Three hands holding three water pipes in front of a yellow background

What Are Water Pipes For Cannabis & How Do You Use Them?

A water pipe, sometimes referred to as a “bong,” is a popular instrument among cannabis enthusiasts who like to smoke flower. If you’re new to marijuana and interested in trying a water pipe, this is the perfect guide for you. In it, we’ll explain:

  • What is a Water Pipe?
  • How Does a Water Pipe Work?
  • What Are the Different Parts of a Water Pipe?
  • How Do You Use a Water Pipe?
  • What are the Pros of Water Pipes?
  • Water Pipe Cleaning & Maintenance
  • Water Pipe FAQs

What is a Water Pipe?

A water pipe is a pipe that filters smoke through water, cooling the smoke before it’s inhaled. You may hear a water pipe referred to as a “bong”--this is because it hails from the word baung, a Thai word that refers to a wooden pipe made of bamboo that is used for smoking. 

Some cannabis enthusiasts are fearful of trying a water pipe for the first time as they can be large in size and intimidating in appearance. The truth is that they’re actually quite easy to use, and many marijuana consumers prefer them over traditional pipes. 

How Does a Water Pipe Work?

The main difference between a water pipe and a hand pipe is the water chamber. Once the marijuana flower is lit as it rests in the bowl, the user inhales and the smoke is pulled through water. This cools the smoke before it rises through the chamber toward the consumer. Some cannabis enthusiasts prefer this method, as they prefer the cooler smoke.

What Are the Different Parts of a Water Pipe?

Water pipes are made up of five important parts: 

  • Base - The chamber that holds the water.
  • Tube - The pipe that you place your mouth on to inhale.
  • Bowl - A bowl-like holder for the cannabis flower.
  • Downstem - A small tube under the bowl that pulls the smoke into the base.
  • Carb - The chamber in which the bowl sits.

How Do You Use a Water Pipe?

While it may feel like there are a lot of parts to keep track of, a water pipe is actually easy to operate. Here’s how you use a water pipe:

Step 1: Prepare Your Water Pipe

Place clean water into the bottom of your water pipe. Ensure that the downstem is halfway submerged.

Step 2: Grind & Pack

Place your cannabis in a grinder and grind it to the right consistency. Then, pack the ground marijuana flower into the water pipe’s bowl. Some people also choose to top off their flower with kief.

Step 3: Light the Flower

Place your lips at the top of the water pipe’s tube and light the flower in the bowl. Inhale gently and slowly. You’ll hear the water start to bubble or percolate, and you may be able to see vapor start to fill the water pipe’s tube.

Step 4: Remove the Bowl & Inhale

Carefully remove the bowl from the carb to allow air to flow into the water pipe’s base and up into the tube. Now, all you have to do is inhale.

If you’re a beginner, you may not want to wait too long between inhaling slowly and pulling the bowl. The longer you wait, the more vapor will fill the tube and the larger amount of marijuana you’ll consume.

What are the Pros of Water Pipes?

There are a few reasons why some cannabis enthusiasts prefer to smoke out of a water pipe, but the most common is the feeling of cooler smoke. Because the smoke travels through water prior to inhalation, it can feel cooler than a standard hand pipe. In fact, some consumers even add ice cubes to the water pipe!

Water Pipe Cleaning & Maintenance

In addition to changing the water after every session, your water pipe will need regular cleaning to ensure you’re getting the most out of your marijuana flower. To clean your water pipe, disassemble the device and rinse it with a combination of isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt or rice. For more information, check out our step-by-step guide to cleaning your water pipe.

Answering Water Pipe FAQs

Water pipes are one of the most popular pipes on the market, so we get a lot of customers wondering about them. Here are a few of our most frequently asked questions and their answers:

How much does a water pipe cost?
Like most cannabis consumption instruments, water pipes vary in cost. You may get a standard water pipe for around $50, or you could really splurge and buy a fancy, custom water pipe for $500. The amount you spend on a water pipe depends entirely on what you’re looking for and how often you use it.

What’s the difference between a pipe and a water pipe?
The difference between a pipe and a water pipe is in the name: a water pipe uses water to cool the smoke. A typical marijuana pipe simply sends the smoke down the stem of the pipe when you inhale.

What are the differences between water pipes and chillum pipes?
The first thing you’ll notice that’s different about these two tools is size: a chillum pipe is significantly smaller than a water pipe. Additionally, a chillum is used for small amounts of flower that last one or two inhalations. A water pipe is a more complicated tool that requires a larger amount of cannabis flower, lasting much longer than a chillum.

What’s the difference between a bubbler and a water pipe?
The difference between a bubbler and water pipe is typically the size. A bubbler is a smaller, more compact type of water pipe that can be held in your hand. A full-size water pipe is typically larger and requires two hands. In some cases, you can even just set the water pipe on the table to use it.

Learn More About Water Pipes for Cannabis

While they may feel daunting to a beginner, water pipes can be a fun way to experience cannabis flower. If you’re unsure about the type of water pipe you should get or how to use it, you can always ask one of our cannabis experts at your next local dispensary

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