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Much Ado About Pipes: A World Of Options


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There are a lot of ways to ingest cannabis-and we mean a lot, with new and inventive methods cropping up all of the time. But there are few methods considered as timeless and traditional as the use of a pipe. When we consider pipes, that opens up a whole other series of discussions: materials, prices, sizes, brands and styles for example. If you’ve ever stopped into a head shop, you’ve undoubtedly seen that there is quite a variety at your disposal. In fact, it can be downright overwhelming to make a choice. Glass pipes especially are common and very popular finds, but there is so much more available on the market. Today, we’re going to discuss different types of pipes, and the advantages/disadvantages of each.

If you’ve never bought a pipe of your own before, or are considering adding to your collection of paraphernalia, check out the list below before you make your purchase!

The Anatomy of a Pipe

Most pipes have four components in their construction:
• The bowl, where your herb goes to be burned.
• The shank, which functions as the “neck” of the pipe and connects the bowl to the stem.
• The stem connects the mouthpiece and the shank.
• This likely goes without explanation, but for the sake of inclusion: the mouthpiece.

Materials

There are three common materials from which pipes are fashioned: glass, metal and wood. Each one of these materials offers their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. You should consider all of the information below before purchasing your new pipe.

Glass Pipes

Ah, glass. A classic, and beautiful too. These pipes come in a massive array of styles and shapes, from simple and straightforward to intricate art pieces to pipes that are shaped like animals. Blowing glass is an art form, and those who create these magnificent pieces are truly artists in their own unique right. It takes a lot of practice and a keen eye for detail to get this process right and produce a pipe that is both efficient and visually appealing.

The Pros:
• Glass pipes are very beautiful and made in many styles, so there is something for nearly every preference.
• They do not get scorching hot, like metal pipes do.
• You get to actually see the smoke as it fills the chamber.
• Many people enjoy glass pipes because of the taste, especially when compared to metal or wooden pipes.

The Cons:
• They can be expensive. The intricacy of the piece, its durability, the quality of its overall production and the brand associated with it all has roles to play in the cost of glass pipes. For this reason, metal pipes are rather popular among smokers who are on a budget.
• Glass pipes are delicate. Of course they are, they’re made of glass. Some are sturdier than others, depending on how the pipe is created, but all glass pipes are much more vulnerable to breakage than wooden and metal pipes. Nothing messes up your day quite like watching that slow-motion-but-totally-inevitable shattering of a pipe hitting the floor once it’s been dropped.
• Unlike metal pipes, glass pipes cannot be disassembled to clean.

Wooden Pipes

While wooden pipes are traditionally used in the smoking of tobacco, they work just as well for your weed. At least, some users certainly think so. These pipes are crafted into smooth designs, some with intricate patterns detailed upon them and brass or copper fixtures used as accent pieces to round out the design. Truly, wooden pipes are just as beautiful as glass pipes in their own way. Many pipe aficionados enjoy having these pieces in their collections because of the natural beauty of their craftsmanship.

The Pros:
• Wooden pipes are far more durable than glass.
• Depending on a person’s aesthetic preferences, they can be just as appealing-if not more so-as glass.
• Many wooden pipes have metal inserts in the bowl and stem for ease of cleaning.
• Wooden pipes with deeper bowls store heat very well, which means that you might spend less time having to relight the bowl.

The Cons:
• Wood traps moisture and oils easily.
• Because wood is susceptible to atmospheric changes like humidity, they can still become vulnerable to breakage.
• Wooden pipes are usually much more difficult to clean than glass and metal pipes.

Metal Pipes

Lots of weed smokers are enthusiastic about metal pipes, and they are certainly a common sight. There are two kinds of metal pipes on the market: chamber pipes and metal water pipes. Chamber pipes, or “normal” metal pipes, consist of a bowl that connects to the L-shaped shaft to compose the pipe. Water pipes that are made from metal, however, closely resemble handheld hookahs. Both styles of metal pipes come in a wide variety of colors, patterns and designs. Typically these pipes are made of stainless steel, aluminum, brass and other alloys.

