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Creating The Perfect Joint Filter Or Crutch: A Step-by-step Guide

Rolling the perfect joint means rolling the perfect crutch. Without a filter, you’ll struggle with hazardous plant matter, uneven burns, wasted marijuana, and mouth burns. 

Luckily, even if you don’t have a pack of pre-built filters or tip paper, you can still roll one with supplies at home. 

Here’s everything you need to know about filters – what filters are, why you need one, and how to roll a filter or crutch for your joint. Use this guide to make every joint the best joint! 

perfect joint filter

What Is A Crutch?

A crutch, joint filter, or tip is a piece of rolled paper inserted at the mouth end of a joint. The crutch is usually made from stiff paper. You can also buy tip paper (usually made from hemp) from a dispensary.  

The filter does as the name suggests. It prevents plant matter from getting into your mouth and offers a place to hold your joint and smoke without burning your fingers. Filters also reduce the amount of carcinogens inhaled when smoking weed. 

Why Use A Filter In A Joint?

It is possible to smoke a joint without a filter. People have been doing so for decades, and smoking filterless joints isn’t bound to go away soon. They’re perfectly fine in a pinch. 

However, a crutch is essential to any great joint, especially if you are smoking high-quality products. And here’s why. 

More Even Burn 

Crutches add structure to joints. It compacts the product and helps the joint maintain its tubular shape. The crutch also offers a small opening at the mouth, which gives the joint airflow. All of this combines for a better, more even burn. 

Reduce Product Waste 

Crutches reduce product waste in two ways. 

First, smoking the product with a filter reduces inadequate airflow and prevents clusters that don’t burn. You get to enjoy the entire batch of weed in your joint. Second, the filter offers a place for your mouth and fingers to rest. If you smoke without a filter, the product by the mouth is often discarded because you can’t smoke the last bit without burning your mouth. But with a filter, you add space between your mouth and the burn, which means you can smoke to the quick of the joint and enjoy all the product. 

Prevent Mouth Burns 

As the joint burns down, the heat at the tip gets closer to your lips with every draw. Crutches are a barrier between the lighted end and your mouth, preventing any uncomfortable heat and mouth burns. It also protects your fingers by offering a place to hold onto the joint. 

Filter Out Plant Matter 

If you’ve ever smoked without a filter, you know that even a mild inhale can cause some marijuana to break free and shoot into your mouth. It’s unpleasant, wasteful, and a choking hazard. 

However, a filter acts as, well, a filter. It prevents loose weed from entering your mouth while smoking. It also stops ash from getting in the way of your high, especially toward the end of the joint. 

Best Materials For Making A Crutch

While you can make a crutch from items at home, the best material for your crutch will be hemp tip paper. It’s safe to smoke, contains no dyes, and offers the perfect thickness and porousness. 

However, if your dispensary doesn’t have any or you want to save money, don’t fret. Here’s what to look for: 

  • Malleable material: Your goal should be a thin paper that is tougher than standard white paper but still malleable. A business card works well. Other great options are cigarette boxes, paper folders, and index cards. If you do use cardboard, make sure it’s the very thin kind. 
  • No plastic or adhesive: You’ll often find adhesive or plastic edges on manilla folders and business cards. Don’t use them for your crutch. It’ll ruin the taste of the weed and can be toxic to smoke. Either remove it completely or use a different piece of material. 
  • Cut back on dyes: If you have a few items that can work as a filter, choose the one with the least amount of dye or print on it. However, if you have no other option, the dyed paper will do. 

How To Make A Joint Filter: Step-By-Step Guide

Now that you know what you need to roll your crutch, let’s get into how to roll a filter for your joint. 

1. Choose Paper And Cut It To Size

First, choose your crutch paper. Either buy specifically made tip paper or find material that matches the above description. If you have material but find it’s not malleable enough, roll it, bend it, and loosen the fibers with movement. 

Next, cut the material to shape. If you’re familiar with filters, then you have an idea of how wide they are. There should be enough space for your mouth to comfortably rest without taking up too much joint space. 

As for length, cut the crutch paper to around 2 inches long. If you are folding a thicker joint, cut it a little longer. 

2. Make A “W” Or “M” Shape Fold 

Once you’ve cut the filter paper, it’s time to fold the end. Fold one end of the paper into an accordion shape until it makes a “W” or an “M.” How many times you fold depends on your preference. We suggest you tweak your rolling formula as you get more comfortable rolling your crutches. 

The more folds you have, the thicker and more dense the filter will be. 

The folds should be around the size of the final crutch. If the accordion is too tight and small, inhaling could be difficult. 

