites are RAW’s standard tips, which use long-fiber paper made on a special mill. They’re designed specifically to roll up smoothly and have enough rigidity to hold their shape in your mouth. (I initially thought these were dubious marketing claims, but after two years of using ‘em, I’m convinced.)

I’m partial to use these RAW tips, which is what I’ll be using to demonstrate. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

The Easy (but Flawed) Way

Most people I’ve smoked with tend to roll a crutch by literally rolling it into a cylinder. When viewed head-on, it looks like a spiral.

One of the most common methods to make a crutch or filter tip is to roll it into a cylinder. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

This is an easy technique, but it has some drawbacks. The main weakness is that the opening in the center of the crutch is big enough to let through small pieces of plant matter, which can end up getting in your mouth. Another problem is that it’s not particularly sturdy and can sometimes pinch closed. Does it work? Sure. But there’s a better way.

The Better Way

You can make a much better crutch simply by adding a few accordion-style folds before rolling it up. It takes a tiny bit of practice to master, but the end product will keep those pesky flecks of cannabis out of your mouth and ensure a smooth draw.

To start, make a few folds at the end of your crutch material. Make the folds about as wide as you want the final crutch to be. Be sure not to crease the paper when you’re folding it; otherwise the final crutch will be too tight.

Start by putting a few accordion-style folds in your crutch material. Keep in mind, the space between your folds will determine the crutch’s width. Don’t crease! (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

How many folds to use is up to you. Some people talk about making an M shape inside the crutch, while others opt for a simple V. I tend to toss in a few more. Experiment to find out what you like best.

Once you’ve made those first few folds, roll the remaining crutch material around the folded part. Make sure you have enough unfolded paper to wrap completely around the crutch—you want the final product to roll easily between your fingers.

After a few folds, start to wind the remaining paper around the folded part. Make sure to leave enough left over to wrap all the way around the crutch. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Wrap up all the excess paper—you can rip some off if you have too much—and roll the finished crutch between your fingers. You might find that it wants to unroll or expand on its own. That’s OK. Once you roll the crutch into your joint, that springiness will help keep the crutch from falling out of the end of your joint.

Your finished crutch should look something like this. Just keep winding that excess paper. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Put the crutch at the end of your rolling paper and roll it into your joint. I like to leave a little of the crutch exposed, then push it flush with the edge of the rolling paper once I’m finished rolling.

Here’s what it looks like when I’m done:

The accordion-style crutch helps keep bits of plant material out of your mouth while still allowing for a smooth draw. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

The More Expensive Way

Can’t be bothered to practice tiny origami? That’s fine. Either buy a reusable tip, skip the crutch altogether, or opt for a pre-rolled crutch. There are all sorts of pre-rolled options these days, including choices by RAW, Elements, and a handful of others.

The tips work just fine, but they’ll cost you a bit more. RAW’s standard tips, which I used above, cost around $0.75 for 50. The company’s pre-rolled tips go for about $1.75 for 20—or more than twice as much.

What are your tips and tricks for rolling the perfect joint? Share them in the comments below or give me a shout on Twitter.

Want to make a filter for your joint? It's known as a crutch and here's how to roll one for your joint or spliff.

Joint Filters – A Cleaner, Better Tasting Hit

There are many different methods that people can use to gain the benefits from the their cannabis. Some people like to use a bong, in one of many of its various designs and functions. They may process and refine cannabis itself, to extract its oils and trichomes. And of course there are those who prefer the more traditional method of rolling a joint.

There are two types of people that smoke their cannabis using joints, those that smoke unfiltered, and those who use filters – otherwise known as a crutch.

Why Use a Joint Filter/Crutch?

One of the reasons why some people don’t like to use joints to smoke their cannabis is because they’ve found the taste to be less pleasant then that of smoking it via a bong. This has nothing to do with a change in the flavor profile that these methods produce, rather it has to do with loose leaf being inhaled as they take a hit.

Smoking a joint unfiltered does have the inherent risk of flakes or loosely packed cannabis ending up in your mouth, or the back of your throat. Some people find this to be a very unpleasant and bitter tasting experience.

A bong uses the water as a natural filter to remove the very same bitter tasting flakes. So when the smoke is pulled up, there is a much smoker tasting hit. This is where the crutch steps up and offers the same function.

The crutch is made with small gaps in its center. It doesn’t filter the smoke the same way that a cigarette’s filter does. Instead, it physically blocks the small pieces of cannabis from being sucked through when being smoked, while allowing the pure unaltered cannabis smoke to be inhaled.

What Types of Joint Filters/Crutches are There?

