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​Pros & Cons of Pre-Roll Tubes - An Overview of the Pre-Roll Tube Packaging

​Pros & Cons of Pre-Roll Tubes - An Overview of the Pre-Roll Tube Packaging

Posted by Custom Cones USA on Dec 31st 2019

Last Updated: August, 21 2020 

These days there are many different ways to package your pre-rolls from custom cigarette boxes to child resistant slider boxes, however one mainstay of pre-roll packaging without a doubt is the humble but useful pre-roll tube.

What has made the pre-roll tube so attractive to cannabis companies is the low-cost, availability, and wide-selection of styles and colors.

Another attractive point is that most cannabis consumers are familiar with the pre-roll tube and so there is no need for the budtender to explain how to open the dreaded and complicated child-resistant mechanism seen in other types of packaging.

Lastly the pre-roll tube has a multitude of branding options available such as pre-roll stickers, direct printing, and shrink wrap. This allows cannabis brands to customize the pre-roll tube to fit exactly with their brand.

So without further delay allow us to explain what exactly the pre-roll tube is.

What is a pre-roll tube?

A pre-roll tube is a cylinder shaped container meant to store pre-rolls while also keeping the joint fresh and secure. Generally pre-roll tubes are either made from plastic generally polypropylene, a type of plastic, or glass. There are some new materials being explored to create an eco-friendly pre-roll tube option.

The polypropylene pre-roll tubes are the more economic option for cannabis brands costing as little as 7 cents per tube. Most plastic polypropylene pre-roll tubes have the same opening mechanism - when you squeeze the sides of the container near the top - the lid will open. This comes with a satisfying popping sound which has led the industry to also calling these pre-roll tubes, pop-top tubes.

There are more premium versions of the standard plastic pre-roll pop-top that have recently come to market like the Super Seal tube and pre-roll tubes with a gasket in the lid. These tubes elevate the standard doob tube by being air tight, allowing the pre-roll inside to stay fresher, and being made from thicker, heavier plastic. The Super Seal tube also includes a tamper evident band that is activated when the screw cap is sealed.

If you want to have a luxury line of pre-rolls or have an infused pre-roll which needs to be set apart through its packaging– you may want to use glass tubes. Glass pre-roll tubes have a luxurious feel and can be both child resistant and non-child resistant.

The child resistant glass tubes use a push and turn screw cap as the child resistant mechanism. While the non-child resistant glass tubes have a cork top. Many brands will use the cork top glass pre-roll tubes and put them inside a child-resistant container.

If you want an eco-friendly tube option compared to standard plastic and glass tubes, there are new pre-roll tubes which actually remove plastic from the environment rather than add to the mounds of single use plastic. The ocean plastic pre-roll tube is made from recycled plastic which has been collected from the ocean. This means by using this pre-roll tube for your brand – you are helping remove plastic from the ocean and put it toward some use.

Are pre-roll tubes child-resistant?

Some pre-roll tubes are child resistant and others are not – it depends on the pre-roll tube and the mechanism of the lid. Below is a summary of the pre-roll tubes which are child resistant and those that aren’t.


Pop-Top Pre-Roll Tubes


Pop-top pre-rolls tubes are child resistant. In pop-top pre-roll tubes it is the strength required to pop open the pre-roll tube which is what make the pre-roll tube child-resistant. However even if a piece packaging claims to be child resistant make sure that the pre-roll tube is certified according to ASTM D-3475 standards.

ASTM standards requires that the package is tested with 100 children under the age of 5. A passing grade requires that 85% of the 100 children are unable to open the pre-roll tube without a demonstration and 80% of the 100 children are unable to open the pre-roll tube with a demonstration.

Equally as important is that at least 90% of 100 adults between 50-70 years are able to open the pre-roll tube. We often see pre-roll tubes which are child-resistant but nearly impossible to open without extreme force.

You have to press the pre-roll tube against the table with your weight in order for the tube to open. Even worse is when you finally manage to open the pre-roll tube the hinge breaks and the lid falls off which means you can’t even store your joint for later use. It makes your pre-roll feel cheap.

All the pop-top pre-roll tubes we offer at Custom Cones USA are made in the USA and child resistant certified according to these standards. Not only are our pre-roll tubes child-resistant certified, they pass the requirements with flying colors. 98.5% of children are unable to open the pre-roll tube without a demonstration. 92.5% of children are unable to open the pre-roll tube with a demonstration. And 100% of adults are able to open the pre-roll tube.

