Because the molecule is so heat-sensitive, DMT is notoriously difficult to smoke properly. Thankfully, several time-tested techniques exist to get the crystals just hot enough to melt and vaporize into a light smoke. With a little gentleness and patience, you can reliably achieve breakthrough experiences with these methods and not waste any DMT material in the process. This article will explore DMT dosing, how to smoke DMT the correct way, and some set and setting tips for a safe experience.
DMT Dosage and Efficacy
DMT is not orally active by itself because monoamine oxidases in the gut quickly destroy the molecule. For this reason, in its pure form, it must be smoked or vaporized to be active. Smoking DMT leads to an intense experience characterized by a rapid onset, plateau, and come-down. After inhaling the DMT vapor, the molecules move through the bloodstream from the lung capillaries. Then, they cross the blood-brain barrier and bind to serotonin receptors in the central nervous system. If orally-dosed DMT is the marathon, vaporized DMT is the sprint.
DMT Dose Tiers
The DMT experience can be understood in terms of three general dose tiers. Less than 20 mg is considered a light dose. This is a good starting point for beginners to get a feel for what DMT is. You will experience threshold effects like a pleasant body buzz and little to no visual distortions in the lower end of this range. You will experience visual distortions, open eye visual patterning, color intensification, and possibly ringing in the ears in the upper end. A common dose is 20-40 mg but may not yield the full range of DMT’s effects. It can feel like you’re shot through an enveloping wormhole and that your body is beginning to be pulled apart. Visually, this space is composed of fast-moving geometry, such as rotating fractals or kaleidoscopic patterns. This is often referred to as the “waiting room” or “loading screen” before a full-fledged breakthrough.
The final tier, usually achievable with 40+ mg, is a strong dose, e.g., breakthrough experience territory. Here, it will feel as if you broke through to another side in an alternate reality that feels more real than real. Along with intense geometric visuals, this hyperspace dimension often involves contact with autonomous entities that may communicate visually or telepathically. Even though your time perception is altered dramatically during the experience, the overall trip duration rarely exceeds 15 minutes. No matter the experience you’re looking for, always be sure you’re dosing accurately by investing in a sensitive milligram scale.
A Note on Breaking Through
Breakthrough experiences can be achieved in as little as 25 or 30 mg using highly efficient vaporization methods (such as dabbing). For smoking methods, breakthroughs typically occur with 50-60+ mg due to DMT loss from unwanted combustion or shallow inhalation. When it comes to achieving a breakthrough experience, the fewer hits you take, the better. If you can manage to smoke the entire DMT dose for a one-hit breakthrough, this is ideal. Breakthroughs often occur in two or three hits. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the smoking process by yourself as you begin to blast off and lose consensus reality.
Since there can be a learning curve with the smoking techniques we will discuss, you might have to try again to get where you want to be. Keep in mind, the rapid tolerance build-up will mean you have to wait at least an hour.
How to Smoke DMT
The methods outlined below will focus on the materials and techniques used for vaporizing freebase DMT. However, DMT can be extracted from plants and infused in various herbs for smoking as well. For instance, enhanced leaf methods like changa (an ayahuasca-esque combination of DMT and MAOI harmalas) utilize a synergistic blend of herbs. These herbs can lead to a longer, mellower experience and produce additional effects from the botanicals.
Method One: The “Freebase” Method
In the freebase method, freebase DMT is loaded into a glass pipe and heated from the bottom to vaporize the crystals by conduction or convection (depending on the vaporizer). When done correctly, this method avoids the pitfalls of directly lighting the crystals. This can cause the DMT crystals to breakdown. Or, it can create impurities or harsh smoke.
You will want to obtain a freebase pipe or “oil burner” pipe for the freebase method. These pipes are sold very cheaply online or at your local head shop—the ones with a large funnel type bowl and long stem work best for this method. Many psychonauts recommend more advanced vaporization pipes, such as the glass VaporGenie, which uses convection heating to melt the DMT. While more expensive than standard freebase pipes, it is known for its smoothness, ease of use, and efficiency.
