Is it bad to exhale cannabis smoke from your nose?

Is it bad to exhale cannabis smoke from your nose?
Steven Voser

Some people think it looks cool to exhale smoke through their nose and some people just like the feeling. But is it bad for you? Does your nose mind? Or is it better to exhale from your mouth exclusively? Read the verdict.

You’ve probably heard it before, but we will do the honor of saying it again—smoking in general is not really a healthy habit. There are only two ways smokers can exhale smoke from the body, either by mouth or by nose.

Although cannabis smoke is not associated with the same harms as smoke from tobacco, research has shown that it can still cause bronchitis-like symptoms, inflammation, and reversible damage to airways in the body.

That said, it may come as obvious that exclusively exhaling smoke through the nose has its issues too. While some say that nose-exhales typically taste better, the process can cause the nasal cavity the same harms as the lungs and mouth.

This kind of technique exposes delicate tissues in your nostrils to a hellacious cesspool of irritants, but the overall damage smoke does to the nose depends on your frequency of smoking and chosen methods of consumption.

So what are exactly the problems with exhaling smoke through your nose?


Intense heat can irritate the lungs and respiratory system, especially over long periods of time. Plant materials contain hot tar and embers, which can injure and irritate the soft tissues of the nose, throat, and airways when burned.

Considering that smoke is still hot on its way out of your body, your nose might not like this too much.


Exhaling smoke through your nose can make it feel dry and irritated. This is caused by psychoactive THC compounds that bind with cannabinoid receptors, which are present in mucous membranes throughout the body, including the nose.[1]


Nose-exhaling from vape pens may be the worst. Additives used as thinning agents in vape cartridges contain propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol, which research suggests can be extremely dehydrating to mucus membranes, and also causes carcinogenic exposure when burned at 446℉ (230℃) or higher.


Nasal microbiome

The nasal microbiome functions as something like a filter to protect the lower airways of the body. When cannabis smoke is exhaled through the nose, it causes some major changes to your nasal flora.

Although cigarette smoke specifically may increase the number of pathogens in the region, it’s unclear whether or not cannabis has the same effect.


There are a number of ways to help reduce the harms of nose-exhaling. You can use cooler methods like a bong or water pipe, use saline to protect your nose when it feels dry, or just exclusively exhale through your mouth.

These options will make your nose less prone to damage and are just downright more comfortable. So although it might look cool to exhale from your nose, it might be better to just avoid it and look for another cool trick.


  1. ^ NCBI, Permeation of WIN 55,212-2, a potent cannabinoid receptor agonist, across human tracheo-bronchial tissue in vitro and rat nasal epithelium in vivo., retrieved January-09-2019

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.