Not only are our pop top pre-roll tubes child-resistant and easy for adults to open. A lot of time was spent designing and testing the hinge on the lid of the pre-roll. The type of hinge used on pre-roll tubes is called a “living hinge” this means that the hinge which connects the lid to the body of the container is made from the same material and is a single piece.

Competitor pre-roll tubes often have a living hinge which is too brittle. This means the hinge will break easily. Our pre-roll tubes have a living hinge which can be opened and closed over 100 times!

This means the pre-roll tubes we offer are the perfect balance of enough resistance so that the pre-roll tube can be considered child-resistant while soft enough that any average adult can easily open and access their hard-earned pre-roll.


Super Seal & Gasket Seal Pre-Roll Tubes


The Super Seal pre-roll tubes is certified child resistant as it uses a push and turn style lid. This is where you have to push down on the lid of the tube while also turning. The strength to push and turn the lid is what make the tube child-resistant.

This is a very standard type of child-resistant opening so a nice benefit of Push and Turn child resistant caps is that the consumer can figure out how to open the package within a few seconds.

The gasket pre-roll tubes are certified child-resistant as well. To open the pre-roll tube, you push the lid in and up. This type of child resistant mechanism is new so you may need some additional instructions on the package to explain how to open it.


Screw Top Glass Pre-Roll Tubes


The screw top glass pre-roll tubes we carry here at Custom Cones USA are child resistant and use the push and turn CR lids to secure the pre-roll inside. Again this is a very standard, easy-to-use child resistant cap – it is the same mechanism we use to open aspirin bottles.

There are 2 variations of the lid – one with ridges and instructions on the top of the lid. The other version of the lid is smooth. Some brands like the design aesthetic of having a smooth, minimalist lid whereas others prefer to make it simple for the customer with the instructions clearly on the top of the lid. The ridges also help provide grip for older consumers who have trouble opening child-resistant containers.


Cork Top Pre-Roll Tubes


The cork top glass pre-roll tubes are not child resistant. The use only a cork stopper as the sealing mechanism for the tube. Although this will provide an air-tight seal it is not child resistant.

Brands will put these cork top tubes into child-resistant boxes or bags to make them compliant, if the state requires child-resistant containers for pre-rolls. Some states do not require pre-rolls to come in child-resistant containers or they allow exit bags to be used at the dispensary. In these cases the cork top pre-roll tubes can be a great fit.

Ocean Plastic Tubes


The ocean plastic tubes are child resistant. It uses a relatively simple child resistant design where you line up the lip of the lid to the dots on the container, you can then push the lid off.  

What sizes do pre-roll tubes come in?

Pre-roll tubes come in many different sizes with a variety of lengths and diameters. However, there are some industry standard sizes when it comes to standard pop-top pre-roll tubes.

Pop-Top Pre-Roll Tubes

The standard diameter for a single joint pre-roll tube is a 16mm diameter. This allows ample room for the pre-roll to fit in the tube while still being slim enough to easily fit in the pocket.

Some standard lengths for pre-roll tubes are 90mm, 98mm, and 116mm. The 90mm pre-roll tube works well for 84mm pre-rolled cones also known as half-gram joints. We see a number of brands who will use the 90mm tube for a half-gram pre-roll offering which sits right next to the register at the dispensary. It can be nice for a dispensary to have a grab and go options which can easily be upsold to the customer as they check out their flower, concentrate or edible purchase.

The 98mm pre-roll tube works well for the 98mm pre-rolled cones also known as the three-fourth gram joint. This is a nice in-between size for those who think a half gram is too short and stubby and a king-size joint is too much.

Another option with the 98mm pre-roll tube is instead of putting one 98mm pre-rolled cone to put two 98mm reefer cones. The 98mm reefer cone is a slimmer version of the standard one and fits a half-gram as opposed to ¾ of a gram. This makes it a competitive offering as compared with the classic 1 gram king-size pre-roll. So for a similar price the customer can buy 2 half gram pre-rolls, oftentimes this is a more attractive offering as you get 2 joints instead of 1.

The 116mm pre-roll tube works well for the 109mm pre-rolled cone also known as the king-size or one gram joint. This is the most common single pre-roll pack in all dispensaries. A creative idea with the 116mm pre-roll tube we have seen is including a mini-bud with the joint. This mini bud is a nice bonus for the customer’s pipe, bowl, or bong!