Pros:
• Metal pipes are easy to clean.
• They are the most inexpensive pipe option on the market.
• As you’d probably guess, metal pipes are more durable than glass ones.

Cons:
• Metal pipes get hotter than glass and wooden pipes, and a lot more quickly. Because of this, small metal pipes can cause you to burn your lips when using them.
• Many users of metal pipes cite a funny, metallic taste when smoking from them.

Styles
There are so many different styles of pipes, that you are sure to find something that suits your chosen aesthetic. From the simple and uncomplicated to designs that are more ornate and intricate, the options are plenty-especially on the online marketplace.

Chillums

This type of pipe is the most simplistic design out there. Also known as a hand pipe, chillums are simple tubes typically fashioned out of glass. To smoke from this kind of pipe, the user will deposit their herb into one side, apply fire and inhale through the other.

Pros:
• They are very small, so storage of them can be discreet.
• Because of their simple design, a chillum is very easy to keep clean.
• Since they store only a small amount of inhalable plant matter, chillums are a great option for those who don’t smoke much, or are trying to reduce how much they smoke.

Cons:
• Like other glass pipes, chillums are especially susceptible to breaking.
• Only a small amount of herb can fit into a chillum.
• Because there is no carb, a chillum might not be very easy to clear.

Sherlock/Gandalf Pipes

These pipes are named for the iconic pipes of literature and film and are usually very exaggerated, very appealing pieces. A Sherlock pipe has a delicately curved stem with a large bowl, whereas a Gandalf pipe possesses a very elongated and dramatic stem.

Pros:
• These pipes are absolutely stunning. Truly, they are a conversation piece in themselves.
• Sherlock and Gandalf pipes can be made of either glass or wood.
• The bottoms of these pipes are usually flattened so that they can be set down easily when not in use.

Cons:
• Some people find the taste that comes from these pipes to be too harsh.
• Because they are usually constructed out of glass and have a rather long design, these pipes should be handled with great care to avoid breaking.
• Sherlock/Gandalf pipes are quite pricy, which deters many from purchasing them.

Bubblers

These glass pipes are sort of like a hybrid between a typical glass pipe and a water bong. The harsh taste of resin gets filtered out through the (typically cold) water before inhalation, thus creating a smoother taste and a more enjoyable smoking experience. Like other glass pipes, bubblers come in a colorful array of designs and patterns.

Pros:
• Bubblers are very pretty pieces, as most well-crafted glass pipes are.
• Because they are significantly smaller than the average bong, bubblers offer a bit more portability.
• The smooth taste of the inhaled smoke is a big plus to many bubbler users.

Cons:
• Like all glass pipes, bubblers are especially vulnerable to being broken.
• Bubblers are usually more expensive than simpler styles of glass pipes.

These pipes are small and-as the name suggests-store only enough herb for a single good hit. Often these pipes will come with dugouts, but they can also be sold as just the pipe by itself. Many companies that produce one-hitters create ones that resemble cigarettes and other patterns, either for discretion’s sake or for fun.

Pros:
• Because one-hitters are inconspicuous, they are ideal for smoking on the go-especially in public.
• The dugout, which contains a small amount of your weed so that you can repack it as desired, is a convenient feature and is easily concealed.
• Because they do not hold much weed at once, one-hitters are a solid solution for smokers who are trying to make their bud last, or who might be cutting back on their ingestion of the herb.

Cons:
• Since one-hitters obviously only hold a hit, they are not exactly functional for social smoking sessions.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the options out there: just a basic run-down of what’s commonly available .


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Comments

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  1. Good article but you don’t mention the difference between North American Made Glass vs Cheap Import Glass – which can have dangerous lead paint and aren’t usually annealed in a Kiln like North American made glass, causing them to break way easier. Saying “totally-inevitable” for a pipe to break hitting the floor makes me think you’ve only used the import glass 😉 I’ve dropped tons of North American glass pipes without them breaking. Glass is also super easy to clean out , a bit of salt and Iso and you are good to go.

  2. Good point KM!
    I actually do intend to do an article specifically discussing the details of glass pieces in particular (since there is so much information about them and how they are made, as you pointed out), and you have given me a lot to think about!

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