Thai Sticks: History, Effects, & How to Make Them
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Remember those stories about the legendary cannabis creations of the 1960s and 1970s? Enter the Thai stick, a traditional marijuana cigar marvel originating from Thailand that was once the talk of the marijuana world.
At their peak, Thai sticks were among the strongest weed people had smoked. Fast forward to today, and these potent cannabis cigars are making a return.
This guide delves into the history, appeal, and art of Thai sticks, offering insights and a step-by-step method for those keen to recreate this classic.
What are Thai sticks?
Picture a weed cigar that is made of layers of cannabis buds that are then wrapped in cannabis leaves. It’s often compared to a blunt, except it will burn for hours and have a more potent effect. Thai sticks are your original marijuana cigar.
The name “Thai sticks” originated from the use of buds from Thai cannabis landraces in their creation.
These buds were attached to a stick, often made of bamboo, wrapped with fan leaves, and tied with a hemp string. The construction has stayed the same, but now people are being innovative by using different strains.
Making Thai sticks is a labour of love. It involves letting the final product cure for a month before smoking.
Construction is simple: attach cured cannabis buds, lather it in cannabis oil/sugar water or kief, cover the stick in large leaves, and tie it all together with hemp fibres.
A brief history of Thai sticks
Thai sticks originated from northeast Thailand and were made by the various tribes that lived there. Unfortunately, there is no recorded timeline as to when they were first created.
Their rise to fame, however, came in the backdrop of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s.
As American soldiers found themselves stationed in Thailand during the war, they were introduced to a unique method of preparing and smoking cannabis that would captivate their attention and eventually capture the imagination of enthusiasts around the world.
Thai sticks were meticulously crafted bundles of high-quality Thai cannabis flowers skewered onto thin bamboo sticks, which were then often wrapped in colourful hemp fibres.
These aromatic and potent creations became a cherished discovery for many American GIs stationed in Thailand. Back then, it was the most potent marijuana people had across.
As GIs brought these novel creations back home, they inadvertently introduced a piece of Southeast Asian cannabis culture to the American counterculture scene, where it quickly gained popularity. Soon, Thai sticks were being smuggled out of Thailand onto the rest of the world by tonnes.
Eventually, cannabis was caught in the crossfire when the Thai government became stricter on drugs in the 1970s to try to disrupt the flow of opium.
It wasn’t until the current resurgence of the weed industry, thanks to the legalisation of cannabis in Thailand, that Thai sticks started to become popular again.
The effects of Thai sticks
As with any cannabis product, the effects depend on the strain that the product is made of. But for comparative reasons, it would be similar to taking a hit from a blunt made with really potent flowers.
Common effects of smoking a Thai stick can include:
- A cerebral high
- A strong sense of euphoria
- Great sensory sensitivity
- Deep focus
Due to their strong effects, someone with low tolerance may experience moments of paranoia or anxiety. So, it’s best to stay within your tolerance limits.
Thai sticks generally have a medium CBD level, which makes them ideal for recreational use but limits their medical potential. This means that while there are still some health benefits, such as pain relief, it won’t be as potent as a CBD strain.
How to make Thai sticks
The process of making Thai sticks is simple, but it requires a lot of patience to do it correctly.
The materials you’ll need to make your Thai sticks include:
- Cannabis buds
- Chopstick or bamboo skewers
- Hash oil/sugar water
- Hemp wick
- Cannabis leaves
Ensure that your work area is large enough and that you have cleaned it thoroughly of dust and clutter.
Step 1: Select the buds
- Bud selection: Begin with choosing the largest and fluffiest cannabis buds you have. Larger, fluffy buds ensure better airflow when smoking and are easy to pack in the stick. Overly dense buds can obstruct airflow and make smoking the Thai stick challenging.
- Quality matters: Opt for buds that are mature, well-trimmed, and high-quality. This improves the visual appeal and ensures a consistent smoking experience.
Step 2: Prep the stick
- Hash oil coating: Coat the stick with hash oil, ensuring it’s uniformly covered and sticky to the touch. This stickiness acts like glue, allowing the buds to stick more effectively.
- Alternative coating: If you don’t have hash oil or if you prefer a non-psychoactive adhesive, a thin layer of sugar water can be an excellent substitute. Remember, the purpose is to make the stick tacky.
Step 3: Attach the buds
- Assembly: Begin by attaching buds to the stick. Press them firmly against the sticky surface, ensuring they stick well.
- Packing: Continue adding buds until the entire stick is covered. Ensure they are packed closely to promote even burning and a seamless appearance. Once done, wrap this ‘cigar’ with a hemp string so the buds stay in place.
Step 4: Allow for resting time
- Reason for the pause: This resting period lets the hash oil or sugar water set and helps the buds stick better to the stick. It also begins the process of the buds merging together, setting the foundation for subsequent steps.
- Refrigeration: Place the wrapped Thai Stick in the refrigerator. The cold environment encourages the nugs to solidify, gradually forming into one cohesive piece. Letting it rest for at least a day is recommended, but a few days might be even better to ensure the buds truly merge.
Step 5: Apply another layer of oil
- Unwrap the stick: Carefully remove the hemp string from the stick. The buds will stay in place and not fall off the stick if you do the previous steps correctly.