There are also wider pre-roll tubes which are designed to fit a higher number of pre-rolls per package.

Glass Pre-Roll Tubes

For glass pre-roll tubes there are slightly different measurements. The cork tubes tend to be longer to accommodate the cork going into the tube. The glass cork tubes we offer are 120mm in length – the extra height of the tube compared to the 116mm is to provide room for the cork to go down into the tube and seal the pre-roll tube. There are 2 diameters of the cork-style pre-roll tubes

For the child resistant tubes with the child resistant push and turn caps they come in 110mm length. They don’t need any extra height as it uses a cap rather than a cork which is shoved into the tube. The child-resistant glass pre-roll tubes do generally have a smaller opening diameter. This is because the tubes need to be child resistant so some of the opening hole is taken up by the child-resistant mechanism.

One of the nice things about having the glass pre-roll tubes be 110mm in length is that they fit the palm rolls and the hemp wrap blunt cones perfectly. A common concern we have with customers is how to seal the palm rolls and hemp wrap blunt cones. By using the 110mm glass pre-roll tubes you can effectively seal these types of pre-rolls as the top of the pre-roll is flush with the cap – allowing very little room for loose cannabis to fall out of the pre-roll.


How can you custom brand the pre-roll tube?


There are several main ways you can custom brand the pre-roll tube such as; with a pre-roll tube sticker, direct printing on the tube or branded shrink wraps. The lowest cost option out of the three is the pre-roll tube sticker and the highest cost option would be direct printing onto the tube.

The pre-roll tube label is the most versatile option out of the three as you can customize the sticker in almost any way you want. The pre-roll sticker can be a half wrap label or a full wrap label around the pre-roll tube. You can die cut the sticker into unique shapes if you want a different look. The sticker can also be printed with several unique styles such as gold foil, embossing, spot-uv, soft touch and more! If needed you can also get the tubes pre-applied with label so you don’t have to do the labeling in-house.

The next option is direct printing on the tube. This can be achieved in several ways such as hot stamping or UV-printing. The small size of the container makes it quite tricky to get a full print on - it is possible but the cost will be higher than compared with pre-roll labels or shrink wrap on the pre-roll tube. Direct printing does however give the pre-roll tube a premium look which will impress your customers!

Another option to brand the pre-roll tube is to place it in a box. For premium brands which want to elevate their pre-roll and truly make it an experience they may want to place their plastic or glass tube into a box. This creates the unboxing experience and also it provides more retail space for your branding. It will also be very quick to place tubes into boxes versus labeling or shrink sleeving.

The last option is to shrink sleeve the tube. A shrink sleeve is a plastic sleeve you place the tube in. You then apply heat through hot-air or steam to shrink the plastic sleeve tightly around the tube.

The benefit of shrink sleeving the tubes versus the other methods of branding is that you get more branding real estate on the tube as the shrink sleeve covers the tube entirely. It is also much quicker than labeling – it can take just 2-3 seconds to shrink sleeve a tube. You are also completing two actions in one. Your branding the tubes as well as making it tamper evident.

Many brands will start out by labeling the tubes but then move onto shrink sleeving the tubes. This is because labeling the tube and then also having to apply the tamper evident band takes a lot more time than just shrink sleeving the tubes.

How do you make a pre-roll tube tamper evident?


Let’s first start with what does it mean to make a package tamper evident. Tamper evident means there is a mechanism to reveal any type of interference with the contents after it is manufactured.

Many states regulations require that cannabis products be tamper evident. Pre-roll tubes on their own are usually not tamper evident so manufacturers must add a tamper evident mechanism.

There are two main ways of making pre-roll tubes tamper evident. The first way is using tamper evident shrink bands and the second way is to use a paper sticker.

tamper evident band is similar to a shrink sleeve – however it is a smaller clear plastic band, rather than a sleeve, which only goes around the cap or lid. This is then tightly shrunk around the lid/cap meaning the only way to open the container now is to rip the tamper evident band off of the lid. So now consumers can tell if the products have been tampered with – if the band is in-tact and still on the container than the products has not been interfered with.

The second way to make a pre-roll tube tamper evident is to use a paper sticker which goes over the lid or cap. This paper sticker must be ripped off/torn in order to open the lid – sometimes just turning the cap is enough to tear the sticker so if done properly the customer doesn’t even have to remove the sticker.

