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Choosing Your Spark: Matches Vs. Butane

Not all lights are created equal. Here we breakdown what happens to your buds when you create fire using matches or butane.

Using Matches

Seemingly offered in a bowl at the entrance to every restaurant, matches are everywhere, they’re cheap and they’re effective for smoking, depending on what you’re smoking. For joints, they’re excellent, even if you need to use more than one match to really get the party started. But for bowls or bongs – especially if you’re smoking with others – you may want to look elsewhere. It’s hard to pass a piece and also a lit match, so unless you’re rocking several matchbooks or a large quantity box, your best bet for sparking cannabis in non-joint form might be by using a lighter. 

Using Butane

The two most popular butane flame forms are the disposable butane lighter and the butane torch. While not as readily available as matches at the five-finger-discount pricepoint, butane lighters are readily available at pretty much every gas station or convenience store at a very low price. Unless you’re buying a refillable butane lighter, the cost between matches and disposable lighters isn’t significant enough to sway your bank account one way or the other.

 

Outside of price, there are a few characteristics of butane lighters that might have you opting for matches instead. One factor is taste. While infrequent, the flavor of butane can at times contaminate your cannabis’ flavor, depending of course on how much flower you’re smoking and what you’re smoking out of. Another factor – also determined by cannabis quantity being consumed – is that the smoke from a disposable butane lighter can also be a bit harsher on the back of the throat and lungs.

The other popular form of a butane flame is the butane torch, typically used for dabbing purposes. For dabs at least, a butane torch should be your go-to, since neither matches nor a disposable butane lighter will be able to withstand the time and temperature required for dabs.

Alternatives To Matches And Butane

For those seeking an alternative to matches and butane, check out hemp wicks. While you’ll need an initial flame to jump start the burning process, hemp wicks are a more “natural” way to light up since they’re string-like cords comprised simply of hemp and beeswax. Even if you’re lighting the hemp wick with a match or a lighter, you’re using significantly less fire from those options to get the hemp wick burning than you would if you were using solely matches or butane. The flame from a hemp wick is less harsh than that from match and butane lights, since it burns at a lower temperature, and is a great option for people with sensitive throats.

What You Should Choose

Ultimately, it comes down to what consumption device you’re smoking and in what environment. Amongst a large group that’s smoking out of a bowl or joint, butane is probably your best bet. If it’s just you at home puffing solo, matches will most definitely do the trick. From a health perspective, neither option – matches or butane – is more detrimental than the other (both add carcinogens to your smoking experience), though the biggest contrast is how they impact the environment long term. If saving the planet is of large concern to you, try to make it work with matches in any given scenario. If you prefer convenience, stick with butane.

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