The term “roach” refers to the end of a joint, spliff, or blunt. It’s usually too small to use without burning yourself, but for some people, it’s not worth wasting. Some people even save these end pieces to smoke later in a bowl or combined joint.  Others may smoke all the way through the roach until there is nothing left to smoke. This can be difficult to do though, because by the time it’s become a roach, it’s so small that you risk burning your fingers or mouth trying to smoke it.  And that’s where a roach clip comes in. Roach clips are used to safely hold the roach and prevent burning your fingers while you finish it off. 

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Roach clip defined

A roach clip can be many things as long as it’s capable of holding the end of your smoking materials safely. Bobby pins, tweezers, and even paper clips have been known to serve as roach clips, but beyond household items, you can also purchase specially made roach clips from sellers. defines a roach clip as “a small tweezer-like clip for holding the butt of a marijuana cigarette.” Similarly, Urban Dictionary calls a roach clip “a metal holder you use when the joint is too small and burns your lips and fingers”

The history of roach clips

It’s no surprise roach clips eventually became well-known tools in the stoner community. Nobody wants to waste their weed. But still, the history of roach clips is a little ambiguous.  Even the background of the term “roach” can be debated. Its use to describe the end of a joint was said to have first been recorded in 1938. Whether or not that was to describe its resemblance to a cockroach, as some suggest, is unclear.  What we do know is that roach clips began to pick up attention before the ‘70s. In 1973, author Charles Willeford published The Ubiquitous Roach Clip, a light-hearted essay about the use of roach clips as practical smoking tools.  Roach clips were probably in use long before the publishing of that book, but it does serve as a nice piece of history for that cultural time period.  There are many roach clip stories dating back to the ‘60s, as well. One example is the story of Garry Knox Bennett, an American woodworker. In a Youtube video, he reflects back on when he “invented” his own roach clips because he thought it was a pain to smoke joints all the way down.  Bennett says he started to make and sell his own roach clips at headshops and his business took off. He would make unique pieces that drew users in for both functionality and appearance. 

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Types of roach clips 

In “The Ubiquitous Roach Clip”, Willeford discusses the first types of roach clips used, describing the act of bending matches into a v-shape to hold the end of the joint. 

Bobby pins and paper clips 

He goes on to say, “The bobby pin was much better, a natural development as women were drawn inevitably into the weed culture. With one flat interior side, and one bumpy side, the bobby pin was an evolutionary milestone, and a far better roach clip than the ordinary office paper clip. The paper clip, however, which can be bent into various forms, depending upon the twisting skills and artistic inclination of the stone-age artist, held it own with the bobby pin for two or three years.”

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Fashion-forward clips 

This is where the Garry Knox Bennett story really came to life. Before he started making and selling his own, roach clips were nothing glamorous. They were just used to prevent burning your fingers.  And then, in the middle of the 1960s counterculture, came the fancy roach clips. Suddenly it wasn’t just about getting the last puff with as little trouble as possible. It was about making a statement, choosing a roach clip that suited you all while enjoying getting to enjoy your last puff free from pain. 

Feathers and alligator clips

As the ‘80s rolled in, a new type of roach clip took over. Feathered alligator clips, like the kind young girls would wear in their hair, became the popular choice.  If you’re looking for some nostalgia, check out this Like Totally 80s entry about feather roach clips. To sum it up: “I remember being grossed out by the name. Ew! ROACH clip?? Grody! Why do they CALL it that?? Little did nine-year-old me know that they weren’t referring to cockroaches; these were the kind of roaches that would cause your mom to REALLY have a cow if they showed up in the house.  But, feathered roach clips for your hair were entirely legal and wholesome and pretty, then AND now. ”

Other tools 

Other roach clip tools have been used throughout these times as well. Tools like forceps became a popular choice because they’re small, scissor-like medical tools that clamp which is perfect for holding a roach. 

Where can I get a roach clip?

Roach clips are everywhere. You don’t really need to go anywhere to get one, nor do you need to spend money. But you can.  Craft stores and shops selling hair accessories are a great start for getting roach clip tools. You can even check out hardware stores for different clip devices.  And then there are headshops, which often have roach clips available for sale. Or you can order online and choose from a variety of different options. If you’re really into using roach clips, it may be worth going out and finding a personalized one you like. If you don’t care much, you don’t have to buy anything new. There’s probably a bobby pin or tool lying around that can get the job done.  You can even make your own homemade personalized roach clip from materials at the craft store. Get some wire, clips, and your favorite decors like beads or sequins, and glue it all together.  Roach clips are fairly simple. If it will hold the roach properly, it’s done its job. Buying or making a roach clip can be as simple or as intricate as you like, and that’s what’s so fun about them.