Many brands will make the mistake of using plastic stickers instead of paper. Plastic stickers are extremely difficult to tear and can be removed and reapplied to the container with little residue/evidence. This doesn’t really provide tamper evidence as a person could easily lift up the sticker, tamper with the contents and then reapply the sticker. The consumer wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

A paper sticker on the other hand will easily rip if someone tried to remove and reapply the sticker to the container. Making it clear if the container has been tampered with or not.

Are Pre-Roll Tubes smell proof? Are Pre-Roll Tubes airtight? Will Pre-roll Tubes keep the joint fresh?

Most pre-roll tubes will keep the pre-roll relatively fresh however some pre-roll tubes have additional features to keep the product fresher than the standard pop-top tube.

Pop-Top Pre-Roll Tubes

The pop top pre-roll tubes we offer here at Custom Cones USA have a plug seal to create a tight connection between the lid and the body of the tube. This will restrict most smell and air from seeping out of the pre-roll tube. This in turn will help to keep the pre-roll fresh and extend its shelf life.

Further the material the pre-roll tube is made from polypropylene, which has a good to moderate moisture barrier as well as being highly resistant to absorbing moisture. The chemical properties of the propylene tube are helpful to keeping your pre-roll fresh.

You can further enhance the freshness of your pre-roll by including a moisture pack inside the pre-roll tube or adding a tamper evident heat shrink band around the lid.

Super Seal Tube & Gasket Pre-Roll Tube

The Super Seal pre-roll tube has a soft plastic insert on the inside of the lid. When the lid is screwed down the insert secures against the tube tightly creating an air-tight and water-tight seal. This helps to preserve the pre-roll inside.

The gasket pre-roll tube has a plastic ring which seals any gaps once the lid is shut. It provides a strong air-tight seal helping to keep the pre-roll fresher than just the standard pre-roll tube.

Glass Pre-Roll Tubes

The glass pre-roll tubes use either a screw cap lid or a cork. The cork will provide the tightest seal making the glass container air and water tight. The screw cap will provide a tight seal as well but not as tight as the cork.


Are pre-roll tubes recyclable?

Yes, most pre-roll tubes are recyclable in some manner however the rate at which the different materials of tubes actually get recycled is another story.

The standard pop top is made out of a recyclable plastic. The standard pop tube is a number 5 recyclable meaning it is made from polypropylene. Other containers that are #5 recyclable are ketchup bottles and medicine bottles. #5 recyclables can be recycled through some curbside programs and more curbside programs are starting to accept #5 recyclables. So depending on the the consumers recycling program they may or may not be able to easily recycle the pop top pre-roll tube.

Glass pre-roll tubes are 100% recyclable – glass has an unlimited life and can be melted and recycled again and again to make new glass. The quality of the glass is just as good as new glass while also being more environmentally friendly. One thing to be careful of is that borosilicate glass is treated with chemicals to make it heat-resistant and so is not recyclable. So if you purchase borosilicate pre-roll tubes they would not be recyclable. The glass pre-roll tubes we offer here at Custom Cones USA is not a

The ocean plastic pre-roll tubes are recyclable. The tubes are not only made out from plastic taken from the ocean they are specifically made from HDPE which stands for high density polyethylene. Other containers made out of this material are shampoo containers and toothbrushes. HDPE is a #2 recyclable which means that it is recyclable at most curbside programs as opposed to #5 recyclables which are only recyclable at some curbside programs.

Are pre-roll tubes good pre-roll packaging?

Pre-Roll Tubes are the standard for single and 2 pack pre-roll offerings. Almost every brand which offers pre-rolls – offers a SKU which comes in a pre-roll tube. So, Yes! We strongly believe that pre-roll tubes are great to package pre-rolls. Below is a summary of the Pros and Cons for each style of pre-roll tube.

Pop-Top Pre-Roll Tubes

PROS

  • Easy to Open - the pre-roll tube is easy to open and a familiar child-resistant packaging for most consumers. 90-95% of the time the customer will have no issue opening this type of package
  • Low Cost - pre-roll tubes are economical and readily available for cannabis brands to purchase
  • Helps Keeps Product Fresh - pre-roll tubes help to keep joints fresh and last longer on the store shelf
  • Relatively Smell Proof - pre-roll tubes help to keep smell inside the container allowing your customer to discreetly keep their pre-roll in their pocket or bag
  • Multiple Branding Options - you can brand your pre-roll tube in many ways from pre-roll labels to full shrink wraps. You can get the pre-roll tube to match your brand.

