Many long-time smokers have a horror story about rolling up with printer paper, pieces of grocery bags, and other unsafe materials when we were too young to know any better. I remember walking down to the corner store with a friend in high school, trying to buy papers and getting carded, then rolling a fat joint with the paper from the bottom of an Altoids tin.
But nowadays most of us assume that the rolling papers we buy in the store are all safe, right? Unfortunately, many non-FDA compliant papers are sold in smoke shops throughout the country, putting your health at unnecessary risk.
Why is it important for your rolling papers to be food-grade? Food-grade products are non-toxic and approved safe for consumption by experts. No matter how high quality your herb is, if you’re rolling up with non food-grade papers you are risking exposure to all kinds of toxic chemicals and a variety of unwanted health effects.
A lot of cheap rolling papers are made out of wood-pulp and other additives to artificially slow down the burn of your joint. If those papers aren’t made of 100% food-grade materials, the additives could be dangerous carcinogens, which you are now inhaling. Similarly, while cracking open a Swisher or a Black & Mild used to be the go-to for many stoners, a lot of us are getting older and more health conscious about the long-term effects of tobacco. Luckily there are a variety of high-quality blunt wraps made of 100% hemp on the market.
For a product to be food-grade safe it means that the materials used in the product are free from any harmful chemicals that could cause bodily damage if ingested or consumed.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the machines used to produce the product are food-grade, but manufacturing plants will clean their machines regularly to avoid any possibility of cross-contamination.
You wouldn’t want the same machines that are manufacturing household cleaning products to also produce your rolling papers. Some of the harmful chemicals could make their way into your paper as it’s being produced, causing cross-contamination and your papers to no longer be food-grade.
Food-grade means that every piece of equipment that has come in contact with your papers is safe from toxic chemicals and presents no danger when smoking the finished product.
That isn’t the exact same thing as being food-safe though. Food-safe means that the item is safe for consumers only if it hasn’t been altered by the environment. For example, a plastic food container is food-safe but when exposed to long durations of extreme heat, it can give off toxic chemicals and cause your food to become unsafe.
Food-grade is the ultimate distinction that you have rolling papers that are safe for you to smoke without the worry of foreign chemicals entering your body. You can find pre-rolled cones or regular papers that are food-grade.
Although the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating what materials are deemed safe for human consumption, they don’t give out the distinction of being food-grade. This distinction is often given by the companies themselves if it feels it has met all the standards given by the FDA.
These standards are often checked by a member of the FDA but it’s important to remember that only the company is able to label their product as food-grade for the public. Be careful about checking which companies label their products as food-grade. Reach out to them if you have questions about the authenticity of their claims. This goes for purchasing pre-rolled joints from a dispensary as well.
The Safest Bet
If you’re not sure which papers at your local smoke shop are food-grade, do your research and make sure to only buy from companies that use the highest-quality ingredients. Whether you prefer hemp papers, traditional white papers, or hemp blunt wraps, always be careful to check that you’re rolling up with 100% food-grade materials.
The FDA clearly regulates which chemicals, additives, and other materials can be included in products considered food-grade, or food-safe. This means that by sticking with food-grade papers, you will only ever smoke something verified to be non-toxic to humans. At the end of the day, we all know smoking 一 even just high-quality herb 一 isn’t the healthiest habit. However, we might as well take extra precautions where we can. Happy puffing!