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Friday November 19, 2021

By Paul Barach

a filter or crutch for filtered cannabis joint Education

Rolling a quality joint is something to aspire to. People always appreciate that one friend who crafts a 10/10 joint every time that weed and rolling paper meets their fingers (Hi, Molly!) While you may never reach the heights of joint rolling like the guy who rolls Snoop Dogg’s joints and blunts, or this professional joint sculptor, it’s still one of the top skills any cannabis fan should pick up.

When it comes to standard joint rolling, there are plenty of guides that cover the basics (Here’s one!). So today, let’s zero in on one element that will take your joint to the next level: Rolling a joint using a filter or a crutch. 

What is a Filter or Crutch?

A filter or crutch (for cannabis, they are used interchangeably) is a rolled up strip of cardstock, the cardboard-like, thin paper used in business cards. People often just snip off a strip from a business card or their rolling paper’s cover flap to form their crutch.

raw filter tips
Precut filter tips are not only convenient but allow for consistency when it comes to making a crutch. photo credit

However, the ideal way to roll is to buy a book of pre-cut filter tips, which help you to roll a consistent crutch every time. Once your crutch is rolled up, it’s placed in the mouth end of a joint.

Why Use a Filter in a Joint?

A crutch improves the entire smoking experience in several ways. By reinforcing the mouth end’s opening, a crutch ensures an easier pull off your doob and a more even burn. It also prevents burning or crumbled weed from getting inhaled into your throat, which means less coughing. Finally, a crutch helps to maintain the structural integrity of your doob.

How to Roll a Filtered Joint

Now that you know why to use a crutch, let’s get into how to roll with one. First, you’ll need to procure the following items:

Joint Rolling Necessities

  • A pack of rolling papers. (Raw or Element are both solid brands).
  • A cardboard strip from a booklet or a 1x2” rectangle of cardstock (usually cut from a business card or rolling paper pack)
  • A nug of dank herb (or a bag of shake)
  • A grinder (Not necessary if you have shake)

How to Form a Crutch for Joints

First, you’ll construct the crutch:

    1. Grind up your nug (about half of a gram to a gram should do it) into a fluffy, fine texture and then set your pile to the side.
    2. Pick up your card stock strip by the shorter end. It’s origami time. 
    3. Fold a quarter-inch of your strip over.
    4. Flip your strip over and fold another quarter inch towards the opposite end. You should now have a “V” of cardboard. You’re shooting for an accordian/W shape in the end.
    5. Flip your strip back over and repeat the fold. You should now have your “W” accordion shape with about an inch of unfolded strip remaining.
  1. Squeeze your “W” fold together with your fingers, then wrap the remaining inch of your strip around the folds. 
  2. You should now have a “W” inside of a circle. This is your crutch/filter.
  3. Place your crutch next to your ground up weed pile for the moment.

How to Roll a Joint Using a Crutch

Next, it’s a matter if getting the crutch into a rolled joint:

    1. Pull a strip of rolling paper from the pack. Hold it with your non-dominant hand with the glue strip facing you. 
    2. Pick up your freshly ground weed from the pile and sprinkle it evenly along the length of the paper. Even distribution will help ensure a structurally sound joint that burns evenly.
    3. Slide your crutch into the paper crease on either end of the joint so that there’s no weed trapped between your filter and the paper. If you need to adjust your filter’s size to fit the joint, you can tighten or loosen the wrap around the “W” as needed.
    4. With the rolling paper pinched between your index fingers and your thumb, gently roll the paper back and forth.
    5. Once your weed has been rolled into a burrito-like form, roll the glue side farther up so that the weed settles into a basin on the lower end. Fold the remaining paper on the non-glue side over your bud, then tuck it in and gently roll the paper up until only the glue strip is sticking up. You want your paper wrapped tight enough around your bud to keep its shape, but not so tight that air can’t get through.
  1. Lick the glue strip and press it down to seal up your joint.
  2. If your filter slipped out of the mouth end as you were rolling it (it happens), just press it back into place with a pen. If it’s fallen out completely, try wrapping it tight and sliding it back in carefully. The crutch should expand to fit the mouth end.
  3. Holding the joint upright from the filter end, poke down any loose bud on the open end with a pen or similar object, then twist up that J. 
  4. You’re done with the “Roll it up” part, so feel free to move onto the “light it up” and “smoke it” sections.

The Wrap Up

Anything worth doing well will usually take some practice, so don’t worry if it takes a couple tries to get your filtered joint up to snuff (we’ve also got some beginner tips for rolling joints for you). Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be rolling up some top-notch doobs that pull cleanly, burn evenly, and get appreciative nods from whomever you pass it to next.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Crutch a Filter?

Crutch and filter are used interchangeably when it comes to joints, but a crutch will not filter out smoke particles like a cigarette filter.

Can You Reuse Filters for Joints?

You can reuse a crutch by tearing open your roached joint and rolling your crutch into a fresh one, but generally you want to roll a new filter since it will get softened with saliva and tar, which may affect the taste of your joint.

Do You Need a Crutch in a Joint?

No, but putting a crutch into your joint will make it much easier to smoke and a more enjoyable experience. 

Can You Put a Filter (Crutch) in a Blunt?

Yes, but it’s less commonly done than with a joint or a spliff.

Do you have any favorite techniques for making a crutch or rolling a filtered joint? Please share with us in the comments. 


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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