CONS

  • Can be bad quality - non US-made pre-roll tubes can be low quality, the issue being that some manufacturers will run the plastic injection machine too quickly in order to lower costs - this will not allow the propylene to properly form leading to uneven tubes which are harder to label and look unprofessional on the store shelf. 
  • Single-use plastic - A lot of brands in Cannabis want to be eco-friendly and move away from single-use plastic. For those looking for alternatives consider paper packaging. 

Glass Pre-Roll Tubes

PROS

  • Easy to use CR Package - The Glass Pre-Roll tubes are easy to open as they use the push and turn lid which is very familiar with most consumers due to being commonly used on pill bottles.
  • Luxury Packaging – Glass has traditionally been used to elevate products to a premium status. The solid, luxury feel of glass cannot be replicated with other types of packaging.
  • Crystal Clear – Glass provides perfect clarity to show the product inside.
  • Opaque Colors – Glass can now be provided in opaque colors in order to meet regulations of states where clear packaging cannot be used.

CONS

  • Can Break – Although the glass pre-roll tubes we provide are thick and provide good resistance against breaking, glass tubes can break during transit or if mishandled at the dispensary.
  • Higher Price – The more premium feel of glass also comes with a higher price point per tube. Glass pre-roll tubes are best used for higher price point pre-rolls.


Super Seal Tubes

PROS

  • Premium Plastic – The thicker plastic of the super seal tubes is similar to glass and so provides that heavier feel in the hand, giving the impression of a more premium product.
  • Air and Watertight – The plastic lining on the inside of the lid provides a water and air tight seal. Ensuring that your pre-roll arrives as fresh as possible in your customers’ hand. Combined with a humidity pack you can keep your pre-rolls super fresh!
  • Tamper Evident – The Super Seal Tube lids come with a tamper evident cap – when you twist the cap all the way to the left the tamper evident band is activated and the next time you open it the band will separate – just like how you see on drinks!
  • Satisfying Click – When you twist the cap of the super seal tube without pushing down you get a clicking sound to let you know that the cap is not pushed down hard enough. When you do push and turn you get a single click and slide feel which is satisfying.

CONS

  • Higher Price – The thicker plastic along with all the features in the lid mean that the tube is a higher price point compared with other plastic tubes.
  • Harder to label – Since the tubes are tapered they are slightly more difficult to label. You will need specific label dielines which match the taper of the super seal tube. If you need any help please feel free to reach out to us!
  • Round Bottom – The round bottom on the super seal mean the tube won’t stand up on its own. Some customers care about that and others don't- it just depends on how you plan to display your pre-roll tubes.

Gasket Pre-Roll Tubes

PROS

  • Air-tight seal – The Gasket Pre-Roll tubes create an air-tight seal which means your product won’t leak odor and the pre-roll will stay fresh.
  • Unique Shape – Most pre-roll tubes are round containers however the gasket pre-roll tube changes that by being square.
  • Multiple Sizes / Colors – The Gasket Pre-Roll tube comes in multiple colors and sizes. It comes in both 90mm and 116mm. It comes in White, Clear, and Black. 
  • Eco-friendly – The Gasket Pre-Roll tube has a special enzyme in the plastic so that when it reaches the landfill it will degrade faster than regular plastic and leave less waste.

CONS

  • Harder to label – Due to the gasket pre-roll tube being square it is a more difficult pre-roll container to label. It won’t work in standard laydown horizontal labeling machines.
  • Higher Price – As the tube has several features such as the enzyme to help the plastic breakdown and the gasket to create an air-tight seal the gasket pre-roll tube is more expensive than the standard pre-roll tubes.

Ocean Plastic Pre-Roll Tubes


PROS

  • Eco-Friendly – The ocean plastic tubes are made from Oceanworks plastic – which means that it is plastic which was removed from the ocean and then used to make new plastic. Meaning the ocean plastic tube is helping to remove plastic from the ocean and making the planet a cleaner place.
  • Made in USA – The ocean plastic tube is made in the USA which means that your supporting jobs in the United States and helping to ensure the plastic tubes are made in a sustainable manner. 

CONS

  • Higher Price – The ocean plastic tube due to using special Oceanworks plastic it is a higher price than standard pop-top pre-roll tubes