By Luke Sumpter

Hotboxing makes for a fun evening. Every time you step out of a hotbox, you feel considerably higher compared to smoking cannabis in an open space. But are these effects all in your head? Find out everything you need to know about hotboxing below, including exactly how to do it.

What Is Hotboxing?

As the name conveys, hotboxing involves smoking cannabis in an enclosed space, so as to fill the area with smoke. Typically, it entails cramming several people into a car, tent, or small room and sealing off all the points of airflow, such as vents on the dashboard and gaps underneath doors. As joints, bongs, and other smoking apparatus are hit and passed around, the space gets increasingly shrouded in smoke. Enthusiastic proponents of hotboxing even claim that not everybody present needs to hit a joint to feel something; the dense cloud that forms has the power to alter consciousness as a standalone source of THC.

Hotboxing might seem like an innovation birthed from the minds of modern stoners, but the practice actually dates back thousands of years. The Greek writer Herodotus observed the Scythians—a tribe of nomadic warriors—hotboxing in tent-like structures following funeral rites; a far more morbid context than just getting high with friends.

Below, you’ll discover the ins and outs of hotboxing, including how it works, how to do it, and the potential dangers of the practice.

Does Hotboxing Get You Higher?

It makes logical sense that sitting in a room filled with second-hand cannabis smoke would elevate everyone sitting inside; most people who’ve sat in a hotboxed car or tent will testify to that. Despite the anecdotal experiences of hotboxers the world over, the efficacy of the practice remained pure conjecture for quite some time—until researchers at John Hopkins School of Medicine had the opportunity to set up an experimental hotbox[1] of their own.

A lucky research team at the institution recruited an even luckier group of participants (six smokers and six non-smokers). The volunteers sat in a makeshift structure made from Plexiglas and aluminium support beams and underwent two different forms of exposure: ventilated and unventilated. Each cannabis smoker received 10 joints, each containing 1g of cannabis with a THC content of 11.3% (much weaker than most strains used in hotboxes in the real world), and the researchers instructed them to smoke liberally.

After a 60-minute session, the researchers found detectable levels of cannabinoids in the non-smoking participants’ blood and urine. The non-smoking participants also reported subjective cognitive effects and showed minor impairment during a task that scores psychomotor agility and working memory. However, under ventilated conditions, the non-smokers reported no major subjective effects and scored better during the same task. The bottom line: hotboxing works, at least under what the study considers "extreme, unventilated conditions".

Does Hotboxing Get You Higher?

How To Hotbox: Step by Step

Now that you know hotboxing works, we’re going to take you through exactly how to do it. If you’re new to this practice, the steps below will guide you through the process. If you’re a hotboxing veteran, skip ahead to the next section on where to hotbox to get some inspiration for your next session.

Step 1: Gather Your Friends and Choose a Space

First things first; you need to gather your smoking buddies! But you also need to consider the space in which you’re going to hotbox. You need enough people to generate a good quantity of smoke without being crowded and claustrophobic. Invite your closest smoking buddies along; those you trust to bring high-grade weed and great conversation.

Step 2: Make Necessary Preparations

To make your hotboxing experience a worthwhile one, you need to adequately prepare. Tuck into a meal together, drink a good amount of water to hydrate, and make sure none of you has any responsibilities for at least the next 3–4 hours so you can kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride. You’ll also want to hotbox in a stress-free environment. Don’t park your car far away from home where you need to endure the drive back once sober, and don’t blaze up in a tent on someone’s private land where you risk being disturbed.

How To Hotbox: Step by Step

Step 3: Ready the Space

You're full. You’re hydrated. You have the time to spare. Now, you need to prepare the space for the session ahead. To save you grinding, rolling, and generally fussing about in the haze, roll all of your joints and blunts beforehand. If you’re using bongs and pipes, create a pile of ground bud so you can simply pinch and pack when you’re in the thick of it. Hopefully, your friends brought some different strains to the party. Roll them up and set them apart in different piles to add some flavour and diversity to your session. Oh, and one more thing: make sure you have multiple lighters to hand! Going in fully prepared will eliminate the need to break the seal and ventilate the space if you leave anything behind.

Step 4: Seal, and Set the Tone

Enter your hotbox arena of choice (there’s plenty of options suggested below) and make yourself comfy. Ensure you have blankets and pillows if you're out in a cold tent, and settle leg room disputes if you're blazing up in a car. Play some music, ready your snacks, and start to seal up any gaps through which the second-hand smoke can escape. Use towels to block the gaps under doors, zip your tent up tight, and close car vents.

