How To Pack a Bowl Like a Pro (Pipe or Bong): Everything you need to know

Packing a bowl is easy 🤗

I’ve got some good news for you – learning how to pack a bowl is easy! I’ll teach you the basics below and with practice you’ll eventually refine your methods to suit your personal smoking preferences. After the basics are out of the way, I’m also going to explain how and why the way you pack your bowl will affect your smoking experience.

Armed with our pro tips below, you’ll not only know how to pack a bowl for yourself, but also how to tailor it for different people and group sizes, with confidence.

How to pack a bowl in 3 easy steps

Learning how to pack a bowl with weed or CBD flower is the same whether it’s for a pipe or a bong. Hopefully it goes without saying that you should start with a clean, empty bowl (cleanish will do)!

If you’re looking for the quickest and easiest learning option, here are the three easy steps you need to follow.

  1. Break your buds down (by hand or by lightly grinding it in a grinder)
  2. Set the screen in place (see below for how to pack a bowl with no screen)
  3. Load your bowl (put the flower in the bowl and press it down gently but firmly)

Didn’t I promise you it would be easy?

If you’re here to learn how to properly pack a bowl (like a pro), then keep reading below to find out why the way you load your bowl influences your smoking experience, plus all of our top tips on how to pack a perfect bowl every time, no matter who’s smoking it.

How to pack a bowl like a pro

how to pack a bowl equipment
I have my freshly-cleaned bowl on my Chill Bong and some tasty Lemon Kush flower from WNC-CBD to help with today’s demo

I knew a guy once that literally just used to break off a piece of bud that was around the same size as the bowl and then just shove it in. Now, it’s not that this method doesn’t work, because it does, it’s just highly unusual and fairly unpleasant too.

As a general rule, the bud will tend to be fluffier and lighter on the outside and denser in the middle, which means it won’t burn evenly. Lighting a bud, or even a piece of a bud, will usually burn the outside of the bud first and you’ll have to keep lighting (and sucking) to eventually ignite and smoke the core.

In the process, you may also end up inviting a ton of ash into the water chamber and this method also has flames jumping all over the place, so you’ll end up with much more of that (gross) butane flavor from the lighter (unless you use a hemp wick).

That’s why step 1 is so important!

Step 1 – Break down your weed

The connoisseurs among us prefer the flower to be evenly broken down to increase the surface area of the hemp or cannabis buds, and to allow greater control over how tightly it’s packed. So, if you want to avoid appearing like a complete heathen when you pack a bowl in your next smoke sesh, you’ll want to break down your flower.

You can do this by hand, tearing it apart with your fingers, or you can use one of three pieces of equipment; a pair of scissors, a grinder, or a grinder card. They all have their pros and cons, so let’s take a peek at what they are, so you can decide which one you need in your smoking kit.

Hand Scissors Grinder Grinder Card
Control You control how small you break your weed down You control how small you break your weed down Beginners may be vulnerable to overgrinding - just one or two extra turns can result in your weed being too fine Thie size of the holes in the card dictate how fine your weed will be
Consistency Difficult to achieve a consistent finish Difficult to acheive a consistent finish Consistent grind every time Consistent grind every time
Speed Takes AGES, especially when breaking down larger amounts for groups Also takes AGES Super fast results Super fast results
Ease of Use Sticky bud can be particularly difficult to break down Trickier than it sounds, especially holding it still when the bud gets small Super easy Easy
Trichomes Preserves trichomes more Preserves trichomes more Knocks trichomes off the bud which can stick to the inside of the grinder, gumming it up Knocks trichomes off the bud, but they can be retrieved easily (from the card and grinding surface)
Portability SO portable Not pocket friendly Not overly pocket-friendly Slips into your wallet so you always have it on you
Cleaning No cleaning needed Wipes clean easily Not as easy to clean Wipes clean easily
Bonus Points No equipment needed Scissors also come in handy as a poking device and for cutting cardboard (for joint crutches) Some grinders have kief catchers, which you can use to laod up each joint or save for a special occasion
Total Score 2 0 1 5
How to pack a bowl 4
How much flower I was able to prepare in 40 seconds by grinder (left) and by hand (right)

Ed’s note – I usually pack my bowls by hand, mainly because I’m just having the one and I don’t often have my grinder (or scissors) to hand, plus I don’t currently own a grinder card. However, if I’m having a more prolonged smoking session then I would definitely use a grinder, because it’s so much quicker for grinding larger amounts and easier to achieve a more consistent break down.

