For cannabis consumers, knowing how to pass a mouth swab and saliva test is more important than ever. Those with an interest in drug testing, namely law enforcement and employers, love mouth swab and saliva tests because they’re inexpensive and fast. Furthermore, mouth swab tests have the most proximate detection window. That means they’re best-suited to detect immediate or very recent cannabis consumption, whereas urine tests typically detect prior-week consumption and hair follicle tests detect consumption over the last 90 days.
On top of that, companies have made major strides in saliva drug tests. With legalization expanding, and states concerned about traffic safety—even though legal weed doesn’t making driving less safe—roadside saliva and mouth swab tests are more common, more accurate and more widely used than ever before.
In short, with more people consuming weed, more people are interested in testing for it, especially on the job and behind the wheel. Would you know how to pass a mouth swab and saliva test if an officer pulled you over or your boss surprised you at work? Scroll on to learn how to face down even the latest and greatest saliva drug tests and pass with flying colors.
Overview: Who’s Afraid of a Mouth Swab Drug Test?
This guide is for anyone who’s facing or could face a mouth swab drug test or saliva drug test for weed. We go beyond the basics, offering practical advice for passing your mouth swab drug test, even if you have just 24 hours to spare. We also share the most important information about what a mouth swab drug test looks for, when you’re most at risk, and how to be prepared with little or no warning.
What Do Mouth Swab Drug Tests Look For?
It’s important to understand what separates saliva swab tests from the standard piss-in-a-cup approach to screening for weed in your system.
For starters, saliva drug tests and urine tests screen for entirely different compounds. Urinalysis screens for THC-COOH, which is a metabolite the body produces as it metabolizes delta-9 THC, the compound that’s psychoactive and gets you stoned when you inhale it or eat it.
Swab tests, on the other hand, are looking for activated THC, that is, delta-9 THC. In other words, exactly what you’d have all over the inside of your mouth after hitting your vape, doing a dab, or just puffing on a joint.
And that’s both the good news and the bad news about mouth swab tests for weed. These tests can’t detect cannabis metabolites that may be lingering in your system from prior consumption. But they can detect the psychoactive THC that gets caught in your spit.
What Is The Range Of Risk For Failing A Mouth Swab Drug Test?
And this brings us to our next point: when are you, cannabis smoker/eater that you are, at risk of failing a saliva drug test?
In technical terms, you’re at risk for as long as the concentration of THC in your saliva is above the lower threshold the test is able to detect. Experts call this the “confirmation cutoff.”
This cutoff varies depending on who makes the test, and manufacturers are always trying to dial in the ideal level.
Additionally, different states have different legal limits for cannabis intoxication, so tests have to fit the law.
Sparing you the details about micrograms per liter, etc. etc., what this all means in practical terms is simple.
You’re probably in the clear if you stop smoking, vaping or eating cannabis for 24-48 hours Giving yourself a week-long weed break would be playing it really safe.
Fortunately, many states require employers to give employees at least a day’s notice in advance of a mouth swab drug test or other type of drug screening.
Simply put: the range of risk for failing a mouth swab drug test is relatively short. Remember, these tests are basically all about seeing if you’re high at the moment—or at least, fresh off a session.
That’s why you’re most likely to encounter them after a reportable incident at work, if you get in a traffic accident or pulled over, or at a random time on the job.
Why Doesn’t THC Stay In Saliva For Very Long?
THC just doesn’t stay in your saliva for very long. And of course there are steps, which we’ll cover below, you can take to speed up the process of eliminating it.
Thankfully, THC metabolites which might make their way through your saliva glands on their way out of your system aren’t going to show up on the swab test. It just isn’t looking for those chemicals.
Ultimately, there’s nothing keeping delta-9 THC in your saliva, except for the fact that after you smoke weed it coats the entire surface of your mouth.
That’s why it only sticks around for a day or two. A week, maybe, if you never brush your teeth or something.
How Do I Pass a Swab Drug Test?
Knowing what a swab test is looking for and how long you’re at risk is crucial information for passing your screening. If you suspect a saliva drug test is in your future, just hold off smoking for a few days prior.
Eating edibles can reduce your risk of detection, but of course, it’s not as surefire as abstaining altogether. In fact, researchers are hard at work trying to develop tests that have a range low enough to detect for recent edibles consumption.
Sometimes, however, you don’t have the luxury of an advanced warning. Without a heads up, like a surprise test at work or a police checkpoint can leave you vulnerable to mouth swab detection, especially if you’ve smoked recently.
In this case, there are two reliable ways to pass the swab test.
How Do I Pass a Swab Drug Test in 24 Hours?
Let’s start with the best-case scenario. You’re going to get a test at work, but you have a day’s notice before you get swabbed. That’s great news, because even if you did nothing, you’d still have a decent chance at passing the mouth swab drug test. THC only hangs around in your saliva for 24-48 hours. Still, a decent chance may not be good enough. So here’s what to do to speed up the process.
First, start drinking lots of fluids and double check marijuana detection times for your usage. Vigorously swish water around your mouth. Rinse and repeat! You can use mouthwash, if that makes you feel better, but it won’t do anything water can’t. Just be sure to use a mouthwash without alcohol in it, in case the test is also checking for recent alcohol consumption, too!
Remember, you’re just trying to get the active THC from your last smoke or edible out of your mouth and into your stomach, where no swab can swab. Good oral hygiene, like brushing twice a day, using mouth rinses and anti-cavity chewing gum after smoke sessions can go a long way to keeping your saliva clean.
Hydration does wonders, too. Drink water throughout the day to keep your saliva flowing.
This next tip will satisfy the glutton in you: get yourself a helping of the fattiest food you can find. Oily, greasy burgers, fries, pizza, hot wings—any of it. Active THC bonds to fatty foods, hence all those cannabis oils and butters out there. So eating a slice of pizza, for example, will help draw that lingering THC out of your mouth.
Finally, try to remember not to inhale or otherwise consume any weed before your mouth swab drug test. Sounds obvious, but it really is too easy to just take a quick hit of your vape without a second thought. So keep your stash out of arm’s reach until you pass your swab test. Then, celebrate in style.
How To Pass A Mouth Swab Drug Test With Little To No Warning
Now for the worst-case scenario. You’re pulled over and have no time to spare. No sweat: after reading this guide, you’ll be prepared. Time to commit some adulteration… of your saliva!
Adulterants are chemicals that interfere with drug tests, and new and improved ones come out all the time. It’s a dance: a new adulterant works, it beats the test. But then a new test figures out how to detect the adulterant’s traces. If a tester sees the fingerprint of an adulterant, they’ll just void your test and make you take it again. Of course, that’s one way to buy yourself some time.
For mouth swab drug tests, hydrogen peroxide is the adulterant of choice.
And one company had the ingenious idea of putting little packets of it inside chewing gum. Just pop in a piece of gum, break open the packet and swish.
There are mouthwashes out there that do the same thing, but using one of those in your car might be a little less discreet.
Keep in mind adulterating your saliva will only keep you clean for a half hour, tops. But since this is a last-minute solution, hopefully, that’s all you need.
Final Words On How To Pass A Mouth Swab Drug Test
Hopefully, you can breathe a little easier knowing that mouth swab drug tests for weed are definitely the easiest tests to pass. The Delta-9 THC swab tests are looking for doesn’t hang around in your saliva very long. And in a pinch, you can neutralize your saliva. In fact, these tests are so unreliable, you might even pass a swab test a few hours after you smoke. Good luck!
(Updated from a previous post originally published in 2017)