Behind Closed Doors

Methods teens use to mask the smell of marijuana.

Posted Jul 16, 2018

Arne Trautmann/Deposit Photos
Source: Arne Trautmann/Deposit Photos

Nationwide, one in 16 high school seniors report smoking marijuana on a daily basis. And only 29 percent believe the drug poses a health risk. With over 60 percent reporting marijuana isn't dangerous, more and more teens are choosing to light up – and some may even be doing so in the comforts of their own home. Although it may be hard to believe that the smell would go undetected, as the saying goes: where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

Teens are innovative and sneaky when it comes to drug use. So, many parents may not even realize their teen is smoking pot in the house. Do you want to know how they mask that odor?

5 Common Methods Teens Use to Hide the Smell of Marijuana

1. Make a sploof. A sploof is a homemade filter that can be made with an empty paper towel roll or toilet paper tube. Teens stuff the tube with dryer sheets and then put another dryer sheet at the end securing it with a rubber band. When they take a hit, they push the filter to their mouth and exhale the smoke. As the smoke travels down the tube, the dryer sheets neutralize the odor. Teens who are extra cautious make an activated carbon sploof. To construct this filter, they poke small holes in the bottom of a small plastic bottle and cut a hole in the top that’s large enough to blow their smoke. Using a dryer sheet, they place some activated charcoal in the middle, wet it and stuff it into their makeshift filter. If you are wondering how easy it is to get activated charcoal, one trip to the pet store would answer your question. Activated charcoal is used in fish aquariums to help eliminate odor.

2. Turn on a hot shower. This method is often used with pipes and bongs as the steam and vapor help neutralize the smell. Before smoking, youth will turn on hot water and steam up the bathroom. After smoking all they have to do is hop in the shower to wash off the lingering smell by using fragrant soap and shampoo.

3. Blow it out a window. OK, this method may seem like common sense, but parents should pay attention to whether windows are unlocked if they are usually locked, whether there are holes in the screen, or whether screens have been popped out of the window. Many teens open their bedroom or bathroom window and blow smoke directly outside. To make this method more effective, teens may also place a fan on the outside sill. After taking a hit they blow the smoke into the back of the fan, pushing the smoke outside. To help disguise the smell, even more, they may burn incense or spray an odor eliminator like Febreze.

4. Roll up a damp towel and place it at the bottom of the door. This method helps keep the smoke from escaping the room, the downside is the smoke remains in the room. 

5. Vape it. Vaping is a popular discrete way to inhale cannabis, plus it doesn’t produce as much odor as a joint. Vaporizers are becoming increasingly popular with adolescents. According to a study from Yale University, nearly 28 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes and about one in five had used their electronic smoking device for marijuana. In the Monitoring the Future survey, students reported marijuana vaping in 8th grade (3 percent), 10th grade (8 percent) and 12th grade (10 percent). Rather than using a nicotine vape solution, they use hash oil. It’s been reported that inhaling hash oil from a vaporizer intensifies the high. Studies have shown hash oil can be stronger and more concentrated than dry marijuana leaves. A word of caution, very little research has been conducted on the effects of vaping hash oil, so the full dangers associated with this method are unknown.

It should be noted that although these methods are listed separately, teens often combine them.

Dan Talson/Deposit Photos
Source: Dan Talson/Deposit Photos

Beyond the Smell

Aside from the stench and items listed in the methods above, there are some other indicators associated with teen marijuana use such as:

  • Burning incense and scented candles, spraying air fresheners and diffusing essential oils.
  • Chewing gum, frequently eating mints, or gargling mouthwash. This would be more frequent use than in the past.
  • Using eye drops to decrease the redness. Again, more use than in the past.
  • Hollowing out pen barrels or highlighters. What to look for: Pens missing the ink chambers (these may be metal pens so it will be hard to detect whether the chamber is in it without testing it out) or highlighters missing the filter these can be used to make pipes. 
  • Cutting pages out of a book to make a hiding hole or creating a safe with a can or container. What to look for: Items that don't get replaced or discarded, like a soda can that's been sitting on the dresser for a long time or a book that's always lying around - as the saying goes you can't judge a book by its cover.
  • Wearing pro-drug apparel with pot leaves or 420 logos.

Many teens will go to great lengths to not get caught. But parents do have a weapon to outwit their teens - intuition. It's that gut-gnawing feeling that something isn’t right and that's a parents best defense in protecting their kid.

Societal Changes

As for marijuana, societal perceptions about marijuana are changing and teens are picking up on those changes. Pew Research Center conducted a survey that examined millennials beliefs about marijuana and their findings showed that more than two-thirds endorse the legalization of marijuana. As more states legalize marijuana, the “it’s no big deal” mindset will continue to increase. With this reality, parents have to take every precautionary measure to protect their child and that includes knowing what's happening behind closed doors.

Parts of this article first appeared on - Raychelle Cassada Lohmann


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [survey year] Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Available at: Accessed on July 15, 2018.

NIDA. (2017, December 14). Vaping popular among teens; opioid misuse at historic lows. Retrieved from on 2018, July 14