Beginner's Guide to Pipes
There is an extensive variety of choice available when it comes to buying a hand pipe, so many that even seasoned smokers can find it difficult to decide on exactly what they want in their next piece. When you’re a beginner the choice can seem overwhelming, but being armed with a little information about what’s available to you as a consumer can help you make an informed decision when you do decide to buy your first cute pipes.
Things to Consider
On a basic level, you have to consider two things: what the bowl is made out of and how large it is. Most pipes these days are made of glass or are silicone-bodied with glass bowls, but there are also scores of metal pipes out there along with ceramic, and even stone/crystal /wood pipes. Each material has its pluses and minuses, although with pipes once you get past the point of using metal it’s mainly a matter of aesthetics and heat retention. The best way to figure out what your preferred material is to give each a try and see firsthand what the pluses and minuses are.
If you need a stepping off point, take a look at The Best Pipes of 2022 (So Far).
Non-traditional, highly portable small pipes have also been popping up, including the Original Monkey Pipe, which is a compact wood case that swivels to reveal a bowl and a recessed mouthpiece. It holds more dry herb than a traditional one-hitter while not taking up any more space than a thick-bodied chillum. If you like the sound of these wood pipes(like Gandalf Pipe), check out the rest of Monkey Pipe’s collection.
If you need more convincing, take a look at The Benefits of Chillums.
Next up size-wise are spoon pipes (those standard, bulbous-headed bowls) and hand pipes (wizard, sherlock, and other styles). Both of these have an area for the dry herb to be packed in (the bowl) as well as what’s known as a carb, an airflow hole that you cover while hitting the bowl in order to restrict the flow of air. These pipes are small and easy to clean (especially when paired with a pipe screen) while also providing a longer session than a one-hitter would. Judging from the convenience alone, it’s easy to see why these kinds of designs are so popular amongst pipe smokers.
Typically the largest hand pipes are steamrollers, which are designed as straight-through tubes with a bowl on top and a carb on the front. A steamroller provides a heftier hit than a traditional bowl and isn’t necessarily the best choice for a novice smoker. If you’re an experienced shopper looking for something akin to a dry bong hit, however, a steamroller pipe might be the perfect choice. They’re a solid candidate for best dry tabletop pipe because they provide the opportunity for a big hit without being cumbersome or prone to tipping over like a bong would be. Plus, they offer an alternative look to the traditional, bulb-ended pipe.
Step out of the sphere of dry pipes to encounter the world of water-bearing pipes, from hammer-style bubblers that lay on their mouthpieces to stand-up bubblers resembling miniature bongs. These pipes add an extra element of filtration to the mix, creating an opportunity for a hit with thicker, cleaner, and even cooler smoke. They’re probably the least portable of all of the pipe designs since they require water to work correctly but they’re a popular mid-point for smokers looking for a hit between that of a bong and that of a dry pipe.
A number of novelty pipe options are available in basically every design for people looking to spice up their collection with something non-traditional. There are bowls shaped like avocados, ones with miniature sculptured glasswork that makes them look like they’re covered in ladybugs, spoons wrapped in a dragon, and pipes resembling elephants. The design possibilities are essentially endless because of how simple pipes tend to be mechanically, allowing glassblowers space to explore their sillier sides with the kind of intricate design work that is less common (and more expensive) on bongs.Some of these great looking pipes can be found on our “Best Pipes Under $20” list!
Though the amount of pieces available might overwhelm you, once you’re able to understand the basic categories of pipes you’ll have no trouble narrowing down your desired glass. The amount of options now available means there’s something out there for everyone’s tastes, whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned smoker making their way over to glass from paper. Don’t forget to add PieceProtect™ to any eligible products!