Sideburning (known in some areas as 'surfing') is when your joint or cigarette begins to burn unevenly, burning more on one side than the other. This can be a tragedy if you're smoking pricey stuff because it means losing quite a lot of the herb. If it's just an ordinary cigarette that you're smoking you probably wouldn't be too worried about this happening as cigarettes are very easily and cheaply replaced, besides the very cruel joke the universe has played on us of this only very rarely happening with cigarettes, occurring along joints far more often. In order to know how to prevent sideburning, or cut it short before it ends up doing too much damage, one must know what the causes of it are.

At this point you may be thinking I am a little unhealthily concerned about a very minor problem in my life, but I like to be as economical with my weed, (as with other consumables) as I can be without having to take up smoking bongs and vapes. Now I am very fond of my vaporiser, it is smooth and cool and slow-working, but it is a lot of effort to set up and 'smoking' it feels unnatural, besides causing my chest to feel tight. My preferred method of smoking is to roll joints. I really love joints. I have built up quite a specific ritual around joint rolling and to me, much of the pleasure is in the process of preparing my smoke. The simple crumble onto an open skin, roll and lick method will not do- every aspect of the joint must be perfect, a work of art, down to the consisteny of the weed, the ratio of weed:mixing herb, even down to the type of card I use for the roach and my preferred brand of rolling papers.

Now obviously a sideburning joint couldn't possibly measure up to too many smokers' standard of perfection, and in my case I am certain of it. The causes of it are simple and avoidable but potentially devastating. It all comes down to an uneven burn- the fire has more difficulty burning along one side than the other. Cigarettes I have smoked that have ended up sideburning (I could probably count them all on one hand, with fingers to spare) have only ever done so as a result of two possible reasons: either I had been smoking in the rain, or under a tree after a period of rain, and drops of water had created little wet spots on my cigarette which the fire had difficulty passing through; or there was a fuck off piece of wood in the middle of my cigarette that the cherry could not burn. Apply this principle to your joints.

Most obviously you should aim for a good smooth and even consistency when rolling. Ensure there are not too many lumps in the weed, fat and hard chunks that the cherry would more likely bypass than set on fire. The other extreme is undesirable too. Dust tends to collect together and if your weed is very sticky, the dust will form a solid, unbreathable block. The mix is down to personal preference of course, some people like their joints pure, others like to sprinkle a little weed into their rolling tobacco when rolling what is essentially a cigarette, but it must be mixed well. Sometimes I like to roll different peoples' weed or different kinds of weed at different points along the joint- not as a cocktail, but so it's sort of like those ice lollies with the seperate flavours along them, but I still try to maintain a good mix of weed and tobacco/hash and tobacco, even if the mixtures are intentionally seperate. As mentioned above, dust that is fine enough will gather together if it is not mixed into the tobacco or other mixing herb well enough, and the fire won't know what to do with it, and you will have wasted all your lovely weed.

On the subject of the mixing herb, it should go without saying (I say it should, but a few people I have smoked with seemed to overlook what I considered fairly obvious), be sure that this is also well ground up. You don't want twigs and chunks of wood that will 1) break holes in the skin and 2) cause an obstruction for the fire. Another cause of sideburning is a baggy joint. Always be sure to pack your smoking mix so it's nice and tight, but not so tight that it ends up being unsmokable. That would defeat the purpose entirely. A badly packed joint will cause huge holes to appear along it upon lighting, which will let all your weed fall out and render the joint completely unsmokable.

Prevention is better than cure because a problem prevented doesn't need to be cured but if a joint happens to sideburn despite your best efforts, you must strive to salvage as much of the weed as possible. If it is too far gone, cut off the entire hardened point and start the fire burning around the joint again. A joint or cigarette that sideburns due to wetness will eventually, and quickly, begin to burn evenly again, leaving you with flaps of paper and ash hanging by their corners to the end. This is nothing to worry about. But when you notice a joint begin to sideburn (it will be obvious, one side will be longer than the other and the shape of the lit end will tend towards becoming vertical), arrange the fire to a more even shape with forefinger and thumb, or a lit cigarette lighter or match, before it's too late and most of the joint has to be disposed of. Guiding the fire in a good direction by sucking also helps occasionally, but most of the time it will only help to spread the fire further in the direction it's already going in, which we agreed was not a good direction.

Take my advice, and you really ought never to have to deal with a sideburning joint again. If I have missed anything important, which I undoubtedly will have, let me know and I will amend my writeup.

I wish somebody would come up with a cure for procrastination tho. If I had that, my life would be perfect.

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