- Brushing: Using a brush or your fingertips, coat the cannabis buds with the warmed hash oil/sugar water. This layer not only enhances potency but also helps in binding the buds together.
Step 6: Wrap the leaves
- Selection: Choose large, healthy, and clean cannabis fan leaves. These leaves act as a natural wrapper, holding the buds in place.
- Wrapping: Wrap the leaves tightly around the Thai stick, ensuring they overlap slightly. This helps keep the buds securely attached and offers a traditional look to the Thai stick. Repeat this process thrice. That is, apply a layer of leaves, coat it with the oil/sugar water, and apply leaves again for a total of three layers of marijuana leaves.
Between each of the three layers, you can re-wrap the stick with hemp string again and put it in the fridge for 24 hours for the cigar to take shape. This increases the time taken to make the stick, but the end result is a high-quality cannabis cigar.
Step 7: Heat the cigar gently
- Purpose: This step might seem subtle, but it is needed to ensure your Thai stick keeps its shape. Warming serves a dual purpose – it helps evenly spread the oil beneath the layers and solidify the bond between the leaves.
- Preparation: Re-wrap your stick in parchment paper before gently heating the cigar. The paper acts as a protective layer, preventing direct contact with heat, and ensures even warmth distribution. 10-30 seconds on a hot plate or hot pan is sufficient.
Step 8: Tie the loose ends
- Purpose: Tying the ends ensures the Thai stick maintains its shape and integrity. It compresses the contents slightly, promoting a unified structure.
- Material: Use thin hemp string or similarly safe, non-reactive material to tie the Thai stick. Ensure it is tight enough to compress the buds but not so tight as to restrict airflow.
The art of curing, vital to the artisanship of Thai stick creation, is about more than just waiting—it’s a calculated process aimed at enhancing flavour, improving potency, and guaranteeing a smoother burn. Curing is crucial in the cannabis world; the process ensures that the diversity of the cannabis plant, from its cannabinoids to its terpenes, is preserved, matured, and primed for use.
Marrying the distinct ingredients of a Thai stick requires an environment good for the merger of ingredients.
The cold serves not only as a binding agent, pushing the ingredients into a single structure, but also as an enhancer of the terpene profile, crucial for the Thai stick’s distinctive aroma and flavour.
There are many ways to go about curing your Thai stick, each taking different times. You can experiment here – make three versions of Thai sticks and let them cure in different methods. Smoke them once they are ready and compare.
First curing period
- Packaging: Once tied, wrap the Thai stick in parchment paper or place it in a paper bag.
- Refrigeration: Store the wrapped Thai stick in the refrigerator. The cold environment encourages the Thai stick components to meld together, forming a solid mass. Typically lasting between 3 and 5 days, this period is crucial for terpene production, which greatly influences flavour and aroma.
Second curing period
- Checking: After 3 days, unwrap and check the Thai stick. You can apply an additional layer of hash oil for added potency.
- Extended curing: Return the Thai stick to the refrigerator for another week, allowing the buds to cure and merge more.
Vacuum sealing: optional
- Purpose: Vacuum sealing can fasten the curing process by removing air and promoting tighter compression.
- Process: If you choose to vacuum seal, place the Thai stick in a vacuum bag and seal it, then refrigerate for at least another week. This helps the layers fuse, offering a potent and cohesive final product.
Ground curing: traditional method
Tapping into ancient wisdom, ground curing is a nod to traditional methods. This is how the tribes in Isan made the OG Thai sticks.
It uses the earth’s natural consistency in temperature to promote fermentation, enhancing the Thai stick’s flavour and potency through organic decarboxylation.
- Preparation: Thoroughly wrap the Thai Stick in an airtight material to protect against contaminants and moisture.
- Burying: Dig a hole about half a metre deep in undisturbed soil. Place the sealed Thai Stick inside and cover it with soil.
- Duration: Leave the Thai Stick buried for at least a month for optimal results. Once ready, retrieve, air out for a few days, and then store in a cool, dry place.
Smoking a Thai stick
To smoke a Thai stick, you need to remove the stick or skewer that is in the middle. Unwrap the hemp string carefully. Be careful as you twist and pull the stick through so that you don’t dislodge any of the cannabis buds.
Using a butane torch to light it up is best, as a lot of flame will be needed to get it started. Once the end is glowing, you can puff on it to your heart’s content.
Thai sticks can burn for up to 6 hours, so it is best shared with friends and enjoyed over a long time.
Common mistakes when making
The biggest mistake you can make during the Thai stick process is not coating the stick with enough cannabis concentrate/sugar oil. This causes the buds to fall off during the first curing stage, which delays the rest of the process.
Another common mistake is the bud choice. Dense buds won’t stay lit as no air can easily get in. Fluffy buds are easier to light up and will help distribute the air throughout the entire Thai stick.
Thai sticks have a long history and are a special part of the world of cannabis. Making them takes time and care, but the end result is worth it. Be mindful when you are placing the buds on the stick; be sure to use enough hash oil/sugar water coating so the nugs can stick properly.
Giving time for the stick to solidify and take its shape during the preparation is another good practice. Lastly, you should cure the final Thai cigar for 1-4 weeks for all the terpenes and cannabinoids to mature and come out.
For those who love trying different ways to enjoy cannabis, Thai sticks are a must-try.