Now that I’ve created this table though, I’m wondering why on earth I don’t own a grinder card! 🤔

Step 2 – Set the screen

You don’t have to use a screen, but it is highly recommended because a screen will stop any bits from being sucked through into the chamber (if you’re using a bong) or your mouth (if you’re using a pipe). A screen keeps your bong or pipe much cleaner for much longer, which is only a good thing.

The most common screens are little discs made of crisscrossed metal, but you can also find screens that are made with plastic beads (highly recommended if your pipe or bong bowl is made of glass).

If you want to know how to load a bowl without a screen, then it can be a good idea to put one or two slightly larger pieces of weed in first, covering the hole. Then load the ground or torn up flower on top of that. This will reduce the likelihood of the ground herb getting sucked through.

Step 3 – Load the bowl

One of the most challenging parts of packing a bowl is, of course, how tight to pack a bowl. A well-packed bowl burns better, smokes more evenly, and smokes more smoothly. So we want to get it right.

Once your weed is loaded into the bowl you’ll need to press down on it fairly firmly, but not so much that it loses all of its springiness (see pictures below). If your weed was quite fluffy from your grinding process, then you’ll probably have to add more at this point to (re)fill it up. If you’re packing a full bowl that is.

The more firmly you press, the better your weed will stay in the bowl and the slower the bowl will burn (smoking more smoothly), but if you press it down too firmly then it won’t pull through at all.

So, you’re aiming for a firm but still-springy bowl of flower.

Some people you meet will prefer smaller, smoother hits, while others will enjoy a massive, faster-ripping bowl, so you can pack a bowl to suit their preferences. The looser the flower, the faster the rip.

The amount of CBD or cannabis flower you should put in your bowl will depend on how much you want to smoke or whether you will be smoking with others.

When it’s just you, you can just use any amount. Only experience, time, and maybe regret (in the case of high-THC cannabis), will tell you how much you need or want. Start with half a bowl of weed for yourself or if you want to pack a bowl for two, then make it a full bowl. If there will be more than two of you, then be prepared for this to be the first of many (many) bowls you pack in this session. Great practice, eh!

Looking for a new bong? Check out my Chill Steel Bong review if you like the idea of owning an almost-indestructible, double-wall insulated bong that will keep your ice frozen and your bong water cold all night long!

How to pack a bowl 11
Fill the bowl up with freshly grown flower
How to pack a bowl 6
Gently press the flower into the bowl with your finger or thumb to compress it
How to pack a bowl 10
If the bowl is packed tightly enough, it should still feel springy but tip out in one clump of flower, not in pieces

Pack a bowl like a pro: Do’s and don’ts


  • Make sure the bowl is empty first
  • Spend time breaking down your CBD flower or weed properly
  • Remove the seeds
  • Use a screen (if you can)
  • Add some concentrates (or kief)
  • Share your weed bowl round


  • Overpack your bowl
  • Pack your bowl too tight
  • EVER pack a new bowl on top of an old bowl (ew)

How to load a bowl: Summary

Now you know how to pack a bowl, all there is left for you to do is smoke it. Knowing how to pack a bong bowl properly can really change your smoking experience, transforming a harsh and unpleasant bong hit that leaves you couching on the floor, to a much smoother and more enjoyable smoke.

Just break down the CBD flower or weed, load it into the bowl (ideally on top of a screen), and then press down on the flower to pack it in gently. All that’s left to do now is light it, smoke it, and (hopefully) enjoy it.

Let us know how it goes in the comments below!

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