Recreational Marijuana 101: How to Smoke a Pipe

One of the most recognizable smoking devices is a cannabis pipe. These pipes are categorized in two groups: carb and carb-less. Those with a “carb,” or small hole, allow for the clearing of smoke in the pipe.

Carb-less pipes are referred to as “chillums” or “one-hitters.” These are available in a variety of shapes, and are usually straight tubes that mimic the appearance of cigarettes or discrete designs.

Pipes with a carb are often called “bowls” or “spoons.” They’re generally spoon-shaped in form. Pipes with carbs are designed for larger amounts of cannabis, and they can generally go around a circle of friends for multiple puffs.

Pipe Smoking for Beginners

When compared to joints or blunts, the primary benefits of consuming cannabis with a pipe are increased smoke and less ash. While joints, blunts, and other rolled options may be seen as more portable, their combustion method involves a significant amount of ash.

Additionally, a clean pipe will be less harsh than a joint or blunt.

How cannabis pipes work

Pipes provide their function using three aspects of the device:

  1. The mouthpiece: where you put your mouth
  2. The bowl: where you put your cannabis flower
  3. The carb hole: some pipes have a carb hole to allow the consumer to “clear” the pipe of residual smoke.

The cannabis is heated and smoke is inhaled through the mouthpiece.

How to choose a pipe

Choosing a pipe is based on personal taste. Standard chillums may be made out of clear glass or cigarette-shaped, while more intricate one hitters and bowls vary in color, shape, size, and details. If you want something that can be discreetly held in the palm of your hand, a one-hitter may be your best option. They’re carb-less, small, and typically stored in a wooden “dugout”.

If you’re looking for a piece that will last a long time, allow for larger smoke sessions, and has a carb hole, then a bowl is likely your best option. While you won’t be able to test the pipe before you buy, you can hold it as if you were using it to see how it feels in your hands and whether you can easily use the carb hole.

How to pack a pipe

When it comes to packing your pipe, ground cannabis is always your best option. It makes for a uniform burn and airflow, which means you’ll get the most consistent hits. Grind your cannabis in a grinder if you have one,  or use your fingers to tear the flower into tiny bits. Fill the bowl of your pipe with a few pinches of ground herb.

If it is a larger bowl, you may need to grind up more cannabis, whereas smaller bowls and one-hitters require a small amount to fill the bowl.

How to smoke a pipe

Once loaded, ignite the bowl of cannabis using a lighter or hemp wick, while inhaling from the mouthpiece. If there is a carb, be sure to cover the carb hole using your thumb or finger while inhaling the first half of your puff. Then release your finger and allow air to flow through the carb hole while you inhale the second half of your hit.

For cannabis beginners, be sure to start with small amounts in each bowl, and wait several minutes between inhalations. Cannabis varies in potency, so “go slow and low” until you’ve developed familiarity with cannabis products.

How to clean a pipe

Source: Moose Labs LLC

The more often you clean your pipe, the easier it will be to maintain. While cleaning after every use may be excessive, a 2019 study by Moose Labs shows that even a 10-minute smoking session with four friends will more than double the amount of bacteria on the mouthpiece of the pipe. 

Soaking in isopropyl alcohol and acetone are great options for cleaning your pipes. If there’s a bit of resin that is stuck inside, add a few pinches of salt (epsom salt is the best) and shake to agitate the residue and help remove any leftover remnants and bacteria

A three-minute isopropyl alcohol soak is the most effective way to reduce bacteria and other residuals.

How to store a pipe

Source: Amazon

If your pipe is made of a material that could shatter, such as glass, clay or crystals, you’ll want to store it in something protective, such as a padded case or bag to keep it safe from impact shocks and bumps. Pipes made of wood, metals like aluminium, silicon and other similar materials should be placed in their storage pouches once appropriately cooled and cleaned.

For added discretion, consider a smell-proof container that stays airtight to avoid the smells of fresh or freshly-burned cannabis escaping.

Try For Yourself

Now that you’re familiar enough with cannabis pipes to be able to choose one for yourself, give it a try on your own. Feel free to refer back to this guide when shopping for and using your new pipe for the first time. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to enjoy your pipe and legal cannabis without much guidance.

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