The more common filters used by many people are the hand rolled ones. They can be made using strips of filter tip papers or alternatively from the cardboard packaging of a cigarette packet, business cards, greeting cards, or most other forms of thin cardboard.

Personally we advise the use of filter tip papers, as they will be less likely to alter the flavor of the cannabis, tend to be easier to work with, will not begin to break apart the moment any moisture comes into contact with it or stick to your lips.

1) Hand Rolled Filter Tip Papers

One of the world’s most trusted and leading filter tip brand is RAW. They provide the market with filter tip papers of various sizes and grades and are our top pick for recommended brands.

The Classic Filter Tip Strip

These papers are clean, unmarked strips. These strips can be used for the most simplistic of designs by simply rolling it tight to form a coil, or with a little origami, even more elaborate designs.

As they have no predefined creases or fold lines, you can fold one or more papers into many different patterns and designs for the filter’s core. Using one additional sheet that’s separate from the core design, you are able to wrap it around the core’s central piece(s), holding it in place and forming a complete filter.

Perforated Filter Tip Strips

This no fuse strip has predfined fold lines at one end of the paper. Folding these lines back and forth before rolling the strip into a filter, will give you an accordion center filter. This simplistic design, is suitable for most leaf grades, but the spacing may be too large and could allow smaller pieces to be sucked through.

Choosing between the classic strip, or the perforated strip, will largely depend on how finely your stash is chopped. The smaller the spacing the more pieces there are that can be blocked.

Perforated Cone Filter Tip Strips

If a finer filter is required, consider using the Raw’s perforated cone filter tips. Much like the straighter strips, these cone filters also have predefined fold lines that will allow you to fold the appropriate ceases for an accordion core effectively. The hardest part is getting used to rolling on a curve. Once perfected, the cone filter offers a larger opening at one end and a smaller opening at the other. This smaller opening reduces the size of spacing inside the filter, vastly reducing the possibility of flakes being sucked into your mouth.

How to Hand Roll a Filter Tip

Rolling a filter tip by hand is relatively easy. Your first few attempts may come out loose or poorly shaped, but with a little practice you will be able to roll your own filters with ease. If you are unsure as to how to correctly roll your filter tips, we highly recommend that you watch the following video. It clearly shows step by step, how to quickly and easily roll various styles of filters by hand.

2) Pre-rolled Filter Tips

If you are looking for a more convenient filter, or if you have a condition that could make rolling your own filter tips difficult, there is always the option of using pre-rolled tips.

The biggest hurdle that comes with using a pre-made product, is that the spacing may be large enough for small pieces and flakes to be sucked through when drawing back on the joint. This can be overcome by inserting additional filter paper into the spacing.

While this may sound like it defeats the purpose of using a pre-rolled tip, it is still a more viable option for some people, as these additional pieces can be roughly folded and unevenly spaced. Meaning that if someone was to struggle trying to make small folds, they may be able to use strips to make larger folds that can be inserted into there pre-rolled tips.

3) Activated Charcoal Filters

Similar to a pre-rolled filter tip, these nifty little devices are sealed at both ends and filter the smoke as it passes through. To use these filters, place them at one end of you joint before you roll it up, and that’s it. Just make sure to place the filter facing the correct direction.

4) Glass Filter Tips

Unlike other filter tips that are placed inside the joint before it is rolled, the joint is placed into the glass filter tip before it is smoked. Glass filters will allow you to hold onto the joint as it burns low, and helps to prevent your fingers smelling of marijuana.

Not only would a quality glass filter help to prevent small pieces of cannabis from passing through, they also help to remove resin from the smoke, and can also prevent you from inhaling ash as well.

They are value for money as they are reusable, but only if looked after correctly. One large drawback is that they can be hard to clean without the correct cleaning tools, such as brushes and solvents.

They can also be broken relatively easily as well. If you drop them they may brake, crack open, or chip away at the mouth piece. You’ll also need to be careful of where you store and carry them. They could also be broken if something heavy or with hard edges is kept on top of them, or if they are knocked against each other.

Conclusion

The use of a crutch filter will undoubtedly help to improve your experience when smoking a joint. They can improve the quality of the smoke, making it smoother with far less pieces of cannabis debris or ash from getting stuck in your throat, or ruining the flavor profile.

Just be sure to use one that suits your budget. Disposable filter tips are cheaper per unit, but over time you will end up spending more on disposable filters than what it costs to just buy a reusable one.

Additionally, match your filtration needs with the quality of your stash. The finer the mix, the smaller the spacing in your filter needs to be.

Joint Filters – A Cleaner, Better Tasting Hit There are many different methods that people can use to gain the benefits from the their cannabis. Some people like to use a bong, in one of many of ]]>