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Weed 101: What’s a Soda Can Pipe and How Do You Make One?
culture  |  Feb 20, 2020

Weed 101: What’s a Soda Can Pipe and How Do You Make One?

Before there were vaporizers, there were Coca-Cola cans poked full of holes…

Before there were vaporizers, there were Coca-Cola cans poked full of holes…

It’s often unwise to speak of cannabis prohibition in the past tense, given that so many vital facets of the struggle remain unresolved. That said, there are still some weed-related things that now unmistakably feel relegated to a bygone era.

One such item: the soda can pipe. 

As a myriad of alternatives (in the form of vaporizers, edibles, tinctures, and so forth) have entered the marketplace, smoking cannabis has gone from being the only option to but one of many methods of consumption currently on the table. When one factors in the role the internet also plays in making all these various forms of pot and consumption more easily available, it's fair to say the soda can pipe may be on the verge of disappearing within the annals of pot history.

For now, however, the soda can pipe continues to exist for the scenarios in which it’s needed most. With little more than a Pepsi can, some tinfoil, a screwdriver, and a sewing needle (or equivalent small, sharp-pointed object), high school stoners and travelers abroad have both turned to soda can pipes as a last-resort option to cop a buzz. 

Indeed, classifying soda can pipes as “less than ideal” might be a bit of an understatement. So, before we detail how to make one, let’s discuss the risks of this particular toking device. 

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The Risks of Using a Soda Can Pipe 

Did you know that scientists recently discovered that aluminum cans are capable of sucking cannabinoids out of infused beverages? While a bummer, this news is actually only the latest reason to be wary of opting to use a soda can to get high. 

More alarmingly, soda cans today are coated with a polymer lining, which can be made of potentially harmful chemicals like BPA. Even if the jury is still technically out on the dangers of BPA, it stands to reason that inhaling any amount of it can’t possibly be good for you.  Furthermore, soda cans are also painted with a different kind of plastic (thermoset), which offers further opportunity for unwanted chemical vapors to enter your lungs. 

Simply put: No one should be using soda can pipes as their first-choice smoking apparatus.  The argument can also be made that no one should be using soda cans as pipes in any context… but if you’ve already made up your mind, then here’s how to make the most out of that empty can of Mr. Pibb.

How to Make a Soda Can Pipe 

As mentioned above, a soda can pipe requires the following items:

  • Empty soda can
  • Screwdriver
  • Sewing needle
  • Tinfoil (optional)

That’s it! If this list feels a bit like what MacGyver might ask for, that’s because you’re basically one cool suede jacket away from being the titular secret agent when it comes to soda pipe construction. This is definitely DIY, “make-it-work” territory.

Before you make your pipe, ensure the soda can you’ll be using is thoroughly cleaned (ideally with warm water) and given a chance to dry. 

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Find a spot near the middle of the can (lengthwise) where the bowl will be and make a dent with your thumb. This is to ensure your weed doesn’t go anywhere once you’ve dropped some on the can. 

  1. Use your sewing needle (or desired object with a small, sharp point) to poke a select number of tiny holes in your new bowl. Make sure the holes are small enough to not let any weed fall through into the can. Some people will make the bowl a big hole, and then cover that with a piece of tin foil that’s been poked full of little holes. But do you really want to be inhaling even more aluminum on top of BPA and thermoset? 
  2. Lastly, pick a spot on the side of the can to serve as your carb. Make a small but solid puncture with your screwdriver.
  3. Pack your bowl with a small amount of flower — it’s best to consider soda can pipes as “one-hitters,” and pack fresh weed for each hit — and, with your thumb on the carb, light the bowl while inhaling through the can’s mouthpiece. Remove your thumb from the carb when you’ve milked the desired amount of smoke into the can to release your hit.

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Some people also suggest using your lighter to “burn off” the plastic/chemicals from the areas of the can you’ll be using most directly. There’s no hard data to cite in terms of how well this works, but again, it must be emphasized that using soda can pipes is inherently unhealthy in the long run. 

If you have no other options, however, you certainly won’t be the first — and almost assuredly not the last — to give this desperate option a try. Now, be safe out there, and consider investing in a proper glass pipe! 

Follow Zack Ruskin on Twitter

author_zack_ruskin

Zack Ruskin is a cannabis and culture journalist living in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter: @zackruskin.

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