“Do you remember Blockbuster Video?” the teenager asked his friend.
“No,” the friend tersely replied.
“Well, it was before Netflix …” he began to explain before their conversation trailed out of earshot.
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This Vine-worthy conversational snippet walked past me at Snoqualmie Falls shortly after returning from my first-ever trip to Denver. On that expedition I appeared on The Cannabist Show — a.k.a. Ricardo Baca’s casting couch — along with restaurateur and pot shop owner Scott Durrah.
Scott suggested that, as cannabis culture cruises into a future steeped in hyper-potent pot extracts and electronic paraphernalia, we not forget old traditions. For many, rolling a joint is as much a spiritual practice as a means to an end. For others, borosilicate glass is part of their religion.
Burning one down
Unhealthy as it may be, I enjoy combustion. Butane lighters provide abundant, convenient energy to heat cannabis. When the lighter fails, strike a match and toke away. Or walk five minutes to the corner store. Or for some of us, just refill it. On the other hand, most paraphernalia batteries only last an hour or two, require an initial charge, are less ubiquitous than lighters and cost more to replace.
I also enjoy one-hitters. For the out-and-about stoner, discretion remains the better part of valor. Despite legalization, laws against public toking remain on the books. Tolerance differs from acceptance, and many people dislike seeing behavior they don’t fully celebrate or support. Knowing this, I’ve frequently carried a one-hitter in my time. I may have misplaced a few, but never has one broken beyond functionality.
Reducing one-hitter tar
The SilverStick is a one-hitter with filters. Slightly wider than a standard one-hitter, the aluminum alloy bat measures 3.125 inches tall and 0.44 inches in diameter and weighs a mere 15 grams. Where a typical one-hitter is a single piece, the two-part SilverStick unscrews to reveal a chamber in the bottom piece that fits a cigarette filter.
Despite my nostalgic love of combustion, I know that unfiltered cigarettes are about the most harmful way to imbibe cannabis. Dale Gieringer’s 1996 Marijuana Waterpipe and Vaporizer Study found an unfiltered joint delivered about 310 milligrams total tars per puff. A filter reduced tar levels to 140 milligrams per puff. Still far greater than the 5-11 milligrams total tars delivered by the two vaporizers in the study, but it remains a significant reduction for those choosing unfiltered pipes or joints.
In addition to halving tar intake, the SilverStick filter is nice because it catches bits of herb that might otherwise suck through the bat into the mouth. It also slows and cools the airflow a bit. The oversized bowl allows for real world-sized hits compared to the tiny bowl on a standard one-hitter.
The SilverStick dugout is lovely. Hand-crafted in Colorado from eye-catching hardwoods, the top spins to reveal separate chambers for the bat and ground cannabis. The spring-loaded bat chamber actually launches the metal pipe into the air if not tempered with a finger. Cracked me up the first time, and still makes me chuckle when I intentionally play “catch the bat.”
The dugout holds a metal poker in the topside, and the bottom swivels to access another chamber for extra filters — or a second strain of herb, perhaps. The SilverStick ships with 25 cotton filters, and any 8x15mm replacements will work in the device. It also includes a high-temperature plastic vinyl end cap, which is useful when carrying just the pre-loaded pipe and no dugout.
I have two small suggestions for future SilverSticks. First, the perfectionist in me wants the herb chamber finish-drilled with a totally flat-bottom bit — maybe a rim-guided Forstner bit, a straight router bit, a square end mill or a belt-sanded twist drill bit. A taunting smidgen of herb hides in the indent made by regular drill bits.
Second, the manual and website note there is “no exposure to the chemical residues often found in […] concentrates.” That didn’t seem true when I dabbed a bit of runny hash oil atop the herb. And that language insinuates combusted herb is somehow healthier than concentrates.
Flowers vs. concentrates
It is true that extraction techniques can accumulate harmful pesticides and mycotoxins produced by undesirable fungi. But those impurities come from the source flower — quality in, quality out — so you could always be smoking that shit with flowers. Oil extracted with hydrocarbon gasses like butane often contain residual solvents that relate to the quality of the craft work. Supercritical CO2 extracts, glycerin and ethanol don’t suffer this problem, and neither do flowers.
But flowers contain a large proportion of non-cannabinoid material, and combusting that stuff sends over 100 compounds into the body. Gieringer released a followup vaporizer study in 2004, and Table 4 lists combusted compounds you mostly don’t need, including some potentially-cancerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
So yes, flowers won’t contain residual solvents found in hydrocarbon-extracted hash oil, but combusting herb sends carcinogens into your lungs. Besides, we may as well celebrate all forms of cannabis, so oil up the herb if the urge strikes.
The SilverStick is a great one-hitter. The cotton filter reduces the harms of combusted cannabis while the visually-striking hardwood dugout looks and feels marvelous. The cost — where I usually balk with pot paraphernalia — leaves me little reservation, available on the SilverStick site for $49 with the hand-crafted dugout, $26 without. For the quality it’s a steal. Batter up!