The Great Outdoors.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s a great place for a smoke.
And over the last 18 months of restrictions and lockdowns, getting out into nature has been a lifesaver for many of us. Smokers, tokers and non-smokers alike.
But one thing nature’s not great at:
Being an ashtray.
Last year, in our home state alone, careless smoking burned 191 acres of forest.
When it’s not raining on you, nature’s pretty flammable.
And that’s just one of the reasons why we’re taking a closer look today at the humble portable ashtray…
Why do you need a portable ashtray?
Unless you’re the very stereotype of a couch-locked stoner, you probably don’t just smoke in the home.
But it’s not just about forest fires. Or even just convenience.
Here are the other big reasons why you absolutely need a pocket ashtray:
Reason 1: Visiting the outdoors — leave no trace
If you’re an outdoorsy type, you probably already know what I’m talking about here: The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace.
They’re a set of guidelines for enjoying the great outdoors respectfully, ethically and responsibly — whether you’re camping, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, surfing… or just enjoying a scenic smoke.
And littering the Great Outdoors with ash, butts and roaches violates at least three of them.
Moreover, careless smoking can — and does — cause forest fires and wildfires.
So plan ahead and prepare (Principle 1).
Pack a travel, portable or pocket ashtray, to collect all your ash and spent smokes safely (for disposal elsewhere), and leave nature just as you found it.
Reason 2: Avoid littering fines
Cigarette butts are one of the most common forms of litter. And states spend millions clearing them up.
Which is why they all have anti-littering laws.
Actual laws and penalties, however, vary widely from state to state.
If you’re caught, fines can range from $25 in Massachusetts to $3000 in Maryland. And prison sentences from 10 days in Idaho to 6 years in Tennessee.
Not to mention the various forms of community service you could be obliged to complete.
Even a $25 fine looks pretty expensive compared to what you’d spend on a portable ashtray.
Reason 3: Fewer public ashtrays
Waiting for a bus, lighting up outside a bar, stepping out for a smoke break at work, walking the dog…
All scenarios where you might regularly enjoy a smoke in public. (Cigarettes, at least.)
But these days if you’re smoking in public, there’s no guarantee you’ll find a convenient ashtray.
And if it’s a joint you’re enjoying in the street — likely away from prying eyes — you’re probably going to be smoking even further from a public ashtray.
Whichever the case, if you’ve got a portable ashtray on you, at least you won’t have to litter.
Reason 4: Visiting non-smoking friends or family
Nugs or nicotine, we’ve all got friends or family members who just don’t like smoking.
Don’t like the smell.
Or they have nothing much against it, but just don’t participate.
So, when visiting, you end up smoking in the yard or on the street.
A portable ashtray would come in handy. And it saves borrowing a mug or stubbing out in a plant.
Plus, if your ashtray has an airtight lid, you can take your ash home to stink up your own trash instead of theirs.
Which, let’s be honest, is only polite.
Reason 5: The environment
This one’s perhaps less relevant to some weed smokers (though read on if you’re a spliff or blunt smoker).
The waste from a smoked joint — especially those rolled with chemical-free papers — is generally biodegradable.
Only about a third of butts make it into the trash.
Nicotine and heavy metals leach into the soil and waterways — and eventually the oceans.
With various harmful consequences for plant and animal life, both aquatic and non-aquatic.
Moreover, cellulose acetate cigarette butts are not biodegradable — leading to microplastic pollution. And further harmful consequences.
So, with portable ashtrays being as affordable and widely available online as they are, there’s really no reason to add to the problem.
The best portable ashtrays to suit any pocket
OK, we’ve told you why you need a portable ashtray. But what’s available?
And how do you know if it’s any good?
To save you some time, we’ve taken a look at what’s out there and selected some favorites — you’ll find options below to suit every pocket.
(Literally and figuratively.)
Simple, Durable and Airtight: Smoke Honest Portable Ashtray
Made from shatter-resistant, half-inch thick, premium crystal glass, this one was designed with travel in mind.
The opaque airtight silicone lid (available in six different colors) traps ash and odors safely and discreetly inside — and protects the glass in transit. When removed, the lid also doubles as a non-slip base.
Size-wise, it’s plenty small enough for a purse or coat pocket.
And makes a great weed storage jar too.
On a Budget: Raw Pocket Ashtray
First popularized in Japan, which has some tight regulations on smoking in the street, pouch ashtrays are simple, pocket-sized (3” x 3.5”) and cheap.
Which is why, in the US, they’re often given out for free at festivals, or as part of local anti-littering and wildfire prevention initiatives.
Raw’s version has the usual fire-proof lining and a fold-over flap with a snap button closure to keep ashes from spilling out.
At two bucks, the only real downside is that pouch ashtrays aren’t the most odor-proof.
Minimalist Japanese Design: Muji Portable Ashtray
Looks like some chic, ultra-simple, minimalist cosmetic case. Or maybe a lighter.
It’s pretty tiny, too: Imagine four cigarettes side by side.
That length and width, but a little thicker.
But pull on one end and the aluminum case slides open to reveal a square hole to ash into and dispose of your roaches. Then you just slide it shut when you’re done.
They don’t seem to be available in US Muji stores right now, but you can usually pick one up on ebay for under $10.
Smokus Interruptus: The Saverette
Not strictly speaking a portable ashtray — although you could fit a few butts or roaches inside — the Saverette is the solution for those times you’re interrupted mid-smoke.
(Or when that new strain you’re trying turned out to be… um, stronger than you expected.)
Just drop a partially smoked joint inside, pop the cap back on and your J will extinguish itself within 5 seconds, ready to finish later. And with no damage or loss of flavor from stubbing it out.
Steampunk Stylings: Stainless Steel Keychain Pocket Ashtray
If you’re looking for a portable ashtray online, you’ll soon come across one that looks like a pocket watch.
Just like a pocket watch, the lid flips open — to reveal the ashtray.
Often there’s a small flip out stand inside too — usually in the shape of a leaf — to rest your joint on.
And on the end of the ‘watch chain’ you’ll find a clip for your belt, bag or keys.
Well, this one’s almost exactly like that.
But with added Steampunk.
(Of course, the standard ones work great too. But this one just looks that bit cooler. In a retro-futuristic Victorian sort of way.)