Accidents happen, but if there’s one way to ruin a high, it’s getting a nasty burn from a stubby, poorly rolled joint. Burning your lips from smoking cannabis isn’t necessarily a risk or side effect of the plant itself, but it can happen if something’s off with your smoke system.
If you burned your lips while smoking weed, you may experience symptoms of a first or second-degree thermal burn:
- Skin sensitivity around or on your lips
- Skin peeling
- Discolored shiness at the burn site
- Blistering (less common)
Lip color changes are a separate phenomenon altogether, commonly known as “black lips.” This is not to be confused with the sticky layer of tar that sometimes appears on people’s lips after taking an overly ambitious bong hit.
This article covers the most common reasons why people burn their lips while using cannabis, how to tend to these kinds of burns, and ways to avoid burn injuries and lip discoloration when smoking cannabis.
How could smoking weed burn your lips?
It’s important to know that burning your lips from a bad bong hit or toke can happen to anyone—to the person who smokes every day or to the person who rarely uses cannabis (and now probably regrets it).
Below is a list of common errors and accidents from smoking cannabis that result in sore, stinging lips:
- How you smoke: Metal or quartz pipes (bowls) get hot to the touch because of the way heat spreads when a lighter comes into contact with brass, steel, aluminum, and minerals/crystals. This is particularly true with certain styles of one-hitters, which have a shorter distance between the bowl and mouthpiece. Since glass doesn’t transfer heat as quickly, one could theoretically avoid burns from an overheated pipe by choosing glass over metal and quartz. Or, you could wait until your pipe cools down before taking another hit.
Like most things, though, the debate over the best way to smoke weed is pretty subjective. If there’s one thing we agree on here at Vessel, it’s this: plastic pipes are never a good option. A plastic pipe will heat up quickly, and it may burn your lips. When in doubt, skip plastic pipes, too, because they could be toxic.
All things considered, a self-inflicted burn from a glass pipe or bong isn’t totally out of the picture either.
- Inhaling too hard: Oversucking smoke from dry herb can cause a lit “cherry” (the glowing ember that appears after a lighter comes into contact with cannabis) to accidentally filter through the pipe. This might happen if the bowl isn’t deep enough. The result? Burnt lips, or worse, a mouthful of burning weed and a possible mouth sore to prove it. Best to keep a screen in your pipe if you’re a hard puffer.
This advice doesn’t just apply to pipes. If you smoke joints or blunts, you can definitely burn your lips if you hit a “roach” (the cannabis version of a cigarette butt) too hard. You may want to try a joint holder to put distance between you and the filter. Similarly, consider learning how to carefully tap out a joint or blunt for later use to avoid finger burns.
- Forgetfulness when high: THC alters our judgment, which means we may be more prone to accidents and unintentional mistakes when we’re high.
A really painful way to burn your lips from weed is putting the wrong side of a dab tool to your mouth after heating it with a torch. This can happen if you’re really high and aren’t paying attention. As a reminder, please use responsibly to avoid preventable mouth burns while high.
How do you get rid of a burn on your lips from smoking?
Assuming you have a mild/superficial burn from smoking, you can effectively treat your symptoms at home. Here are a few remedies to try:
- Medicate with Vaseline, Neosporin, or Aquaphor
- Apply cold compresses with a washcloth
- Use Chapstick for dryness
Experts in ambulatory settings recommend tending to mild burns using the “C” approach to aftercare:
- Cooling: Dab water on the burn site. Avoid hot tea or coffee until the burn heals. Aloe works just fine too.
- Cleaning: Wash the burn with mild, antibacterial soap and cool water.
- Covering: You may decide to apply a small Band-Aid for added protection.
- Comfort: Use an over-the-counter medication like Tylenol for lingering pain.
Can you get black lips from smoking weed?
“Black lips” is a way to describe darkening lips from smoking cigarettes. In chronic smokers, nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes increase melanin pigmentation, hence the name “black lips.” Although there aren’t studies on lip discoloration from cannabis, this can theoretically happen if you smoke frequently, more than likely over many years.
Smoking weed, like tobacco, also draws saliva out of your mouth and makes you dehydrated (aka “cottonmouth”). When you smoke, stay hydrated. Lip moisturizers or exfoliators may provide additional relief.
What are smoker’s lips, and how do you avoid them?
Smoker’s lips refer to physical and cosmetic changes that may occur from the frequent use of tobacco products. Beyond lip and gum darkening, smokers tend to develop wrinkles around their mouths.
If you’re concerned about smoker’s lips as someone who uses cannabis, here are a few ways to practice good oral hygiene:
- Do self-care on your lips and face to add moisture back to your skin
- Consider switching to a vape pen to minimize lip burn from dry herb
- Eat nutrient-rich, stoner snacks for brighter skin (avocado, berries, and oranges)
To sum it up
Burning your lips while stoned is not a pleasant experience, but it is avoidable with the right smoke system. Be mindful of the way you smoke, and remember to be safe when you’re under the influence. You can take the burn risk out of the equation altogether with a reliable vape, which turns e-liquid into a flameless vapor.
For anything other than a mild burn from smoking cannabis, don’t delay a visit to a doctor if you notice signs of an infection. Serious burns or burns that get infected require medical attention, and you won’t be turned away regardless of how it happened.