How Long Before Smoking Should You Use THC Rubs?

As you consider using cannabis topicals like THC rubs and balms to relieve pain or improve skin health. An important question arises: How long before smoking should you apply the product? The answer depends on your goals and tolerance. If you want the effects of the rub to be enhanced by the THC in your bloodstream, apply the product shortly before smoking. However, if you prefer the effects of the topical on its own or want to avoid an overly intense experience, allow at least an hour or two after smoking before applying the rub. For beginners or those with a lower tolerance, it is best to start with the topical on its own to determine how your body responds before combining methods. With some experimentation, you can find the ideal timing and combination of THC intake methods to suit your needs.

Table of Contents

What Are THC Rubs and How Do They Work?

To maximize the effectiveness of THC rubs, it is recommended that you apply the product at least 30 to 60 minutes before smoking cannabis. THC rubs, also known as cannabis topicals, are creams, balms, and ointments infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. They work by allowing the THC molecules to penetrate the skin and bind to cannabinoid receptors in the muscles and joints underneath.

The time required for the THC to absorb into the area of application and take effect depends on several factors:

  1. The concentration of THC in the product. Rubs with higher amounts of THC, such as those with at least 6 to 10 milligrams per application, tend to work faster than those with lower concentrations.
  2. The presence of carrier oils and other skin permeation enhancers. Ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil help the THC penetrate the skin more quickly.
  3. The area of application. Areas with more blood vessels, such as the wrists, ankles, and behind the knees. Allow for faster absorption than areas with fewer blood vessels like the back or shoulders.
  4. An individual’s biochemistry. How fast the THC is absorbed into the bloodstream can vary from person to person based on factors like skin thickness, circulation, and cannabinoid receptor levels.

By applying the THC rub 30 to 60 minutes before smoking. You allow enough time for it to take full effect. This helps ensure you do not unintentionally overmedicate yourself, which could lead to unpleasant side effects. With some experimentation, you can determine the optimal window of time for your needs and product of choice.

Maximizing the Effects: Timing Is Key

To maximize the effects of THC topical rubs, timing is critical. Applying the product at the optimal time will ensure the cannabinoids are fully absorbed into your skin and muscles.

•Wait at least 2 hours after showering or exercising before applying a THC rub. Your pores will still be open from the heat and moisture, reducing absorption. For the best results, your skin should be at a normal temperature and free of excess oils or sweat.

•Apply the rub to the area of discomfort for at least 30 minutes before the desired effect is needed. It can take up to 90 minutes for the full effects to be felt, depending on the product and the individual. The cannabinoids need time to be absorbed through the multiple layers of skin and into the bloodstream.

•Reapply as directed, usually every 3 to 6 hours. The effects of a single application will last 2 to 4 hours for most people. Reapplying at the recommended intervals will maintain consistent relief without worrying about concentrations building up too high.

•Consider wrapping or bandaging the area after application if possible. This will help the product absorb more efficiently by keeping it in place on the skin. Any bandage or wrap should be breathable and non-irritating.

•The impacts may be felt more quickly if used in combination with THC edibles or smoking. However, start with just the topical application first to gauge the effects before combining methods.

By following these tips on timing and application, you can maximize the benefits of THC rubs and achieve optimal relief from discomfort. Be patient and consistent, and you’ll find the right schedule and combination for your needs.


As you’ve learned, THC topicals can be an effective way to relieve pain or soreness without the psychoactive effects of smoking marijuana. However, for the best results, proper timing and application are key. Give the rub adequate time to absorb into your skin before smoking to maximize its effectiveness and avoid disrupting its action. Start with a small amount, wait at least 30-60 minutes, and see how it impacts your pain levels and experience. You can then reapply as needed and adjust the timing for optimal relief and enjoyment. While these products are very safe, always follow the instructions and start low and slow until you find what works for you. With some experimentation, THC rubs can become a useful tool in your wellness arsenal.