Are bleached rolling papers bad for your health?

Know what you’re smoking.

Apr 2, 2018
Are Bleached Rolling Papers Bad For Your Health?

A man mocks to smoke a huge joint during a march calling for the legalization of marijuana at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 23, 2015. Members of the Brazilian Association of Patients of Medical Cannabis and other people marched calling for the legalization of marijuana, either for its medical benefits or for recreational purposes. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)

Rolling papers can be broken down into two broad groups: bleached and unbleached. Does it make a difference? Are unbleached papers preferable to bleached papers? Opinions vary, but there are legitimate concerns.

Why avoid bleached rolling papers?

Many kinds of rolling papers are bleached as a part of the production process. Why is this done? Primarily to make the papers look bright white. The companies which do this believe that consumers prefer these dazzlingly white papers to the dirty-grey or light-brown shades of unbleached papers.

Bleach also actually helps the papers burn slower, according to the manufacturers. However, many of these bleached rolling papers have additional chemical additives like magnesium carbonate (to control the color of the ash) and potassium citrate (to control the speed of the burn). To get that pearly white shade, bleached rolling papers also include chlorine and calcium carbonate.

The process involved in making bleached rolling papers is bad for the environment and it negatively impacts the taste of cannabis. You wouldn’t want to smoke weed that had been sprayed with chemicals. Why hold your papers to a lower standard?

But which papers are bleached?

GettyImages 50466811 This doctor tried to convince Carl Sagan to stop smoking weed
What’s better unbleached or bleached rolling papers? (Photo by Thomas Kristich/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

If you love joints as much as I do, you smoke quite a few of them. So if you’re concerned about your health, you may decide to avoid bleached rolling papers. But how can you tell the difference?

Well, papers that appear bright white are almost always bleached. That’s your sign to look for another brand. Additionally, bleached rolling papers are almost always thicker than non-bleached ones, which is another reason to switch. Thicker papers result in harsher smoke.

What’s going on here is actually a cultural transition from “these papers will be used to smoke tobacco” to “these papers will be used to smoke weed.” In the former case, taste wasn’t as important to the experience, and the thicker papers were usually made from wood pulp. In the latter case, people want to taste the weed.

What are the best unbleached papers?

Look for rolling papers that mention “unbleached” or use words like “organic” and “natural.” Due diligence is important. Look for the thinnest unbleached rice or hemp papers you can find.

Just because these papers are unbleached doesn’t mean they burn quickly, either. Many of them have been designed to ensure a slow burn. Unbleached papers are very thin, which aids in a leisurely smoking time.

RAW Natural Unbleached Rolling papers, probably the most popular, are totally free of chlorine and 100 percent vegan. The papers have a natural tan color and are never treated with chemicals. Happily, they are also so thin they are translucent. Their criss-cross pattern of watermarks facilitates smooth burning.

Other brands of natural, unbleached rolling papers include Elements, Pure Hemp, Smoking Organic Unbleached, Rips Unbleached Slims, and Dutchie Natural Unbleached.

Apr 2, 2018