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What is a Marijuana Pipe?

Marijuana pipe with cannabis leaf

If you prefer inhaling your cannabis, there’s a good chance you’re going to run across marijuana pipes as an option for your cannabis consumption. In this guide, we’ll cover a few of the basics about marijuana pipes, including:

  • What is a Pipe?
  • What are the Different Types of Marijuana Pipes?
  • What are Pipes Made From?
  • How Do You Choose a Pipe? 
  • How Do You Use a Pipe?
  • How Do You Clean a Pipe?

New to cannabis? We’ve got the resources for you. Start with our Flower 101 guide.

What is a Pipe?

A marijuana pipe typically refers to a simple, dry smoking device with a bowl, where you place the cannabis flower, and a neck or stem, through which you inhale the smoke. You may also hear of a water pipe, or bong, which uses water during the inhalation process. 

Pipes have a long history dating back at least 4000 years. Archeologists have found them in ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, and Native Americans have used them for a variety of occasions, including prayer ceremonies, war, and social events. The name is thought to have originated in Thailand for a type of bamboo tube used for cannabis consumption, known as a “baung.” Today, they are one of the most popular ways to smoke cannabis flower because they’re easy to use, affordable, and come in a variety of colors to fit your style. 

What are the Different Types of Marijuana Pipes?

Because of the resurgence of pipes available in the market, there are many types that cannabis consumers can choose from. There are also a ton of slang terms for each of the different hand pipes available, so we’ve included the industry name with a few of the common slang terms for clarity. Here’s a breakdown:

Hand Pipe - Also Called a Pipe, Spoon or Bowl: 
A hand pipe is the most frequently used type of pipe. Most are about the size of your palm, though they can be bigger and of varying designs. Cannabis is pressed into the bowl and lit. When you inhale, the smoke travels through a small hole up in the bowl, through the stem, and into you. Typically, pipes have a second hole, called a carb, that you can use to regulate how much smoke you inhale at a time. 

Chillum - Also Called a One-Hitter:
Chillums are small pipes, typically no bigger than an average-sized palm, if not a little smaller. They have a small opening on each side, one to place a minimal amount of cannabis in and the other to inhale the smoke from. As their name indicates, you typically only have enough cannabis flower for one or two inhalations (or hits) from a pipe this size. 

Marijuana Water Pipe - Also Called a Bong: 
Water pipes are unique from other pipes because they use water to regulate and filter the smoke, creating a smoother experience. Many cannabis consumers say it feels easier to smoke because the water filters the smoke before you inhale it. Most water pipes have a mouthpiece at the top and a chamber leading down into the bottom where the water sits. A downstem runs through the side of the pipe water chamber, and the bowl sits on the top of the downstem. Some water pipes have a carb, others require you to remove the downstem in order to regulate airflow. Water pipes are available at a variety of price points – from basic shapes and colors to beautiful, hand-blown creations.

What are Cannabis Pipes Made of?

Cannabis pipes are most frequently made of glass. This allows them to be all different shapes, sizes, colors and styles. Many cannabis connoisseurs choose glass pipes because they are non-porous. This means the smoke cannot be absorbed by the glass, so you may have a cleaner experience (provided you take care of your pipe and clean it properly between sessions like any other tool). 

In addition to glass, marijuana pipes can also come in metal. While metal pipes are durable, they also can sometimes change the flavor of the cannabis, giving it metallic undertones many consumers find unpleasant. Metal pipes also may require more cleaning time, and you should never put a metal pipe in the dishwasher. This will make your cannabis taste like your detergent. 

Finally, some cannabis connoisseurs love wood pipes. These pipes typically have unique styles, many of which look like they would pair well with a wizard’s pointy hat. Wood pipes are often chosen because of how the wood can influence and enhance the flavor of the cannabis. They must be properly prepared before their first use, and they must be disassembled to clean them. 

How Do You Choose a Pipe?

Choosing a pipe is a personal experience. If you’re new to cannabis, you may want to go with a simple glass hand pipe. This will allow you to learn how to properly add marijuana to a pipe bowl and operate a carb. 

Once you get the hang of using a hand pipe, you can explore other types, including water pipes, and experiment with the materials the pipes are made of. You may find you don’t notice a flavor difference with a metal pipe, or you may choose to try a wood pipe. As with all cannabis products, choose what you’re comfortable with and what is in your budget, and go from there. It’s the easiest way to have an enjoyable experience where no money or marijuana are wasted. 

Learn about vaporizers and pens with our Vaping 101 guide.

How Do You Use a Pipe?

Using a hand pipe depends on one thing: Does it have a carb? If the pipe has a carb: 

  • Step 1: Press the marijuana into the bowl. (Also called packing a bowl.) You don’t want to press too tightly to restrict airflow when burning, but you don’t want it to be too loose either. 
  • Step 2: Cover the carb with your finger (some water pipes have a piece that covers the carb for you), and inhale with your finger still over the carb. This will pull a bit of the cannabis smoke into the stem. 
  • Step 3: Release your finger from the carb and finish inhaling. This will allow outside airflow into the pipe to make it easier to draw the smoke from the pipe. 

If you’re a new cannabis consumer, take note of how long you cover the carb when inhaling. The longer you hold your finger over the carb, the more cannabis smoke is being drawn into the stem and your lungs, resulting in a much stronger hit. 

If you are using a chillum or different pipe without a carb, the process is very similar. Adequately press the marijuana in the bowl, light it, and inhale from the opposite side of the pipe. You may need a stronger inhale to pull the air through without a carb, but the results will be the same as if your pipe had a carb. 

Can you smoke a pipe with top-tier cannabis? Of course. Learn about premium flower today. 

How Do You Clean a Marijuana Pipe?

Cleaning your pipe is easy, especially if you do it regularly. If you don’t, you may get a build-up of resin that takes longer to break down. There are two methods to glass pipe cleaning: boil it in water or soak it in isopropyl alcohol. If you clean your pipe often, you likely will only need about a ten-minute soak before its time to rinse your pipe, ensure that all the resin is gone, and pat it dry. If it's been a while, or you’re looking to revive an older pipe, you can soak the pipe in alcohol for up to 12 hours to break down the resin. 

If you’re cleaning a metal pipe, the process is just about the same as a glass pipe. The only difference is that metal needs longer to soak. Remember, never put your metal pipe in the dishwasher.

Finally, if you’re using a wood pipe, your best course of action is to take the pipe apart and use a pipe cleaning tool to scrub the debris from the wood. Once finished, you can rinse the pipe with water and allow it to dry. You will want to let it dry completely before use, as wood may absorb moisture which would lead to an unpleasant smoking experience. You may also need to prep the wood pipe bowl again before inhaling to ensure you have a layer of charcoal. 

Consuming cannabis with marijuana pipes is a relatively easy, well-loved way to consume marijuana. If you’re interested in purchasing a pipe, or learning more about pipes, visit one of our dispensary locations. Our cannabis experts are happy to help you find the perfect products for you. 

Recreational Cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and medical marijuana patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.

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