Once you have your pipe, fit the bowl with 1-3 fine mesh stainless steel or copper screens. The screens will (mostly) contain the DMT while it melts, allowing the liquid to spread along the mesh surface as it vaporizes. For the heat source, we recommend using a butane torch lighter. The blue flame’s constancy allows you to regulate the heat much more effectively than your standard Bic lighter flame.
Sprinkle the DMT crystals evenly over the center of the screen. Be sure to keep the crystals away from the screen edges so that they won’t easily drip past the screen into the bottom of the bowl when they melt. When you’re ready to journey, hold the torch flame above the screen without letting it make contact with the DMT crystals directly. The trick is to use the torch’s heat, rather than the flame itself, to raise the temperature just enough to vaporize the crystals without causing them to combust and wastefully burn.
You will have to experiment with the correct flame distance to allow this vaporization to occur. Several inches away, bring the flame increasingly nearer to the bowl from the bottom and inhale slowly and deeply. While you’re heating, slowly rotate the pipe backward and forward to swish around the DMT for a uniform melt. It may be tempting to inhale forcefully and quickly in the hopes of a one-toke blastoff, but you don’t want to rush it, or you risk creating an unsustainably harsh smoke. As the DMT vaporizes, you will see your slow inhale drawing the light, white DMT vapor into the chamber. Let it fill your lungs, and hold the vapor for at least 10 seconds. After an exhale and a deep breath to re-oxygenate, this process can be repeated multiple times if needed.
Keep it Clean
Over multiple uses, the DMT will burn onto the pipe’s inner surface, creating grime that will increase the harshness of the smoke. To prevent this, clean the pipe regularly by soaking it overnight in 90% isopropyl alcohol with some salt mixed in. After the soak, use a pipe cleaner or q-tip to scrub away any loosened resin.
Note: it’s possible to evaporate the solvent and reclaim some freebase DMT from the dissolved residue. This is because small amounts of unburnt DMT liquid that dripped into the pipe will still be active.
Method Two: The “Sandwich” Method
In the sandwich method, the freebase DMT is smoked by layering it between ash or a smokable herb. The top layer acts as a buffer that helps prevent the DMT from combusting and wasting. The bottom layer keeps the liquified DMT from freely dripping down through the screen or bottom hole of the bowl.
The sandwich method can be done with any common smoking device you would use for cannabis, including a pipe, bong, or bubbler. Out of these choices, bongs are often preferred since the water can help cool any potentially harsh smoke. When it comes to the heat source, hemp wicks, Bic lighters, and torches all work well with this method.
You can use any inert smokable herb such as mint, damiana, or parsley for making the sandwich. Active herbs such as cannabis are also commonly used. Depending on the person, cannabis can synergize well with DMT experience and confer grounding effects, while others feel it can cloud the overall experience.
First, fit the bowl with a metal mesh screen, then pack a bottom layer of herb or ash on top of it. You want the bottom layer to be thick and tightly packed, so when the DMT melts, the running liquid is met with some resistance. Next, sprinkle the freebase DMT evenly over this layer, and then complete the sandwich with a protective layer of herb or ash. This layer should be thinner and looser than the bottom layer so that you’re not smoking large amounts of inactive herbs.
When you are ready to light it, corner the bowl by lightly tapping the lighter on the top layer of herb, just enough to cherry it. Once it begins to cherry, pull the lighter away. As the cherry spreads from the corner of the bowl throughout the inhalation, the heat will vaporize the DMT underneath. Inhale slowly and deeply until your lungs are nearly full, and then hold the smoke for 20-30 seconds. After exhaling fully and grabbing some air, hit it again a few more times if needed. Breakthroughs are typically achieved after clearing the bowl in two to three big hits.
Method Three: The Dab Rig
DMT can be vaporized very efficiently using a dab rig similar to how extracted cannabis concentrate is dabbed. With this method, the DMT freebase is dropped onto a hot surface and allowed to vaporize. There is little risk of burning the DMT with this method, so more care and precision are required when dosing. Due to its effectiveness, it’s recommended to start with half the usual DMT dose you would use in the sandwich method. This is so you do not take a larger dose than you are comfortable with.
