Photography: Ashley Capp | Story: A Cozy and Gorgeous Basement Becomes the Hub in a Family Home
What the smoke from cannabis can do to your furniture, textiles and walls
As Canada’s cannabis users rejoiced in anticipation of its legalization, many condo boards and landlords were busy amending their building’s by-laws to become completely smoke-free – of both cigarette smoke and weed smoke.
The stigma surrounding cannabis continues to erode as we become increasingly aware of its benefits to treat everything from the side effects of chemo to chronic pain and anxiety. But, not surprisingly, not everyone wants it around. A major concern, of course, is that the pungent, impossible-to-ignore aroma of a blazing or just-blazed joint is definitely an offensive one to some people — and a smell neighbours may not want to explain to their young kids.
But odour and potential health impacts aside, when it comes to your home, is cannabis really damaging to furniture, carpets and walls the way cigarette smoke is? Is there, indeed, a lingering residual odour or damage that lasts long-term? While some see weed in the home as no big deal, a recent survey by real estate website Zoocasa revealed that 64 per cent of Canadian homeowners believe smoking cannabis indoors will decrease the value of their home.
Is smoking cannabis inside the home as damaging to the space as smoking cigarettes?
While the cannabis scent is undoubtedly strong, few people would dispute that it doesn’t stick around with the same intensity that cigarette smoke does. Years of cigarette smoke in a house or apartment unit can make it smell like a giant ashtray indefinitely, and ridding a home of long-term cigarette smoke often requires pulling out the carpets and even sealing and repainting walls (as they can yellow). But the same can't be said for homes where cannabis is smoked — often the smell is undetectable and walls unstained.
Many people firmly believe that pot smoke dissipates within a few hours and doesn’t cling to certain fabrics (i.e. your couch or your duvet) or stain the walls like the chemical-filled cigarette smoke does — and others aren’t convinced. Many landlords and Airbnb hosts will charge a cleaning fee if the smell of cannabis is detected indoors. The subsequent cleaning could involve wiping down walls with vinegar, laundering cushions and airing out the place.
“When people think of weed smoke they think of that smelly brown smoke from cigarettes and that is just not the case at all with pot,” says Sarah Hanlon, a Canadian cannabis advocate and media personality. “For me, it’s the [cannabis] accessories that smell if anything – old bongs, dirty ashtrays, pipes and res covered pokeys. So, any advice I would give would be to keep those things clean with hot water and rubbing alcohol.”
What are the best practices for smoking cannabis inside the home?
If you’re going to smoke in your home and are allowed to do so but concerned about the smoke, you may want to restrict your smoking to one room that has windows that can open and consider placing a towel under the door so minimal smoke escapes. If you live in a house with multiple floors, try to avoid smoking in the basement, as the smoke will drift up throughout the house. On the top floor, on the other hand, it gathers around the ceiling of that room.
How can the smell of cannabis be removed from the home?
Hanlon uses essential oils to freshen up her house and rid the smell. “I also like to use lemons and vinegar as a cleaner; it’s better for the earth and leaves a lovely smell in your home,” she says. “Airing out your home is a must whether you smoke or not; in the winter, we can forget about opening a window every once in a while but it is so important to me. I have found that if you give your home 24 hours to air out – before a landlord or family member comes over for example – you won't notice any cannabis smoke.”
For those who can't smoke cannabis inside the home, what are other options for using it?
If you’d rather your living space not smell like cannabis at all, there are other more discreet (and increasingly popular) ways to use cannabis that don’t produce the smoke and the smell, like vaporizers and edibles. “Vaping” involves applying heat to a liquid that creates a vapour and is commonly used to consume cannabis, and unlike smoke, vapour dissipates within minutes. When it comes to edibles, be aware that if you’re going to bake your own cannabis-infused treats – say a batch of cookies or banana bread – your home could smell like cannabis in the cooking process. You’ll definitely want to have the vent on.
What damage can cannabis plants have in the home when it's being grown?
In terms of direct detrimental impacts on your living space, growing cannabis can be a different story than smoking it – especially if you’re sloppy about it. Even the allowed four plants – or six if you’re a medical cannabis user – can do damage to living spaces with mould, humidity, and moisture. If you’re a renter, you may want to cultivate your potentially damage-causing plants elsewhere, like in a knowing and willing friend or family member’s backyard or terrace.