A joint filter, also known as a crutch, is an essential part of your joint if you want to have a sturdier and smoother smoke that won’t burn you or make you inhale a bunch of weed particles. If you’ve got your weed and your papers ready, but no pre-made crutch, you’re in the right place. Below we’re breaking down all of your top FAQs and teaching you how to make a filter for a joint. As a bonus, we also threw in a few alternative crutch rolling methods that make great party favors.
What is a joint filter or crutch?
If you’ve ever smoked a high-quality pre-roll, you’ve already experienced joint filters. When buying a preroll, you’ll find three main components: the paper, the weed inside, and the crutch at the end. The crutch, also known as a filter or tip, serves multiple purposes. It keeps the end of the joint open, provides support to keep the joint straight, prevents plant matter from entering your mouth, and protects your lips and fingers from burns. In the past, roach clips were used to smoke the last bit of a joint, but crutches eliminate the need for them. They allow you to smoke the entire joint down to the crutch without burning your fingers or lips, and then discard it without wasting any weed. Crutches are typically made of semi-stiff paper, like business card material. RAW’s hemp-based fiber paper is the preferred option since they’re unbleached and designed for a smooth roll and hold their shape well. However, in a pinch, crutches can be made from all sorts of materials, including index cards, the flap of a rolling paper or cigarette pack, manila folder flaps without the adhesive, magazine subscription cards, the back flap of your check book, or any other piece of thin cardstock or cardboard.
Benefits of using a crutch
While making a crutch isn’t totally necessary to roll and smoke a joint, your overall smoking experience will drastically improve when you use one. Overall, using a crutch improves the quality of your smoking session by ensuring good airflow, providing structural support, preventing debris from entering your mouth, and offering protection against heat-related discomfort. Let’s dive in:
Ensures good airflow: A crutch helps maintain proper airflow throughout the joint. By keeping the end open, it allows for smooth and consistent inhalation, which helps to prevent your joint from burning unevenly or canoeing.
Provides structure to the joint: A crutch adds stability and structure to the joint, keeping it straight and preventing it from collapsing in on itself or becoming too loose. This structure also helps with airflow, and gives you more control over how you roll the joint.
Stops bits of weed going into your mouth: One of the main advantages of using a crutch is that it acts as a barrier, preventing small bits of weed or ash from entering your mouth while you inhale. Using a filter with a joint isn’t like a cigarette filter, but it still helps to maintain a clean and comfortable smoking experience. Scoobs getting sucked through the joint can contribute to an uneven burn, wasted weed, or worst case scenario, you choking.
Protects your lips and fingers from heat: As you near the end of a joint, it tends to burn closer to your lips and fingers, which can be uncomfortable or even cause burns. A crutch acts as a protective buffer, shielding your lips and fingers from direct heat and allowing you to comfortably smoke the joint down to the very end without having to use a roach clip.
Best materials for making a crutch
The best material for making a filter is always going to be specially designed filter tips from brands like RAW, since they are the optimal size and thickness, and highly malleable. If you don’t have these to hand, you still have options. You can make a filter out of a few different materials, but it’s important to always use some sort of thin card. You want something thinner than a rigid cardboard cereal box, and something thicker than a regular old flimsy piece of paper. Typically you’ll have good results with index cards, manila folders, magazine subscription cards, the top of a cigarette pack, or the back flap of a checkbook. You can also go for reusable crutches or pre-made filters, which we’ll talk more in depth about later.
Best materials to use: Specially design filter tips from brands like RAW or OCB, or the following alternatives:
- Index cards
- Manila filters
- Business cards
- Top of a cigarette pack
- Back flap of a checkbook
- Outer flap of rolling paper pack
What to avoid: When choosing materials for making a filter tip, you should avoid using any card that has a plastic lining, like you’ll find on many business cards. It also helps to avoid rigid papers with lots of ink or dyes on them, but these materials will definitely do you in a pinch.
How to make a crutch: video guide
Watch our video tutorial on how to make a joint filter below.
How to make a joint filter: step by step guide
If you’re ready to learn how to make a filter for a joint, start by selecting your ideal filter material, and watch the video and follow the steps below.
1. Start by taking a thin piece of paper
We recommend using specially made filter tips from brands such as RAW or OCB since they offer perfect thickness and malleability. However, you can fashion a filter out of various types of thin card. In these cases, rip it or cut it with scissors to approximately 60mm long and 17mm wide, which equates to 2.3” long and about 0.5″ wide. The cuts don’t have to be perfect, but it’ll be easier to roll your crutch with something congruent.
2. Make a few small accordion folds on one end of the paper
Once you have your filter card, you can start folding it into shape. The best way to start is to make a few accordion-style folds at one end of the paper. That just means fold one side towards you and one side away from you. Make the folds on the small side, as you’ll only be folding half of the filter this way. Try not to crease the paper when you’re folding it, as it’ll make the crutch too tight to draw smoke from. You can make as many folds as you like. Some people go with a V shape, while others go for an M or add even more folds, so feel free to experiment to find what you like best.
3. Roll the remaining paper around the folds
Your folds will be a little springy. With one hand, you can pinch the folds down gently to hold them in place, and then you’ll roll the remaining paper around the folded part. Make sure you have at least half of the paper unfolded so you can wrap it completely around the crutch.