3. Roll Around The Accordion Shape 

When you have finished creating the small accordion shape, you’ll be left with a tongue of unrolled paper. Wrap all the excess paper around the accordion until there is nothing left. It will usually do one or two rotations around the roll. 

If there is more than that, you can cut off the excess to prevent the crutch from being too thick.

When done, don’t press down on the crutch. It’ll break its shape. If it springs open, that’s fine. You’ll fix it in the next step. 

4. Roll The Crutch Into The Joint 

Now that you have your crutch, it’s time to roll it into your joint. 

The crutch will spring open when you let it go, which is fine. This will work as leverage in the roll, which will keep the crutch secure and offer shape and structure to your joint. 

So, grind your weed and place it on the rolling paper. Roll the filter up tightly and put it at the mouth end of the joint. Tuck and fold the paper from the filter end to create a tube, keeping it nice and tight. 

If some of the filter is left outside the paper, don’t worry. It’ll still work. Cut off the end if it bothers you. 

Lastly, if the filter is too wide for the amount of weed in the joint, you can pack in more weed, add tobacco, or re-roll it with a thinner filter. 

Alternative Methods For Rolling A Joint Filter

Rolling filters can seem difficult at first, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Once you master the basic accordion shape, you can move on to trying other fun shapes. 

Spiral Filter

The spiral shape is easier to fold than the accordion shape. To fold the spiral, take your filter paper, fold one end over, and start rolling until it’s created a spiral.While the spiral filter is very easy and a go-to method for beginners, we wouldn’t suggest using it. It’s not an effective filter for several reasons: 

  • Plant filters often make their way through the middle. 
  • It doesn’t have a good structure and tends to collapse when touched or smoked. 
  • It gets clogged easily by plant matter and marijuana oils, making it difficult to draw smoke. 

Heart Filter 

The heart filter is a fun option for the romantics. It’s also as effective as the accordion shape, offering great structure. 

Here’s how to fold a heart-shaped filter: 

  1. Cut the filter paper into your desired width with a length of at least 2 inches. 
  2. Fold a big V shape with the end of the filter paper. It should be at least half an inch long. 
  3. Use a toothpick to fold the paper outwards on either side of the V-tip fold. This will create the top parts of the heart. 
  4. Connect the bottom edges of the paper to form the heart and continue rolling it around the heart until you have a filter with a heart suspended inside. 

Peace Sign Filter 

Next, let’s make a peace sign: 

  1. Collect two pieces of filter paper. 
  2. Take the first one and create an “M” fold. Invert the middle part of the “M” and pinch it to make a “Y” shape. 
  3. Roll the excess paper around the “Y” shape as you normally would. 
  4. Cut a small strip of paper off the second filter paper. 
  5. Push it between the “Y” shape top lines to complete the signature ? symbol. 

Weed Leaf Filter 

Show off with a weed leaf filter. It’s the most challenging and most rewarding filter to make. 

  1. Ensure you have a large enough DIY filter paper or enough tip paper on hand for two crutches. 
  2. If you have a big piece of paper, cut the paper to your desired width and a length of about 2 inches. 
  3. Fold a quarter inch of one end into a tight “V” shape. 
  4. From there, create two more folds to create the leaves. Each one should be bigger until the last “V,” which will be the biggest. 
  5. Next, create the mirror of the leaf by reversing the process. Create two more “V” shapes, each getting smaller. 
  6. Open the folds a little so they don’t stick together before connecting the entire shape into a weed leaf. 
  7. Take another piece of tip or filter paper and roll it around the shape. If there is still paper left from the first paper, roll it first and supplement the length with another paper. 

Tips For Perfecting Your Joint Filter

Here are some tips for rolling the perfect joint filter. 

  • Practice: Practice makes perfect. While the first few rolls will be difficult, you’ll get better with every roll as you get the hang of it. Take your time, offer to roll crutches for your friends, and practice whenever you can. 
  • Experiment: Filters aren’t an exact science. Experiment with our crutch rolling technique until you find a style that suits your joints and your needs. 
  • Buy tip paper: If you’re rolling joints often, invest in some tip paper. There are many affordable options on the market. They’re the perfect consistency and make the rolling process much easier. 


Crutches offer necessary filtration and structure to joints and spliffs. They also prevent loose bits of weed from becoming a choking hazard and protect your mouth and fingers from burning. 

Use this article to learn how to roll a crutch or filter for your joints. Practice whenever you can and experiment until you can roll filters in your sleep. 

The perfect joint should be stuffed with only the best weed. Embarc offers high-quality cannabis, community, and culture at an unbeatable price! Visit a local Embarc dispensary today!