You will need to acquire a specialized water pipe known as a dab rig, purchasable online, or at smoke shops. These rigs use a jointed attachment known as a nail or banger. Essentially, the nail is a wide dish with a hole that slides into the down-stem of the glass rig. This is where the DMT freebase is placed, which will vaporize by superheated air once the nail is heated. Both quartz and titanium domeless nails work the best for dabbing DMT. Titanium nails will retain heat for longer and never break, but they have to be seasoned before use since the nail coating can cause a metallic taste. While more expensive, E-nails can also be used and have the advantage of precise temperature control.
In addition to the nail, grab yourself an accessory known as a carb cap. This will be placed over the nail to constrict airflow and trap the heat. For heating the nail (quartz or titanium), we recommend using a large butane torch.
First, pre-weigh your DMT with a precision scale and place it on something you can easily pour, like a dabber or small spoon. Using the butane torch, heat the nail until it is red hot, and then let it cool for 20-30 seconds (once it is colorless). Because every nail is different, some experimentation is required to dial in the optimal temperature for vaporization. If the nail is too hot, the DMT may combust, and the vapor may cause you to cough. DMT will vaporize at 160°C.
Before adding the DMT onto the nail, inhale gently for a few seconds to ensure the vapor doesn’t escape into the air. Then, load the DMT onto the nail, and place a carb cap on it. After inhaling for 5-10 seconds, you should have your full DMT dose in one big vaporized hit. Hold your breath for 10-20 seconds, and then hand off the (very hot!) rig to your guide, who can place it away safely.
How to Smoke DMT Safely
Now that you know how to smoke DMT properly, it’s time to look at some ways to prepare for this incredible experience. Like all other psychedelics, set and setting are crucial to a safe and enjoyable DMT trip. Try adopting the following tips to prepare yourself and the environment for this powerful experience.
Pick a Quiet, Comfortable Setting
Only smoke in safe, comfortable places where you won’t be disturbed. Environments with some indirect sunlight in a safe, natural area can bring about extraordinary visuals. Dimly lit indoor settings, such as a bed or comfy couch with incense burning nearby, are also ideal. Make sure you won’t be distracted in this space by unexpected visits, obligations, or phone calls. If you’re with others, many people find it preferable to maintain an environment of silence to concentrate deeply on the experience.
Journey With a Trusted Trip Sitter
It’s common to lose motor control as you embark into the DMT trance, and so take steps to avoid dropping anything hot on yourself or your surroundings. Besides holding space and helping post-trip integration, a trip sitter can help guide the smoking process. Have this person take the hot pipe and lighter from you when you are feeling hyperspace approaching. This is especially crucial if you are dabbing with a superheated nail. If you don’t have someone with you, be sure you have a place close by where you can place your smoking device as you feel the experience enveloping you.
Foster an Open, Accepting Mindset
Foster a mindset of openness, presence, and positivity by meditating before lighting up. Try bringing your awareness into your inner sensations and take some slow, deep breaths to calm your mind and body. Clarifying some intentions for what you want to get out of the experience can go a long way towards an insightful hyperspace journey. For instance, you may want to bring to mind some real-life issues you are seeking to understand. Know you must surrender yourself fully to the spirit molecule. No matter how mysterious or bizarre things get, everything will be okay. Embarking on this consciousness-expanding experience is an act of growth and self-love.
Prepare Your Pilot Seat
It’s common to feel cold during parts of the experience, so be sure to dress warm or wrap yourself in blankets. Don’t smoke standing up due to the initial rush of the blastoff. Instead, sit comfortably where you can lie back and surrender to the experience once it comes on. When you’re ready to begin, start with a low dose to master the technique and get a feel for the experience. Revel in this intense and profound exploration of consciousness, and always float downstream no matter what is revealed to you!
CONTRIBUTING RS AUTHOR: DYLAN BEARD
Dylan is a freelance science writer and editor based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. After finishing his physics degree and dabbling in neuroscience research at UC Santa Barbara in 2017, he returned to his first love—writing. As a long-term fan of the human brain, he loves exploring the latest research on psychedelics, nootropics, psychology, consciousness, meditation, and more. When he’s not writing, you can probably find him on hiking trails around Oregon and Washington or listening to podcasts. Feel free to follow him on Insta @dylancb88.