Interviews

Moose Labs Brothers Believe Their Smoking Mouth Pieces Lower Germ Spread

The original MouthPeace is a funnel-shaped piece of silicone that can be attached to any bong, bowl, or pipe.
The original MouthPeace is a funnel-shaped piece of silicone that can be attached to any bong, bowl, or pipe. Courtesy of Moose Labs
Moose Labs, founded by brothers Jay and Dan Rush (and named after their beloved dog, Moose), is one of those rare companies that may have had its most successful year in 2020. As hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes flew off of grocery-store shelves, everyone was looking for ways to prevent the spread of germs. Enter MouthPeace, the flagship product of Moose Labs, which claims to stop the spread of germs between smokers sharing the same pipe or joint while also filtering out harmful contaminants that irritate the lungs. The MouthPeace has been on the market since the start of Moose Labs in 2014, but last year it attracted a whole new group of customers.

The MouthPeace, a dual-ended piece of silicone with a filter slot in the middle, comes in the original size for bongs, bowls, pipes and other pieces, as well as a mini size for vapes, joints and blunts. Each original MouthPeace kit retails for $9.99 and comes with a MouthPeace and four filters, while the Mini kit contains two MouthPeaces, six filters and a storage tube.

We chatted with Moose Labs co-founder Jay Rush about how the MouthPeace was created, how COVID affected sales, and the benefits of smoking with a MouthPeace.

Westword: Why did you originally want to start Moose Labs?

Jay Rush: We were at a Cannabis Cup in Denver, and we heard another booth announce that their bong had given out 10,000 hits over the course of the three-day show. My brother and I looked at each other and said, "Oh, that sounds cool, let's go be 10,001 and 10,002. So he went home and told his girlfriend, and she was like, "That's disgusting. We should really think of something to make that not a problem."


We sat down and figured out the first germ-free MouthPeace. We went to some shows and started selling a germ-protection barrier. It went well for a while, and people liked it, but eventually knockoffs came from China and put a damper on the business. We were at another show, and we were actually talking about packing it up, closing the whole business, and this old seed-grower guy came over and said, "The MouthPeace is cool, but you have to add a filter to it." And we said, "We know; we tried. That was always the original intention." He said, "Well, try harder." So we spent the next sixteen months doing research and development, and we created the MouthPeace filter. We came out with that in 2019, and it's been a hit.

The design process for the MouthPeace started in 2014 and was finalized in 2019; that's a solid five years of research and development.

Well, in between we had a different style MouthPeace, without the filter in it. It was more cone-shaped and it had ridges. But that was our original design, just for germ-free sharing. That was the original intention of it, so that people could go to these events and share pipes without worrying about getting sick. Eventually, several other companies bought knockoffs, and because it was just a piece of silicone, that's very easy to copy. It was getting to a point where it was hard to stay alive as a company when there were so many copies and knockoffs, until we came up with the filter idea. That was really the turning point for us.

The filter adds a whole other aspect to the MouthPeace. Can you explain what the filter does, and how it helps the MouthPeace do more than just protect from germs?

The filter was created to remove the resin and tar and other contaminants that irritate your throat and lungs when you take a hit. It's made of triple-layer activated carbon material, and it just removes the particles while letting through the THC and CBD molecules. So you're getting your full high or experience without the unnecessary resin and tar that make you cough and choke.
Moose Labs founders Jay (left) and Dan Rush. - COURTESY OF MOOSE LABS
Moose Labs founders Jay (left) and Dan Rush.
Courtesy of Moose Labs
Does that change the taste and quality of the hit?

Absolutely. By removing the resin and tar and unneeded junk, you're tasting more clean, pure cannabis. You're getting a cleaner, tastier, easier-to-handle hit. So we get a lot of messages from people with asthma or COPD saying that they enjoy smoking cannabis, and it's beneficial to whatever other issues and ailments they had, but they couldn't because of asthma or COPD. But now with the filters, they are able to consume cannabis again.

Between the germ prevention aspect of the MouthPeace and the fact that it protects your lungs, did you see a massive spike in sales during COVID-19?

We did see a big spike during COVID. A lot of people were very concerned with keeping their lungs healthy, and a lot of people with roommates suddenly had to be concerned about sharing. A lot of people still had to go to work and be around other people, but at the end of the day everyone wants to come home and hit the bong. Most people aren't going to buy five bongs for each roommate. It's a lot less expensive to buy five MouthPeaces and keep the one bong.


Has that spike in sales been sustained, or has it started to drop off a little bit?

I want to say both. It's slowed down a little bit, but it's also sustained, because all of the customers that we've gained during COVID who have tried the product and started using it are now consistent customers coming back to buy replacement filters, more cones, new color MouthPeaces — so they've become lifelong customers. But the overall flow of customers has definitely dipped down a bit. You can almost see it, on the day the CDC made an announcement back in May. But it wasn't as big of a plummet as it was a spike when it first happened.

Are you planning on expanding the product line at all?

Yes, we have some new plans for new products coming soon. It's definitely been slowed down a little bit more than we would have liked, just due to COVID and supply-chain issues, and getting the warehouse to be able to manufacture things that we need in a timely fashion. Our products specifically use a lot of the same materials as personal protective equipment: The filters are made from the same material as hospital masks, and the packaging is made from the same material as the face shields. So especially early in COVID, we got hit pretty hard, and we had to let our factories make the PPE for hospitals a priority. Luckily we've got a large enough order in where we're pretty stocked up now. Now the only issue we're running into is a staffing shortage.

Besides your website, where else are MouthPeaces sold?

They're sold in smoke shops around the country and dispensaries around the country. We're in India and Israel and Japan — all over the place. 

Is there anything else you want consumers to know about Moose Labs or MouthPeace?

In 2018, we actually did a bacteria study, before we released the filters in the original MouthPeace, where we tested various pipes at cannabis events with a bacteria monitor. We got a reading on the pipes that were being used person after person without a MouthPeace, and then we gave out MouthPeaces to attendees and redid the test to see what the bacteria reading was. The difference was astronomical.

It turns out that the average cannabis pipe has more bacteria on it than your average public toilet seat. We even tested it out among four friends, and even still, the bacteria just went through the roof. Your mouth is literally the dirtiest part of your body. When you put your mouth on something and three other people put their mouths on the same thing, it's just instantly gross.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.