One of the many ways of enjoying a nice medicated smoke is by the good old fashioned rolling paper. Rolling paper was originally invented in Alcoy, Spain. Rolling papers were large folded sheets tied with a string.

Rolling papers are small sheets, rolls, or leaves of paper that a consumer can purchase at smoke shops, tobacco stores, mini markets and on the internet for rolling by hand or with a rolling machine. In basic form, rolling papers are strips that can be customized to any shape or size, and with a range of widths.

  • Thick papers are often referred to as free burning, and are the easiest papers to learn to roll with. Thick papers also come in handy when rolling marijuana that is moist or sticky to the touch.
  • Papers that are thin allow air to pass through easier when you inhale, which causes the paper to burn faster. A thin rolling paper will usually go out within a few seconds if not inhaled, or if placed in an ashtray. Longer, rice-based rolling papers are also often used to make spliffs or used by connoisseurs for cigarettes of the highest quality.

Here we are going to focus on the joint. Joints are best when the herb is grinded up properly, as it allows ones joint to burn evenly. A grinder will also do away with those annoying stems that can poke holes into your rolling papers. If this does happen to occur, you can take a piece of another rolling paper and use it as a bandage to patch the hole. Make sure to use the gum part where it sticks. The gumming on paper (which allows paper to stick once moistened) can be all natural gum or a cheaper imitation. Some rolling paper is un-gummed, in which case you would use more saliva to moisture than you would with a gummed paper. A drop of honey can be applied to un-gummed rolling papers by using only a fine drop to stick. Always use natural or gummed types and go with thin, slow-burning papers whenever you can.

One of the easiest ways to test rolling paper is by performing what is called ‘The Match Test’. It’s as simple as striking a match to the paper and seeing how much ash is left over.


When considering rolling papers, Zig Zag’s usually come to mind. In 1879 two brothers by the name of Maurice and Jacques Braunstein established a business in Paris to produce fine cigarette papers in flat booklet form. They patented their invention, and named their new product “Zig-Zag” after the Z shape the interleaved papers make when pulled from the booklet. This revolutionary process became a new packaging standard that is still used today. They offer many different types of premium quality rolling papers, including Hemp Papers, Unbleached Papers, cigar wraps and cones that deliver a superior smoking experience. Orange Zig Zags are their most popular, using Natural Flax Plant Fibers and 100% Natural Gum Ararbic with a 1 ¼ size paper that is easy rolling and slow burning.

Shine Rolling Papers are 24k gold leaves which ash gold as well; but don’t try pawning your ashes. These are fun and classy novelty rolls and each packet comes with a certificate of authenticity. Shine 24k gold rolling papers are a perfect mix of gold on the outside and a consistent burning paper on the inside. Shine comes in many shapes and forms, they also have blunt wraps too. Shine papers are phenomenally smooth and consistently burn evenly and are very unique and pretty. A great way to enjoy the high life!

Juicy Jays are hand-packed, designed to enhance the natural flavors of your smoke. Jamaican Rum, Bubble Gum, Very Cherry and Watermelon are only a few of the many flavors they have to offer. They are lightweight hemp papers that use a natural, sugar gum. Juicy Jays also use a revolutionary watermark that prevents runs and maintains a very smooth burn. They usually come 32 to a packet of 1 ¼ size rolling papers.

Hempire papers are made from 100% pure hemp and use natural glue, with no chemicals and burn slow. You get 32 leaves in a packet.

Chills Alien papers can be found in 100 leaf packets and are 1 1/2 wide x 2 3/4 thick (70mm long), among other sizes.

Bugler papers were more popular in U.S. prisons and among low-end rollers. Made up of flax and wood, Bugler’s are medium thickness and pre-gummed.

Pay-Pay’s are the oldest brand of rolling papers in the world, originating from Spain in 1703.

JOB papers were the first brand to produce rolling papers in booklet form and are very easy to roll with.

Randy’s Wired rolling papers have been around since 1975. Randy’s are thick and support the included wire, which allows the user to hold a much smaller roach, and makes for an easy pass. They’re easy to roll with, and easy to hold. Not exactly the healthiest, but fun to use.

Elements papers are made in Spain, the birthplace of rolling paper. Elements are ultra-thin rice papers, and are considered to be the highest quality paper, using a sugar-based glue burning with almost zero ash and come 50 leaves to a pack, offering the consumer more leaves than most brands.

All the Zen, Elements, Rollies, Chills, RAW, Brown Sugar and flavored and printed papers use natural gums which are perfect for vegan and environmentally friendly minded customers. They are easy to roll with and continually offer a smooth smoke from start to finish with minimal ash.

RAW papers are so thin its translucent brown with a sugar based glue gum. Made of rice, flax these papers are natural, unbleached, and chemical free. RAW is said to be the healthiest and is extremely easy to roll with. The string on the RAW logo represents their deep connection to 400 years and 20 generations of rolling passion.


Zen papers are available in a variety of sizes with normal to thin papers that burn evenly and leave no after-taste. Zen is a very popular brand and is extremely wonderful to use.

Joker papers are a little thicker and only come with 24 leaves per booklet. Joker has been around forever, and a lot of hippies still roll with Joker.

Then there are the Clear Papers, with brands like Klear, Glass, Prizm, etc. These are especially marvelous because you can see your beautiful buds inside the clear paper, which is really cool, and they offer a nice slow and even burn. Clear papers are non-plastic, biodegradable, and offer a sweet taste on the lips, compliments to the Glycerin factor which by the way is very safe and useful. All clear brands are essentially the same as they are made up of cellulose mainly from trees or cotton. It is essential when rolling with these papers that you provide extra moisture, or they will come undone. The whole paper can be licked by doing what is called a ‘wet down’ where the joint gets moistened quickly in the mouth. You can do this trick with any papers to establish a slower burn, but it is especially necessary to add a lot of moisture to your clear papers. The clear compacts around your buds and provides a very tight pull, quite different than your standard white paper, and has a tendency to go out more regularly, but these are safe and fun.

Other uses for rolling papers include…

  • Improvised and inexpensive band aid to stop bleeding.
  • Make-Up/ oil blotter for face.
  • Wind instrument players like to use rolling papers as a blotter to remove moisture in keypads or joints.
  • Clarinet players use it to protect their lips by rolling in half and putting over their two front bottom teeth.
  • Rolling papers make great improvised lens cleaners, a little trick I learned as a photographer many years ago. This is not something you want to do a lot of, but it does clean the lens.



Article & Photographs: Maggie St.Thomas