The end of a joint, blunt, spliff, or any rolled cannabis product. An equivalent is the butt of a cigarette. Roach sizes are determined by personal preferences and can be discarded or saved for later.
“I never smoke roaches because you can’t get a good hit.”
“To get the most out of my blunt, I always smoke it down the roach.”
What is a roach?
One of the first written mentions of a roach comes from a 1938 article in The New Yorker, in which the author attended a party where guests were smoking cannabis. Referring to a partially-smoked joint, “roach” may have Spanish origins, deriving from the Mexican song “La Cucaracha”—“the cockroach” in English—which is about marijuana-smoking soldiers in the Mexican Revolution.
The first part of a joint, blunt or rolled cannabis product is usually the best; the flower is still dry and airflow is at its peak, meaning big, flavorful hits. But by the end of it, smokers may already be sufficiently stoned, or the resin coating the rest or saliva may make the end unsmokable.
Should I save my roaches?
Keeping roaches to smoke later is a personal choice. Typically, by the end of a rolled smokable product, the consistent heat from the ember and smoke cause the oils and plant matter to congeal, creating a smoke that is harsher as the joint burns down. Many people roll products with a crutch, allowing them to smoke it down to the end, or use a roach clip, a clothespin-like device that allows you to hold the roach without burning your fingers.
Pros of smoking roach weed
Save money and prolong your stash. The cost of cannabis can add up if you partake frequently. Smoking roach weed is one way to stretch your budget and stash, saving you both money and time shopping for new supplies. But you might not want to wait too long to use roach weed since the paper will get brittle and old weed loses its punch.
Reuse and recycle. In the age of the zero waste movement, keeping a roach and reusing it is one way to do your part. So, save and reuse to feel good about doing a solid for the planet (and clap back at anyone who may look at you sideways for smoking roach weed).
Cons of smoking roach weed
Potential health issues. Smoking roach weed may not be as sanitary as smoking a new joint. Residual saliva in the roach can cause bacteria to form and spread, which doesn’t bode well for the inside of your lungs. In addition, lighting the same weed twice could pose a health hazard with a double dose of carcinogens released. Using a butane lighter could be especially hazardous, but opting for a beeswax-coated hemp wick could negate this drawback.
It’s gross. Smoke tends to ruin the flavor profile of flower, which is why half-smoked joints with plenty of flower left are significantly less fun to toke the second time around. But if you’re less concerned about having an enjoyable experience and more focused on getting high, roach weed is perfectly serviceable. Like a beat-up car on the verge of combustion, it’ll get you from A to B.
How to dispose of roaches safely
Wildfires have increased alarmingly in the 21st century. Dry places like California, which once experienced these devastating fires seasonally, are seeing the threat extend throughout the year, according to global climate change data from NASA. Point being, don’t be that guy.
To prevent the risk of starting a fire, use water to be sure the roach is extinguished. Run your roach under a faucet, your last sip of beer — whatever is convenient. But flushing the roach down the toilet is not advisable, as chemicals can leach into an already vulnerable water supply.
This may be obvious, but don’t throw a roach or anything smoldering into the garbage or on the ground. Learn from my neighbor, Kevin, who tossed some fireworks in the trash on the 4th of July and nearly set the whole neighborhood on fire. Ensuring your smoking materials are extinguished can literally save thousands of acres, animals, and lives, so take a moment to do it right.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: