We can all agree sharing makes the world a better place — with a few notable exceptions.
A plate of freshly-baked cranberry muffins? Share away. A beautifully-crafted joint? Please, pass it on our way!
But that nasty cold you’ve been battling? You probably want to keep that to yourself.
We know that swapping spit with a sick person is a good way to get sick. But can you get sick from sharing a joint (or a blunt, pipe etc.)? It’s not usually at the top of your mind mid-sesh, but it is something to consider if you’re health-conscious.
Can You Get Sick From Sharing a Joint?
Regrettably, it’s true: you can catch an illness from someone by sharing a joint with them. How? Blame their saliva.
At any given time, your mouth is home to a lot of bacteria (plus viruses, protozoa, fungi…) In fact, depending on the state of your oral hygiene, there could be more bacteria living in your mouth than there are people living on planet Earth.
To be fair, not all of these microscopic residents are bad for you — many germs are actually helpful, acting as a first line of defence against disease-causing viruses and bacteria. But saliva can also play host to lots of things you don’t want in your body.
That’s where sharing a joint can put you at risk. When you put a joint to your lips, some of your spit gets passed to the next person taking a hit, and the next, and so on.
The same goes for bongs, pipes, and other devices. If it’s touched your lips, it has some of your saliva, and where there’s saliva, there’s bacteria. Along with viruses like the cold and flu, it’s possible to get various other illnesses from sharing a joint, including herpes, gum disease, and mononucleosis – yes, the so-called kissing disease.
So, in answer to the question, “Can I get sick from sharing a joint?” remember this: if you can catch it by kissing someone, you can probably get it by sharing a joint with them, too.
Can You Kill Off Germs With a Lighter?
Some people like to pass a flame along the tip of the joint before taking a hit, the idea being that the heat will kill off any bacteria the last person left behind.
In theory, it works: most of the microorganisms in your mouth need moisture to survive, and the flame would make quick work of them. But since you can’t actually see the germs, there’s really no way to know if the joint is ‘clean’.
Plus, there’s another issue. Think of how most people roll a joint. What do they use as an adhesive? Spit.
In that case, it’s not only the tip of the joint that could be full of germs.
In short, a lighter can help, but it isn’t a reliable way to decontaminate your joint.
Sharing a Joint Without Getting Sick: Tips for Safe Sesh
It goes without saying that you should probably avoid sharing a joint with someone who’s sick. But you can’t always gauge someone’s health just by looking, and some viruses (like herpes) can spread even when there are no symptoms.
The good news is, there are things you and your friends can do to share the experience without sharing the germs. Here are a few ways to minimize the chance of getting sick from your next sesh:
- When you’re rolling a joint, seal it with something other than spit to keep the germs out. Decent alternatives include honey, maple syrup, or water (spread using end of your finger or a Q-tip).
- With bongs, pipes and other such devices, be sure to clean and sanitize your piece between sessions.
Use a MouthPeace as a barrier between your lips and the joint. We designed the MouthPeace Mini for just this purpose — the shape fits snugly on the end of an average-sized joint, and the silicone is super easy to clean. Just don’t pass it around