Making an easy pipe or bong from aluminium cans is a common practice among cannabis users. We’ve all been there; you’ve got a bud and a light, but nothing to smoke out of. So, you decide to spawn your inner Macgyver and build a pipe out of an old aluminium can.
But could this seemingly innocent solution secretly have some serious side effects? Afterall, aluminium has copped some serious heat in terms of its health risks. But are these rumours true? Could smoking from an aluminum can really be that bad?
THE HEALTH RISKS OF ALUMINIUM
There are some health risks to aluminum exposure. However, the severity of these effects depends on a number of factors including duration of exposure, dose, personal traits, and much more.
The US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry clearly inhales some of the health effects of exposure to aluminium.
When inhaled as dust particles, aluminium can cause respiratory problems and may affect the nervous system. Oral consumption of aluminium, however, is usually not harmful. While some studies previously suggested that aluminium exposure could be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, other studies argue that that may not actually be true.
Some people with kidney disease may store more aluminium in their bodies. These higher concentrations of aluminium may cause the development of bone and/or brain diseases.
DOES SMOKING OUT OF AN ALUMINIUM CAN DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH?
The answer to this question depends on whom you ask. Some articles claim that smoking out of an aluminium has a vast variety of health effects.
For example, the inner lining of aluminium cans is made of polymer, which is basically a blend of a variety of plastics, which can contain a cocktail of toxic chemicals, including BPA, which is known to cause cancer.
The paint on the outside of most aluminium cans is either thermoplastic or thermoset, both of which contain plastic compounds. Again, some people are worried about heating these paints and exposing themselves to the toxic compounds in this paint.
In a column on the Wesleyan Argus, a weekly student newspaper from the Wesleyan University in Middletown, a professor argues that smoking from aluminium shouldn’t produce any noticeable health effects.
“Aluminium is a fairly reactive metal and on exposure to the atmosphere it quickly forms a surface layer of aluminium oxide, which protects the underlying metal from further reaction. Any aluminium that winds up in the smoke would be in the form of this oxide,” writes the author of the article.
While there is little scientific data on the toxicity of aluminium oxide, the author of the article assumes it’s about as toxic as smoking other kinds of fine particles. In fact, you probably expose yourself to more aluminium through your daily habits of using deodorant, cooking with foil, or eating/drinking canned products than smoking from a can every once in a while.
CAN SMOKING FROM AN ALUMINUM CAN CAUSE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE?
The short answer is “probably not.” In the 60s and 70s, a variety of medical papers suggested that exposure to aluminium could increase one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. If you know anyone who grew up in this era, this is why he or she is probably so anti-aluminium (from can bopipes all the way through to regular cooking foil).
These theories were based on the fact that aluminium can cause neurofibrillary degeneration. Neuronal degeneration is the main symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. However, reputable sources (such as the Alzheimer’s Association) clearly states that recent research doesn’t support these findings.
SHOULD I CONTINUE SMOKING OUT ALUMINIUM?
Nothing compares to smoking a neatly rolled joint or from a high quality pipe. And, to be honest, marijuana paraphernalia has become so accessible that there is really no excuse to not have a decent quality bubbler or pipe on you no matter where you go.
Knowing that the effects of smoking from aluminium are far less worrisome than the effects of smoking, we suggest you avoid smoking out of aluminium cans. But we all know that there will always be moments when you really have no other option and will still grab a can.
If you’re really worried about your health in general, your best bet is to avoid smoking altogether, regardless whether it is a bong, blunt, joint, cigarette or from an aluminium can. If you want to continue using cannabis but are concerned about the health effects of smoking, we suggest investing in a high-quality vaporizer.
Finally, as more money gets pumped into the cannabis industry, we can expect to see a price decrease in more advanced equipment like portable vapes, which are the best solution for any health-conscious cannabis users.