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By Luke Sumpter

Whether you’re specifically looking for more traditional ways to enjoy weed, or you’re getting bored of your current ritual, you need to try blazing with a Jamaican steam chalice. These natural devices are the original vaporizers. Instead of combusting weed (like joints and bongs), they use charcoal and a “cutchie” to liberate cannabinoids and terpenes using convection heating. After we teach you how to use one, we’ll show you how to make your own weed chalice, followed by the best strains to use for your session.


What Is a Jamaican Steam Chalice

Steam Chalice

There are myriad ways to use cannabis. Alongside more traditional methods of cannabis intake, such as smoking bongs and eating edibles, handheld and desktop vaporizers have come to dominate the cannabis space. The Jamaican steam chalice falls into the traditional category, but it stands separate from other classic methods of inhaling cannabis. Why? Because it doesn’t burn the flower; it “steams” it instead. You could call the steam chalice the first vaporizer. Much like modern vapes, this method of inhaling weed liberates cannabinoids and terpenes without releasing as many potential harmful byproducts as combustion.

As you can probably guess, the Jamaican steam chalice has roots in the Rastafari tradition of the device's namesake nation. Adherents to the religion emphasise a more natural—or “Ital”—way of life that involves consuming only organic whole foods; some Rastas also forgo meat and animal products entirely to pursue this goal. As you can see, the smoke-free Jamaican steam chalice slots nicely into this lifestyle. Interestingly, the steam chalice harnesses all of the main elements at once: fire, water, air, and earth.

Steam chalices feature four main components:

  • Coconut: A coconut forms the central part of the steam chalice. You can compare it to the chamber of a bong. It contains water that helps to filter the vapor released from the bowl, creating smoother hits. The coconut also serves as a “handle” when carrying and hitting a steam chalice.
  • Bamboo tubes: Two bamboo tubes protrude from a steam chalice—the mouthpiece and the downstem. Unlike most bongs, the downstem and bowl sit directly above the chamber, whereas the mouthpiece protrudes from the side of the coconut.
  • Cutchie: Formed from clay, the cutchie is the equivalent of a large bong bowl. This piece of the steam chalice holds the bud over the downstem and separates it from the hot temperatures of the charcoal used to liberate THC and other phytochemicals.
  • Gritty: This simple clay grate features many tiny holes and sits just above the bud. It serves as a platform for burning charcoal and prevents direct contact and combustion of the plant material.

Now that you’re familiar with steam chalices and their components, it’s time to learn how to use one.

How to Use a Steam Chalice

It can take a couple of attempts to master the steam chalice, especially if you’re a devout joint smoker. Even if you’re used to operating large and sophisticated glass rigs, a Jamaican steam chalice will likely feel quite alien in your hands at first. To help you get to grips with this old-school piece of kit, we’ve laid out some concise instructions below. Follow them closely for an effortless introduction to this novel way of using cannabis:

Steam Chalice
  1. First things first; you need to fill up the coconut with water. To do this, remove the mouthpiece from the side of the coconut. Then, pour in some water below the opening before reinserting the bamboo mouthpiece. Take an empty rip. It should sound very much like the bubbling of a bong. If you don’t hear that characteristic sound, you either have too much or too little water inside the coconut.
  2. Next, you need to load up the cutchie with herb. But hold on one second! Traditional cutchies have rather large holes in the bottom that serve as connections to the downstem. For this reason, many chalice users insert whole or partially ripped buds to prevent any flower from dropping into the chalice. If you prefer to grind up your bud, place a big enough piece of metal gauze over the hole before loading in your flower.
  3. Once filled, place the gritty into the cutchie. Depending on the model you’re working with, some cutchies feature a lip to slot the gritty onto, keeping it from coming into contact with the herb below.
  4. Things get even more unconventional in this step. You’re probably used to clicking the button on a lighter or vape before inhalation. When using a weed chalice, you’ll find yourself reaching into a bag of charcoal instead. Load in enough charcoal to fill in the top compartment of the cutchie. Then, apply a blowtorch lighter until the pieces start to glow. When the charcoal pieces are steadily burning, you’re ready to go.
  5. Now it’s time for the fun part. Place your finger over the shotgun hole on the coconut and hit the weed chalice in the same way you would a pipe or bong. Toward the end of your hit, release your finger from the hole to clear the coconut. You’ll notice a fresh, terpene-rich, and slightly vegetative taste; remember, you’re essentially vaping weed, not burning it.
  6. At the end of the process, you’ll need to clean out your cutchie. Carefully discard the hot charcoal remains and empty out the steamed cannabis. Pour the water out of the coconut and stash your weed chalice away for future use. Once in a while, use a set of pipe cleaners to remove any grime from the inside of the bamboo tubes.

How to Make a Jamaican Steam Chalice

You’ll have no problem finding an expertly crafted smoking chalice online. However, if you’re looking for a DIY project, you can make your own using the simple guide below.

 Equipment 

🥥 Coconut

📏 30cm section of plastic hose or bamboo pipe

🪔 Clay cutchie and gritty

🗜️ Metal or glass downstem

🐝 Beeswax

🧰 Drill and drill bits

🔨 Screwdriver

🍳 Saucepan and Pyrex jug

🖌️ Paintbrush

 Instructions 

  1. Purchase a glass or metal downpipe from a headshop; one that fits perfectly into the bottom of your cutchie and is long enough to dip into the water below all of the holes in your coconut.
  2. Start by drilling a hole big enough to slot the downstem protruding from the bottom of your cutchie into the top of the coconut. Then, drill a second hole wide enough to slot your piece of bamboo pipe or hose into. Position this hole halfway between the top hole and the centre, or “equator”, of the coconut. Then, drill a smaller shotgun hole on the opposite side of the coconut between the top hole and the equator.
  3. Now for the tedious part: take a screwdriver and carefully scrape out as much of the coconut meat as possible through the wider hole drilled for fitting the bamboo pipe or hose.
  4. Create a double boiler by placing a Pyrex jar into a saucepan filled ¼ the way up with water. Bring the water to a low boil and melt a stick of beeswax in the Pyrex jug.
  5. Next, you need to insert the cutchie downstem. We suggest purchasing a clay cutchie. However, you can also make your own by hollowing out a cylindrical piece of wood and creating a tapered end (this takes a lot more work).
  6. Add your hose/bamboo pipe into the corresponding hole. Place it deep enough so it feels secure, but not so deep that it touches the water. Then, use a paintbrush to apply the liquid beeswax around the insertion points of both the pipe and cutchie to create a seal.
  7. Set your cutchie down (in front of a fan if possible) and wait for the beeswax to set.

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