Step 5: Enjoy!

You’re ready to light up! The preparations are about to pay off. Enjoy the different strains you’ve rolled up, share the goodness, and get ready to be super high. As you continue to light bong bowls, inhale, and exhale, your hotbox arena of choice will continue to get more cloudy—a sure sign of THC buildup in the air. Keep going until you’re all satisfied with the result.

Step 6: Clean Up

When you’re done, unseal your space. If you blazed indoors, crack a window and run a fan in the same room. Spray some deodoriser if you need to cover up the suspicious smell, and remove all of the spent joints and bong bowl remnants to avoid any nasty lingering scents.

Where To Hotbox

Where To Hotbox

There you have it. You know exactly how to hotbox. Next, you need to mull over some of the options. There are plenty of different places in which to carry out this practice, and each has its own unique advantages. Discover the best places to hotbox below.

  • Car

Cars are essentially hotboxes on wheels. They’re mostly sealed, you can use them to visit beautiful places, and they’re kitted out with seats, heating, and stereos. Although cars provide basic creature comforts, they also have some downsides. Legroom often poses an issue, especially for the taller among us. The orientation of the seating also makes conversation a little awkward, and can take a toll on the necks of those perched in the front. Finally, you need to consider where you choose to park and toke, especially if you live in a country where cannabis is prohibited.

  • Bathroom

Although bathrooms lack basic seating, they make cleaning up much easier. You see, waxy and oily compounds found in smoke have a habit of clinging to walls and furniture. As bathrooms feature sleek tiles, you won’t have to worry about that lingering smoky smell. Hard flooring also makes it easy to sweep up any spilt bud and snack crumbs. At the end of the session, simply turn on the extractor fan, spray deodoriser, and the next person in need of the toilet won’t suspect a thing.

  • Tent

Bring the indoors outdoors. Tents serve as ideal structures for hotboxing. They trap smoke effectively and allow you and your friends to experience new parts of the world with every session. What’s more, you get to enjoy the great outdoors at the same time, including the perks of campfires and stargazing. However, you need to make sure you have plenty of ashtrays available. While most tents are fire-resistant, they’re rarely entirely fireproof; dropped joints can easily melt holes in your portable hotbox.

Where To Hotbox
  • Closet

Closets are small, confined, and less frequented than the living room and kitchen. You can easily fill a closet with smoke with the help of 2–3 other people, considering you seal the space well. The downside? Most people keep their clothes in the closet, and these spaces rarely experience much ventilation. Expect whatever you keep in your closet to smell quite skunky for a while. You should also place a fan in the space afterward to air it out.

  • DIY Fortress

Tap into your inner child! Grab boxes, blankets, pillows, and some fairy lights to construct a DIY fortress to hotbox. This type of setup will allow you and your friends to get creative and create the arena of your dreams. Just keep in mind, things are going to get hot inside, especially if you seal it off properly. Keep your sessions short and sweet.

  • Igloo

By far the most novel option on the list. If you live far enough north and have access to plenty of ice and snow, why not give this a go? Not only will you remember it forever, but you’ll probably go viral, too.

What Is a Jamaican Hotbox?

How does a Jamaican hotbox, aka a Hawaiian hotbox, differ from a standard one? Well, this practice requires a bathroom and a lot of hot water. Seal off all of the ventilation points in the space, and run the shower and sink tap as hot as possible. Soon enough, your bathroom will fill up with hot steam. As well as adding a significant amount of mist to the air, some suggest this method helps to soothe the lungs and add an element of relaxation—for those that can handle the heat.

Is Hotboxing Dangerous?

Sealing off a room, tent, or car for long periods seems inherently dangerous. Some reports claim that an eventual lack of oxygen contributes to the enhanced “high” of the hotbox experience. Clearly, spending hours in a hotbox, especially if you have any pulmonary conditions, poses some risk.

However, the study cited above also measured the blood oxygen level of participants every 15 minutes and mentioned no issues in the area. The best approach? Use common sense. Keep your sessions relatively short, and don’t enter a hotbox if you have any form of respiratory condition.

Hotboxing Is an Old, Reliable, and Fun Technique

Hotboxing brings people together and gets them much higher than a regular smoking session. It offers a fun way to make the most of your stash, and research shows that it really works—it’s not just a gimmick. But you don’t have to settle for your car or bathroom. Although these are tried and tested venues, there’s room to get creative and add some flare to this age-old technique.

External Resources:
  1. Non-smoker exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke II
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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