4. Wrap up all the excess paper
Your crutch should roll into a nice rounded shape between your fingers. Roll all the excess paper around your filter and trim off any excess. Keep in mind that with your springy folds, the crutch may want to unroll or expand. However, that’s nothing to worry about. Once it’s rolled into the joint, it’ll hold its shape and the springiness will keep it locked in place.
5. Roll the crutch into your joint
Once you have your finished crutch, you can place it at the end of your rolling paper and roll it into your joint like normal. It helps to leave a little bit of the crutch sticking out during the rolling process, but you can push it in when you’re done rolling your joint to make it flush with the end of the paper. After that you’re all set! You can enjoy all of the benefits of crutches and make them yourself easily.
How to make a joint filter: Spiral method
The easiest way to make a joint is the classic spiral method, though it isn’t all that great at the end of the day. To make one, all you have to do is take your cardstock material or your filter, and roll it into a cylinder. However this spiral shape does fit the joint and will get you by in a pinch, but it does come with a few drawbacks. The spiral openings in the center of the crutch may allow small pieces of plant matter to pass through, which can be unpleasant when they end up in your mouth. Additionally, as the joint heats up, plant oils may melt, causing the pieces to congeal and potentially clog the joint. Another issue is that this type of crutch lacks structural integrity and may occasionally pinch closed, affecting the airflow and smoking experience.
Alternative methods for rolling a joint filter
Once you know the basics, you can practice a few different ways to roll crutches if you’re looking to impress. Start with these:
How to make a heart filter
You will need a filter paper and a toothpick.
- Fold about half an inch of paper down, and then fold it again the other direction. It should look like an accordion reaching down about an inch.
- Using a toothpick, crimp the filter paper on either side of the fold to create the top of the heart.
- Fold the short end of the paper to meet the longer side, and you’ll have your heart.
- From there, just fold the remaining paper around your heart. It should look like a heart inside a circle head on.
- Roll the crutch into your joint.
How to make a peace sign filter:
For this one, you’ll need two filter tips.
- Starting on one end of the filter, fold the paper back and forth three times until you have a shape that looks like an “M”
- On the other end of the filter, begin rolling it into a cylinder until it reaches the M.
- Take one of the flaps on the M side, and push it down until it creates an inverted Y shape.
- Unroll the cylinder side, using the excess paper to wrap around the inverted Y.
- You can use a toothpick or a packing tool to make sure it looks aligned.
- From here, you’re still missing the middle of the peace sign. Cut a small piece of an extra filter horizontally and slide it into the inverted Y shape to make the perfect peace sign filter.
How to make a weed leaf filter:
To make a weed leaf crutch, you’ll need a few filter tips or a larger, longer piece of cardstock.
- Take your paper or filter tip and fold down about ¼ inch of the paper.
- Fold the paper back onto itself tightly to form a ‘V’ shape.
- Make two more zig-zag folds, increasing the size of each fold as you go. The third fold should be the largest, since this will be the first three pieces of the leaf.
- Add two additional zig-zag folds, decreasing the size of each fold so that you form a similar design to the first two.
- Gently spread out the folds to resemble a leaf shape. If you have extra paper, roll the rest of it around the leaf to round it into the crutch. You can also use a second filter paper if the folded leaf is too big.
- Insert the crutch into the bottom of your joint securely and enjoy.
Best filter tips for joints
If cutting and trimming a piece of cardstock paper seems like a lot of work, you’re right. It totally is.
That’s why we really like pre-cut crutches, like the ones RAW makes. Their standard tips use long-fiber paper made using a specialized mill, and are unbleached and unrefined. That means they fold and roll more smoothly, and also won’t mess with your flavors or cause any unpleasant side effects of accidentally burning dyes like you might with business cards. RAW’s filter tips are also the perfect amount of rigid, making them a great choice for newbies and for holding their shape in your mouth. Best of all, they’re super cheap.
RAW filter tips
- Raw Natural Perforated Wide Cotton Tips
- 50 Tips Per Pack - 10 Packs = 500 Tips
- Perforated Sides For Easy Rolling
- Natural Hemp and Cotton, Chlorine Free
- Suitable For Vegans
Zen Filter Tips
- Zen Roll Your Own Cigarette Paper Filter Rolling Tips
- Zen Paper Filter Tips add strength to the end of the cigarette
- Keeps tobacco dry and helps keep roll-your-own tobacco out of your mouth
- This listing includes 50 sheets per pack of Zen Paper Filter Tips that are perforated for easy rolling
- Available in package quantities of 5, 10, 24, and 50
OCB filter tips
- perforated filter tips for easy rolling
- unbleached paper
- total 25 x 50 = 1250 paper filter tips
- size of the booklet : 60 x 18 x 9mm
- brand new, never used
Reusable glass crutches
If the whole process adds a ton of extra work to your workflow, you can always opt for reusable filter tips. Reusable filter tips are typically made of glass and slide right into your joint. They cost a little more than RAW filter tips, but they’re also better for the environment and can be cleaned and reused time and time again. You can even get pre-rolled crutches to save yourself some time.
All in all, rolling filter tips is such an important part of a joint. Knowing how to roll a filter can elevate your joint game and also protect your lips along with the integrity of your joint, and prevent you from inhaling little bits of weed. Whether you opt for a reusable crutch or roll your own, they’re a necessary part of a quality joint smoking experience. Let us know how it works for you!